Let me start this off by saying this in no way needs to be separated into three different movies. There's not enough story. As someone who loves the book, I could see it being FAITHFULLY ADAPTED (aka, follow it pretty closely) and still end in two movies. Yet they decided to add a shitload of extra stuff and we're left spending three different ticket fees. Peter Jackson, you brilliant bastard.
I don't know why I expected anything less but the film is overlong. And not in the Lord of the Rings kind of way either where stuff is so epic and so much is going on that it's all vital to the story. No, I'm talking about several times in the theater going "Dear god, is this 'unexpected journey' gonna ever start or are they just going to talk about it and prepare for it?" Several times my patience was tried with the very slow and uneven pacing. Not to mention a lot of cameo's done in the vein of "Hey look, I was in the Lord of the Rings, remember me?" It's called editing, this could have used it.
Don't get me wrong though, the film is fun on a bun. Absolutely loved all the visuals throughout and the film is a top contender for the visual effects Oscar. Hell, based on Gollum alone, the category should be a no-brainer. Gollum is a real being. I'm convinced. They just hide him away and only bring him out for these movies. He looks that good.
And Andy Serkis. Dear god, that man brings new meaning to motion-capture acting. One of these days he's finally gonna get recognized for his work (unfortunately it probably won't be here given the small screen time). As for the other actors, they do great jobs, fitting into the roles perfectly. Freeman has always been a great choice for Bilbo so I feel like he's being overlooked for the likes of Armitage but both are standouts amongst an impressive cast.
Yes, I had some problems with the film, but few films get away from me unscathed; I'm just a harsh critic. The main criteria that this movie filled is the pure and simple fact that I had so much fun with it. Too much CGI was clouded by what they did with it. Could some of it had been done practically? Sure but that's not what the film was going for. It was going for fantastical and unbelievable, both of which were accomplished wholly. I anxiously await The Desolation of Smaug for reasons very obvious: Smaug. The character is one of my favorites and with Benedict Cumberbatch voicing, it's sure to be an instant classic.