In contrast to the “Lord of the Rings” trilogy, which recounts the war that ended the world's third age, “The Hobbit” is a travel narrative. It explains larger events as the main character encounters them, but because Bilbo's journey took place before the gathering darkness had taken full shape, the reader sees Middle Earth through a more whimsical lens.
On this point Peter Jackson's new film echoes the book. And the film does other things well too. The landscape, visual effects, and design are what you'd expect from Jackson. The music soars.
Tolkien's Bilbo earns the respect of the dwarves gradually, almost accidentally, because he possesses a hobbit's stealthiness and because he sees opportunities the dwarves overlook. But when he does heroic things, he does them for practical reasons.
But Jackson's Bilbo shows greater sympathy for cause and king. So much so that Gandalf's line about ordinary people holding back evil sounds almost off pitch. We shall see whether Bilbo recovers himself in the next two movies.