Having read the books, I tend to compare the LOTR trilogy and this new upstart to the original. Of course, if you are like that, you likely get less out of the experience because the blend of your imagination and Tolken's writing is really tough to beat. Still, this was a masterpiece of Jackson's work and demonstrates he has not lost his Midas touch given it is exactly on par with The Fellowship of the Ring (first of the LOTR trilogy). I was amazed at the "same feel" I got with this film that I had with the Fellowship. To say the least, the environments, camera work, CG representations are inspiring as we, yet again, are introduced to more of Middle Earth and its history. With that said, there is the necessity of slower, more boring parts, given the introduction and development of so many characters. Thankfully, they relied heavily on the LOTR series so a lot of that was cut out (this film is more of a flashback film than an original piece as written). You will find yourself twiddling your thumbs and looking at the clock in the first 30 minutes as well as in a few lulls. That, too, is expected given that these films tend to be bi-polar (highs and lows, highs and lows) in their production. I expect the future installments will be like The Two Towers and The Return of the King in that the lows will be reduced significantly and the highs will be maintained longer making for an exhaustive but fulfilling viewing experience. I believe 3 stars is appropriate for this new beginning and expect even greater works of Middle Earth from Peter Jackson as this series unfolds.