*author of THE LITTLEST SHOGGOTH, currently featured in its own Kickstarter:
Since I spent most of the day preparing for the movie, seeing the movie, driving to the other place where they were showing the movie, seeing the movie again, having a movie-themed dinner at Denny's, and reading other folks' responses to the movie, I haven't had time to write a full review yet. In the meantime, thought I'd share my first impressions, as posted to the MythSoc list earlier tonight:
Wow. What a great movie.
Martin Freeman is great as Bilbo; McKellan is great as Gandalf, and it's great to see the familiar faces of returning stars like Galadriel, Gollum, Saruman, et al.
This is a Peter Jackson Tolkien movie, so you know what to expect going in. Many changes from the original but v. impressive results overall. Quite a few scenes strongly reminiscent of specific scenes in Jackson's LotR.
Noticed in the closing credits that David Salo once again helped with languages and saw that our v. own Janet B. Croft had a credit simply as "Tolkien Scholar"; congr, Janet. This is also the first time I've ever seen a credit for horse make-up.
I'd say the standout scenes were the Unexpected Party (the film devotes a lot of time to this crucial scene) and the encounter with Gollum. I also enjoyed the White Council and (somewhat to my surprise) Radagast -- I think because in both cases these were invented scenes where I didn't have Tolkien's dialogue dueling with Jackson's in my head. Oddly enough, the dwarf Bilbo's closest with is Bofur.
Having seen it twice today -- regular and 3-D -- I'd say skip the 3-D unless you're particularly fond of the format (that's a long time to wear extra glasses). May try to catch it in the enhanced frames-per-second format in a week or so.
Can say that, having seen it in two separate theatres with different people, noticed that the laughs and appreciative sounds came in the same places both times.
So, if you like the previous Jackson Tolkien, you'll like this one. If you didn't, you won't. Pretty much as simple as that.