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.
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 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.
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!
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.
on 23 July 2016
I watched the three Lord of the Rings films recently.
I had seen them years ago and really enjoyed watching them over again.
I had not seen any of the Hobbit films.
This being the first in the trilogy I was very interested to see how good or indeed bad they were.
I am very pleased to report how much I enjoyed this film.
In my humble opinion it ranks with the Lord of the Rings films.
Just out of interest I always watch films these days with the sub titles on.
I simply find it easier to follow what is going on.
In this first watch of this film for me it helped a lot because there is a lot going on.
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.
'Bilbo Baggins' (Martin Freeman)is persuaded to join 'Gandalf' and a
small band of dwarfs on a quest to regain their lost kingdom.
as with the awesome 'L.O.R' trilogy this is again a 'dark' tale, along
again with eye-popping c.g.i throughout.
many characters that became familiar to us throughout 'L.O.R' also
feature in 'Bilbo's' adventure of some 60 years before 'Frodo's' quest.
of course the link to the future is laid.
can't wait for the next part of the spectacle to surface.
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.
on 1 April 2013
If The Hobbit had been made before Lord of the Rings, then there would have been far more fuss made of this at awards ceremonies. As it was it was mostly ignored, and there is a slight feeling of "more of the same, but not nearly as good," for the Hobbit. But if that is true then it is only because the story itself is less epic than LOTR, and has four or five too many dwarves in the novel to keep track of and get to know individually. The movie tries to make each one different to look at, but in the first part of this trilogy they move mostly as a group and everything that happens to them happens to the group, and so none in particular shine, aside from the leader Thorin. The attempt is made to give Thorin the depth and tragic element that Aragorn carried in LOTR, but something is lacking and many times i felt the longing for Viggo Mortenson to appear and save the movie. That is the problem with comparisons, but it is impossible to consider this film without considering the shadow cast by its predecessor.
In LOTR we had the structure of the fellowship equally divided between the hobbits, the elf, the dwarf, the men, and the wizard, but the individual characters in the Hobbit are not fleshed out or distinctive yet, though they may each come into their own in the following parts of the trilogy. There are simply too many of them, but I felt the book suffered for this too, so this is not a fault of Peter Jackson's, because he would have been heavily criticised by the luvvies if he had chosen to cut the number of dwarves down to a more manageable number which would have made it easier to focus on individuals. Cutting it to seven would have been ideal, but Disney got there first with Snow White.
The movie does not follow the book exactly but i won't go into spoiling details, just to mention that characters and scenes that exist elsewhere are added here, though are not in the Hobbit book. Some of the additions will be extremely popular as they harken back to LOTR,reintroduce some well-loved characters and give some added depth and seriousness to the tone of the film. Nothing seems out of place.The set designs are incredible and the visual style matches LOTR and the script has some obvious echoes in structure and style, and it's almost at times as though some key lines were lifted from the LOTR at certain moments and inserted into this script, to maintain the link between the two stories, even though they were not part of the book.Those who know LOTR will recognise these moments immediately.
BUT BUT BUT,this should have been a one movie story and not the first part of a trilogy. We needed pace not padding but this is clearly written with dollar signs in the eyes of the makers.
Where the Hobbit absolutely falls short for me is when we see several scenes of extreme danger and destruction even greater than in LOTR and almost not a scratch on any of the heroes follows as a result. It is inconceivable that they would all escape the things they escape in this movie,and this tends to result from scenes that have been added that were not in the book. Yes the scenes add drama and imagination, but sooner or later we need to go back to the book and at that point in the book they were all still alive because they hadn't faced those kinds of dangers. Bilbo waves his sword like an idiot and cannot fight to save his life, but when it suits the story he suddenly becomes able and heroic and fights off a wild savage beast far bigger than himself. In LOTR there was never the feeling of any character suddenly being able to exceed his abilities,and so each film was grounded all the way in believability. I found the first part of the Hobbit didnt match the LOTR in this level of credibility and we are left just having to assume that everyone will always get away no matter what is thrown at them, and a certain level of tension is lost as a result. Unfortunately for the Hobbit, it has to follow standards of excellence in LOTR so high that they will be hard pushed to beat on any level.