Oscar®Oscar® Nominee for Best Visual Effects, Best Sound Editing, Best Sound Mixing
Movie Review

The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug also known as “The Hobbit 2”

MPAA Rating: PG-13 for extended sequences of intense fantasy action violence, and frightening images.

Reviewed by: Raphael Vera
CONTRIBUTOR

Average
Moviemaking Quality:

Primary Audience:
Teens Adults
Genre:
Adventure Fantasy Drama Adaptation IMAX 3D
Length:
2 hr. 41 min.
Year of Release:
2013
USA Release:
December 13, 2013 (wide—3,903 theaters)
DVD: April 8, 2014
Copyright, Warner Bros. Pictures click photos to ENLARGE Copyright, Warner Bros. Pictures Copyright, Warner Bros. Pictures Copyright, Warner Bros. Pictures Copyright, Warner Bros. Pictures Copyright, Warner Bros. Pictures Copyright, Warner Bros. Pictures Copyright, Warner Bros. Pictures Copyright, Warner Bros. Pictures
Relevant Issues
Copyright, Warner Bros. Pictures

DRAGONS in the Bible

DRAGONS AND DINOSAURS—discover how they are connected

FILM VIOLENCE—How does viewing violence in movies affect families? Answer

courage / bravery

FEAR, Anxiety and Worry—What does the Bible say? Answer

necromancer

wizards and sorcerers

spiders

novel: The Hobbit, or There and Back Again by J.R.R. Tolkien

Other films in this series

The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring (2001)

The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers (2002)

The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King (2003)

Featuring: Benedict CumberbatchSmaug/The Necromancer
Evangeline LillyTauriel
Richard ArmitageThorin Oakenshield
Orlando BloomLegolas
Hugo WeavingElrond
Cate BlanchettGaladriel
Manu Bennett … Azog
Ian McKellenGandalf
Martin FreemanBilbo Baggins
Luke EvansBard the Bowman
Lee Pace … Thranduil
Christopher LeeSaruman
Aidan Turner … Kili
Andy SerkisGollum
Stephen Fry … Master of Laketown
more »
Director: Peter Jackson
Producer: Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM)
New Line Cinema
more »
Distributor: Warner Bros. Pictures

“Beyond darkness… beyond desolation… lies the greatest danger of all.”

Prequel: “The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey” (2012)

Set in the mythological time of “Middle Earth” that began with “The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey,” the story continues with Bilbo (Martin Freeman) aiding a party of dwarves led by Thorin (Richard Armitage) who seeks to recapture the mountain and throne of his father which was taken by the fearsome and unstoppable dragon, Smaug.

The film begins with a flashback to when the wizard Gandalf (Ian McKellen) meets Thorin for the first time and convinces him to begin the quest to take back his father’s kingdom. The task will lead them to fight both enemies known (Orcs, Goblins, Wargs) and unknown, such as the Necromancer, a dark spirit commanding unseen malevolent forces. Before this journey is over they may make enemies of some allies, but they will need to forge partnerships with elves and human alike if they are to succeed.

“The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug” lives up to its exciting and adventure filled predecessor and is replete with acts of heroism, faith, mercy and sacrifice amidst a backdrop of war fomented by the very real signs of spiritual warfare—greed, avarice and a thirst for destruction not so unlike our world today. So it comes as no surprise that you would expect some areas of concern in a story much grander than a typical fairy tale.

Objectionable Issues

Violence: Heavy. During battles the primary victims are the inhuman Orc’s who are sliced by swords, limbs detached (including decapitations), shot by arrows through the head and stabbed. Dwarves and Elves share in the perils and several are seen cut down in turn. Little if any blood is shown, though the results of battle are clear throughout. The mummified remains of dwarves killed long ago serve as a grisly reminder of Smaug’s assault on the dwarves’ “Lonely Mountain.”

