There are possible/probable spoilers for The Hobbit here, especially if you're like me and don't like reading reviews before watching the film.
I watch movies I'm interested in without first (or ever) reading reviews about them. I feel that reading such things before the film makes me think too much about what positives and negatives were previously pointed out.
Thus, I did not read anything about The Hobbit until after seeing it. And it seems that a lot of critics were rather harsh.
I agree that it may have been hyped up a bit much. It's a prequel to one of the highest grossing trilogies of all time, not to mention most Academy Awards. The technology is cutting edge, but you might not actually know that unless they told you. And they did. But I think that technology is supposed to be a support, so not noticing it is actually the point. And yes, Jackson and the team did embellish Tolkien's story quite a bit. However, not as much with non-canon material so much as delving into extended histories of Middle-Earth. So the film didn't follow the book verbatim, but was supplemented with many things from more obscure works. In this way I think it catered more to the dedicated fans more than the casual viewer.
I loved the extra lore and character depth. I loved the flashbacks. I love New Zealand as a backdrop. And I love Bilbo.
When I was quite young my mom read The Hobbit to my brother and me. Bilbo was always a very dear character to me. And when I read it myself and then went on to The Lord of the Rings, I was actually disappointed that Bilbo was not also the protagonist of LOTR. I found him much more personable and not so afflicted with martyrdom as Frodo. Martin Freeman certainly did not disappoint as Bilbo. I am very fond of the actor (my car is even named after him.) Though I do wish he'd get done with this Hobbit business and go back to Sherlock.
I really appreciate how they made each Dwarf as unique as possible. It's still hard (impossible?) to keep them all separate, but at least I can tell which is Thorin and also who Fili and Kili are, as they were always my favorite. Also Aidan Turner as Kili is totally hot. I really liked the interactions of Thorin and Bilbo and how their relationship is progressing.
Details I'm glad were added/retained in the Hobbit:
"Is it scrumptious? Is it crunchable?" Gollum says "scrumptiously crunchable" in the book, but it is possibly my favorite Gollum line.
The stone Giants. I wondered if they were too far-fetched for Peter Jackson's version of Middle Earth. After all, they're reminiscent of the rockbiters in Neverending Story. But I liked them nonetheless.
Radagst. He's not actually in the Hobbit book more than just a brief mention, but I always liked him from his brief appearance in The Fellowship of the Ring (book). In this film I'm assuming he's meant to take the place of Beorn, which makes me a bit sad. I enjoy a good skinchanger, especially of the bear variety. I wonder why they figured rock giants were a go, but not skinchangers. Regardless, Radagst serves nearly the same role in the film as Beorn did in the book, but without Gandalf's ingenious introduction of 13 dwarves to him.
The mention of the other two wizards. I like that Gandalf even said he didn't remember the names of the blue wizards. Alatar and Pallando, by the way. They're only mentioned in order to note that they left and no one has seen or heard from them since.
I cannot wait to see more of Smaug and the Elves of the Green Wood.
I've yet to go back to see it in 3D- as it was intended to be seen. I can tell that the cinematography would be even more spectacular in this mode.So perhaps I'll write even more later
Oh, and I still want a warg.
EDIT: December 16
I saw The Hobbit in 3D and it was certainly meant to be seen in 3D. Nothing of my review has changed except the fact that Beorn is almost surely going to be in the next film, as that's how the flow of events in the book are and the company seem to have ended up on the Carrock at the end of Unexpected Journey, which I didn't really notice the first time around. So perhaps I should have done a little research before making assumptions.