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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.
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on 14 December 2012
Since Sir Peter Jackson's last foray into Middle Earth, he's created the fantastic (King Kong) and the fantastically awful (The Lovely Bones), and now we're back and it's like we never left. Sir Ian McKellen (Gandalf), Hugo Weaving (Elrond), Elijah Wood (Frodo), Cate Blanchett (Galadriel)... they've aged like elves - not a day. Tonally this is breezier than the Lord of the Rings (let's call it LotR) trilogy, but great care has been taken to ensure that it fits seamlessly into the same universe. The same exquisite detail in close-up; the same use of long shots to make the characters tiny in a vast world.

J. R. R. Tolkien's little book concerns a little hobbit, who lives in a hole, who finds himself on a big adventure with a gang of dwarves, overseen by the wizard Gandalf. Tolkien's dwarves, seeking an almighty golden hoard hidden under a Lonely Mountain, are closer to Time Bandits than a heroic Fellowship, but Jackson and his co-writers (now including Guillermo del Toro) have shifted their purpose to something more laudable: the reclaiming of their homeland.

In a beautifully crafted opening, after elegantly intersecting with The Fellowship of the Ring, the bumbling dwarves are introduced to Bilbo and ourselves one by one, as unwelcome visitors to his humble home. They eat, they sing, they talk, and the scene is set. These are the characters we'll follow in almost every scene. The Hobbit is much more linear than LotR; scenes concerning Radagast the Brown (a wonderfully eccentric Sylvester McCoy, channelling the spirit of Tom Bombadil) and Azog (the orcish slayer of Thorin's father, Thrain) are brief asides rather than parallel plots.

So it's all about the dwarves, and we get to know a few of them well, particularly the bold leader, Thorin (Richard Armitage). He's as close to our Strider, except more reckless, driven by rage, and far less trusting of the titular halfling. As Bilbo Baggins, Martin Freeman is a more subtle performer than Elijah Wood. And he needs to be - a hero as reluctant as Bilbo is a tough sell, but Freeman convincingly depicts a gradual self-realisation: a drive from within, rather than a compulsion from without.

Jackson proves once again that he's the master of combining CGI with human emotion (even though actual humans are conspicuously absent from the story). The scene involving the Storm Giants - living, fighting mountains - is a good example: rather than giving us an omniscient hawk's eye-view of the battle, Jackson focuses on the real drama: the dwarves and the hobbit, clinging to the giants' knees. And then there's Gollum, arriving for a late cameo. The best chapter in the novel becomes the best scene in the film, with Bilbo and the unlikely keeper of the One Ring riddling in the dark. The special effects might not be technically groundbreaking as they once were, but their integration with real actors remains unsurpassed in cinema.

A couple of issues. Not everyone will get along with the joviality and the slapstick. Once or twice I do feel that certain scenes contain a knowing look too many. (When Gandalf is telepathically communicating with Galadriel, I swear he nods at the audience.) Thankfully, it's consistent, and rarely at the expense of immersion. Also, given what we know, perhaps more could have been done to foreshadow the LotR trilogy - there's certainly room for this in the Rivendell sequence (in which a shabby Gandalf the Grey, in the presence of even greater greatness, looks humbler than we've ever seen him). It's conceivable that an extended cut will provide more references to the impending doom of Middle-Earth.

Given the brevity of the book, what concerned me most was how Jackson et al could possibly
expand the story into the first part of an epic trilogy. The fact that they have, without the film feeling baggy (Bag-Endy?), is, in a sense, an even mightier feat than the adaptation of the LotR novels. It doesn't have the emotional depth of LotR, nor the narrative breadth. It never did. But it has humour and action in droves, along with warmth and intimacy. And it's amazingly good fun - more Jim Henson than Game of Thrones; more Whedon than Nolan. Which is okay by me.

Expect An Unexpected Journey to be condemned as boring and overlong by professional critics (the same critics who probably laud Bela Tarr). Expect it to be dismissed as frivolous and silly. But, more than anything, expect to be entertained by a delightful fantasy film.
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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.
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on 11 November 2013
I'm not going to review the film itself as there are plenty of excellent ones out there, but for what it is worth, I love the film and the Lord of the Rings Trilogy so I couldn't wait for the Extended edition to arrive on Blu-ray. And I'm pleased to say it is worth the wait.

