Well, we finally got to see "The Hobbit", just under the wire to make my 2012 movie list.
I knew I'd enjoy this movie. The Lord of The Rings Trilogy is on my all-time favorites list, and with the same director, locations, and many of the same actors, it was like revisiting an old friend. Martin Freeman is wonderfully believable as a younger Bilbo. (After seeing this movie, I began watching "Sherlock" on Netflix, in part, just to see more of him.)
Also stellar is Richard Armitage as Thorin, leader of the Dwarf company. As light and humorous as "The Hobbit" is, there is also emotional depth there, much of it riding on Thorin, and Armitage is up to the task. The pain of a leader who has seen his homeland devastated is plain on his face, as is the determination and duty to regain what was lost. He also has a great singing voice; the dwarf chorus singing "The Misty Mountain" gave me chills.
There is so much going on in this movie, it never really feels like almost three hours; I can't think of any scenes I'd cut to shorten it, although maybe I'll change my mind after repeated viewings. And there will be repeated viewings. This is one of the movies I'll be buying to watch over and over with my kids when they're old enough.
I haven't read the book (yet), so I can't compare the book and the movie. I read the Lord of the Rings Trilogy after seeing the movies, so I'm going to wait until after the last of this trilogy to start "The Hobbit." I really don't know how they can stretch a book that size into three movies, but I'm willing to keep an open mind. I can't wait for part two next December.