The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey Extended Edition Blu-ray Review

The-Hobbit-An-Unexpected-Journey-Extended-Edition-Bluray

When it comes to Peter Jackson and his Lord of the Rings extended editions, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that an extended release would be in the works for the Hobbit trilogy. Okay, so maybe The Hobbit getting an extended release was a little bit of a shocker. For The Lord of the Rings trilogy, there was no way that Peter Jackson could include everything from the three lengthy books, but with the extended editions, he was able to add some more background to some of the characters. Since the Hobbit films are based on a single book, it already seemed overkill to make three movies out of it. Now we’re getting an extended edition of The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, which releases on Blu-ray and DVD November 5, 2013 (The iTunes version is now available).

The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey follows a Hobbit named Bilbo Baggins (Martin Freeman). He gets invited by the wizard Gandalf (Ian Mckellen) to join the Dwarves on their adventure to reclaim the lost mountain city of Erebor. Leading the Dwarves is Thorin Oakenshield (Richard Armitage), a brave but stubborn warrior who seeks revenge on Smaug the dragon.

Overall it was an enjoyable piece of cinema not without its fair share of problems. What I enjoyed are the performances by the many cast members in the film. Martin Freeman pulls off a homesick but adventurous Bilbo well, and McKellen is always great as the old wizard with a lot of wisdom. The company of Dwarves do add some charm to the movie, even if you don’t know all their names (I think having watched the film more than three times since its release has helped).

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Even though I did enjoy the cast of Dwarves, the movie suffers for it since you don’t really get a lot of screen time for each one to feel a strong connection with any. In the Fellowship of the Ring, the cast is diverse enough and easier to recognize, and you can almost relate to every single character in that movie. In the Hobbit, you have thirteen Dwarves who don’t get to show much depth to their character, except for Thorin. What makes them harder to follow is that they all have long beards and big noses.

Another issue I had with the film was the pacing. It felt very predictable as the group gets chased by orcs, and then they find some time for peace, and then they get chased again. I guess you can blame it on The Lord of the Rings films for doing a fine job of setting up danger and then giving us hope.

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I also wasn’t very fond of the use of CG for the goblins and the main villain Azog. In the previous films, we had actual actors in makeup and prosthetic to play the main baddies including Lurtz, the leader of the Uruk-hai. It’s one of those CGI moments where you’re wondering, “Why didn’t they use a real person?” And don’t get me started on the Goblin Town chase sequence where the Dwarves just hack and slash their way through hordes of goblins. Not once did I feel the Dwarves were in any real danger, and the way they dispatch the goblins left and right makes it feel like a video game.

So how’s the 13 minutes of extra footage? Some of them adds more background to the story, and others are musical numbers excluded from the theatrical cut. One of my favorite added scenes was when Thranduil, the leader of the woodland elves and Legolas’ father, gets humiliated by the Dwarf king, Thror, by not allowing him treasure. Another scene I liked was when Kili was trying to hit on an Elven maid, but it turned out to be a really feminine male elf. Other scenes included are a musical number by the Dwarves as they sing and litter all over Rivendell and an extended musical number by the Goblin king.

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The extended edition looks great on Blu-ray. The additional scenes looked crystal clear and meshes well with the theatrical cut. The scenery of Erebor, Rivendell and Hobbiton all look lively and vibrant. The CG on the orcs, wargs and Gollum are very detailed. As for the actual CG style, I felt that the wargs and the goblins are a step backwards from the more realistic looking wargs in The Two Towers and orcs from previous LOTR films.

For those who are big fans of the extras for Lord of the Rings Extended Editions, they should be happy to know that there’ll be nine hours of extras, including the appendices. We get Appendices Part 7 and 8 that covers pre-production, principal photography, and post-production. The Appendices Part 7 contains over four hours of behind-the-scenes footage and is in chronological order. I love the way it’s set up because it actually makes you feel like you were a part of the crew. Also included are behind-the-scenes footage of The Desolation of Smaug.

The commentary by Peter Jackson and Philippa Boyens is also an enjoyable listen, as you get to hear Jackson talk about the making of the film in a caring way. There are people out there who thinks that Warner Bros. is trying to get a lot of money by turning the film into a trilogy, but in the commentary Philippa Boyens actually explains why they went from two films to three.

The video and audio quality are great, the extras are filled with a lot content, and the 13 minutes of additional footage makes The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey Extended Edition Blu-ray a recommended purchase. And yes, I enjoyed the appendices more than I enjoyed the actual movie.

Grade: B+

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