The Hobbit has long been one of my favorite books. I've read it several times, I'm reading it to my sons, and if/when that day comes I'll gladly read it to my grandchildren. When I heard that Peter Jackson was going to take a stab at making a movie version of this beloved book, I thought "Ok, he did a pretty good job with The Lord of the Rings, this could be interesting." That interest soured when it came out that what really could be done in one movie, albeit a long one, is being turned into a trilogy and Mr. Jackson and crew were going to add stuff to the story. That would be more OK if they stuck to material that Tolkien had written, but they were going to add in their own stuff as well that had nothing to do with Tolkien's work. Sure, he did that in LotR as well, but other than the scene in "Fellowship" with Arwen summoning water horses against the Ring Wraiths (bleh) none of the embellishments did anything to dampen my enjoyment of the movies. That's not the case with "The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey". The new stuff doesn't really blend in with the rest of the story, sometimes jarringly so. I understand that these things happen when books are modified for the big screen. I loved "The Postman" even though it scrapped large chunks of the book and essentially flipped the events in the book, for instance. (Really, it ended up being a better story than the novel, but I digress.) Those kinds of things happen, and somtimes end up making a better movie than a straight translation of a book ever would have.
The other thing that annoys me with "An Unexpected Journey" is that The Hobbit is essentially a children's book, but the movie is definitely not for younger kids. Each parent can decide what their kid(s) can handle, but the movie is too graphic for me to feel comfortable showing it to my 4 year old. Azog beheading the former dwarf king and then later getting his hand severed was a bit much. They are turning The Hobbit into a series of movies that's trying to be another LotR, when it was never that. Sure, it takes place in the same world and ties into the story of LotR, but the tone of the book is far and away different from that of LotR. I can't help but feel that they missed a great opportunity to make a great fantasy movie for the whole family. Sure there will be battles, but just because there are battles doesn't mean there needs to be gratuitious beheadings and dismemberments, not to mention buckets of greenish-black "blood".
All that said, the movie is gorgeous. Peter Jackson knows how to put a movie together. If I divorce how I feel and what I know about the source material from the movie, I can still enjoy it. If it wasn't titled "The Hobbit" I'd probably like it quite a bit. I can do that to a point. I didn't feel like I wasted my time or money watching The Hobbit, and I'll watch the next two as well, but in the back of my mind I know I'm watching something that's going to be less awe-inspiring, less majestic, just less than what it could have been had they kept to the source material and the spirit in which the book was written.
There, got that off my chest. I'll hop off my soapbox and get back to gaming.