The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug is the second instalment of a three-part adaptation of J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Hobbit. The movie begins as a flashback in which the wizard Gandalf the Grey (Ian McKellen) convinces Thorin Oakenshield (Richard Armitage) to go on a quest to the Lonely Mountain and reclaim a powerful gem called the Arkenstone from the dragon Smaug. This will enable Thorin to reclaim his heritage and reunite the dwarf people.
One year later a pack of bloodthirsty orcs is chasing Bilbo Baggins (Martin Freeman), Gandalf, Thorin and Thorin’s company of 12 dwarves through the mountains. The dwarves seek refuge in the abode of Beorn (Mikael Persbrandt), a skin-changer who can transform into a gigantic bear. With Beorn’s help, the company continues on to Mirkwood forest, where Gandalf leaves the group.
In Mirkwood forest Bilbo and the dwarves are first attacked by giant spiders and then captured by wood elves, who are led by Legolas (Orlando Bloom) and a female elf warrior named Tauriel (Evangeline Lilly). The elf king Thranduil (Lee Pace) imprisons Bilbo and the dwarves, but Bilbo uses his special ring to free them. They escape down a raging river in wine barrels while being pursued by both elves and orcs.
The dwarves go to Laketown where they are befriended by a bowman named Bard (Luke Evans), who happens to be the descendant of the original Lord of Dale. With Bard’s assistance, Bilbo and the dwarves eventually make it to the Lonely Mountain, where they get into the mountain through a secret door. But when Bilbo tries to steal the Arkenstone from Smaug (voice of Benedict Cumberbatch), things go terribly wrong.
Destiny; prophesy; greed; fantasy
The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug has intense fantasy action violence and peril throughout. This includes heads being cut off, throats being cut, people being impaled, and stylised sword and knife fights. The violence is, however, less intense than in the Lord of the Rings trilogy, and this movie shows less blood and gore. Here are some examples of violence in this movie:
The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug has intense fantasy action violence and peril throughout. This includes heads being cut off, throats being cut, people being impaled, and stylised sword and knife fights. The violence is, however, less intense than in the Lord of the Rings trilogy, and this movie shows less blood and gore.
Here are some examples of violence in this movie:
The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug has a couple of implied sexual references. For example, a captured male dwarf says to a female elf, ‘Are you going to search me? I could have anything down my trousers’. The female elf replies, ‘Or nothing’.
Alcohol, drugs and other substances
The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug shows some use of substances:
- In a tavern room scene several patrons including Gandalf smoke pipes and drink from tankards.
- One scene shows several elves drinking wine. One elf says the wine is excellent. A later scene shows the same elves slumped unconscious over the table among scattered empty bottles.
- A man orders his servant to get him a brandy. The man gulps down the brandy and then pours himself a second.
Nudity and sexual activity
There is some nudity and sexual activity in The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug. For example:
- A male dwarf and a female elf flirt mildly.
- When Beorn transforms from bear to human, there is a side view of his bare buttocks, which are very hairy.
There is no product placement in The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug, but clothing, video games, dolls, Lego toys and other Hobbit merchandise is being marketed to children.
The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug has some occasional name-calling, which children might copy.
Ideas to discuss with your children
The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug is a fantasy adventure movie targeting older teenagers and fans of Tolkien’s books. It is the second movie in The Hobbit movie trilogy. The movie goes beyond Tolkien’s original single novel, featuring characters and storylines that aren’t in the novel. It is 161 minutes long but easily entertains an older audience for this length of time.
Although The Hobbit movies aren’t as dark as the Lord of the Rings trilogy, The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug does have numerous scary scenes, characters and images. It also has extended scenes of intense violence, including decapitations and a battle with giant spiders. For this reason, it isn’t recommended for children under 13 years, even those who have read the book. Parental guidance is recommended for children aged 13-15 years.
The main messages from this movie are:
- good will defeat evil
- money changes people by making them greedy
- revenge can backfire on those who seek it
- size doesn’t matter when it comes to courage – the smallest of people can make a difference.
Values in this movie that you could reinforce with your children include courage and friendship.