But since her character Galadriel isn't in the book, she naturally doesn't get much to do in scenes which also feature the return of Christopher Lee's Saruman (shot in four days in England because of his age).
Elsewhere, the sense of movement is quicker than it was in Avatar and the flight of birds, in particular, more accurately reproduced.
One stunning flying sequence might be termed 'the talons of terror and the feathers of freedom' for its ability to transfer the film's ability to make actors look small indoors into the wider animal kingdom.
An Unexpected Journey opens 60 years before the rest of the film takes place, with Sir Ian Holm's Elder Bilbo telling fellow returnee Elijah Wood: "My dear (nephew) Frodo, I have told you the truth. I may not have told you all of it...
"I am old now, I am not the same hobbit I once was. Time for you to know what really happened."
While The Unexpected Journey lacks the true sense of Fellowship that Jackson found in his first Lord of the Rings film, such are the challenges in store here that viewers will develop more genuine emotional connections.
It's great to see Andy Serkis returning as that 'small slimy creature' Gollum, this time challenging Bilbo to solve a series of riddles - only to lose his most prized possession, a simple gold ring that's tied to the fate of all Middle-earth in ways that Bilbo certainly cannot know.
These scenes offer some genuine, Skyfall-quality acting respite from what is otherwise such an impressively-sustained action movie.
Seven of the dwarves are played by New Zealand actors and it's a shame that they didn't have one more.
The accent of Irish star James Nesbitt (Bofur) stands out so much that despite his almost impenetrable disguise, he still ends up looking Little Britainesque, rather like David Walliams in Great Expectations.
Other big names, from Ken Stott as the dwarf Balin ('We're wider, not shorter') to Barry Humphries' Great Goblin are much more in character. The excellent cinematography is by Jackson's regular Oscar-winning partner Andrew Lesnie. We'll never know if Pan's Labyrinth director Guillermo Del Toro - one of the script's four co-writers along with the returning Fran Walsh, Philippa Boyens and Jackson himself - would have done a better job.
Peter Jackson's return is bold enough, and The Hobbit is generally good enough, for us not to even ask the question.