A year after An Unexpected Journey comes this second (of three) movie instalments based on JRR Tolkein’s Middle Earth adventure The Hobbit.
After a brief flashback showing wizard Gandalf’s (McKellen) first meeting with dwarf Thorin (Armitage), this returns us to the quest of the previous film – a ragtag bunch of dwarves, plus Gandalf and hobbit Bilbo Baggins (Freeman) are on a treacherous journey to win back the dwarf homeland that was almost destroyed by dragon Smaug (voiced by Cumberbatch). This time, their travels take them through elf territory, a giant spider-infested forest and the Dickensian-looking Laketown before they reach the awe-inspring halls for Erebor, where the dragon awaits.
The movie starts teeth-gnashingly slowly but picks up once the gruesome-faced orcs catch up with our heroes and a fight ensues (with elves Legolas – a returning Orlando Bloom – and Evangeline Lilly’s feisty Tauriel lending a hand) that features more than a few arrows-to-orc-heads, the occasional decapitation and a pretty awesome theme-park-like barrel ride along a raging river. From then on, it’s a big improvement on the meandering first movie, as dwarves Thorin and Kili (Aidan Turner) get more screentime, along with Laketown resident and potential hero Bard (Luke Evans), and it all leads up to a big, visually amazing finale involving the fire-spewing, enormous, scaly Smaug and our little hobbit hero Bilbo.
If it wasn’t for the incendiary final half-hour of this two-and-a-half-hour epic, this middle movie would perhaps feel like the filling in the sandwich, but it does send you to the edge of your seat in places, and certainly leaves you wondering what on Middle Earth director Peter Jackson can do to top Smaug in part three (aka There And Back Again).
Is The Hobbit: The Desolation Of Smaug suitable for kids? Here are our parents’ notes...
While the novel The Hobbit was considered more of a children’s book than Tolkein’s The Lord Of The Rings, director Peter Jackson has absolutely NOT made a children’s movie. This is for older kids only and has a 12A certificate.
Under-12s will likely find the hideous orcs scary.
The scene in the woods featuring the giant spiders will be frightening for younger viewers… and arachnophobes.
As mentioned in the review above, there are some decapitations, arrows to heads etc during the dwarf/elf fight with the orcs.
Younger children may find Smaug the dragon frightening.
If you like this, why not try: The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, The Lord Of The Rings: The Fellowship Of The Ring, The Lord Of The Rings: The Two Towers, The Lord Of The Rings: The Return Of The King, Dragonheart,