For some J.R.R. Tolkien readers, this first installment of director Peter Jackson's The Hobbit trilogy may hold an unexpected journey—perhaps even a conflicting one. It is clearly Tolkien, but not always The Hobbit as he wrote it.
The divisive issue is not omissions, as is often the case with adaptations; in fact, all major events of the book's first six chapters are fairly depicted. The issue here is that Jackson has made wholesale additions that make it all feel less like the book and more like the darker cinematic journey Jackson took us on not long ago with his Lord of the Rings trilogy. And that seems to be exactly Jackson's goal.
In notes and appendices to The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings, Tolkien wrote entire histories of battles, characters, and places. Much of this supplemental material helps bridge the two works. While the published work of The Hobbit shared characters and settings but stood independently from the later The Lord of the Rings trilogy, Jackson chose to adapt not just the original work but Tolkien's expanded universe. And so, The Hobbit becomes a sort of Lord of the Rings: Episode 1 - The Phantom Menace.
Jackson chose to break The Hobbit—which is not that dense or long of a book—into three movies (the first checking in at an often stretched-feeling 166 minutes) specifically to include more of Tolkien's complex world previously only published in the books' appendices and in collections of unfinished writings edited posthumously by his son.
Cutting The Hobbit into thirds has two major effects on the story. First, we obviously see only the tip of the full story here—and only the seeds of the rich, biblical themes sown into the saga by Tolkien, ...