First off, the stuff I loved: ELVES! The scenes in Rivendell had me as happy as Samwise Gamgee. Also very happy to see things from the appendices, Lost Tales, and other of Tolkien's writings, making it in to the movie. The appearance of the White Council had me quietly squeeing.
Of course that leads me to my nitpicks: the movie seems to really be condensing the history. Not sure why they felt they had to make it seem that what was happening at Dol Guldor was something new. Mirkwood had been called Mirkwood, at the time of the Hobbit, for centuries, and the White Council had been founded something like 500 years prior. I'm assuming, with two more movies to fill, we'll see the Council drive Sauron aka the Necromancer, from Dol Goldur.
Then there's the Orc vendetta story line. Why oh why do they have orcs running around under the full light of day? That even contradicts their own LotR movie canon. Can't say I'm a fan of the Azog storyline. I think there's enough happening without them creating that particular thread. Maybe they think that by the time we get to the Battle of the Five Armies that the audience will need to have been pre-primed for the enmity between the Dwarves and the Orcs, instead of understanding it if it were explained when we get to movie three? On the other hand, while I'm not familiar with the actor playing Thorin, after this, I'm more than willing to get familiar :D
I did think it was amusing that they start the Hobbit with scenes from the beginning of Fellowship of the Ring that never made it into the movie. Please let us see Lobelia and the spoons at the end when they're auctioning off Bilbo's stuff!
Balin is wonderful! I always had a soft spot for him.
Looking forward to seeing the dragon full on.
I was ambivalent about Martin Freeman being cast as Bilbo, but he did a decent job, I thought.
Gollum seemed even more 'real' than I ever thought possible. Those scenes between him and Bilbo were riveting.
Thorin's song at the beginning of the movie gives me goosebumps.
And some non-spoilery stuff: The HFR 3D version. Nin said it was like looking out a window, and it was. It seemed very...real. Not sure how to explain it. It almost felt as if you could open the window and touch Middle Earth. Adding to it was the new Atmos Dolby sound - OMG! I'm an audiophile, and I was blown away. At one point I heard snoring and though the person behind me had fallen asleep, and then realized it the movie. Dang! Also, I think the higher frame rate lends itself to 3D better. Much less blur during action sequences than in the IMAX 3D version, and no post 3D movie eyestrain. Will be interested in seeing where this technology goes.
The IMAX had a ten minute clip of the new Star Trek movie, which left me with much food for thought. Will probably do a separate post for that.
And lastly, I want to live in Imladris. Wanted to when I was 16, and still do.