Perhaps it was the effect of lowered expectations. Perhaps it was the joy of having my 10-year old son watch it with me. Whatever it was, this was one of the most enjoyable cinematic experiences I've ever had. My son was constantly tugging on my arm to ask questions (is Radagast going to die? Is Gollum going to eat Bilbo?). He was utterly rapt the entire time, and so was I. As much as I love the LOTR films, there are moments in each that I don't like. After my initial viewing, I can't think of anything I didn't like. The nearly 3 hour run time flew by, and I was dreading the movie ending. An absolutely joyful experience. I won't comment on what critics have said; they have their opinions and I have mine. For now, I'm absolutely euphoric.