Charming, spectacular, technically audacious… in short, everything you expect from a Peter Jackson movie. A feeling of familiarity does take hold in places, but this is an epically entertaining first course.
—Matthew Leyland Total Film
I'm holding the filmmaker responsible for getting us all back again - to feelings of excitement and delight. Vital as they are, Gollum and Bilbo can only do so much to keep us enchanted. Is Jackson able to sustain the magic in two more installments? I peer into Tolkien's Misty Mountains and embrace the journey.
—Lisa Schwarzbaum Entertainment Weekly
If you're willing to just go with it, An Unexpected Journey is a competent ride, but as a whole it lacks purpose, giving the impression of a television program in its later seasons still chugging along while full aware that it has peaked. Needless to say, "Hobbit" fans will find plenty to soak in; others may get the feeling of being bludgeoned by deja vu.
—Eric Kohn indieWire
An overlong adventure enlivened by wonders.
—Joe Morgenstern Wallstreet Journal
Extracting three generously proportioned films from Tolkien's books made sense. But turning the relatively slim 1937 volume 'The Hobbit' into a trilogy, peddling seven or eight hours of cine-mythology, suggests a better deal for the producers than for audiences
—Michael Phillips Chicago Tribune