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The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey (2012) - Movie Review for Parents

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The Hobbit
Photo © Warner Bros. Pictures

Bottom line: The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey is an epic adventure much more intense and violent than the story in the book. The movie contains several scenes of intense and gory violence.

MPAA Rating: PG-13, for extended sequences of intense fantasy action violence and frightening images
Guide age recommendation: 12+
Genre: Action/Adventure/Fantasy
Runtime: 169 minutes
Starring: Ian McKellen, Martin Freeman, Cate Blanchett, Orlando Bloom, Ian Holm, Christopher Lee, Hugo Weaving, Elijah Wood, Evangeline Lilly
Studio: Warner Bros. Pictures
Director: Peter Jackson
Release Date: December 14, 2012 (2D/3D/IMAX)

The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey - Overview

Bilbo Baggins is innocently going about his simple life in the Shire when he gets a visit from an old family friend: the legendary wizard Gandalf. Bilbo knows better than to say yes when Gandalf asks him if he would like to go on an adventure, but suddenly Bilbo's small house is overrun with dwarfs. Despite his original protests, Bilbo finds himself embarking on a quest to reclaim the lost Dwarf Kingdom of Erebor, which was long ago lost to a vicious dragon.

The journey proves treacherous as Bilbo, the thirteen dwarves led by Thorin Oakenshield, and Gandalf make their way. They are attacked by Orcs and forced to battle goblins and other fierce-some creatures. Bilbo also has a suspenseful encounter with the pathetic and tricky creature Gollum. In a battle of wit and will, Bilbo walks away with Gollum's most precious possession, but Bilbo has no idea of the power Gollum's treasure possesses.

The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey - Guide Review for Parents

The first movie in this film trilogy is much more intense and violent than the book The Hobbit. Filmmakers drew from the book as well as from material that was written later by J.R.R Tolkein. Parents should know that this movie contains several scenes of intense violence with blood and gore, including scenes where a human is decapitated and a monster's arm is cut of (with blood spurting out) and more. These scenes could be extremely frightening or disturbing for children.

The scene with Gollum, though not gory, could also be nightmare-inducing for some kids. From Gollum's chanting about beating the head in and eating another creature, to his creepy form and whispered riddles, to his eerie stalking of Bilbo, he is a pathetic and possibly terrifying character. Bilbo meets many other fierce-some and scary looking creatures throughout his adventure, and he is in great peril throughout most of the film.

As far as the movie experience goes, there are three ways to watch: 2D, 3D (regular 24 frame) and 3D 48 frame. We found the 48 frame version to be a little annoying. The landscapes looked more fake than in the Lord of the Rings movies, especially in the beginning at the Shire, and some scenes looked more like a TV show than a movie. We did not notice any ill effects physically, as some people have reported due to the camera motion at higher frame speeds. Just to be safe, if your kid has a queasy stomach or gets dizzy or has other problems with films that have wild motion, you may want to stick with regular 3D or 2D. The 48 frame version is only shown at select theaters, and you can check the theater website to verify which type of 3D they are showing.

The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey - Content Overview

*May contain spoilers.

  • Violence (Extreme): This film is extremely violent throughout. Violence includes fighting between people and various types of hideous creatures. Blood and gore is shown. The worst of the violence includes things like decapitation and a limb being cut off. The decapitated head is thrown and seen rolling on the ground. The monsters shown in the movie are vicious and cruel. The main characters in the movie are in extreme peril in many scenes.
  • Scary Scenes (Extreme): Scenes listed under "violence" could be extremely frightening for kids. Also, the scene in which Gollum and Bilbo meet is intensely creepy and could be very disturbing for kids.
  • Sex/Nudity (Low): A few scantily dressed creatures appear here and there throughout the movie.
  • Drugs and Alcohol (Low) Some characters are shown drinking wine and other drinks in the movie.
  • Profanity (Low)
  • Disrespectful/Imitative Behavior (Extreme): Kids may want to imitate the various battle scenes in the movie. The movie portrays several instances of vengeful discussion and battles based on revenge.

  • Sad/Unsettling Scenes (Extreme): The dwarfs story of how they lost their homes is tragic and the reason behind their quest to regain what is theirs. One dwarf witnessed the gruesome death of his grandfather and loss of his father. Bilbo misses his home at the shire and has some trouble fitting in with the rest of the group.
  • Movie Topics Kids Might Have Questions About: Magic and wizardry, evil, darkness, death, necromancy, dragons and other mythical creatures, loss, revenge
Disclosure: The studio provided a free screening of this movie for review purposes. For more information, please see our Ethics Policy.
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