It dawned upon me watching the opening of “The Desolation of Smaug”: Did we really need the first movie? The entirety of the first film is so based on propping up storylines that “The Desolation of Smaug” wastes no time and drops in to the action. We could have just featured thirty minutes establishing the journey and cut to the opening scene. In “The Desolation of Smaug,” the writers provide a prologue where Gandalf meets Thorin in a pub and asks him to lead the journey. They proclaim they need a “burglar,” and cut to Bilbo Baggins in action. So, what was the point of the first movie? The opening shot of Bilbo hiding in the rocks with his allies speaks sounds more than the entire director’s cut of “An Unexpected Journey” could.
For a movie with the subtitle “An Unexpected Journey,” Bilbo Baggins really does get a huge notice ahead of time. In fact he has enough notice to run away from his home and let the dwarves wait at his door step. Director Peter Jackson really has his work cut out for him, as he has to adapt “The Hobbit” while also trying to remind the audience that this is connected in a large way to “Lord of the Rings.” So, he shoe horns in a cameo from Frodo Baggins, as played by Elijah Wood, and we then enter in to the rather long story afoot.