The Post-Gazette reviews movies from a family perspective:
'The Hobbit: The Unexpected Journey'
Suitable for: Middle school and older.
What you should know: The movie marks the return of Oscar-winning director Peter Jackson with the prequel to J.R.R. Tolkien's "The Lord of the Rings" trilogy, which he also adapted for the screen. "An Unexpected Journey" is the first of three "Hobbit" films, with lots of additions to Tolkien's tale of Bilbo Baggins, who leaves his serene life for an adventure with Dwarves and a wizard named Gandalf. Obstacles along the way include rock giants, trolls, goblins and a creature named Gollum. At almost three hours, this is a long haul for fidgety kids.
Language: None that has meaning beyond Middle-earth, although trolls get gross around a campfire.
Sexual situations and nudity: None.
Violence/scary situations: "The Hobbit" has more humor that its predecessors, but it has scares to fill its long run time: a fire-breathing dragon destroys a city; battle scenes with beheadings and high body counts; trolls capturing and preparing to eat the questing company; dark forces defiling a forest; nasty goblins by the thousands and nastier Orcs, who ride giant wolf-like creatures called Wargs. Danger and treachery loom everywhere, from a shadowy figure who can raise the dead to the one and only Gollum, who wants nothing more than to eat Bilbo Baggins. Depending on how you choose to view the film, the higher frame-rate format can create a jarring effect from scene to scene.
Alcohol and drug use: There's a scene of ale-swilling Dwarves at Bag End, followed by a belching contest. Wine also is consumed.