FILM VIOLENCE—How does viewing violence in movies affect families? Answer

During a journey through Mirkwood forest, gone is some of the playfulness found in Tolkien’s book. Instead, Bilbo’s banter has been replaced by a very straightforward and fearful encounter with the giant spiders who live there which, taken by itself, should preclude younger children from viewing.

Language. Minor. When the Dwarves are taken captive and are searched, one of them, Kili, invites the lovely Captain Tauriel (Evangeline Lilly) to search down his trousers, which she promptly rejects by saying “there’s not likely to be anything there.”. A dwarf curses in his own language, so while his intent may have been clear, the words will not be understood. “Desolation…” is a refreshingly clean film in this respect.

Sex/Nudity: Mild. A “skin changer” named Beorn transforms from a beast to a man and one can see his backside (nude) in the moonlight. This is a brief scene that can be anticipated and blocked from younger eyes, it is not, however, gratuitous.

Spiritual: The occult, while not as pronounced as in the first Hobbit film still appears touched upon when a healing potion is apparently augmented by an elvish chant. The Necromancer, whose form is that of darkness and shadows, can cast spells of both great power as well as illusion, and it appears doubtful whether or not he can be defeated, but more on that later.

Alcohol. Drinking appears as a staple to almost any celebration, and one dwarf is literally drunk under the table. Lightheartedly presented, this still merits mention.

Lessons

Tolkien’s literary works contain spiritual themes and lessons of their own that run sometimes just beneath the surface, and these films, as marvelously directed by Peter Jackson, have done well to incorporate some of them. Here are just a few that I felt stood out.

Galadriel (Cate Blanchett) telepathically speaks to Gandalf and directs him to another mission. Reluctant to leave his comrades behind, he none-the-less heeds the call. How like the Holy Spirit that directs our actions when we have “walked” with our Lord daily, and He “moves us” as promised in the Word.

“I am the Lord your God, who teaches you what is best for you, who directs you in the way you should go…” (Isaiah 48:17).

And perhaps no more clearly directed than when the Spirit sent Philip to preach to a traveling foreigner that would be key in spreading the Good News.

“Now an angel of the Lord said to Philip, “Go south to the road-the desert road-that goes down from Jerusalem to Gaza. So he started out, and on his way he met an Ethiopia eunuch… The Spirit told Philip, Go to that chariot and stay near it” (Acts 8:26-29).

The dwarves have an obvious brotherly comradeship, although only two appear to be brothers, yet when one of them gets severely injured several, others quickly volunteer to stay behind to aid him, bringing to life the proverb that says,

“A man of many companions may come to ruin, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother” (Proverbs 18:24).

The Necromancer boldly claims to Gandalf, “There is no light that can defeat darkness!” Gandalf, in a stark example of “good” vs. “evil,” had gone to confront the enemy hiding behind a concealment spell when he commands it to stand revealed.

“When Jesus had called the Twelve together, her gave them power and authority to drive out all the demons and to cure diseases, , and he sent them out to preach the kingdom of God and to heal the sick” (Luke 9:1-2).

On more than one occasion Bilbo acts in faith, refusing to give into the apparent defeat of the moment, much to the astonishment of his friends. It is this faith that keeps this quest from failing.

Jesus said to his disciples, “…If you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mulberry tree, ‘Be uprooted and planted in the sea,’ and it will obey you” (Luke 17:6).

As heroes go, Bilbo is perhaps the most unimpressive looking of the bunch. He is certainly no great warrior, and his companions believe they are all smarter in so many ways than this, their humble little burglar. But, just as David was chosen by God over his more seemingly “fit” brothers (1 Samuel 16:7), Bilbo is elevated by circumstances, or is it divine providence, to play perhaps the greatest hero of this story. And that’s just the way God does things.

“But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong” (1 Cor 1:27).

“God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble” (1 Peter 5:5).

“He guides the humble in what is right and teaches them his way” (Psalm 25:9).

