DVD REVIEW: The Hobbit – An Unexpected Journey (Extended Version)

KeyArtSome guy called Bilbo goes on a quest with a wizard & some dwarves – not sure it will catch on?

The first in a trilogy of films based on the enduring masterpiece The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien, The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey follows title character Bilbo Baggins, who – along with the Wizard Gandalf and 13 Dwarves, led by Thorin Oakenshield – is swept into an epic quest to reclaim the lost Dwarf Kingdom of Erebor from the fearsome Dragon Smaug.

Their journey will take them into the Wild, through treacherous lands inhabited by Goblins, Orcs and deadly Wargs, as well as a mysterious and sinister figure known only as the Necromancer. Along the path, the unassuming Bilbo Baggins not only discovers depths of ingenuity and courage that surprise even himself, he also gains possession of a “precious” ring tied to the fate of all Middle-earth in ways he cannot begin to imagine.

Suitably timed just as Part 2 is released in the cinema, I thought it prudent to refresh our memory through this excellent package of 3D / Blu-Ray and e-copy all rolled into one. I will limit my review to what I could see – and by that I mean I couldn’t get access to a 3D player, but I certainly took in the extended version of The Hobbit, An Unexpected Journey in all of its Blu-Ray glory. Hopefully I can convey to you that in my opinion extended cut of the film is really worth the expenditure!

Inside the box there are the two-discs that make up the 2-part 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 line with those in the extended version of The Lord Of The Rings – well, that all points to a box set containing all six films and their appendices in the not  too distant future!
The quality of the Blu-Ray is absolutely stunning (we have a Sony Player on an LG 47″ screen) – New Zealand in your front room! Most importantly, the additional scenes or partial scenes have been edited in seamlessly, but you can identify separately for your inspection or perusal.

The breakdown of the extra 13 minutes in the extended edition are as  follows:

  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, there are 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.
  5. During the dwarf dinner scene, we learn 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 more insight into the relationship between Bilbo & Gandalf.
  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 that wholly irritates the elves, and during which Bofur sings a song. As the dwarves feast, Bilbo’s wanders off around Rivendell, 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 certainly explains why Bilbo would 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 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 explains Thorin’s decision to leave Rivendell unannounced and unexpectedly.
  9. The meeting at Rivendell between Gandalf, Elrond, Saroman and Galadrial, is extended, with important information about the missing rings of power and how the dwarves fit in with the One Ring story.
  10. Finally, there is another song, this time sung by the Goblin King, which if nothing else, allows Barry Humphries to air his lungs.

What really counts in this extended edition however are the appendices. Nine hours of extras which I am still making my way through, and arguably an improvement over appendices one through six of the original trilogy. All-in-all, you can pick this for about £17 today, and if you like this as much as me, then you’ll know it stands up to repeat viewing…

Extra Content • “Video Blog #1: Start of Production” • “Video Blog #2: Location Scouting” • “Video Blog #3: Shooting Block One” • “Video Blog #4: Filming in 3D” • “Video Blog #5: Locations Part 1” • “Video Blog #6: Locations Part 2” • “Video Blog #7: Stone St. Studios Tour” • “Video Blog #8: “Wrap of Principal Photography” • “Video Blog #9: “Post-production Overview” • “Video Blog #10: “Wellington World Premiere” • Theatrical Trailers – Trailer 1 • Theatrical Trailers – Trailer 3 – Dwarves • Theatrical Trailers – Trailer 3 – Letter Opener • Theatrical Trailers – Trailer 3 – Bilbo Contract • Theatrical Trailers – Trailer 3 – Gandalf Wagers • Theatrical Trailers – Trailer 3 – Gollum Paths • New Zealand: Home of Middle Earth

Rating: 5/5
Reviewer: SilverFox

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