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TV show review: CONTINUUM season 4
PHOTOGRAPHY

THE HOBBIT: AN UNEXPECTED JOURNEY Extended Edition

Blu-ray review by David Blackwell

 

DETAILS:  182 minutes (extended edition)/ approx 540 minutes (extras), featurette, making-of documentaries, audio commentary

VIDEO:  2.35:1 (Anamorphic Widescreen) 1080p High Definition

AUDIO (feature): English 7.1 DTS-HD MA, French 5.1 Dolby Digital

Subtitles (feature):  English SDH, French, Spanish

Subtitles (extras discs):  English, French, Spanish- Latino, Spanish- Castellano, Dutch, Italian, Thai, Portuguese, Mandarin, Cantonese, Korean, Russian, Polish, Hungarian, Netherlands, Ceske, Magyar

 

STUDIO:  New Line Cinema/ MGM/ Warner Bros. Pictures

RELEASE DATE:  11-5-2013

THE HOBBIT is the prequel to THE LORD OF THE RINGS which had a long history to make it to the screen as about as long as LORD OF THE RINGS. The film was held up by MGM's money problems and lost a director before Peter Jackson decided to go back to the director's chair to direct it like he had directed the three LORD OF THE RINGS films starting over a decade ago. Somehow they are stretching it out to a trilogy of films while I can see how they can make it two films after watching THE HOBBIT: AN UNEXPECTED JOURNEY. It brings back the wonder of watching THE LORD OF THE RINGS trilogy, but I don't think this film is as good as the LOTR series. It is still an enjoyable experience even though the first part runs a little long at around two hours and 40 minutes (not including credits). It is good to see new characters and old ones as fans will enjoy seeing the beginning of the J.R.R. Tolkien saga first published as a novel in September 1937.

 

Bilbo Baggins recounts the tale of the journey that changed his life and helped push forward the course of events over 60 years.  Bilbo remembers what happens 60 years ago as Gandalf convinces him to join a company of 13 Dwarves led by Thorin, the son of a Dwarf King, to reclaim the treasure stolen by the dragon Smaug (after Gandalf tricks Bilbo in hosting a party).   They battle trolls, hunted by Orcs, and have to visit the Elves (that Thorin shows no good will towards since the Elves refused to help Thorin reclaim his kingdom from the dragon).   The best part of the film has to be the game of riddles between Gollum and Bilbo where Bilbo claims the Ring that will change everything and set forth a quest to destroy it 60 years later.

 

The New Zealand vistas are just as beautiful while the special effects are of mixed results (while some effects look much better than others).   The 3D effect looks good on the film while some of the film you can watch without having your 3D glasses on.   The cast bring to life the characters in the film while Ian McKellan feels like he hasn’t left the role of Gandalf (like it was yesterday).   Peter Jackson is a good choice to direct THE HOBBIT films since he has wonderfully directed THE LORD OF THR RINGS trilogy, but I do wonder how Guillermo del Toro’s version of the films would have been like and yet it has led del Toro to make the robots vs monster movie PACIFIC RIM.  

The extended cut is 13 minutes longer with some minor scene extensions and a few new scenes in Rivendale.  Given how THE HOBBIT was extended to three movies instead of two, future extended editions will probably won’t have too much new to offer except for hours of extras.

 

SPECIAL FEATURES:

DISC 1-

Audio commentary

 

NEW ZEALAND: HOME OF MIDDLE-EARTH-

 

DISC 2-

THE APPENDICES PART 7: A LONG-EXPECTED JOURNEY- THE CHRONICLES OF THE HOBBIT PART 1 (4:31:11)-

OPENING (2:42)

THE  JOURNEY BACK TO MIDDLE-EARTH (48:19)

RIDDLES IN THE DARK (17:00)

AN UNEPECTED PARTY (25:28)

ROAST MUTTON (17:12)

BASTION OF GREENWOOD (10:41)- all about giant rabbits, Sylvester McCoy as Radagast and his unlikely double Tim Wong