My first impression was that the packaging is rather nice. The outer sleeve is thick and made of good quality cardboard. The front of the box is a hologram photo of Martin Freeman whilst the five discs come in a black plastic Amaray case rather than the standard blue. All in all it feels like a quality package and it now sits proudly on my bookcase.

The five discs are:

Disc 1 - 3D Extended Edition Part 1
Disc 2 - 3D Extended Edition Part 2
Disc 3 - 2D Extended Edition
Disc 4 - Appendices Part 7
Disc 5 - Appendices Part 8

Unlike the Lord of Rings Extended Edition, the Appendices are included on Blu-ray rather than DVD which is great but they are all in 2D rather than 3D. There is a huge amount of material on these discs which will take some time to watch but my initial impression is that there is some great footage that will appeal to all Hobbit fans.

So on to the main film. In total there are 13 minutes of extra footage included which is mostly concentrated at the start of the film and in the middle, when the group reach Rivendell. On reflection I can see why some of these scenes never made it into the Theatrical release as they do slow down an already long film but for fans of the books they bring some insight into the characters that is otherwise lost. For example, early in the film we see a young Bilbo meet Gandalf for the first time and we also see some new scenes of him looking around Rivendell in awe at the majesty of the Elves. Collectively they show Bilbo's hidden adventurous side and help us understand why Gandalf wanted him to join the group. It also helps explain why Bilbo returns to Rivendell in the Fellowship of the Rings which I really liked.

There are two new songs added in this version - one the dwarves sing in Rivendell and the other sung by the Goblin King. The former is great addition but I couldn't help but feel the latter sounds like an Andrew Lloyd Webber number and I think it changes the tone of an otherwise quite dark and ominous section of the film. But that is a minor gripe as we also get to see more footage of the city of Dale, more footage of the Shire and more discussion at Rivendell between Gandalf, Saruman and Lord Elrond, all of which helps add more colour and depth to the film. A final bonus is a short scene at the start of the film between Thranduil and the Dwarves that starts to explain why the latter dislike the Elves so much.

All in all, the extra footage really adds to the film but at the expense of the timing. It does takes longer for the group to leave the Shire and some might find that the Rivendell section now drags a little. But as with the Lord of Rings extended editions, this version is for the fans of the film and I can live with the slightly slower pace to appreciate the extra scenes.

As a final bonus, and over and above the additional scenes you get a nice tour of Bag End on the main Blu-ray menu.

From a technical perspective, the sound is 7.1 DTS-HD in English, with 5.1 masters in French, Castilian and Italian. Subtitles are in English, Dutch, French, Castilian and Italian. The main film is presented in 16x9 2.4:1 widescreen. Both sound and visuals are excellent just as in the Theatrical release and I would have to be very picky to find any fault in them.

If you are fan of the film and haven't got this yet, then what are you waiting for!
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on 15 November 2013
Slight spoiler Alert*

The Box Set consists of 5 Blu-Ray Discs. One and two contain the extended film in 3D, the third contains the extended 2D version of the film and discs four and five, the Appendices parts 7 and 8, extending as they do from the appendices attached to the Lord of the Rings Trilogy.
So what of the extended version ?.
In truth it falls a little short of what I would term extended, especially when faced with the generously extended LOTR films which added scenes that explained and expanded upon scenes already in those films and made them, in my humble opinion, far superior to their theatrical cuts.
Here, a measly 13 minutes consists of scenes that add little and are, in one or two instances, gratuitous. The two "Singing" scenes, particularly that involving the Goblin King are neither here nor there but the scenes in Hobbiton and Rivendell, whilst adding little to the overall story do not seem out of place. In this case its a toss up as to which version (theatrical or extended) I prefer but I opt for the extended on the basis that the longer the better when it comes to Peter Jacksons fabulous world.

Of course the box set is more than just the film itself and the appendices, running for almost 9 hours, are to be treasured and enjoyed. The whole "making of" is fascinating with everything covered from make up, set design, sound, cinematography and the actors themselves.Its what adds to the whole 5 star experience.

So, leaving the value of the extended version aside, what minor niggles do I have ?.

Two actually, one very minor and one that annoys me.