“The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug” is a well told, exciting, big, bombastic movie that I strongly recommend be seen in IMAX 3D, if possible. However, as impressive as the images of Middle Earth and the effects may be, they can’t overshadow the simply wonderful tale that it is at the heart of it, nor the characters that you can’t help but root for to overcome the desperate odds that they face. See this for the grand adventure that it is, because, with the third and final chapter coming next, all the elements for an epic battle, as well as a story of redemption, are in place for the final film… and I can’t wait!

Violence: Heavy / Profanity: Minor / Sex/Nudity: Mild

See list of Relevant Issues—questions-and-answers.


Viewer CommentsSend your comments
Comments below:
Positive
Positive—“The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug” certainly steps up the action a notch from what many thought was a slow, boring start in “The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey.” While—as in the book—many highly commendable moral values are portrayed, and there is much self-sacrifice and nobility among Bilbo, the dwarves, and even the elves, parents with young children should BEWARE of the violence splattered graphically up and down the screen! Occasional moments of mid-battle humor aren’t enough to distract from the gore, though Bombur’s hilarious exploits do often add an element of comic relief. Even the too-perfect elven prince Legolas gets a nose bleed.

I went on the premiere day to a 2D showing, but my best friend went to see it in 3D and said lightheartedly, “Heads were flying at the audience!” I couldn’t think of a better description. Lots of heads, lots of blood, and a very dark, frightening sequence with the Necromancer’s shadow vs. Gandalf that even had ME scarcely breathing in my seat. Beorn’s hulking, snarling bear-form is also worth mentioning, and reminded me sharply of Mordu from Disney’s “Brave.” more »
My Ratings: Moral rating: Better than Average / Moviemaking quality: 4½
—Emily, age (adult) (USA)
Positive—If you’ve seen any of the other movies, you know exactly what to expect. It was a great movie, but it was definitely “all middle,” and it’s NOT something that younger children will want to see (heads being chopped off, a scary dragon, etc.). They wasted no time introducing anyone/anything, so if you haven’t seen part one, you’ll need to see it first. It ended very abruptly, just as you’d expect for a part 2 of 3. Can’t wait to see the last one! Saw it in 3D… it was great!
My Ratings: Moral rating: Good / Moviemaking quality: 4½
—Chrystal, age 37 (USA)
Positive—This film was a major step-up from the last, especially with the new characters” being brought into the light (despite some of them only being placed there for simple one-sided plot-fillers), intense action, many an emotional moment, and the brilliance of Smaug with its animation and voice (Benedict Cummerbatch).

What I do caution those who have not seen the film or of a light heart is this film is a lot more violent than “An Unexpected Journey,” with many Orc heads being chopped off and thrown around, blood platter on the camera, and other moments I don’t remember, as almost every fighting sequence was really fast. This was a stellar film, but be careful of the crazy exploitation of violence in it.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Average / Moviemaking quality: 4½
—Dj, age 19 (Canada)
Positive—Wow! Loved it! As with the other movies (“The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey” and the three Lord of the Rings movies), “The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug” paints a detailed, imaginative, colorful, complex world of Middle Earth peopled with interesting characters excellently portrayed by exceptional actors. If you haven’t seen the first Hobbit movie, I suggest you rent or buy it before seeing this one. They don’t waste much time getting you caught up, but launch quickly into the action where Bilbo, Gandalf, Thorin, and his loyal company of dwarves continue on their quest to regain their ancestral homeland.

Because author JRR Tolkein was a Christian (he witnessed to and led CS Lewis to Jesus Christ), I am intrigued by the Judeo-Christian symbolism beyond the story’s surface. Not sure if it was Tolkein’s intention, but I see the elves and wizards, who love the Light and act as Guardians, as analogies of angels and archangels. They often portray wisdom, forgiveness, compassion, empathy, self-sacrifice, risking their lives for others, and more. more »
My Ratings: Moral rating: Better than Average / Moviemaking quality: 5
—Tori, age 40+ (USA)
Positive—I’ll jump right into this review saying this was definitely the better of the two Hobbit films to come out, considering part one should still be appreciated for the build up to part two. Bilbo, the dwarves, and Gandalf are all off into even further dangers and adventures as they draw closer to the Misty Mountains where dwells the powerful and terrible dragon Smaug. I’ll go ahead and get what minor criticisms I have out of the way.

