Blu-ray Review “The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey (Extended Edition)”

hobbit-extendedActors: Martin Freeman, Ian McKellen, Richard Armitage, Andy Serkis, Graham McTavish
Directors: Peter Jackson
Number of discs: 3
Rated: PG-13 (Parental Guidance Suggested)
Studio: New Line Home Video
Release Date: November 5, 2013
Run Time: 183 minutes

Film: 4 out of 5 stars
Extras: 5 out of 5 stars

If you are a fan of “The Lord of the Rings” series then you should be no stranger to Peter Jackson’s famous extended editions. Before “The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey” was even released in theaters there was already talks of an extended edition that would be released. Obviously, the extended cuts of “The Lord of the Rings” trilogy are a must if you are a fan of the films. “The Fellowship of the Ring” had an extra 30 minutes included in it’s extended cut. “The Two Towers” was 42 minutes longer and lastly “The Return of the King” was 50 minutes longer. Even though they are longer, I have always preferred the extended cuts. So why I saw that the new cut of “The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey” was only 13 minutes longer, I was a little taken back but overall I still enjoyed it very much. I didn’t feel like it any better than the theatrical cut but it certainly wasn’t any worse either. It does deliver some great new scenes but in exchange the pacing issues are still at hand.

If you are a fan of this film I would recommend checking out this new cut but more importantly though the main draw for me is the fact that this extended edition Blu-ray actually includes an additional nine hours of new bonus features, which was not on this film first Blu-ray release. If you were like me, I was pretty pissed with the lame lack of extras in the theatrical cut Blu-ray release. So I was very pleasantly pleased to find this new release to be jam-packed with new goodies. This is a must for any fan of the series, especially if you didn’t race out back in March for the theatrical cut. All I know for one thing is that I was excited for the December 13 theatrical release of the second film of the trilogy, “The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug”…and now I am very excited for this film and so is my wife who didn’t even originally want to see the first film in theaters.

Official Premise: The adventure follows the journey of title character Bilbo Baggins, who is swept into an epic quest to reclaim the lost Dwarf Kingdom of Erebor from the fearsome dragon Smaug. Approached out of the blue by the wizard Gandalf the Grey, Bilbo finds himself joining a company of thirteen dwarves led by the legendary warrior, Thorin Oakenshield. Their journey will take them into the Wild; through treacherous lands swarming with Goblins and Orcs, deadly Wargs and Sorcerers. Although their goal lies to the East and the wastelands of the Lonely Mountain, first they must escape the goblin tunnels, where Bilbo meets the creature that will change his life forever Gollum. Here, alone with Gollum, on the shores of an underground lake, the unassuming Bilbo Baggins not only discovers depths of ingenuity and courage that surprise even him, he also gains possession of Gollum’s “precious” ring that holds unexpected and useful qualities A simple, gold ring that is tied to the fate of all Middle-earth in ways Bilbo cannot begin to know.

Like the theatrical cut the the 1080p transfer is just outstanding. It is stunning whether it is presented in 3D or not. The DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1 audio track is also flawless like the theatrical cut my walls were shaking during the action scenes. Warner Bros delivered this film as a combo pack including a Blu-ray and UltraViolet Digital Copy. There are three BD-50 discs included for this release. The 183-minute extended cut fills one disc and the other two Blu-rays include the massive amounts of special features included.  Kicking off the special features there is a must listen audio commentary track with Peter Jackson and co-writer Philippa Boyens. Not a shock that this track is very engaging and very informative. They cover just about everything possible about the production.  Next up we have a short feature called “New Zealand: Home of Middle-Earth” in which Jackson talks about the shooting locations that were transformed into Middle-Earth. This extra is the only one that was included on the theatrical cut Blu-ray release since the 127-minute, ten-part Video Blog series is not included here.

“The Appendices Part 7: A Long Expected Journey” includes over four f hours of extras covering the production from end to end. This 14-part chronological history of the filming of “An Unexpected Journey” covers everything from pre-production to working on the digital effects. The featurettes included are “The Journey Back to Middle-Earth”, “Riddles in the Dark: Gollum’s Cave”, “An Unexpected Party: Bag End”, “Roast Mutton: Trollshaws Forest”, “Bastion of the Greenwood: Rhosgobel”, “A Short Rest: Rivendell and London”, “Over Hill: The Misty Mountains”, “Under Hill: Goblin Town”, “Out of the Frying Pan: The Forest Ledge”, “Return to Hobbiton: The Shire”, “The Epic of Scene 88: Strath Taieri”, “The Battle of Moria: Azanulbizar”, “Edge of the Wilderland: Pick-ups and the Carrock” and “Home Is Behind, the World Is Ahead”.

On the third disc, we get “The Appendices Part 8: Return to Middle-Earth” which includes another four plus hours of bonus features. There are a bunch of additional featurettes focusing on the film’s production including “The Company of Thorin”, “Mr. Baggins: The 14th Member”, “Durin’s Folk: Creating the Dwarves”. “The Peoples and Denizens of Middle-Earth”, “Realms of the Third Age: From Bag End to Goblin Town” and “The Songs of The Hobbit”. I think that Peter Jackson realized that the March Blu-ray for the theatrical cut wasn’t up to par in terms of extras and he really set it right with his fans with this release. Hopefully though, they will still be willing to make the purchase and double dip for this extended edition release since the extras are worth the price of the Blu-ray alone.

The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey Extended Edition arrives on Digital Download October 22nd and on Blu-ray 3D, Blu-ray and DVD on November 5th!

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