'Hobbit' Fans Rave About 'Fantastic' Film

'It's right on par with what came before it,' one moviegoer tells MTV News in Times Square.

Nine years after "The Return of the King," J.R.R. Tolkien fans are once again voyaging to Middle-earth thanks to prequel "The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey," in theaters now. The Peter Jackson-directed film, starring Martin Freeman, Ian McKellen and Richard Armitage, is expected to rule the box-office this weekend, with returns in the $100 million range predicted.

MTV News stayed up way past its bedtime last night, to see what movie-goers attending a midnight screening in New York's Times Square had to say about the highly anticipated flick. And, well, this shouldn't be unexpected: fans thought it was fantastic.

"I loved the movie. I thought it was amazing," gushed Jillian Smith.

"It was sort of like they took my favorite thing in the world and just made more of it," Kevin Pearl enthused.

"The movie was just fantastic," agreed Kevin Madrid. "It was excellent, man, I loved the movie. It was really good."

A hot topic of discussion leading into the "The Hobbit"'s debut was Jackson's use of a 48 frames per second (fps) shooting speed, as opposed to the standard 24 fps. For most fans, however, the unconventional rate didn't detract from the viewing experience.

"I usually don't see movies in 3-D because they hurt my eyes, but the 48 frames per second just made it seem more cohesive," Smith said.

Sebastian Sanchez agreed: "Once you're an hour into it, it looks perfectly fine. It's gorgeous."

As to whether "The Hobbit" stands tall next to its "Lord of the Rings" predecessors, opinions were mixed.

"There were no points in it when it blew me away quite like the first three 'Lord of the Rings' movies," said Chris McEwen.

"It's right on par with what came before it," countered Pearl.

One fan was even so bold as to say she preferred it over the others.

"I actually like this one a lot more compared to the other one," Sofia Bracc-Graham admitted.

Check out everything we've got on "The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey."