First of all, I am going to say that “The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey” is a top-notch, first-rate film that everyone needs to see, but I will also say that you should not see it if you have not read the book. If you are a fan of the book, or have at least read it once, it is always worth seeing a visual presentation of the material done in a manner that befits the cinematic medium. Remember, Peter Jackson is a fan of the books too, and that’s why he directed this film and “The Lord of the Rings” trilogy.
Keep in mind that there are many liberties taken with the story, some of them quite radical. This is because the story found in the book has been translated into film, which is like an entirely different language. The film focuses more on the character and decisions made by Bilbo Baggins, and enhances the importance of his actions in the story. The film essentially streamlines the episodic nature of the book into a well-contained narrative where everything included is an interesting and important part of the story. Concerning the decision to split the 300-page book into three films, remember that Peter Jackson is an extremely detailed filmmaker, and that he would have definitely done the same thing with “The Lord of the Rings” if he had the budget; after all, he had to cut things from that story, and he doesn’t want to do that with “The Hobbit.”
To those unfamiliar with the works of J.R.R. Tolkien, I will say to enjoy and use this film as an entry into the amazing world he crafted. To the purists, who understandably revile deviations from the source material, I will say to at least watch it once and enjoy it simply for what it is: a fan’s cinematic homage to the amazing works of Tolkien. I rate this film 9 out of 10.