The Hobbit has always been the little brother book of The Lord of the Rings. However, in their movie version, it feels the other way around.
For one, technology for CGI is better due to a number of years of innovation. Then, each camera shot looks fuller, as if, maybe due to greater CGI, Peter Jackson had stuffed more details everywhere. That's probably not the case, because after reviewing all the work that went into TLOTR, it seems impossible to do better. Maybe he simply got bolder.
One thing is certain though, he, Fran Walsh, and Philippa Boyens got really comfortable with Tolkien's work, enough to get creative, and deviate from the book on many occasions. With the help of a new addition to their team these forays completely respect the spirit the original work, as well as pick information out of The Silmarillion and TLOTR. I must warn fans though, that they do play with the original timeline of certain external event unrelated to The Hobbit.
That being said, it's a roller coaster of a movie, especially once in the goblin caves. The encounter with Gollum is priceless. The dialogs are fuller than TLOTR, there's no statements of the obvious like Legolas was wont to do, no over-sentimental lines, and no waste of time. I credit the writers and director's heighten confidence.
Even with all that, the council in Rivendell felt a bit weak, but it's the only scene that let me down. There's also the annoying detail about Thrain having a mental illness. I don't remember any such thing, he was no different than any other dwarf in that respect, and it adds nothing to the story. Those are the only negative things I have to say about the movie.
If you want magic, adventure and fantasy, it's now the ultimate movie. Go see it in IMAX. The 3D has too many panning in the beginning, giving us more blurs than I care for, but it gets better fast.
It's a must, for anyone, and everyone who doesn't mind 3h40min at the theater. The IMAX seats are a blessing in that sense.