I went and saw the Hobbit last night; or, rather, this morning. The 11:00 showing of a three hour movie was probably not my greatest idea, but I'm full of ideas like that. It was entertaining, to say the least. I enjoyed it for what it was, despite the nitpicks I have.
The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey follows a young Bilbo Baggins (played by Martin Freeman) among a large party of dwarves (who's names, for the most part, escape me) and the wizard Gandalf. The dwarf prince, Thorin, has taken up the quest to take back his home land from the dragon Smaug, and Bilbo has been recruited to help him. Among other things, they are troubled by goblins, orcs, a necromancer, and a curiously familiar fellow with a Precious as they make their way to The Lonely Mountain to face the dragon.
For one, which is my most major nitpick, The Hobbit should very well have been one movie. No amount of persuasion could move me in any other direction. The Hobbit was a shorter novel than any of the three Lord of the Rings books. They each had their one movie. So why, pray tell, is The Hobbit (the shortest LotR book) being made into a trilogy? It makes way for any number of add-ins, sure, but it takes away from the magic that The Hobbit first brought as a novel.
The movie also irritated me (as a fantasy reader/writer and as a LotR fan) in that it was more modernized than the LotR movies. The LotR movies were more fantasy-esque in manners, speech, and technology whereas The Hobbit seems to be trying to be more modern (most likely to help relate it to modern viewers) than the story that was set later in the Middle Earth timeline.
Now, don't get me wrong, this is a great movie. I am 100% eager to see the next installment and to go watch this one again. The dwarves may not have been as pleasing in their roles as, say, John Rhys-Davies as Gimli; however, they did quite well in their roles and I appreciated their humor just as much as I did Gimli's. The cinematics in the film were stunning, spanning from dwarven kingdoms to the familiar Shire, lush green plains to underground goblin cities... The picture was top notch. I was thoroughly amazed the entire time.
The improved CGI for characters such as Gollum, the Great Goblin, and the orc leader Azog immensely improves the feel of events. You could almost feel like you were there for a good portion of the time, and the characters (new and old) were satisfying. And, my favorite part (don't worry, no spoilers) was the game of riddles between Bilbo and Gollum. All in all, I was not disappointed.