The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug

 

MGM / New Line Cinema

 

Rating: PG-13

 

Reason for the Rating: Extended sequences of intense fantasy action violence, and frightening images.

 

Plot Summary: Bilbo Baggins, Galdalf, and thirteen dwarves continue their quest to take back Eregor from Smaug

 

PopFam Recommends: Parents won't be disappointed, but children might be overwhelmed by the story, the characters, and the violence.

 

What can be said about The Desolation of Smaug that hasn't already been said about The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, or any of the Lord of the Rings movies? Cinematography: amazing. Acting: remarkable. Special Effects: incredible. Director Peter Jackson continues to not only entertain, but to do so on such a grand scale it's hard to take in with only one viewing.

 

The second in a planned trilogy of Hobbit movies, this one begins just prior to where the first movie (The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey) started. Gandalf (Ian McKellen) appears and challenges would-be-dwarf-king, Thorin Oakenshield (Richard Armitage), to lead the dwarves in an effort to take back Eregor and the Lone Mountain from the ruthless dragon, Smaug. The time has come to defeat the dragon and restore the dwarves to their rightful home. This is important to understand, as this tale is about the journey and adventures the dwarves plus hobbit, Bilbo Baggins, experience in getting to the Lone Mountain, finding the hidden doorway, and retrieving the Archenstone jewel of the rightful dwarf king.

 

And what adventures they have!

 

Running from Orcs, finding their way through the spellbound Mirkwood Forest, being captured by giant spiders, floating down a raging river in barrels, and fighting the fire-breathing Smaug are just a few of the escapades they experience. Although this is a long movie (161 minutes), it's not short on action. There's plenty to keep your attention, despite a sometimes confusing plot. I do think this is a story that can be difficult to retell as a movie due to the numerous characters, history, unknown geography, and short sequences that aren't readily explained. For someone who has read the book this won't be as confusing, but for those who haven't, you might leave with questions that the movie didn't answer.

 

Overall though, The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug is a movie fantasy fans in your family won't want to miss. Still, this film is fairly violent from beginning to end, and it does contain themes of spiritual evil and characters that could be frightening to children. The Orcs are still grotesquely scary and Smaug is amazingly terrifying. Parents should take their child's maturity and ability to handle these types of situations into account.

 

That said, this another movie that leaves the viewer marveling at the wonder of CG, and at the depth of storytelling in the fantasy world of Middle Earth. I think J.R.R. Tolkien would be awestruck to see his stories and imagined creatures/characters come to life in this way.

 

Let’s Talk About It

Use these questions to spark discussion among family members who are interested in this movie:

 

• While everyone believes Bilbo to be a hobbit of courage, he really finds his nerve from the ring he holds in his pocket. How is that different from the way Christians find courage to face difficulty?

 

• Bilbo and the dwarves believe they are fighting against the dragon, Smaug, an enemy they can see, when there is a more powerful, invisible enemy at work against them. How is this like, or unlike, the world you live in?

 

• How would this movie be different if Bilbo had told Gandalf about the ring of power?

 

--JW

 

Note: All product-related graphics in this article are standard publicity/promotional shots and are owned by their respective publisher.

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