Reviewed by: Raphael Vera
DRAGONS in the Bible
DRAGONS AND DINOSAURS—discover how they are connected
courage / bravery
wizards and sorcerers
Benedict Cumberbatch … Smaug/The Necromancer
Evangeline Lilly … Tauriel
Richard Armitage … Thorin Oakenshield
Orlando Bloom … Legolas
Hugo Weaving … Elrond
Cate Blanchett … Galadriel
Manu Bennett … Azog
Ian McKellen … Gandalf
Martin Freeman … Bilbo Baggins
Luke Evans … Bard the Bowman
Lee Pace … Thranduil
Christopher Lee … Saruman
Aidan Turner … Kili
Andy Serkis … Gollum
Stephen Fry … Master of Laketown
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New Line Cinema
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|Distributor||Warner Bros. Pictures|
“Beyond darkness… beyond desolation… lies the greatest danger of all.”
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.
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.”
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.
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.
“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.
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.
“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.