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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