Getting closer to their destination of Erebor – current home of the greedy and vicious dragon, Smaug – the dwarves, aided by Bilbo and Gandalf, continue their journey to reclaim their homeland. Still chased by Azog, the evil white orc, Thorin Oakenshield and company must face terrible dangers, make new allies and decide who can be trusted to help them along the way. While this is happening, Bilbo increasingly becomes aware of the ring he stole from Gollum and the strange powers it seems to have.

The Hobbit: The Desolation Of Smaug (2013) – Director: Peter Jackson

Is The Hobbit The Desolation Of Smaug appropriate for kids

Rating: 12A

Running Length: 161 mins

Starring: Richard Armitage, Ian McKellen, Martin Freeman

Genre: Fantasy, Action/Adventure


The Hobbit: The Desolation Of Smaug’ is the middle chapter of Peter Jackson’s ‘Hobbit’ trilogy, based on the children’s book by J.R.R. Tolkien. Jackson is clearly in his element and has lovingly recreated Middle Earth, its inhabitants and has stayed loyal to the world that his previous trilogy of ‘The Lord Of The Rings’ began. This second installment sees the continuation of Thorin, Bilbo and co’s perilous quest to destroy Smaug, recover the precious Arkenstone jewel and take back Erebor so that all the dwarves who have been displaced can return to their homeland.

Splitting a relatively short book for kids into a trilogy of three-hour long movies while keeping the interest of the audience is a tall order and, although adding more depth and background to ‘The Lord Of The Rings’ is a good idea, so far, ‘The Hobbit’ hasn’t quite hit the mark. With the amount of filler to make up the three hours, Jackson comes across as a little self-indulgent, wanting his version of Middle Earth to come alive at the expense of the much-loved story that he is trying to tell. It is safe to say that ‘An Unexpected Journey’ and ‘The Desolation Of Smaug’ could have actually been done in one movie. However, ‘The Desolation Of Smaug’ is a good film. There is plenty of action which does not overshadow the development and drama of the story and there are also lots of interesting characters who all have their own agendas, often making it difficult to know who can be trusted.

Anyone expecting something similar to any of ‘The Lord Of The Rings’ movies is likely to be a bit disappointed, however it is a very entertaining, fun and action-packed film. ‘The Desolation Of Smaug’ is best enjoyed on the big screen with plenty of popcorn and a comfortable seat.


Towards the beginning of the movie, while Bilbo, Gandalf and the Dwarves continue to be pursued by Azog and several other orcs, they come across a huge bear. This could be a little frightening for younger children as the bear is very aggressive, it snarls and gnashes its teeth at Thorin and co, intending to kill anyone it catches. This part only lasts a couple of minutes but is quite intense.

The orcs, like in the first movie are very scary, particularly Azog and his second in command, Bolg. They are much bigger than the other orcs, have scars all over their faces and their dialogue is very menacing; Azog at one point asks Bolg whether he ‘still thirsts for dwarf blood’. One character explains how the orcs enslaved his people, killing and torturing those close to him.

The Necromancer is also very threatening. He appears as a black shadow, has a coldly malevolent voice and lives in the ruins of Dol Guldor which is a very atmospheric and spooky place. Gandalf goes to Dol Guldor, knowing that it is dangerous and comes across the Necromancer who makes it clear that he intends to kill Gandalf; this leads to an intense action scene including orcs and wargs (huge wolf-like creatures).

While walking through a forest, Bilbo and the dwarves are attacked by giant spiders (much like Shelob in ‘The Return Of The King’). This scene begins with Bilbo and co seemingly under the influence of some kind of drug. They walk around the forest in a daze; this is mainly shown through the eyes of Bilbo and he is seen to have some surreal and creepy hallucinations. There are several ‘jump’ moments where the spiders lunge at the camera, being particularly effective in 3D. At certain times Bilbo can hear what the spiders are saying to each other about killing the dwarves and their dialogue is quite scary and violent. During the ensuing fight, several of the spiders are killed with swords and arrows, however there are also more brutal killings. One in particular is clearly designed to be a funny moment but involves one of the spiders having all of its legs pulled off. We feel that this is very cruel, unnecessary and may encourage children to copy this kind of behaviour.

The action throughout is generally ok for children, however there are numerous occasions where the violence becomes stronger and is likely to be unsuitable for kids. These instances include orcs being shot in the head with arrows, stabbed in the neck and decapitated, all of which is seen in close up. One of the decapitations leads to the dead body convulsing on the ground.



Despite some dubious special effects and a rather long-winded ending, ‘The Desolation of Smaug’ is fun, exciting and enjoyable for most members of the family. While the first ‘Hobbit’ movie is mostly appealing to kids, ‘The Desolation of Smaug’ is much more adult in tone. We therefore would not recommend this movie for kids under the age of 10 and would advise caution for children who are sensitive to scary scenes and violence.

  • Violence:  5/5 (while most of the violence is suitable for kids, on the occasions that it is stronger, it is perhaps the strongest that a movie with this age rating is likely to have)
  • Emotional Distress: 2/5 (one major character becomes very ill and suffers for a large part of the movie. The people who care about him become very distressed at his suffering)
  • Fear Factor: 4/5
  • Sexual Content: 2/5 (a male character says to a female ‘Aren’t you going to search me? I could have anything down my trousers’)    
  • Bad Language: 0/5
  • Dialogue: 4/5  
  • Other notes: Deals with themes of friendship, loyalty, the drive to succeed, bravery, greed and corruption.

Words by Laura Record

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