on 17 November 2013
As usual with my reviews, I will limit my comments to the product advertised, in this case the steel-book limited edition blu-ray of the extended version of The Hobbit, An Unexpected Journey. Hopefully helping you to make the decision on whether the extended cut of the film is really worth the expenditure, especially if you, like me, already have the theatrical cut. I will also give you a run-down of all the additional scenes.
The packaging itself is the usual black plastic box sandwiched between metal covers, and in all honesty looks cheep when compared to the extended versions of the original trilogy in their book-style, individually coloured sleeves. Inside are the two-disc 3D version of the film; a single disc containing the extended blu-ray version and two discs containing the appendices which are numbered parts seven and eight, to fall in with the nomenclature of those in the extended version of The Lord Of The Rings, and hints at a box set containing all six films and their appendices in the not too distant future.(No surprise there then).
The quality of the blu-ray, as you'll already know if you have the theatrical version, is second to none, with dazzling colour saturation, perfectly solid blacks and stunning detail, as one would expect from twenty first century high def'. And the additional scenes or partial scenes fit in seamlessly. I can not comment on the effectiveness of the 3D version as I do not have a 3D player and have little love for the medium in any case.
Subtitles are included on the Blu-Ray version, as are various language options which include: French, Italian and Spanish.
The scene-extensions are as follows:(Please read no further if you want it to be a surprise)
1. During the prologue, the Elf-king Thranduill is shown a chest of stolen elven treasure when he confronts Thror, King Under The Mountain, which further explains why the elves are reluctant to help the dwarves when attacked by Smaug.
2. During the dragon attack on the town of Dale, we glimpse some of the large arrow-firing machines that form that towns defense.
3. A firework flashback during old Bilbo's narrative at the beginning of the film proper, reveal the origins of Bilbo's friendship with Gandalf.
4. The afternoon following young Bilbo's stressful meeting with Gandalf outside his Hobbit hole, Bilbo goes for a wander through Hobbiton searching for the wizard in the hope that he has truly gone. This is the longest of the additional scenes, and is a wonderful opportunity for us to get a lingering look at Hobbiton market. For every Hobbit-loving person, this is truly a magical addition, though does nothing to add to the story as a whole.
5. During the dwarf dinner scene, we get to learn a little about Biffor, and how the axe that remains embedded in his head has effected his speech.
6. As the dwarfs and hobbit approach Rivendell, we get a sense of Bilbo's character as he talks to Gandalf of a magical feeling he has as he looks down on the Last Homely House. Gandalf begins to sense that there is more to this hobbit than meets the eye.
7. There are a few additional scenes during the dwarf's stay at Rivendell, these include: kili winking at an elf who he thinks is female, only to be told that in fact it is a male elf. The dinner scene itself is extended with a food fight as we watch the growing irritation of the elves with their rowdy guests, during which Bofur sings a song. Interestingly the song, 'The Cat And The Fiddle' is a song originally sung by Frodo Baggins in the book, The Fellowship Of The Ring, as he dances on a table in The Prancing Pony, prior to his finger slipping into The One Ring ad his introduction to Aragorn. So for all Lord Of The Rings aficionados, this is an interesting little addition and nod back to the books.
As the dwarves feast, Bilbo's growing affection for Rivendell is revealed as he wanders off along tree-lined balconies and through open rooms, where Elrond finds him and invites the hobbit to stay in Rivendell if he so wishes. This little addition gives us a better understanding of why Bilbo should later want to return to the elves when he finally decides to leave the dwarves as they sleep in the porch of the goblin cave.
Following the feast, the dwarves finally test their hosts patience to the limits, as they strip off and dive into a fountain in the centre of Rivendell to bathe, overlooked by stunned elves.
8. A meeting between Gandalf and Elrond, where they discus Thorin's past, is overheard by Bilbo and the dwarf leader. This further helps to explain Thorin's decision to leave Rivendell unannounced and unexpectedly.
9. The meeting at Rivendell between Gandalf, Elrond, Saroman and Galadrial, is extended, and we get some important information about the missing rings of power and how the dwarves fit in with the One Ring story.
10. Finally, we get another song, this time sung by the Gobblin King, which does little in my mind but add length to an already overly-long story line.
