New This Week: "The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug" (**1/2 out of four stars). This second part of the Lord of the Rings prequel trilogy is 8 minutes shorter than the first part, and 8 minutes better: less twee, less chatty, more action, more Elvish. There's even a new character - Tauriel (Evangeline Lilly), who joins the Elf prince Legolas (Orlando Bloom) in close combat against Orcs and other enemies. PG-13 (intense action, violence, adult themes)

- Steven Rea


Philadelphia Orchestra Christmas Kids Spectacular! On Saturday, the Philadelphia Orchestra puts on a holiday bash at Verizon Hall. They'll play classics like "Sleigh Ride," " 'Twas the Night before Christmas," and selections from The Nutcracker, and have a sing-along with Santa.

- John Timpane