Not every critic loved The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey but audiences seem more than okay with it as the film is still going strong at the box office, destined to land as one of the top five highest-grossing films of 2012 and with more than $800 million grossed worldwide. If it felt a little familiar at times, it isn’t just because it featured the return of Ian McKellen as Gandalf, Andy Serkis as Gollum and a host of supporting characters and locations that populate Middle-earth.
The Hobbit naturally shares characters with the Lord of the Rings film trilogy that made Jackson one of the best known movie directors in the world, but there were also a number of events or sequences deliberately constructed to echo the LOTR films. Some fans love the echoes, some decidedly do not, but here are a lucky seven of the key points where Jackson hearkened back to the future in the first Hobbit film. You can find more but here are some to get viewers started.
Gandalf the Tall
LOTR: Inside Bag End, perhaps for the first time in decades, Gandalf turns and bumps his wizard head into a Hobbit chandelier. This was done originally to demonstrate that we have a tall guy in a small house, to give audiences a sense of scale.
Hobbit: While the dwarves raid Bilbo’s pantry, Gandalf bumps his head on a chandelier, mainly just as a nod to the previously made, but later sequentially, film trilogy.
Gandalf's Persuasive Magic
LOTR: Gandalf, now alone with an aged Bilbo Baggins (Ian Holm) flexes his vocals and causes the room to get dark and scary while he proves a point and even tells Bilbo to trust him as he once did, a nod to The Hobbit for viewers in the know. Bilbo must leave his ring and journey on.
Hobbit: Gandalf, in Bilbo’s house at a table with dwarves, causes a darkening atmosphere, raises his stature and changes his voice to extra echoing bass tones to tell the dwarves that Bilbo Baggins (Martin Freeman) is indeed the burglar they are looking for.
Showdown on a Bridge
LOTR: After a wild chase through the dwarven kingdom of Moria, Gandalf must face, on the stone bridge of Khazad-dum, the mightiest creature in the underground lair: a Balrog of Morgoth that the dwarves call Durin’s Bane.
Hobbit: After a wild chase through Goblin kingdom in the mountains, Gandalf must face, on a rather humble wooden bridge, the mightiest creature in the underground lair: the giant Goblin King (Barry Humphries) and his horrifying goiter.
LOTR: Sauron, in the LOTR prolog, dressed in vicious-cool armor, takes to the battlefield against the last alliance of elves and men, and with single swings of his mace takes out pockets of combatants. His efforts seem supernatural and the action of an immortal but he sends groups flying, some that he may not even have hit.
Hobbit: Azog the giant orc, in a flashback taken from the appendices in the back of the LOTR books, uses a giant mace to decimate enemy soldiers. With a single swing he doesn’t just kill any who stand against him, he sends several dwarves flying with each swing. However, when compared to Sauron, he is less powerful and more mortal.
LOTR: In the mace sequence above, Elendil's son, Isildur, is seemingly defeated and moments from death when he reaches a broken sword and with it manages to cut off the One Ring from Sauron’s finger, turning the tide of battle.
Hobbit: In a flashback, Thrain’s son, Thorin, is seemingly defeated and moments from death when he reaches a broken branch, an oaken shield, and uses it to withstand a furious attack from the mace-wielding orc. When all seems lost, Thorin brings his sharp weapon up just in time to cut off the entire hand of Azog, turning the tide of battle.
Round 'Em Up
LOTR: Aragorn, Gimli and Legolas are surprised by the arrival of a group of horse riders on the plains of Rohan. The riders immediately, aggressively take formation around the group who stand back-to-back for protection.
Hobbit: The 13 dwarves arrive at Rivendell and are surprised by the arrival of a group of horse riders who immediately, aggressively take formation around the group who stand back-to-back for protection.
LOTR: With a group of riders surrounding them on the Plains of Rohan, Gimli takes offense when Eomer asks for the identity of the group and speaks aggressively toward the clearly superior forces.
Hobbit: With a group of riders surrounding them in Rivendell, Gloin, Gimli’s father, assumes the dwarves have been insulted when Elrond speaks his native tongue and speaks aggressively to the clearly superior forces. Like father, like son or like son, like father.
LOTR: In the Mines of Moria, Gandalf tells Frodo that it was mercy that stayed Bilbo’s hand and spared Gollum life, playing counselor to hobbits as he once did.
Hobbit: Just outside of the troll cave and hoard, after Gandalf hands Bilbo a sword, he suggests that it is mercy and sparing a life, not taking one, that can be a heroic act.
So there you have it, seven places that reference LOTR in the first Hobbit film. Will Jackson deliver more of these in future films? With Legolas expected back in film two, will he even be able to resist? And so far at least, we can rejoice that he hasn’t included another dwarf-tossing joke.