The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey arrives in theatres today

Laura reviews one of the most-anticipated films of the year.

Director Peter Jackson returns to Middle Earth with his film adaptation of J.R.R. Tolkien’s 1937 children’s book, The Hobbit. In An Unexpected Journey, the first installment of his trilogy, the action takes place 60 years before the events of The Lord of the Rings.

The premise
We first meet Bilbo Baggins leading a solitary life in his small burrow in The Shire. When the wizard Gandalf arrives requesting that he join him on an adventure, Bilbo is hesitant at first. Gandalf wants Bilbo to act as a burglar for a group of 13 dwarves fighting to reclaim their home. Hobbits, being fleet of foot, are able to move about sight unseen, sound unheard — making young Bilbo the ideal candidate for the dangerous venture.

Having faced a ruthless invasion at the hands of the fearsome dragon Smaug, the dwarves were driven out of the kingdom of Erebor and left homeless. While Smaug guards the dwarf treasure, a plot is set in motion to reclaim their territory by any means necessary. Although riddled with anxiety, Bilbo agrees to leave his idyllic settings for unchartered terrain with a band of rough, yet charmingly brash, dwarves.

What we loved
The fact that audiences get to return to Middle Earth. Jackson has beautifully recaptured the magic of his fantasy universe for a whole new generation of fans. Visually stunning, An Unexpected Journey is just as light-hearted and comical as it is full of adventure and danger. With returning actors Ian McKellan, Cate Blanchett, Hugo Weaving and Andy Serkis, the cast also includes a whole slew of talented new faces, including Martin Freeman as Bilbo and Richard Armitage as Thorin Oakenshield.

Parental advisory
This film will likely frighten most kids under the age of 10. There are extended scenes of fantasy violence and one particularly gruesome orc decapitation. Although there is no swearing, the film does contain scenes where characters smoke pipes and talk about the effects of drugs.

Canadian rating — PG (parental guidance advised)
While it only earned a PG rating, it’s a gorier PG than your average kids flick. Recommended for kids over the age of 10.

You can also check out our list of the Best Family Films of 2012 to catch up on what you may have missed!

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