Nothing bad to say about the movie overall, just little things to prepare those of you who haven’t seen the film yet. Just as with the first part, the second part is about half and half with what’s true to the book and what’s a Peter Jackson deviation. Don’t expect to be seeing page for page adaptations to the story. The main highlights Peter Jackson sticks with he does just right, if not better in certain ways. For what he does change in how the story and characters, old and new, are developed, I believe I will know how I feel better as I re-watch the two films together. more »
My Ratings: Moral rating: Good / Moviemaking quality: 4
—Caroline, age 24 (USA)
Positive—There are lots of interviews on here that are great. Mine will be below, but first I want to address a more important topic I noticed around the Web that people are talking about with this movie. How the Hobbit movies are not like the book. Well that is true, but Peter Jackson (the maker of the movies) has already mentioned these movies are also based on the other writing Tolkiens had written about concerning this timeline in The Hobbit. Things that never made it into the book itself. Things that are more to the story overall. Which is why the movie also strays from its “kid friendly” nature to a more of a teenage maturity level. And its why the movie was turned into 3 instead of one.

The only real exception is the female elf who was not in The Hobbit book nor the side notes either. Peter admitted to adding her so it didn’t feel like a all male cast. Plus it added an interesting dynamic. more »
My Ratings: Moral rating: Offensive / Moviemaking quality: 5
—Matt, age 32 (USA)
Positive—“The Desolation of Smaug” exists in hypothetical Middle Earth, where advanced Elves religiously march out, never to return again. The left behinds of Middle Earth symbolizes the activities of the secular world who have not yet been called to Christ, and their political plights. Bilbo, who thinks of himself as “sociable,” ends up working to re-establish a dwarf monarchy.

I like the scene whee the Dwarf King attacks the Dragon Smaug with a wheel barrel, causing Smaug to get covered with molten gold. It is the burning of Smaug by gold that causes Smaug to flee the Dwarf stronghold he had taken, much like how drug abuse can hurt rich criminals in real life. Smaug, delivered from his love of gold, is free to pursue other causes, and exclaims at the end of the movie, “I am fire, I am death.”

This movie is entirely pre-christian and a great exposer of secular causes outside of Christ, whether they be dwarfish, elvish, orcish or misc.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Good / Moviemaking quality: 5
—Matt Hase, age 49 (USA)
Neutral
Neutral—If you are expecting to see a faithful rendition of the beloved The Hobbit book, buy or rent the Rankin and Bass 1977 animated classic. It is much closer to the story and spirit of The Hobbit than “The Desolation of Smaug”. It’s clear that Peter Jackson was only going for money here, as this is almost non-stop action, whereas the original story was much more about the journey, and maturation, of Bilbo. I counted at least 21 major plot deviations from the original story.

I’ll give away only one spoiler—in the book, the dwarves barely saw Smaug, if at all. What happens in the movie is completely and utterly different. I’m actually surprised that Tolkien’s estate approved it. The movie-making itself was well done, the only complaint was that some action sequences were so fast, it was hard to take in everything that was actually happening.