So there it is, a breakdown of the extra 13 minutes in the extended edition. They are all nice little scenes, with the expanded views of Hobbiton, for me the highlight. But none of the extended scenes really add anything to the storyline, with only the background information on the One Ring and the missing rings of power, really adding anything to the narrative subtext of the overall story of Middle Earth, and which ties in with later events in the 'Ring' trilogy.
What really counts in this extended edition however are the appendices. Nine hours of extras which I am still wading through, all shot in wondrous high-def' and a vast qualitative improvement over appendices one through six of the original trilogy.
I promised myself when purchasing the theatrical edition of the Hobbit, that this time around I would not buy the extended version when it was released, as I knew there would be nothing important added - the Hobbit storyline having been already stretched to breaking point. In the end I couldn't resist it. Was it worth the £17.00 I paid for the steel-book? The jury is still out as I have only watched it through once at time of writing. I'm certain in time that the question will be irrelevant however, as I will certainly get my monies worth out of it in the end, having already watched the original blu-ray some fifteen times. I'm certain I will never grow tired of The Hobbit - An Unexpected Journey.
If you have enjoyed reading this review, please read my others.
This is an adaptation of Tolkien’s small book of the same name, but much expanded, though not padded, with scenes not shown in the book itself. We get an opening scene based on the that of the Fellowship of The Ring, as Bilbo is busy writing his memoirs and hiding the valuables before the Sackville-Bagginses arrive for the birthday party, and Frodo setting off to meet Gandalf, who is bringing the fireworks; and then it is sixty-years earlier, and Gandalf makes his first appearance, soon followed by a company of dwarves. We get an extensive view of the Dwarves struggle to survive Smaug’s attack on their city under the Lonely Mountain and their epic battle with the Orcs that gave Thorin Oakenshield his name. We also get the story of the Brown Wizard fleshed out prior to his meeting with Gandalf. The film ends with Bilbo and the Dwarves getting their first sight of the lonely Mountain in the distance:
Bilbo: ”Well, the worst of it is behind us now”.
It is also fun trying to work out who is behind some of the faces; two of the dwarves sounded like Ken Stott and James Nesbit, and I knew I’d heard the Goblin King’s voice before, but couldn’t place him until the credits rolled. The dwarves are an odd bunch of accents, with Thorin sounding just like Sean Bean, and the others being a mixture of Scots and Irish.
It does feel like a lighter film than the Lord of the Rings, despite the Orcs, Wargs, Trolls and Goblins, though the shadow of a certain dead sorcerer does slowly start to make its presence felt.
I was very impressed by "Hobbit". Below you will find the reasons why I liked this film so much, with some limited SPOILERS.
1. A successful combination of great fidelity to Tolkien's vision with some skilful alterations. In second part of LOTR ("Two Towers") Peter Jackson allowed himself some very considerable liberties with the characters of king Theoden of Rohan and captain Faramir of Gondor, and as a consequence he harmed this one part of his great trilogy. He clearly learned his lesson and in this film, even if there are some differences between the scenario and the original book, those modifications were done with a great skill, good taste and in deep respect with the general vision contained in Tolkien's books in general.
Amongst those successful modifications are a greater development of the story of Smaug's coming to Erebor, of dwarves wanderings and their wars with Orcs from Moria (those last elements are taken from original annexes to "Lord of the Rings") and a larger inclusion of scary and extremely creepy Dol Guldur fortress (which is only briefly mentioned in the book). There is also a longer and more dramatic chapter devoted to Great Goblin's caves, a brief but impressive look at stone giants (creatures only suggested in Tolkien's lore) and last but not least, some real screen time devoted to Radagast the Brown, an extremely odd but very, very attaching character. Radagast also shows in this film that he is definitely a force to be reckoned with and not just a sidekick - although, as Saruman venomously suggests it, he also appears to be all the time "tripping on 'shrooms"...)))
There is also more place devoted to the White Council (with Saruman, Galadriel, Elrond and Gandalf present and Radagast and Cirdan absent) and those passages come in fact from the annexes to LOTR rather than from "Hobbit" itself. Finally, even if many good jokes are included, the general tone of this film is more serious than in the book, with the dwarves being a little less comically represented and their leader, prince Thorin Oakenshield, being a much more impressive character, conserving a very great dignity and majesty even when being stuffed in a troll's bag...)))
