13 December 2012 11:00 AM, PST | NextMovie | See recent NextMovie news »

Nearly a decade after Frodo waved goodbye to his pals in "The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King," J. R. R. Tolkien's Middle-earth has returned to the big screen in "The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey," the first in a new trilogy of films by Peter Jackson. But whereas the original series was based on three separate books, Jackson has stretched the 300-page "Hobbit" across three parts, the first of which has a running time of two hours and 49 minutes.

Naturally, you have to wonder: how does a 300-page book stretch into what will likely be a nine-hour epic? Jackson adapted "The Lord of the Rings" by cutting plenty of unnecessary plot and characters just to make three three-hour movies and those still felt jam-packed. So, when faced with the opposite dilemma of having far less material, how much could possibly happen in part one of "The Hobbit"?

For those inquiring minds, »

- Devin Fuller

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