The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey (Extended Edition)
Book by J.R.R. Tolkien
Film by Peter Jackson
Starring: Martin Freeman, Richard Armitage, & Ian McKellan
I’ve always been a collector. It seems to be ingrained in my blood. First it was little digital pets, then posters of my celebrity crushes (Oh, Leo – swoon), and finally rare memorabilia from films and in turn, their official Blu-Ray & Score releases. I am single-handedly keeping music stores open with my purchases and will continue to do so for years to come. My collection of each is now into the thousands and growing everyday. Not surprisingly, I have all of the Bond films, Indiana Jones, Star Wars, Harry Potter, Lord of the Rings, and now, I am proud to include the very first Hobbit film. Read on to hear my thoughts on the release of The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey (Extended Edition). WARNING: Contains mild spoilers of new scenes.
First, let’s start with the packaging. I have the Blu-Ray Extended Edition with Ultraviolet. It comes in a very sturdy, brown slipcase that is fashioned to look like Bilbo’s journal. The inlay is the one sheet of the movie poster. Inside is the normal Blu-Ray case, but in black instead of the normal blue. It’s very rugged, and feels nice to hold. This packaging is a huge, gigantic upgrade to the extended editions of Lord of the Rings – which barely fit on any shelf that I have! This case, while larger than other Blu-Ray cases, is still smaller than a normal DVD case and fits nicely on my shelf. I can’t wait to have the other two next to it!
Next, the film itself. The theatrical release of the film was 2 hours 40 minutes, and for this viewer, felt every minute that long. I saw it twice in theaters, hoping that on my second viewing I would understanding the pacing more, and the gratuitous fight scenes would seem less so. Sadly, not the case. I left the theater both times incredibly sleepy, and fairly disappointed. Regardless, I was incredibly excited to sit down to watch the Extended Edition. Clocking in at 3 hours 2 minutes – 22 minutes longer than the theatrical – the movie, for me, actually felt shorter than the theatrical release. The added scenes, of which there were many, actually helped the flow and continuity of the film. Admittedly, the Goblin song “Down, Down to Goblin Town” probably didn’t do much for the plot, but it was a fun throwback to the animated version. One of my favorite new scenes is Old Took’s birthday – with little 4 year old Bilbo! It’s a lovely change to the introduction on Bilbo’s story. The next scene that I loved so was an exchanged between Elrond & Bilbo on a balcony in Rivendell. The talk about the Dwarves, the epic awesomeness that make a Hobbit (paraphrasing here), and ultimately, Elrond invites Bilbo to stay in Rivendell, should he choose. It’s a nice homage to Rings when Bilbo does in deed go back to Rivendell to live out his later years, post ring. The last extended scene that I fawned over took place in the Council Chamber between Gandalf, Saruman, and Galadrial. They discuss the current status of all the rings of power – an important moment for fans that have issues with continuity, or don’t particularly know where in the timeline of Middle Earth The Hobbit fits into. All in the all, I enjoyed the extra footage, and in turn the movie. I probably won’t watch the theatrical version again.
Lastly, the NINE hours of special features! Now, I am not usually the type to sit down and watch an entire day’s worth of footage – especially on one topic. Admittedly, even though I am a ginormous Harry Potter fan and own all the Ultimate Editions, I have never watched a single special feature. Oops? I’m busy, no excuses, I know, but I am. Lack of enthusiasm notwithstanding, when I sat down to the watch The Hobbit special features, I knew I would be in for a treat.
Since I had just finished watching the film, watching it again with commentary was out of the question. Even thought the commentary tracks on Rings (Two Towers specifically) were incredible, that would have to wait for another day. So, I popped in the second disc of features, titled “The Appendices: Part 8 – Return to Middle Earth” which is a collection of shorter vignettes on the film. It’s a great collection of features on characters such as Bilbo and how Martin Freeman came to the part, to a history and family tree of the dwarves, and even a look at how the Goblins were created, re-created, then ultimately digitally mastered. It’s an valuable disc of features that I could literally write about for hours – but I won’t.
What I really want to discuss is the disc titled “The Appendices: Part 7 – A Long-Unexpected Journey: The Chronicles of The Hobbit”
This disc clocks in at 4 hours 45 minutes and hardly feels that long. I watched it in one sitting on a lazy Sunday afternoon, and enjoyed every bit of it. There are fifteen sections of this amazing documentary (of sorts) including the credits.
- The Journey Back To Middle Earth (Introduction)
- 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 Fryingpan… – 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
- Home Is Behind, The World Ahead
One of the most interesting sections was actually the very first bit after the intro, “Riddles In The Dark – Gollum’s Cave”. It’s chronicles the first days and weeks of shooting, which were all spent in the “mountains” for the famous riddle scene between Bilbo & Gollum. It’s a very funny bit, actually, because Andy & Martin together, while very serious actors, are quite the pair of jokesters.