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.
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 15 April 2016
It has been many years since I read The Hobbit, which was penned by J.R.R. Tolkien well before he published The Lord of the Rings, and therefore was the first book that told tales from Middle Earth. A children's book, the tone it set and the initial impression it gave readers about Middle Earth was very different to that of Middle Earth during the events of the Lord of the Rings. As such, we have talking trolls, goblins, their king, and so on compared to the feral versions of these dwellers by the time of the Lord of the Rings.
This dualism is something anyone trying to establish some kind of continuity while bringing this world to film will struggle with, including the man who accomplished this very thing, once deemed impossible, ten years ago, a man going by the name of Peter Jackson. He is also the man chiefly responsible for bringing a new wave of tourism and revenue to Middle Earth's real life counterpart and filming location New Zealand, and should be given the highest order of merit that country has to offer for that and many other reasons. Initially, Guillermo del Toro (Pan's Labyrinth) was thinking about filming the Hobbit, but then abandoned ship (as he has many times on many projects throughout his career) and gave command back to Peter Jackson, going on to film Pacific Rim. Peter Jackson was pressed for time, since he basically had none left for pre-production compared to the late 90s where he had all the time in the world to prepare filming for the Lord of the Rings, and this is seen as one of the chief causes for the Hobbit trilogy's shortcomings. Nevertheless, it remains a fact that most of the original crew that were responsible for Lord of the Rings' success were on board for the Hobbit as well: Peter Jackson, Fran Walsh, Philippa Boyens, and of course, Howard Shore for the soundtrack - the same man who composed the otherworldly masterpiece for the Lord of the Rings films. As we all know, the soundtrack (or lack thereof) can make or break a film.
Some people may ask whether they should go ahead and buy the Extended Edition of An Unexpected Journey or stick with the theatrical version. While this was not considered a serious question for the Lord of the Rings films (their extended editions added an immense amount of additional, useful, great scenes), in the case of An Unexpected Journey, I am actually debating whether the theatrical release was a more serious film. You see, the Extended Edition adds some genuinely interesting scenes, like Gandalf and Elrond debating in Rivendell over whether it is a good idea to install Thorin back on the throne of Erebor, given that madness runs in his family, or the White Council talking about the significance of the seventh ring, or the scene where the table Bombur is sitting on breaks apart after he catches one additional sausage tossed at him or the time Kili is informed one of the elf maids he fancies is, in fact, a man. However, many of the extended scenes are pointless such as a young Bilbo Baggins smacking Gandalf on his backside with a wooden sword and then exchanging friendly blows during a party, Thror insulting Thranduil by having his servant show him, then shut a box full of gems in front of his face, Bifur talking in dwarvish to Bilbo and Oin explaining to him he has an axe stuck in his head (I never noticed it in the first place), or Bilbo telling Gandalf "it feels like magic" when entering Rivendell via the ravine. And then we have downright unnecessarily stupid scenes, like Thorin's Company finding the music of the elves during dinner so boring that one of them starts singing and dancing on the table and the others proceed to engage in a food fight to the shocked expressions of the elvish musicians, even blemishing one of their statues, or a distant shot of Thorin's company bathing/splashing water at each other naked at a fountain, observed by Elrond and Lindir after they discuss the dwindling supplies due to entertaining their guests...the last thing I wanted to see was a dwarf's butt. Or the scene with the Goblin King singing a song - I don't know how true this is to the novel (it's been a while), but it's just so contrary to the lore and feel of Middle Earth that was shown in Lord of the Rings that the whole concept of singing Goblins rips us from immersion and turns the otherwise scary underground setting of Goblintown into a painful comedy. To summarize, I think the Extended Edition of An Unexpected Journey does more harm than good, and you are better off without it (gasp!). On the other hand, it is the Extended Edition that contains the Making Of that is well worth watching and which is (from what I have heard, at least) absent in the theatrical Blu-ray.
