By Michael Gowan, TechNewsDaily

Join Bilbo, Gandalf and the others in videos, books and games. Credit: Warner Bros. Entertainment

Bilbo Baggins and his fellow furry-footed hobbits return to movie theaters

this week with director Peter Jackson's "The Hobbit: An Unexpected

Journey," the first in a trilogy. But you don't need to wait until then to

dive deep into Middle-earth and the fantasy world that author J.R.R. Tolkien


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With apps, games, ebooks and more, you can reacquaint yourself with Bilbo,

Gandalf and Gollum in time for the movie's Dec. 14 release and continue the journey


How to Get the Story

The story of the hobbit began as a children's book, "The Hobbit: There

and Back Again," published in 1937. The movies are expected to stay true

to the original story, so you can prepare yourself by reading an ebook version.

You'll find it in a variety of formats to match your ereader of choice,

including Amazon's Kindle. If you use iBooks for iOS devices, look for it in

PDF or ePub formats. Or check out the enhanced

version for Kindle, which adds illustrations and audio from Tolkien.

Understanding Tolkien's detailed fantasy world can require some effort. The

free official

iOS app for the movie includes background on the many characters in

"The Hobbit" as well as a map of Middle-earth, the fictional world

where Tolkien set the story.

If you prefer to listen to the tale, you can find multiple audiobook

versions on the iTunes Store, Amazon and other audiobook sources. You can also listen for free on YouTube.

Options to Play Along

Indulge your inner hobbit and become a part of the action with games tied to

the movie's release.

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For mobile gamers,

Kabam's free, massively multiplayer strategy-action game "The Hobbit:

Kingdoms of Middle-Earth," for iOS and Android, lets you destroy goblins

as you build

up a city.

If you want to dive deeper into the action, try Monolith Games recently

released "Guardians of Middle-Earth," a multiple online battle arena

(MOBA)-style game for PlayStation 3 and XBOX 360. In a MOBA-style game, you

compete as a single character against online opponents in real time. You can

wage epic battles playing as Gandalf, Sauron or other characters from Tolkien's


What Else to Watch

"The Hobbit" is the prelude to Tolkien's epic "Lord of the

Rings" trilogy. You can stream Peter Jackson's movie adaptations of those

tales from Amazon for $2 a movie or from iTunes for $4 each. If you're feeling

nostalgic, you can buy a DVD (no Blu-ray) of Rankin/Bass's animated version of

"The Hobbit" from 1977, but you won't find a digital version to


In the new movie, Bilbo Baggins is played by Martin Freeman, who also stars

as Dr. Watson in the new BBC series "Sherlock." You can check out

Freeman's work by streaming the re-imagined Sherlock

Holmes story on Amazon and Netflix, among other places.

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You'll find plenty of behind-the-scenes videos on YouTube from Peter

Jackson. He published videos throughout the process of filming and editing the


Preparing You Eyes for High Frame

Rate 3D

Director Peter Jackson shot "The Hobbit" in 3D at 48 frames per

second, twice the frame rate of typical movies. High frame rate (HFR) films aim

to better imitate the smooth motion we see in real life. But some people

complain that it looks too real, like a TV newscast. "The Hobbit"

will also appear in standard-frame-rate 2D and 3D, as well as IMAX and IMAX 3D.

Any way you prepare yourself, get ready for a spectacle of the big screen.

Hobbits may be small, but these movies won't be.

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