Took the family to see this yesterday as my husband and son have been itching to see it since it came out (me too if I'm honest).
Although this film was very slow to start, it soon got into its own with stunning visuals and fine acting. Martin Freeman (TVs The Office, films Love Actually, Nativity) was excellent as a bumbling, complaining and homely Bilbo Baggins and played the part with empathy. Ian McKellan (X-Men, Lord of the Rings) starred once more as Gandalf and it was lovely to see him using his magic more. Talking of magic, Sylvester McCoy (the seventh Dr Who) played Radagast the Brown and I really liked him in this, which is more than I can say about his performance as the Dr.
Richard Armitage plays Thorin who was spot-on as the troubled would-be King, though he sounded a lot like Sean Bean and so reminded me of Boromir from the previous film. The other dwarves were Balin (Ken Stott of TVs Rebus), Dwalin (Graham McTavish of Rambo and The Wicker Tree), Bifur (William Kircher from Out of The Blue, The Last Tattoo), Bofur (James Nesbitt, a fine actor known for TVs Monroe and Murphy's Law), Bombur (Stephen Hunter, Love My Way), Ori (Adam Brown), Dori (Mark Hadlow, King Kong), Nori (Jed Brophy of the fantastic film District 9), Goin (Peter Hambleton, The Last Tattoo), Oin (John Callen, The Rainbow Warrior), Fili (Dean O'Gorman of Young Hercules, Toy Love) and Kili, my personal favourite, played by the brillian Aiden Turner (Mitchell in the superb BBC3 TV series Being Human). I absolutely loved his one-liners and his prowess with a bow (rather like Legolas Greenleaf, my favourite from the previous films).
Most of the aforementioned are all excellent British actors and it was fantastic to see them in such big film roles. Don't worry that all your favourites from Lord of the Rings aren't there though, as there are appearances from Ian Holm (as old Bilbo), Elijah Wood (Frodo), Cate Blanchett (Galadriel), Hugo Weaving (Lord Elrond), Christopher Lee (Saruman) and of course, the scary and convincing Andy Serkis (Gollum/Smeagol).
I had seen reviews in Empire and on TV for the film review that were not as I had hoped, but I have to say, I really enjoyed this movie as it transported me to another world. Yes, it was aimed more for the children, but then so was Tolkien's excellent book. 8/10