Finally, the leader of Moria Orcs at the time of dwarves expedition is still Azog the Defiler rather than his son Bolg - but I forgive willingly Peter Jackson this change, as Azog is a really IMPRESSIVE creature! On another hand, and this is one of the very few things I found a little objectionnable, Orcs seem to not fear sunlight in this film (Goblins of Misty Mountains on another hand still fear the light of the day) - but after all it is a rather minor thing.
As you can see Peter Jackson changed the story for the needs of his "Hobbit" trilogy, but he did it with the greatest care and by showing this time the greatest respect to the general spirit of Tolkien's works.
2. A great mastery of the visual aspect of the film. The images of Middle Earth are breath-taking, the creatures (good and evil) are excellent and the costumes and weaponry simply perfect.
3. Gollum; All the chapter about Bilbo's meeting with Gollum is pure perfection and in this film we finally can realise how REALLY DANGEROUS this creature is!
4. Tom Troll, William Troll and Bert Troll. Hilarious and scary in the same time, their moment in the film is simply a treasure.
5. Goblins of the Misty Mountains. In this film we have a real insight into goblin's government (tyranny), administration (anarchy), strategy (mostly blunt force trauma) and communications, although the little pearl about this last point, you will have to discover by yourself...)))
6. Dwarves/elves mutual cultural shock - one of the best scenes of the film...)))
7. Music. It mostly uses the same themes than in LOTR (ex. Shire theme, Rivendell theme, Ring theme, Company theme, etc.) which gives a familiar feeling of continuity, with just enough new elements to underline the fact that we are in a different chapter of Tolkien's tales.
8. Action scenes - they are many and of excellent quality, thanks to some modifications of the story by Peter Jackson (see above). They help also to set a rather fast rhythm of events, once the initial Shire chapter is concluded. If you think that to make a trilogy out of "The Hobbit" Peter Jackson had to drag things and slow the events, well, think again... This is a reasonably long film but I didn't feel the time pass.
9. Actors. Unlike in LOTR II "Two Towers" (when he seriously blundered by casting Miranda Otto as Eowyn), in this film Peter Jackson didn't commit any mistakes in the choice of actors. Martin Freeman is more than perfect in his interpretation of Bilbo - for me, after two minutes, he WAS Bilbo. All right, OK, maybe they just should have given him ten pounds more around the waist in the first part of the trilogy, but this is just a detail. Ian McKellen is of course perfect as Gandalf. Richard Armitage as Thorin is THE revelation of this film. Hugo Weaving and Christopher Lee are of course brilliant - and Cate Blanchett swept me of my feet in this film (something that didn't happen in the LOTR...).
The one objection I could have is that I didn't quite picture Balin, the friendliest of dwarves, as being that old - but this is a very minor detail.
10. Clever little details of the scenario. Peter Jackson put in the scenario some little but significant details which explain better some important questions, like why did Gandalf wanted SO MUCH to help Thorin Oakenshield in his quest and why exactly did he choose precisely Bilbo Baggins as the "burglar" for the Company. Those little details didn't figure in the book, but they are VERY faithful to the spirit of Tolkien's story - and it is a very precious thing...
CONCLUSION: Since attacking the LOTR Peter Jackson learned a lot in last 10 years and he put all this experience to good use in "The Hobbit" - and the result is immediately visible on the screen. This film is on the same very high level of quality as LOTR I and III and BETTER than LOTR II. In some aspects he even did a better job than in LOTR, because here he had to manage a Company larger than the Fellowship of the Ring (15 characters instead of 9) - and he succeeded very, very well indeed. I loved this film and I cannot wait to see "The desolation of Smaug".
on 28 December 2015
I have to agree with the more critical reviews that this film has recieved and say that compared to the LOTR films, this was quite a let down. Not a particularly bad film in itself but just missing something we were all expecting. Having said that, as someone who has read all of Tolkiens work, it is nice to see the characters, places and events realised in a big budget movie instead of just in my mind and the artwork in the books.
