NEW YORK -- Warner Bros. spared no expense tonight ringing in the arrival of Peter Jackson's "The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey" with a New York premiere and an ornate after-party at Guastavino's on the east side. The space's "soaring granite arches and catalan vaulted tiled ceiling," to steal from its own PR, served as a perfect palette for Middle Earth-inspired wares. Wooden tables decked with candelabras and other similar decor offered a comfortable dose of Hobbiton as Jackson, stars Martin Freeman, Andy Serkis and Ian McKellen, "Argo" director Ben Affleck, actors Patrick Stewart, Elijah Wood, Liv Tyler and many more filled the room to capacity.
The toast, of course, is to Jackson's accomplishment, the first in a new, sure-to-be-expansive trilogy of films adapted from J.R.R. Tolkien's intro to "The Lord of the Rings." And hopes are rightly high that the film will land just right with fanbases both old and new to send this one soaring at the box office. But while the film's aesthetic and feel certainly hearkens back to the franchise Jackson launched in the early aughts, there were attempts at mining a new identity, and much of that was inherent in the enterprise.