Brief review: Unlike the "Lord of the Rings' films the first installment in the new "Hobbit" trilogy is way more light-weighted, brighter in tone, and definitely not as action-packed as its three predecessors, as it focuses more on explaining us everything we don’t know and need to know in a humorous and relaxed way, rather than providing us with non-stop spectacle. The first half is reasonably slow-moving and lacking in action and vigor, spending all of its time on setting up the following “unexpected journey”, but as soon as the journey starts, the pacing picks up quickly, and continues to flow smoothly throughout, injecting a dose of needed energy into the storytelling. Peter Jackson once again has chosen the most breathtaking filming locations in the beautiful New Zealand, and that combined with the first-class CGI work leads to a spectacular visual result, the majesty of which will leave you in awe. The use of 3D is spot on, if not the best, but on certain scenes it’s incredibly effective, and makes you feel part of what’s happening on screen. Aside from some pacing issues here and there, Jackson’s direction is hard to fault really. As expected, he displays a tasteful visual flair, and remarkable attention to detail. Bilbo Baggins is played wonderfully by Martin Freeman, the dwarves are fun to watch, Ian McKellen returns with a bang as Gandalf, but it’s Andy Serkis as Gollum, that absolutely steals the show.
Overall summary: Sure, it lacks the grim feel, and refined complexity that turned "The Lord of the Rings" into such a classic, but "The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey" is still a truly entertaining, visually-sumptuous and masterfully-crafted prequel, that will leave you satisfied.