Jackson’s vision of Middle Earth is nothing if not grand. If you’re in for a good show, this delivers. But, while it pulls from a multitude of sources (not only The Hobbit, but also the Silmarillion, Unfinished Tales and The Lord of the Rings and the LotR appendices), if you’re a Tolkien diehard and enjoyed “The Lord of the Rings” movies and their (mostly) faithful telling of Tolkien’s classic tale and are expecting similar treatment of The Hobbit, prepare to be disappointed. It really offers just a re-imagining of the story that basically ties into Tolkien’s mythology, with some major changes. It seems like Jackson just got tired of story telling and decided to fill in with action sequences.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Good / Moviemaking quality: 4½
—Kevin, age 44 (USA)
Negative
Negative—I hold a B.A. In English Literature, and I must point out a few of my misgivings about both the literary/cinematic qualities and spiritual overtones of this film. Initially, The Hobbit was a bildungsroman story for children. In other words, it was a boy (or young person in general) coming-of-age story that utilized the character traits of hobbits in the place of children. Hobbits are individuals who parallel younger people in their size, coupled with an advanced state of mind and practical discernment that you rarely find in children. This not only sets a precedent for new and exciting vistas of vicarious experience for the adventurer at heart, but challenges the young reader to think critically and deeply about their own interactions with others life.

Each titled chapter of The Hobbit is itself a didactic medium, essentially presenting us with a seemingly benign truism, such as the chapter labeled: “Out of the Frying Pan, Into the Fire.” The mere title of this chapter is an encapsulated parable of sorts, whereas another chapter title reads: “The Gathering of the Clouds” and the reader anticipates something ominous, though we are not told what it is. This is where the didactic, teaching quality, of the film diverges from the book. In this fantasy-flick we see far too much fantasy and far too little dialog, mystery, and didactic teaching strategies for young people. Unlike the Harry Potter series, the book was not supposed to be imagined as something primarily magical (and magically goofy at that). The rare instances in the book where Gandalf disguised his voice, or lit up a cave with his “staff,” and then in one other chapter did some tricks with pinecones was merely something that he did to save the lives of the hobbit and the dwarves. And, each of these things can be explained by ventriloquism, science and chemistry. No doubt flaming pinecones could be sprinkled with something as simple as gunpowder or have some strong firecrackers attached to them. more »
My Ratings: Moral rating: none / Moviemaking quality: 1½
—Luke, age 31 (USA)
Negative—I had great hopes for this. Indeed I liked “The Hobbit” I; there were such grand visuals that I forgave it for what they’d done with the orcs. However, Hobbit II felt like a cartoon of the original, with way too much of the true heart gone, and replaced by cartoon or video game level dialogue and action.

Ok, I admit the Smaug scene was marvellously done, particularly at the start. But largely this sequel was a sell-out. Come on, a love triangle involving elves and a dwarf, together with vulgar language? And the majority of the elves of Mirkwood scenes turned into some elven version of the fight scenes from “The Matrix” or fight movies of that type? And I haven’t even touched on some of the orc scenes.

Tolkein would certainly be appalled at much of this movie. A clear sell out for filthy lucre.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Better than Average / Moviemaking quality: 3½
—David B, age 51 (USA)
Negative—All of the movies done based on Tolkien’s writings are so grossly demonically depicted that I could not keep my eyes open through those scenes. Even the Bible, which clearly reveals the activity of the demonic does not describe the demonic but clearly describes the angelic and good, and also clearly states that our war is not physical. I feel so much grizzly depiction and violence is very hurtful to our culture which is getting numb to violence.

Also. I became just angry to have sat through 2 hours and 40 minutes of that grossness and then have no ending resolved! Will not go see another.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Good / Moviemaking quality: 5
—Corliss, age 62 (USA)
Negative—First the positive things: the movie has great animation and pictures, I like the story. However, if you read the book you’ll know that some aspects (e.g., the longer time spent at Beorn’s Home) has been left out. Anyway, there is much haste in this movie, I can’t remember an extended scene that was kind of peaceful, that I found really sad because there were a few opportunities for that, according to the book. Very hasty movie. For that reason I only gave 4 for movie making quality.

The fighting is quite brutal, but as far as I remember not more brutal than in “The Lord of the Rings.” If you see this as a spiritual fight (for also the evil and the good is portrayed seperately pretty well—although the “good” are not like “pure” for e.g., they are drinking) and also see this killing as something like a spiritual fight you can go with the Hobbit 2.