The first is the first appearance of Gandalf at Hobbiton. Is it just me or does he look much much older than he appears in the rest of the film and the subsequent trilogy ?. His eyes have big dark rings around them and it looks like they went overboard with his make up before scaling it back. I find it very distracting.

The second is the scene with Gollum and Bilbo in the Goblin Tunnels. I am sorry to say this about Andy Serkis whom I think is an incredible actor but I cannot hear a word of what Gollum says. I know its Gollums voice but its too shrill and raspy to get any sense of the riddles he poses apart from the odd word here and there. Its very frustrating and, having watched the scene at least four times now, I still cant get what he is saying. Perhaps its my ears letting me down.

As I say they are minor niggles.

Overall the experience is fantastic. Aided and abetted by New Zealands exceptionally photogenic landscape Peter Jackson and his incredibly talented crew have come up with another gem. No its not LOTR, its a different experience and, to a certain extent comparisons are unfair but if you haven't read the book (or perhaps even if you have) just sit back and enjoy the thrill ride that is the unexpected journey.
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on 14 November 2013
The film (5/5):
I really enjoyed this film a lot, I have seen it 4 times now at the time of writing (2 times in theatres (3D and 48 FPS 3D, 1 time theatrical on Blu-ray (2D), 1 time extended (3D)) and I still find the film to be incredibly entertaining. As a huge fan of the Lord of the Rings original films (those are my all time favourites), I am very pleased with how the team decided to make The Hobbit. It's very similar to the Lord of the Rings films in style and feel, but of course the stories are quite different. While The Hobbit may not be as epic and deep as the Lord of the Rings and not have the same grand scale, the team still did an amazing job at expanding the original story so it would be more in tone with the Lord of the Rings. If you're familiar with the source material and you're not expecting a second "The Lord of the Rings" (but did enjoy the original films), you'll likely also enjoy this film a lot. Personally I can't wait for the next two films!

The Blu-ray:
The Blu-rays themselves are very much like the Lord of the Rings Extended versions, similar packaging, art work on discs, content on discs, etc. Good choice!

The extended scenes (4/5):
There are about 12 minutes of extra footage. I enjoyed most of them and I have decided this will be the version I'll watch on future occasions. Like with the Lord of the Rings, there are some scenes where you completely understand why they were cut, but they're not that distracting and if you're like me and can't get enough of Middle-earth, more content is mostly preferred! I don't feel that the extended scenes hurt the pacing of the film.

Video (5/5):
The video quality is simply amazing, as is the 3D. At this moment it is probably the best-looking Blu-ray film in my collection and I really did enjoy the 3D in this film (I have to admit I am a fan of 3D in general)

Audio (5/5):
The audio track is very good, it's quite pleasing to hear on a surround system.

Extra's (5/5):
Over 9 hours of extra's, what more could you ask for?

General information about the discs:
3D Disc 1 & 2:
Languages: English, French, Italian, Portuguese
Subtitles: English SDH, French, Italian SDH, Dutch, Traditional Chinese, Simplified Chinese, Korean, Spanish (Latin), Portuguese, ???*

2D Disc 3:
Languages: English, French, Italian, Spanish (Castellano),
Subtitles: English SDH, French, Italian SDH, Spanish (Castellano), Dutch

Appendices (Extra's) Disc 4 & 5:
Languages: English
Subtitles: English SDH, French, German, Italian, Spanish (Castellano), Dutch, Traditional Chinese, Simplified Chinese, Korean, Spanish (Latin), Portuguese (Brazil), Czech, Hungarian, Polish, Portuguese, Russian, ???*

The ???* indicates a subtitle language I am unfamiliar with, for a full list see the pictures in the customer images.
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 12 May 2016
This is a review for the Extended Edition in 3D (on Blu-ray). It comes in a deluxe outer-box, with a nice holographic image on it. Inside is a plastic Blu-ray case, housing 5 discs. You get the movie in two parts in 3D; as well as the movie in standard 2D; and two discs of special features (which last over 9 hours). The extended edition of the film is 182 minutes long.

This movie is the initial instalment in a three part franchise. The other two movies that comprise this trilogy are: 'The Desolation of Smaug' (2013) and 'The Battle of Five Armies' (2014). These films are based on the fantasy novel by J. R. R. Tolkien (first published in 1937). They constitute a prequel to the 'Lord of the Rings' saga. That saga was made into a trilogy of films by director Peter Jackson - who returns to direct this Hobbit trilogy.

