"The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey" is a good movie, nothing more and nothing less. Compared to it predecessor (or successor, however you wanna see it), this movie has a lighter tone. There are a lot of jokes, but some of which are juvenile. It has moments that are brilliant such as the dinner scene and the last third of the film especially a scene with Gollum, but the pacing is a bit off. The movie doesn't engage the viewer as much as it wants them to. From the very beginning the film feels like it is rushing through events just to get the characters to their destination. They find some peril, but usually it doesn't connect with the overall story. Peter Jackson does a good job of creating some great set pieces, but ultimately they don't fair as well in terms of execution.
Acting is perfect to a "T." Everyone seems to have brought their "A-game." However, not all the characters are very interesting or relatable, aside from Bilbo, Gandalf, and Thorin. Gandalf is as good as ever and the same wizard from the first "Lord of the Rings." However, he has a witter side to him and bit of a selfish side. Thorin is a good leader and the only one of the dwarves that seems to be able to hold his own. Bilbo, by far is the most interesting character in the whole movie. He's relatable, funny, and unlike most of the other hobbits he can to some extent fend for himself. A true standout in the film though is Andy Serkis as Gollum, truly a mesmerizing performance.
The overall score by Howard Shore gets the job done and the main theme beautiful. Though most of the music doesn't truly standout. The visual effects are dazzling, but they don't seem to fit in the world all the time. It can sometimes cause a disconnect.
Overall, "The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey" is a good film. There are moments of greatness and some very memorable scenes. However, the visual effects and the pacing don't usually work all to well and the side characters aren't memorable. Third act however, picks up most of what is lacking and packages it into a nice conclusion that makes us excited for the future of this franchise. I give it 3.5/5, moments of greatness with a satisfying conclusion, but not everything works well together.