However, and now this is why rate this movie negative. The movie seemed very dark. If you are sensitive for the spiritual realm, and that’s what I believe to have felt, you see that its very dark. I especially talk of the scene where ***SPOILER*** Gandalf is fighting against Sauron. ***END SPOILER***

This was far to intense. Also, the pictures of the orcs are even more intense and frightening than in all other movies. Finally, while I can say I enjoyed all the Lord of the Rings movies and even the Hobbit 1, when I went out of the Hobbit 2 I did not want to watch this movie again, because of its darkness. As sad as it is concerning effects, story etc. I do NOT recommend this movie. Even though the THING—the movie may not be evil, the intentions and spirits that are behind the moviemaking and the application of the story may be influencial and dangerous. However, I hope the third part will be less dark and more like “The Lord of the Rings.”
My Ratings: Moral rating: Better than Average / Moviemaking quality: 4
—Robin, age 23 (Germany)
Comments from young people
Positive—The movie of the hobbit was amazing, fabulous, and a very Christian worldview about good vs. evil and some images of the Crucifixion of Christ.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Average / Moviemaking quality: 5
—Daniel, age 13 (USA)
Positive—This is one of the best movies of our age. Very well made. The acting is more than super. The effects are as spectacular as in The Lord of the Rings. One of the most need-to-see movies of all time. Thank you Peter Jackson.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Excellent! / Moviemaking quality: 5
—Peter H, age 14 (USA)
Positive—This movie was absolutely awesome! I loved the first Hobbit a lot, but this one I think was better. Their were never any slow scenes. Just full of action and adventure. Parents should know that there is quite a bit of violence, but not even close to “The Lord of the Rings” movies. So if you let your kids watch those, then these Hobbit movies will just seem like a lot of fun. I love the elves and thought it was cool to see Legolas (Orlando Bloom) have more of a story and lines compared to “The Lord of the Rings.” I think it was amazing and would recommend all die heart fans of “The Lord of the Rings” to go see it!
My Ratings: Moral rating: Excellent! / Moviemaking quality: 5
—Meaghan, age 14 (USA)
Positive—I saw this movie with my brother and father, and we all enjoyed it. No language; a very clean movie. Just heavy on the violence, but it should be OKAY for 10 to 13 year olds. The first Hobbit movie was good; this one was even better.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Good / Moviemaking quality: 4½
—Matthew, age 13 (USA)
Positive—Even though “The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug” completely butchers the original writings of J.R.R. Tolkien, the movie is excellent, with lots of dimension for different characters, and the clear depiction of good and evil. I especially enjoyed the incredible CGI that was Smaug.

Wow. I’ve heard many Christians say that these movies are demonic and steeped in the occult. They aren’t. Set in the fantastical realm of middle earth, so it has no bearing on our world, and is not related to in any way. If anything, it clearly shows the essence of Good vs. Evil. Illuvutar, the god of middle earth, could be construed as an representation of god, sending his angels (Gandalf, Saruman, Radaghast) to intervene in the evil world. more »
My Ratings: Moral rating: Excellent! / Moviemaking quality: 4½
—Nathaniel, age 13 (USA)
Comments from non-viewers
Hobbit, The: The Desolation of Smaug (2013)
Negative—This movie is demonic. It is steeped in the occult. It is unclean, with half human, half creatures, which are in essence demons. There is no “good” vs. “bad” in these fantasy movies. It is all bad. A Christian person should be able to simply look at the darkness depicted as the very… essence of these types of movies and keep themselves away from viewing them. God forbid let your precious children behold these dark demonic images. A great way to cause fear in children which should not be there (fear of the dark and night time etc.)!

“Set no wicked thing before you” is the command of the Lord. If you want to learn about good vs. Evil, simply read the Holy Bible and listen to the Word of God being preached sisters and brothers!! Our desires should line up with God’s pureness. There will be no such entertainment like this movie in Heaven. All the characters that look like the characters in these fantasy movies will be in Hell. Let us conform our desires to Christ’s and put of the old man that is the flesh.
—Sarah Pratt, age 34 (USA)

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