Should Kids See The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies?

Peter Jackson’s sixth and final film in J.R.R. Tolkein’s Middle Earth universe was released this week. As in the past, we’ve written posts on movies that give parents insight on whether or not it is appropriate for kids to see.  If you were contemplating seeing the movie this weekend, maybe this post can help you decide.

Movie Details: 

Rating: PG-13
Run Time: 144 min/ 2 hours 24 min
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Is The Hobbit: TBOTFA violent?

Yes. This movie is the most violent of the three Hobbit films. There are many fight scenes and battles throughout the movie, including a lengthy 45 minute battle scene at the climax.  The violence is subdued in a few ways, one being that most of the harsher violence is done against the generic baddies: orcs and trolls, which dehumanize the attacks. The other tactic is, the director avoids using blood in the scene by having blades go through armor vs flesh. That being said, many scenes are still very brutal. You will see many stabbings, arrows being shot through bodies, bodies being crushed by falling objects and even several decapitations. Aside from the fighting, there is also a lingering chaos present throughout the film. Characters are seen screaming and panicking and are shown with various wounds, to the point where you are desensitized by the end. The whole film carries a sense of dread, that doesn’t let up until the epilogue of the film.

Is The Hobbit: TBOTFA educational?

In addition to the most violent of the three, this is unfortunately also the least educational. While trying to avoid giving my opinion about the film, it is frustrating to see some plot holes and missed opportunities that could have taught lessons. For instance there is a greedy, unlikable character throughout the film that serves as the comic relief, he steals from others and is very selfish. He could have been used to portray why this behavior ultimately will not work out, but he isn’t and his story line is never concluded. There may not be any specific subject matter that directly relates to the movie, however there are some 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 3rd 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. The story also borrows from some excellent lore found in literature. If your child enjoys the movies and books, there is a huge universe that is waiting for them.

Is there foul language?

No, 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 the filmmakers stuck to the book.
  • They’ve seen the other movies: The film is violent but only slightly more than the previous films. If you were comfortable with the violence in the prequels it would only be fair to allow them to watch the finale.
  • 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 CGI characters is fascinating.

Your child should NOT see this movie if:

  • They are uncomfortable with death: As stated above this is the most violent film, you will see death, and in some instances it will be center screen.
  • 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.  There are other enemies in the film that could scare a child, such as dragons, and trolls that have been mutilated to fit a specific purpose.
  • They are uninterested: As stated above, at 2 hours and 24 minutes long, it’s a long movie. If they lose interest there is a high probability they will get restless or fall asleep.
  • 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 does Bard resent being called sire?
  2. Why does Bilbo hide the Stone from Thorin?
  3. Do you think the trade between Bard and Thorin was fair?
  4. Why did Thorin not go to the aid of his friends?
  5. If you were in Thorin’s position how would you have acted differently?
  6. Why do you think Bilbo continues to lie about the ring?

We will continue to add to the list of films we review for parents. If you have any questions about 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:

Image Credit © Warner Brothers

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