A SHORT REST (29:12)- Hugo Weaving returns in rock star fashion, Figwit gets a crash course in Elvish (and barely nails it), Ian McKellan and Cate Blanchett workshop a scene with Peter Jackson, and Peter directs Christopher Lee (who tells epic stories about his life), Ian Holm, and Elijah Wood in London

OVER HILL (13:40)- the cast gets soaked on set for the Misty Mountains climb and the planning that goes into the goblin trapdoor scene with stuntmen

…UNDER HILL (19:15)- Goblin extras face physical challenges like first wearing animatronic heads before Peter Jackson decides to mocap the heads instead and adding digital goblins to the scenes in addition to hijinks from the goblin extras

OUT OF THE FRYING PAN… (16:07)

RETURN TO HOBBITON (18:35)

THE EPIC OF SCENE 88 (8:28)

THE BATTLE OF MORIA (10:57)

EDGE OF THE WILDERLAND (22:37)

HOME IS BEHIND, THE WORLD AHEAD (11:40)

CREDITS (3:03)

 

DISC 3:

THE APPENDICES PART 8: RETURN TO MIDDLE-EARTH (4:45:19):

THE COMPANY OF THORIN (1:02:41):

ASSEMBLY THE DWARVES (21:20)- casting and various screen tests of the actors who were cast (including a couple who auditioned for Bilbo when they thought they might not be able to use Martin Freeman as Bilbo due to his commitment to SHERLOCK)

THORIN, FILI & KILI (7:13)/ BALIN & DWALIN (7:20)/ OIN & GLOIN (4:51)/ DOR, NORI & ORI (12:11)/ BIFUR, BOFUR & BOMBUR (10:03)-

 

MR. BAGGINS: THE 14TH MEMBER (16:10)- a look at what Martin Freeman brought to Bilbo, the naughty mischief and middle fingers he did between takes, and how they decided to work around Freeman’s time off to do SHERLOCK

DURIN’S FOLK: CREATING THE DWARVES (57:25)- the process of creating the dwarves from photoshop, physically realizing the dwarves, and how they kept the actors cool between takes (air conditioned tent, suits they could plug cooling hoses to).

 

THE PEOPLE AND DENIZENS OF MIDDLE-EARTH (58:09)-

THE STONE TROLLS (12:54)

RANDAGHAST THE BROWN (10:51)- all about Sylvester McCoy and his performance as the absent minded nature wizard in addition the look they created for Randaghast, McCoy trying to slip in a spoon routine into every character he plays, and how many crew members had a nerd thing going for McCoy for his performance as the Seventh Doctor

GOBLINS (19:48)

AZOG THE DEILER (14:48)

 

REALMS OF THE THIRD AGE: FROM BAG END TO GOBLIN TOWN (58:59):

HOBBITON (23:41)- a look back at the first version of Hobbiton in THE LORD OF THE RINGS to how they created more permanent structures for Hobbiton in THE HOBBIT and how Peter’s unexpected illness caused an eight month filming delay of the location which worked to their advantage for the look of the town in addition to filming Bag End on a soundstage

RHOSGOBEL (5:34)- a look at the details of Randaghast’s home and a tour of it

RIVENDELL (11:15)- a look at the creation of RIVENDELL for the first HOBBIT film and how CGI allowed more freedom compared to the model work they did for Rivendell for THE LORD OF THE RINGS in addition to making THE HOBBIT look of Rivendell being more colorful compared to the Fall look seen in LOTR

THE MISTY MOUNTAINS (6:23)- mostly about the CGI of the Stone Giants

GOBLIN TOWN (12:29)

 

THE SONGS OF THE HOBBIT (32:32- how they adapted Tolien’s songs for THE HOBBIT in addition to including parts of various demos for MISTY MOUNTAINS and the actors contributing in part to the music.

 

FINAL ANALYSIS:  The extended edition doesn’t add a whole lot to THE HOBBIT: AN UNEXPECTED JOURNEY, but the nine plus hours of making-of extras are worth giving this one a spin in the blu-ray play (especially the first extras disc since the second extras disc does feel a little padded in places).

 

This blu-ray review 11-12-2013 David Blackwell and cannot be reprinted without permission.  Send all comments to feedback@enterline-media.com

 

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