What follows of this review will now focus on the rest of the film, which is identical to the theatrical cut. When I viewed the film in the cinema, the combination of the aforementioned "different take" on Middle Earth regarding the tone and mood (talking trolls, goblins - you have to stay true to the book, after all) combined with the fact that I watched it in 48 HFR 3D (where movements are super smooth and you feel like you are watching a tv show than traditional cinema) did much to spoil my experience. I was disgruntled, upset, disappointed that this film couldn't hold a candle to The Fellowship of the Ring. At home, watching it in 2D instead of 3D (let's be honest - much of the color palette is lost when you put those 3D glasses on); and traditional 24 FPS helped bring the movie more in line with the LotR trilogy. Of course, other differences still remain, such as PJ letting CGI take over more of his film rather than relying on traditional makeup and costumes for the Orcs and Goblins, and the lacklustre soundtrack by Howard Shore who, apart from the fantastic main theme, has barely produced anything of note. There is a new elvish theme, but apart from that nothing sticks out, and the Hobbiton theme was reused from LotR. Visually, Middle Earth feels more colourful than in the Lord of the Rings, even in the Fellowship of the Ring. Hobbiton has a slightly magical haze to it that was absent in LotR. By contrast, Rivendell looks clearer than the dreamy/hazy colour palette it was shown in the Fellowship of the Ring. The panning landscape shots are of equal magnificence as in the LotR movies.
Despite its aforementioned shortcomings, An Unexpected Journey is essential viewing for all fans of Middle Earth because it shines light on North-Eastern Middle Earth, an area not covered by the Lord of the Rings. The story of dwarves having lost their ancestral homeland to an invading enemy, and driven into exile, with their home only remaining a distant memory, is reminiscent to the story of the Jewish diaspora in our own world. In essence, Thorin and his Company are Zionists, the few not giving up and seeking to take back their homeland. While this comparison may upset many Tolkien fans (after all, Tolkien himself said he dislikes allegory), if you read his other letters and interviews he indeed admitted to be inspired by Jews and the Hebrew language when creating his dwarven race. He also wanted to redeem the dwarves from their role as evil tricksters that for example Richard Wagner (an antisemite) had cemented a century earlier with the dwarf Alberich in his Niebelungen, a man whose work had then served as propaganda material for the Nazis who had also written to Tolkien asking whether he was "Arish", to which literature professor Tolkien responded with a tactful tirade of how they were twisting and abusing the Nordic culture for their own propagandistic purposes.
All in all, An Unexpected Journey is a solid, well made film. It is the kind of film you learn to appreciate more when you watch it more than once. It only pales when you compare it to the Lord of the Rings (but pretty much every movie on the planet does), and therefore future generations should watch this trilogy first and then the Lord of the Rings trilogy to get the most cinematic enjoyment out of Middle Earth possible.
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 19 March 2016
It's really sad to give this movie 3 stars. The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey should have been made before Lord of the Rings. The story itself isn't as good as LoR, and quite simply there's not enough material to make a trilogy. So Peter Jackson instead of making the right thing and do at the extreme 2 movies, decided, probably under studio pressure, to milk the cow as far as it could be possible. The result become boring as hell, as the pace of the movie is awful. It's extremely well done, the scenery is fantastic, the characterization is very good, but this is a movie, not a documentary and the majority of the scenes are strained beyond reasonable limits. The extended version just extends the painfully slowness and how pointless and boring is the majority of the script. I can only imagine the other 2, probably more of the same or even worse.
Given the technological improvements and budget increases that could have been possible, one just has to wonder how wonderful would have been if LoR had been made after Hobbit. Not that LoR trilogy isn't remarkable as it stands, because it is. But it could be even better. Instead we got this. Now we all know why no one wanted to direct The Hobbit, anyone could see this coming.
Save your money, buy LoR instead, the extended version preferably. It's worth every penny. As for this one, only pick it on a really, really low price.
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.