I know the way the book was written wouldn't have been easy to translate to a single epic movie but it annoys me that It has been dragged out over three films and lots of filler has been added to stretch out the story yet other more important things from the book have been left out. I don't get it. A similar thing was done with the LOTR trilogy but the original book was far longer so it didn't feel as noticeable. Know what I mean?
Because of this, I've seen most of the second and third Hobbit movies but I won't be buying them. If you haven't read the book, I'm sure you'll enjoy it more than I did which is why I gave it 4 stars.
on 3 October 2015
As with many people who purchase The Hobbit I was a preexisting fan of Peter Jackson's Lord of the rings and also the fantastic books by Tolkien.
Having seen what George Lucas did with the Star Wars prequels I was concerned with what would become of this film series and I am happy to say that for me the film for the most part delivered. The whole of The Hobbit Trilogy (like the books before it) have a very different feel the The Lord of The Rigs films but they still offer a very enjoyable view of the Middle Earth mythology. Personally I wasn't happy with the amount of CGI used in the film despite the fact it was very well executed. I would recommend that you buy the Extended Editions rather than the theatrical version because the new content really helps the fluidity of the film and makes what was an at time incoherent plot much better.
As with all the Special Editions there is ample enjoyable documentaries and special features that will extend the life of the box set way beyond the films.
on 22 December 2012
It's epic, all the critics that say they were wrong to shoot at 48 FPS are idiots, it looks amazing. My only criticism is I wish they did Azog for real with prosthetics, he just doesn't come across very realistic being totally computer generated, it's like watching a cartoon sometimes. Some of his movements are too smooth and fluid and just very unnatural looking, Gollum and the other CG characters don't really suffer from this problem (or for some reason it is not as obvious) but most of the time Azog just doesn't look quite right, maybe it was a case of Peter Jackson dumping too much work on the CG guys again.
ADDITION - After watching the full making of documentary on the extended edition it seems my last sentence wasn't too far off, they did initially do Azog for real (a bloke with prosthetics) but after the film had been shot they decided they didn't like the design of Azog so at the last minute they redesigned him and patched him in as a full CGI character.
on 1 October 2013
I enjoyed all the Lord of the Rings films but my expectations were not high because I read the "The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey" reviews and they weren't great.
The film explains how Bilbo got the ring of power and the action is similar to Lord of the Rings: the dwarfs lost their kingdom which was taken by a dragon and now 13 of them plus Bilbo and Gandalf are trying to get it back.
Their journey is full of hidden dangers because the dark power grows and they must fight against orcs and goblins.
In conclusion: a film with a lot of adventures and epic battles between Bilbo, Gandalf and the dwarfs on one side and dark forces on other. You will find a lot of well known characters from the Lord of the Rings films like Saruman, Bilbo, Frodo, Gollum and Gandalf. Although is not as exciting as Lord of the Rings it is definitely worth seeing. And arm yourself with patience because this film is quite long.
on 14 February 2016
The Extended Edition of The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey 3D arrives on blu ray with MPEG-4 MVC 1080p 2.40:1 encode. This transfer is truly dazzling, true to Jackson and cinematographer Andrew Lesnie's every intention. Jackson is a proponent of world-expanding 3D, the sort that draws viewers into the image rather than assaulting them with overabundant gimmicks and screen-piercing distractions. Depth and dimensionality are outstanding, with vast landscapes, convincingly distant horizons, rocks that jut out of the ground, trolls that loom high overhead, wargs whose muzzles inch closer and closer, goblins that push our heroes forward toward a most unsightly, all too three-dimensional Goblin King, and twisted riverfolk who seem to peer out of their cave and into your home theater. All the positive features in the 2D described below are all present in this simply gorgeous 3D presentation. (5/5)