This film - entitled 'An Unexpected Journey' - is set in Middle-Earth some sixty years before the events of The Lord of the Rings. It tells the tale of Bilbo Baggins (Martin Freeman), who is persuaded by the wizard Gandalf (Ian McKellen) to join a company of thirteen Dwarves - led by Thorin Oakenshield (Richard Armitage) - on a quest to reclaim the Lonely Mountain, their former kingdom, from the dragon Smaug.

It's a highly entertaining movie - full of adventure, thrills, suspense and humour. I've not read the novel, so I didn't know what to expect ... and I thoroughly enjoyed this film. In 3D the special effects - which are plentiful - look amazing. Having only watched this extended version, all I can say is that the narrative made complete sense - and not once did I get bored.

I eagerly awaited the sequel ... I fully recommend this movie to those who enjoy fantasy based drama.
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on 5 January 2017
A great film. The portrayal of the characters is excelent. Very good special effects. Was a bit concerned initially with making the book into a 3 film trilogy but think Peter Jackson has done a remarkable job. Great special effects & the scenery is fantastic. Was pleased that Ian Mckellen reprised his role as Gandalf. For those who have not read the Lord of the Rings or Hobbit books this is based around Bilbo Baggins & is set prior to the Lord of the Rings trilogy.
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Before seeing this film, I was aware that there has been a fair amount of criticism directed towards it due to the film makers turning a relatively short story into three rather long films. There have been suggestions of cashing in on the franchise. Well, that may be the case to a certain degree but I don't think you can fail to see that THE HOBBIT: AN UNEXPECTED JOURNEY remains a very entertaining film.

This part of the tale takes part 60 years before the LORD OF THE RINGS trilogy. At the very beginning, we see Bilbo Baggins as he begins to settle down to write the full story of the adventure that he found himself on when he was a young hobbit. We are then given enough back story in regards to the Dwarfs to know what became of their home and, ultimately, the reason for the adventure that bilbo later finds himself embroiled in. For me, this was really what made this installment as successful as it is. This is the prelude to LOTR and, cleverly, there are ways that we are reminded of this; the music plays a great part in this, as you instantly recognise elements of the soundtrack from the later films. Obviously, characters also play a great part in this too, but we are also given a new insight into some. As another reviewer has stated, our introduction here to Gollum really leaves an impact, especially his parting words. The Shire is also very familiar - Bilbo's house 60 years ago looks as it does later. And, there is even Frodo at the very beginning of the film, reminding you of the connection between him and Bilbo.

Of course, THE HOBBIT makes use of brilliant CGI and other effects. The sets are fantastic and the characters are great. Likewise, the casting of this film is also inspired. Richard Armitage as Thorin is perhaps the revelation but the whole cast is strong. I truly loved this film. Yes, it is long and yes, there are going to be two others before Bilbo is able to say that he went there and back again, but I for one am really looking forward to the next part of his journey.
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on 14 April 2013
I was looking forward to this as I really enjoyed Peter Jackson's adaptation of The Lord of the Rings. While it's not a bad adaptation of The Hobbit, it's not brilliant either, and I feel that the problem is that Jackson is trying to stretch out a 300 page kids' novel to fill three 3-hour films. This is partly achieved by putting in elements from Tolkien's notes and appendices to Lord of the Rings, such as the White Council, which is not objectionable. But also, a lot of the time is taken up with pointless action sequences which may be visually impressive, but don't really add much to the plot. Another problem is the depiction of the dwarves. In LOTR, Gimli was a one-off comic relief character (unlike his character in the novel), but here almost all the dwarves are depicted as comical, and very difficult to take seriously. The exception is Thorin Oakenshield who is portrayed very well by Richard Armitage. Another problem is Radagast, who comes across as a completely ridiculous character, not at all an angelic being of the order of the Istari, which is what he actually is. And he goes around in a sled pulled by rabbits if you please!

On the plus side, the scene from the book where three trolls debate the best way to eat thirteen dwarves and a hobbit is genuinely hilarious, and the riddle scene with Gollum is very nicely done. But the adaptation could have been better.
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