Family Film Glance: 'Jack Reacher,' 'The Hobbit: The Unexpected Journey,' 'Rise of the Guardians'

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette Published:

A guide to movies from a family perspective:

"Jack Reacher"

-- Rated: PG-13.

-- Suitable for: Teens and older.

-- What you should know: This movie, starring Tom Cruise in the title role, was filmed in Pittsburgh. It opens with a scene, taken from the Lee Child source novel, in which a sniper shoots a handful of people outside PNC Park. It shows the city off to great advantage. The PG-13 rating is right on the money.

-- Language: One f-word, a half-dozen uses of profanity and a dozen milder four-letter words.

-- Sexual situations and nudity: A woman is briefly shown in underwear leaving a man's bed.

-- Violence/scary situations: Lots, with the sniper shooting, intense physical fights and shootouts that wound or kill, the murder of a character and dumping of the body, scenes of someone held captive and a long chase scene.

-- Alcohol and drug use: Beer is consumed and a scene is set in a bar.

"The Hobbit: The Unexpected Journey"

-- Rated: PG-13.

-- Suitable for: Middle-schoolers 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 wolflike 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.

"Rise of the Guardians"

-- Rated: PG.

-- Suitable for: Kindergartners and up.

-- What you should know: This is an animated adventure, being shown in 2-D and 3-D (as always, you pay extra and must wear the glasses throughout), about Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny, Tooth Fairy, Sandman and Jack Frost. They band together to stop an evil spirit from taking over.

-- Language: Nothing objectionable.

-- Sexual situations and nudity: None.

-- Violence/scary situations: The movie opens with a teenage boy falling through the water and recalling, "It was dark and it was cold and I was scared." After obviously drowning, he is immediately "reborn" as Jack Frost and a later scene shows he was ice skating with a younger sister when the accident happened. An evil character can turn children's dreams into nightmares, represented by amorphous black stallions. There are snowball fights and a wild sled ride that knocks out a boy's tooth.

-- Alcohol and drug use: None.

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