This Extended Edition of The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey finally arrives on blu ray with MPEG-4 AVC 1080p 2.40:1 encode. Filmed entirely on a Red Epic camera system, this transfer is pristine and images are razor-sharp, like every leaf in treetops, every blade of grass and every pebble on the road with resounding clarity. The costumes of each character shows every thread and stitching with extraordinary definition, and individual hairs in the beards are very distinct. Close-ups reveal pores, wrinkles and negligible blemishes with lifelike textures. This transfer also displays a dazzlingly bold and colourful palette, even if the cinematography seems to favour the teal & orange aesthetic. Primaries are richly saturated and animated while a healthy assortment of secondary hues fills the screen with warmth and energy. A crisp, brilliant contrast allows for extraordinary visibility in the distance, exposing the tiniest objects in the background and the fine lines of various rock formations scattered throughout the New Zealand landscape. Black levels are true and inky, penetrating deep into the screen with luxurious gradations, while shadow details remain plain and sharply delineated. (5/5)
Peter Jackson's return to Middle-earth comes with a DTS-HD 7.1 Master Audio soundtrack. This lossless mix is reference quality with a mid-range that is amazingly extensive and broad, exhibiting the smallest detail with superb, crystal-clear clarity. The tiny pops and sizzles of crackling fire are perfectly audible, and distant, individual droplets of water while in Gollum's cave crash unto rocks with accurate, realistic definition. In action sequences, the upper ranges are precise and distinct, giving each roaring yell and clash of metal upon metal extraordinary intelligibility. Along with the excellent dynamic range, the bass provides an appreciable role in Howard Shore's thrilling musical score, adding a great deal of depth and weight to the orchestration, especially when hearing the cellos and the low-pitched brass instruments. Meanwhile, dialogue remains lucid and well-prioritized in the center. (5/5)
Like the Lord of the Ring trilogy, I bought only the Extended Edition, to avoid double-dipping. Unlike the Lord of the Ring Extended Edition, which was truly awesome, I am slightly disappointed at the 13 additional minutes cut into the narrative, which make very little difference to its overall enjoyment. A song and dance performed by the Great Goblin did spice things up a little. The most surprising and equally best scene is Bilbo and Thorin accidentally overhearing a private conversation between Gandalf and Elrond that actually adds the characterization of Thorin.
It has an estimated budget of $180 million, but grossed a staggering $1,027 million worldwide, currently sitting at No. 15 on the All-Time Worldwide Movie Gross chart. Quite a feat!
The 3D package has an elegant black, eco-elite keepcase with a middle panel that holds two discs on either side. There are 5 discs: 2 3D blu ray discs, 1 2D blu ray disc and 2 blu ray discs for The Appendices: Parts 7 & 8. The whole keepcase slides into a sturdy, attractive slipcover lightly textured to simulate leather.
Although failing to reach the heights of the original 'Lord of the Rings' trilogy, Peter Jackson's return to Middle-earth is nevertheless a mildly enjoyable fantasy adventure. Minor, negligible quips with the filmmakers bloating a single book into three films aside, The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey makes for a decent start to a larger trilogy that will hopefully provide a more satisfying piece of entertainment. The blu ray set arrives with spectacular, demo-worthy video and a reference-quality audio presentation. Supplements for this Extended Edition are extensive and exhaustive with hours of information for fans to enjoy, making the overall package the preferred recommended purchase over the previous release. The 3D version is preferred.
on 1 January 2015
Not a lot happens, I think they should have shortened this film to cover the first act of the sequel.
Technically it's great, but it seems to lack fun and doesn't seem worth a second watch.
on 10 December 2013
The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey is one of the greatest films of 2013, and while it doesnt follow precisely the much-loved book, it does respectfully weave a story of its own using much of the content from the appendices Tolkien wrote for The Lord of the Rings. While it can feel a little slow- paced at times, particularly the beginning, it does help to set up important characters that influence not only this film but also the next two to come and will more than likely pay off with the next films. It has the difficult task of setting up not only the Hobbit trilogy but also LOTR that comes after, and still manages to have some emotional stand-out moments where you really feel for the characters and their quest and get to know them on a deeper level. The case the DVD's come in looks fantastic, however, the map that is printed inside doesnt have a line shwoing where the company in the film traveled, as it did in the LOTR which isn't that important, but is a little niggle. The special features are some of the best I've ever watched and feel a journey within themselves. Unlike other films, they dont feel slap-dashed together, but made with care and love just as the film was. Overall, great special features, nice casing, and a great film with extended scenes that flesh out the story and leave hints for the LOTR films, dont hesitate to buy it.