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The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug Review

Movies.com Critics

3.0

Dave White Profile

Pete's dragon Read full review

Other Critics provided by Metacritic.com

Critics scores range from 0 to 100, with higher scores indicating more favorable reviews.

  • 4.0
    66

    out of 100

    Metascore®
    Generally favorable reviews
    based on a weighted average of all
    critic review scores.

  • 50

    out of 100

    USA Today Claudia Puig

    When it's not stalled on silly, it falls into slog territory.

    Read Full Review

  • 63

    out of 100

    ReelViews James Berardinelli

    There are things to like about the second Hobbit film - the director's vision of Middle Earth is as beguiling as ever - but the bloating that was a problem with An Unexpected Journey is an even bigger issue here.

    Read Full Review

  • 70

    out of 100

    Variety Justin Chang

    This robust, action-packed adventure benefits from a headier sense of forward momentum and a steady stream of 3D-enhanced thrills.

    Read Full Review

  • 70

    out of 100

    Wall Street Journal Joe Morgenstern

    My advice to "Hobbit" fans is not only to see this one, but to see it as I did, in 3-D projected at the normal rate of 24 frames per second. The film will also be shown in what's called High Frame Rate 3-D, at 48 frames a second, but that made the last installment look more like video than a regular movie. Smaug is scary enough without a turbo boost.

    Read Full Review

  • 70

    out of 100

    The Hollywood Reporter Todd McCarthy

    After exhibiting an almost craven fidelity to his source material the first time out, Jackson gets the drama in gear here from the outset with a sense of storytelling that possesses palpable energy and purpose.

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  • 75

    out of 100

    Chicago Sun-Times Richard Roeper

    Even though “Smaug” moves at a faster pace than the first part of the journey, it feels overlong. I still feel this whole Hobbit tale could have been told in one great, three-hour movie.

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  • 75

    out of 100

    Chicago Tribune Michael Phillips

    At its best, Hobbit 2, which carries the subtitle The Desolation of Smaug, invites comparisons to Jackson's "Lord of the Rings" threesome.

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  • 80

    out of 100

    Village Voice Alan Scherstuhl

    Sure, all the studios offer anymore are big, dumb adventure spectacles, but that's not a knock against the achievement of this one, which at least parades wonders before us, not the least being the greatest dragon in the history of movies.

    Read Full Review

  • 90

    out of 100

    Time Richard Corliss

    Smaug is different: a really good movie, superior to the first in that it brings its characters to rambunctious life.

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  • 91

    out of 100

    Entertainment Weekly Owen Gleiberman

    Bilbo, as played by Freeman, suggests a sly-dog Dana Carvey without irony, and he is certainly overmatched, but that doesn't mean he's outplayed. Desolation is now his business.

    Read Full Review

  • See all The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug reviews at Metacritic.com

For Families provided by Common Sense Media

OK for kids 11+

Sequel bolstered by brave elves, scary dragon, big spiders.

What Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that The Desolation of Smaug is the second installment in director Peter Jackson's three-part adaptation of The Hobbit. Unlike the streamlined adaptations of each of the three Lord of the Rings novels, The Hobbit is expanded beyond the source material with additional characters and story lines. While this series remains more tween-friendly than the more violent Lord of the Rings, there are still a few jump-worthy and frightening scenes, mostly dealing with the orcs, the dragon Smaug, and that most evil of beings, Sauron. Viewers with a fear of spiders may find some scenes difficult to watch. Bows are the weapons of choice, but hammers, swords, and other forged weapons are also used in the fight scenes (in addition to the dragon's built-in weapon of all-consuming fire).

  • Families can talk about how The Hobbit compares to The Lord of the Rings. How are the stories similar (a hobbit continues on a dangerous quest, deals with the precious ring), and how are they different? Which adventure do you prefer and why?
  • For those familiar with the book, how does this movie adaptation differ? If you haven't read the book yet, does the movie make you want to start Tolkien's classic?
  • Why do you think the filmmaker decided to insert a little bit of a romance/love triangle into the story? How about the reintroduction of Legolas?

The good stuff
  • message true3

    Messages: The story continues with its message that even the smallest and seemingly weakest can be brave when it counts. Dwarves are small but strong warriors. Bilbo gains his confidence even as he cultivates his attachment to his secret ring. The importance of helping others is paramount to the story: two elves defy their leaders to help creatures they don't even particularly care about; a man helps the dwarves in a moment of need.

  • rolemodels true3

    Role models: Many of the characters face difficult decisions. Bilbo must use his stolen ring to be invisible and help the dwarves. Thorin wants to lead his fellow dwarves to their homeland, but he's willing to sacrifice Bilbo's life if necessary; Tauriel disobeys the elvenking's orders in order to help the dwarves and fight the orcs; Bard helps the dwarves but doesn't want them to awaken the dragon that could lead to his lake town's destruction. Tauriel, a captain of the guard, is even more skilled than Eowyn and Arwen from the LOTR trilogy.

What to watch for
  • violence false3

    Violence: There a few jumpworthy moments courtesy of the orcs and the dragon Smaug. Audiences of all ages will be on the edge of their seats at least three times when dangerous, scary characters pop up on the screen. While it's not as violent as The Lord of the Rings trilogy, there are deadly confrontations between the dwarves and the orcs, the elves and the orcs, and the dragon and the dwarves. Orcs are killed (one is decapitated); one dwarf is pierced with a poisoned arrow and nearly dies; Smaug spews fire toward Bilbo and the dwarves and is buried in a sea of molten gold. Sauron is very frightening and smothers Galdalf with his evil darkness. Beorn is a skinchanger that changes from a giant man into a terrifying bear-like beast. Giant spiders are sure to creep out sensitive viewers.

  • sex false1

    Sex: Both Legolas and Kili are smitten with the beautiful elf Tauriel. Kili asks her if she isn't going to check down his trousers for weapons, because she might find something; she responds "or nothing." Kili and Tauriel hold hands.

  • language false1

    Language: Some insults including "coward," "rabble rousers," "shirkers," "usurper," "thief," "burglar," and a couple of humorous insults about Gloin's wife and son looking like a man or beast, respectively. One joking insult that seems like a curse word, but is in Dwarf language.

  • consumerism false3

    Consumerism: There aren't any product placements in the film, but the Tolkien books and Peter Jackson film adaptations have launched a huge amount of merchandise: clothes, video games, LEGO toys and board games, role-playing games, special movie tie-in editions of the books, electronics accessories, and more.

  • drugsalcoholtobacco false2

    Drinking, drugs and smoking: The dwarves have even bigger appetites than the hobbits. They drink on several occasions. There's a scene at a pub where there's drinking, and another where elves steal wine from the Mirkwood's cellar. In one scene elves appear passed out from drinking.

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