A band of dwarves enlist the help of Gandalf The Grey who must persuade the unassuming and peaceful hobbit, Bilbo Baggins, to help Thorin Oakenshield and company reclaim their homeland from the evil dragon, Smaug. Their journey is fraught with peril and they encounter many dangerous foes (as well as several new allies) along the way.

 

The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey (2012) – Director: Peter Jackson

The_Hobbit-_An_Unexpected_Journey

Rating: 12A

Running Length: 169 mins

Starring: Martin Freeman, Ian McKellan, Richard Armitage

Genre: Action/Adventure, Fantasy

 

REVIEW

Peter Jackson has re-created Middle Earth once again in ‘The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey‘ and whilst it stays true to the majority of the book by J.R.R. Tolkien, several aspects have been added to continue the ethos of the whole Tolkien world. This approach by director Jackson provides the answer to the question ‘how can a short children’s book be made into a trilogy of three hour long films?’! It also means the pace of ‘The Hobbit‘ is rather odd, as it takes a long time to get going and stop/starts a bit through the middle.

The Hobbit is an excellent children’s book which can also be enjoyed by adults, however ‘The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey‘ may be a little surprising to those who expect to be able to take their young children to see it due to the addition of various scenes that weren’t in the original story and because the tone has been aged a little, making it more in line with ‘The Lord Of The Rings’ trilogy than, say, fantasy stories aimed at under 12s.

 

IS ‘THE HOBBIT: AN UNEXPECTED JOURNEY’ SUITABLE FOR CHILDREN?

This movie is mostly fine for under 12’s, there is very little in terms of over-the-top violence or gore and there isn’t a hint of sexual content. As this is an adventure story, most children will be expecting some good fight scenes and would probably be disappointed if there weren’t enough!

However, there are a few parts that may be a bit too much for some children. Most battles include ‘wargs’ who are huge, terrifying wolves, ridden by orcs. They are always aggressively snarling with their teeth bared and are usually at the forefront of the battles, as the orcs use them to do most of their fighting. They are often seen jumping towards the screen as they attack which can be quite scary when watching the film in 3D!

There are many instances in the fight scenes where people are being stabbed, run through with swords, crushed, burned, etc but these parts are usually quick, there is very little blood and the camera often cuts away at the appropriate moment. Similarly, there are several instances of decapitation in fight scenes. Usually this is done quickly (in one instance rather comically) and with no gory details. But in one flashback there is an (off camera) beheading by an extra large and vicious orc who proceeds to hold the head up by its hair (whilst blood drips from it). The head is then thrown directly at one of the protagonist dwarves. However, the camera doesn’t linger on this, hair mostly covers the severed head’s face and the blood is minimal, so any upset that may be caused are more likely to be due to a child’s sensibilities at the concept of decapitation. This is generally as bad as the violence gets and it is more likely to be the snarling ‘wargs’ that could upset younger children.

One of the characters, Radagast, is likely to be loved by children due to his sweet nature. However, his introductory scene shows him in distress as he walks passed a fox, a deer and some rabbits lying dead. He picks up a suffering hedgehog (who he affectionately calls ‘Sebastian’) and takes him back to his house to try to save him. Although many children may not pick up on this, the implication is that other animals would have died in a painful manner and so if you take a child particularly sympathetic to animal suffering you should be aware of this part of the film, albeit the suffering is implied rather than shown. Please also note a potentially very frightening scene where Radagast visits a ruined castle. He is attacked by two mysterious figures without provocation and the camera zooms towards an attacker as it screams aggressively. We highlight this scene as it wasn’t in the book and so someone familiar with the original story might not be expecting it.

As opposed to actual on screen violence, some the dialogue may disturb children old enough to understand it but young enough to fear what may happen. This applies particularly to the famous part of the story involving trolls. They threaten Bilbo by saying they will ‘hold his toes over the fire’ and ‘make him scream’, and almost all of their dialogue involves eating animals, Bilbo or the dwarves. However, this is actually more of a comedic scene as the trolls are clearly stupid and the fight scene with them is quite slap-stick in nature. Children are likely to be a little scared but will have fun at the same time.

One character who featured heavily in the promotional material (and therefore children will probably be expecting him) is, of course, Gollum from the The Lord of the Rings trilogy. He has a split personality of the innocent hobbit he once was and the evil of the ‘precious’ ring he lovingly carries with him. However, his scenes are also potentially too much for some children. When we first meet Gollum he is dragging a goblin away and then proceeds to crack the goblin’s head with a rock. Although this is only seen in the distance, you can hear Gollum complain that there are too many bones and not enough flesh before the evil side takes over, telling him to ‘shut up’ and ‘get his skin off’. Similar dialogue is later directed at Bilbo. The split personality of Gollum could be disturbing for children as while the innocent side of him is rather comedic, his evil side is very aggressive and violent.

 

CAN I SEE A CLIP?

 

VERDICT

Overall, we feel that ‘The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey’  is likely to be suitable for most children aged 9 and over, especially those who are used to watching adventure films. Some parts are violent and scary but they are not prolonged and will probably be quickly forgotten.

  • Violence: 3/5 (although the violence is not graphic there are many fight scenes)
  • Emotional Distress: 2/5
  • Fear Factor: 3/5 (The wargs in particular may scare)
  • Sexual Content: 0/5
  • Bad Language: 0/5
  • Dialogue: 2/5   (please be warned if your child is particularly sensitive to spoken threats and implied imminent violence)
  • Other: Beware, the film is nearly three hours long! Deals with themes of loyalty, friendship and judging someone fairly by their actions.

Words by Laura Record

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