This week we return to Middle Earth as Peter Jackson goes back 60 years before “The Lord of the Rings” for the story of Bilbo Baggins and his adventure with a brave band of dwarves who journey to a mountain to reclaim their home from a fierce dragon. Peter Jackson, director of the acclaimed trilogy of earlier films, based on the books by J.R.R. Tolkien, has returned and much will seem familiar, including the stunning New Zealand locations, the seamless integration of the fantasy characters and special effects, and of course the return of actors like Elijah Woods and Ian McKellen. But there is something very new in this film, which has twice as many frames per second as standard films, bringing a new depth and clarity to the images.
It may come after the other movies, but The Hobbit is a shorter and more accessible way to enter the world of Tolkien. I love the version with the Michael Hague illustrations. And I have some affection for the the Rankin-Bass animated film starring John Houston and Orson Bean.