‘The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey’: New Stills With Elijah Wood, Ian McKellen and Martin Freeman Evoke ‘The Lord of the Rings’ (PHOTOS)

Attention, Hobbit fans: Just in case you weren’t already counting down the days until The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, which opens December 14, new stills from the movie have surfaced, and all the warm and fuzzy memories of The Lord of the Rings are coming back.

In the new snaps (posted at Brazilian site Cine Marcado) from the first installment of Peter Jackson’s three-part J.R.R. Tolkien prequel, it looks like old home week in Middle-earth, with Elijah Wood and Sir Ian McKellen recreating some iconic moments from the blockbuster, Oscar-winning trilogy of a decade ago. Indeed, Wood’s Frodo looks just the same — has the actor aged at all since he filmed the initial trliogy back in 1999 and 2000?

What else do the new photos tell us about the ‘Hobbit’ trilogy?

McKellen actually looks a tad younger — Gandalf the Grey’s beard is not so grey yet — which makes sense, since the Hobbit adventure takes place 60 years before the events in The Lord of the Rings. (Though 60 years is an eye-blink in the lifespan of a wizard.)

And then there’s Martin Freeman, as the young Bilbo Baggins (played as an ancient hobbit by Ian Holm in The Lord of the Rings). Unlike the wily, headstrong Bilbo played by Holm, the young Bilbo is a quiet homebody who, through Gandalf’s intervention, becomes an unlikely, sword-wielding adventurer. Freeman’s face seems to capture the fish-out-of-water puzzlement and fear that characterize Bilbo throughout the surprise quest hinted at in the new movie’s title.

How did Jackson expand Tolkien’s relatively slender novel The Hobbit into three movies?

As is apparent from these new pictures, there’s a lot of the new trilogy that takes place in Frodo’s day — decades after Bilbo’s adventure. It’s been suggested that, as a framing device, Bilbo spends much screen time recounting his story to young Frodo, igniting in him the interest in exploring the world beyond the Shire that blossoms in The Lord of the Rings.

What do you think? Do these stills make you long to return to Middle-earth? Let us know in the comments below.