An ok start...
I went to the film having finished re-reading the book just a couple of weeks back, and also having played through the game recently as well. Had a great seat, and in a theatre that specifically screens only 3-D movies (am I the only one who noticed that more and more of those are popping up these days?). So I had a very immersive, fun and familiar
(the trolls have the exact same design as the game; it was like watching what I had read and played come to life) experience, and as a fan of the book, I went home satisfied having witnessed a good start to what might hopefully be a better overall trilogy.
I do understand the mediocre critical reception though: the pacing seemed off at times, especially when the movie deviates from the book. Some of the changes are good and necessary (The expanded story, the focus on Thorin's background, Azog's ascension to extra) and some are not so necessary (GIANTS! STONE GIANTS! THE LEGENDS ARE TRUE!) and some just feel like they were thrown in there in a hurry (they probably were). Radagast oscillates between Crazy Awesome
and The Scrappy
and just feels a bit un-Tolkeinish as a character; it's been a while since I read the Rings books so I don't remember much about him and can't tell if it was an accurate adaptation.
The Good: Obviously good CGI, good visuals, and good acting. The dwarf actors, even the ones with limited screentime, pull off an awesome performance. Good music, good 3-D.
The Bad: The pacing; Radagast; and holy crap the ten minutes of Old-Bilbo-and-Frodo scenes that we are subjected to before getting the actual tale underway. That belongs at the end of the last film, not here. Jackson also struggles a bit with some of the more narrative elements from the book; namely how Gandalf defeats the trolls (magic is used instead of wit) and the riddle game with Gollum, which takes place in complete darkness in the book and is quite creepy in the description, but instead is played chiefly for comedic/dramatic effect in a very
well-lit (and remember, underground) cave.
Could've been better, but manages a good kickoff anyway. Hopefully the next two will be even better.