There have been lots of thoughts on this movie already, but I felt I needed to add my two cents, because, well, lots of people are just plain wrong.
Okay, maybe people have good reason to be disappointed with The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, but I wanted to tell you why you shouldn't be.
I think we all had a bit of an inkling that the film version of our beloved book, The Hobbit, wasn't quite going to follow the book precisely when we learned it was going to be two movies. I mean, each of the books in the Lord of the Rings trilogy got one movie and they're all longer than The Hobbit...so logic already started us down this path.
Then we found out it was going to be three movies.
Slight doubt was replaced with actual knowledge. The movie version(s) of The Hobbit was NOT GOING TO FOLLOW THE BOOK exactly.
So, why are so many people coming out of this movie utterly disappointed the movie didn't follow the book? You already knew this going in! There were no expectations to dash in this regard and if you had any expectations, they should have rightfully been dashed weeks if not months before the viewing of this movie.
The Hobbit delivers with orc-slaying, adventure-having, rock-throwing, breath-taking goodness. What's wrong with that?
Now there are few books I reread, there are just too many to go through once, but The Hobbit is one of the rare books I've read twice. It will always have a special place in my heart and I still loved this movie.
I'm not going to say it was completely devoid of fault. Two things irritated me for a time and they were the handling of the troll scene, which was good in its own right, but COMPLETELY different when it could have been kept the same. The other thing was the use of CGI was a bit (okay really) heavy at times especially for the main big baddie. This was still nothing to ruin my enjoyment, we're back in middle earth people!
If you could only have seen my face as I watched The Hobbit. There was literally a smile ear to ear the entire time. I loved it.
I'm pleading with you, manage your expectations. Think of this as Peter Jackson goes to Middle Earth (with possibly the only goal of staying consistent with his earlier films). You'll be much happier.
EDIT: If you would prefer an article that actually uses the expansive Middle Earth source material and you know sources in general (you know, what some may call a credible argument), this one's excellent.