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Is The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug Appropriate for Kids?

Peter Jackson’s 5th film in the J.R.R. Tolkein’s Middle Earth universe was released today 12/13/2013, and I had the opportunity to see it at midnight last night. As in the past, we’ve written posts on movies that give parents insight on whether or not it is appropriate for their kids to see.  If you were contemplating seeing the movie this weekend, maybe this post can help you decide.

Can My Child See The Hobbit?

Movie Details:

Director: Peter Jackson

Stars: Martin Freeman, Orlando Bloom, Ian McKellen, Richard Armitage, Evangeline Lilly

Rating: PG-13

Run Time: 161 min/ 2 hours 41 min

Is The Hobbit: TDOS violent?

Yes. This movie is very violent; there are many fight scenes and battles throughout the movie.  The violence is subdued in a few ways, one being that most of the harsher violence is done against the generic baddies, Orcs’ which dehumanize the attacks. The other tactic is, the director does not use blood in the scenes. That being said, many scenes are still very brutal. You will see many stabbings, arrows being shot through bodies, and even several decapitations.

There is also a scene late in the movie where there is a mass grave. You see the victims and their decrepit faces, many of which are distorted in pain.

Is Hobbit: TDOS educational?

There may not be any specific subject matter that directly relates to the movie, however there are great opportunities to discuss questions of right vs. wrong, and character questions that you can talk to your child about after the movie. I’ve included some discussion questions at the bottom of the post.

The movie is of course inspired by the book, The Hobbit. If your child has read the book this could be a great opportunity to compare and contrast the film and the written work. While this is the 2nd movie of The Hobbit’ trilogy, there is only one book, which is 310 pages long. If your child enjoys reading, you could challenge them to read through the book before going to see the film.

Is there foul language?

Nope, from a language perspective this movie is very clean, unless you can speak Elvish… there may have been some name calling, but I can’t say I’m fluent.

Your child should see this movie if:

  • They’ve read the books- I actually never read The Hobbit, however I did see the movie with several of my friends who had, and they could not stop talking about how closely they stuck to the book.
  • They’ve seen the other movies- While the movie is violent, it is no more violent than any of the other movies, the combat is shot in very cinematic shots, and Peter Jackson does a great job of adding humor to the combat.
  • They enjoy art, costumes and storytelling- The movie is a spectacle. Shot mostly in New Zealand, the onsite locations are stunning. The costumes and attention to detail of every character in the movie, from the hobbit’s feet, to the dwarves’ hands, to the dragon, Smaug, is incredible. Finally, the movie is based on some of the best lore found in literature, if your child enjoys the movies and books, there is a huge universe that is waiting for them.

Your child should NOT see this movie if:

  • They are uncomfortable with death- While most of the fight scenes are shot brilliantly, and have an almost fun pace to them, they are none the less battles, you will see death.
  • They have epilepsy/ get vertigo- The movie is shot at a higher frame rate, 48 Frames per Second (most films are shot at 24 FPS) this can cause some to get dizzy. If this is the case you can also see the movie at the normal frame rate of 24 FPS.
  • They get scared- The Orcs in the movie are vilified in a few disturbing ways. Most have gruesome scars, missing limbs that are shoddily remedied (i.e. a spike is used as an arm), and armor which seems like it was fused with their body. At first glance I thought it was cool character design, but if one were to dwell on the process of how this armor came about, it could be traumatizing.  There are other enemies in the film that could scare a child, such as giant spiders, dragons, and other dark forces.
  • They can’t sit still for long- As stated above, the movie is 2 hours and 41 minutes long, it’s a long movie. If you know your child can’t sit still for that long, you may want to plan ahead.
  • They cannot read quickly- there are several lines which are spoken in a different language and subtitles are used.  While these are few and far between and even missing them won’t hinder the story too much, they are present.

Discussion Questions:

  1. Why do you think Bilbo hides his gift (the ring) from his friends? Do you think he should tell them about it?
  2. Bilbo shows his cunning several times throughout the movie, name a time when he used his head to get himself out of a bad situation.
  3. The characters in the movie call Bilbo a thief’ and burglar’ is this an appropriate nickname?
  4. Do you think Thorin Oakenshield is greedy for wanting his home back?
  5. Do you think the Dwarves are using Bilbo, or are they his friends?
  6. If they have read the book, be sure to ask if they thought the movie did a good job of depicting the story.

We will continue to add to the list of films we review for parents. If you have any questions on this movie, or if you have any films that you would like to know more about, please let us know in the comments.

Check out our posts on other recent movies:

’12 Years a Slave’
‘The Hunger Games: Catching Fire
 ‘Gravity’
Disney’s Saving Mr. Banks

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Peter Spain

Peter Spain is a contributing writer for Learning Liftoff and a manager at K12. A graduate from George Mason University, Peter has worked for several years in the education and entertainment industry. He strives to make learning fun for children by contributing to the games and activities section of the site, and keeping an eye out for advancements in edutainment.

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