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?