HTS Moderator , Reviewer
Title: The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey - Extended Edition
HTS Overall Score:94.5
Like many others, the minute I heard that “The Hobbit” was being released in theaters I immediately hunkered down and began the long wait for the eventual “extended cut”. Knowing Peter Jackson, and the incredible fan love of the “Lord of the Rings” extended cuts, it was only a matter of time, and lo and behold, that day is here. Now I’ve always felt that the “LOTR” trilogy extended cuts were a mixed back and sometimes didn’t work as well as many felt they did. In my opinion, more is not always better. “The Fellowship of the Ring” didn’t real benefit or felt like it was a detraction with the extended scenes, but “The Return of the King” felt like it became a bloated mess with very little of the added scenes truly making a better movie. The only one that had any real benefit was “The Two Towers”, which felt much more complete with those added scenes, so as a result I was a bit uncertain on what to expect with this new added cut. Thankfully, with only 14+ minutes of added footage the movie isn’t changed as drastically as its predecessors and doesn’t make the long movie feel its length.
It’s once again that point in the past (or future for this timeline), the same day as Bilbo Baggins’ fateful party where he vanishes into the night amidst a flurry of theatrics. While preparing for the party Bilbo decides to leave Frodo his legacy, the story of how it all began, as it would be known later as “here and back again: a hobbit’s tale”. Bilbo Baggins was not always the wild adventurer he was rumored to be, back in his younger days he was more than willing to putz around his hobbit hole and smoke pipe weed all he wanted, without a care in the world. That was all about to change when Gandalf the grey decides to rope poor Bilbo into the adventure of a life time. It seems that the Dwarves of Erabor had lost their home decades ago due to the invasion of a fire dragon named Smaug. Driving them from their home Smaug laid claim to the Dwarven fortune and has guarded it’s richly adorned walls for years. However, a part of 13 dwarves, led by Thorin Oaken shield, heir to the throne apparent, has formed in secret to take back their home. Warriors, tinkers, tailors and toy makers, they have come together to find out if Smaug is dead, or whether they need to fight to reclaim their home once more. One member of their company is missing though, they happen to be in need of someone small, light on their feet and unknown to the dragon. As fate would have it Bilbo fits the bill perfectly. Setting out on their quest they must battle Orcs, Goblins, a mysterious necromancer and above all, their own fears.
“The Hobbit” is both similar and dissimilar to the “Lord of the Rings” Trilogy in many ways. “The Hobbit” was originally a fun adventure romp, rather than a dark and deep story as with the later written trilogy regarding the ring of power. The movie showcases the more light hearted feeling of the film as well as trying to blend itself into the look and feel of the “Lord of the Rings” trilogy as well. As a result the film can feel a bit disjointed a times, with some of the more humorous aspects of the film seemingly out of place among the more serious moments. The scene with the Goblin king meeting his demise comes to mind, his lines almost jolting me out of the epic battle and causing me to shake my head.
Now I’ve already gone over the plot and my feelings over the movie in general in my review of the theatrical cut. Most of you are really reading this to find out how the extended cut differs from the theatrical release and whether this cut is the superior cut of the two. My analysis is much like asking an elf for counsel, for I will answer “yes” and “no”. The scenes both added and detracted from the movie, and with that in mind I can’t say that either cut is really better that the other. There are two song and dance numbers, one in the elven fortress of Rivendale and the other in the goblin King’s lair, both of which seem a bit jarring and out of place, especially the scene in the Goblin King’s lair. I get that Peter Jackson was trying to bring a bit of a larky feeling to the movie, but it came across a bit toooooo childish considering the seriousness of the events that were taking place and made an already weak part of the movie even weaker (in regards to the Goblin scenes).
Now, on the other hand, there was some FANTASTIC exposition scenes added earlier in the film which are a huge boon to the plot. There’s an opening scene with the Elf King and King Thror of the Dwarven race, which adds more weight behind the Elves decision not to engage in battle with Smaug. Rivendale is a major area with sporadic scenes with Bilbo that create a much more poignant image of what is at stake and helps solidify Bilbo’s actions more. Personally those scenes made up for the song and dance scenes in spades and helped the story flow a bit smoother. Had they taken out those weak scenes this cut would be night perfect, but as a result of both the good and the bad it balances out again to a score of 4.5/5, just like the theatrical cut. My analysis really makes it difficult to decide which cut is the superior one here. Both are excellent versions of the film, but with the rockiness of some of the extended scenes I can’t give it a carte blanche of perfectness. In all honesty, both cuts are perfectly fine and you can’t go wrong either way, the trim and sleek feeling of the theatrical cut is very pleasing, but those extra exposition scenes in the extended cut are a tempting morsel for any fan of Middle earth. Honestly I’d have to say that If I had both side by side, I would probably go with the extended cut just for the fact that they are both excellent cuts, the 50hz LFE High Pass Filter is gone from the audio track AND the extras are pure gold.
Rated PG-13 for extended sequences of intense fantasy action violence, and frightening images
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=13651[/img]Even with an added 14 something minutes, the differences between the two releases are imperceptible at BEST. I honestly can't tell the difference between the two discs even A/Bing on a 120 inch projector screen at a few feet away. Peter Jackson’s cinematography in the “Lord of the Rings” trilogy was absolutely phenomenal and it’s obvious that he hasn’t lost his touch. “The Hobbit” is a stunning display of digital mastery, shot on 30 digital RED EPIC cameras at 48 fps it is a shining example of just how good digital can look. Unfortunately for us, Blu-ray and DVD don’t support 48fps, so we have to make do until a new format emerges that can fully realize the potential of the cameras. Don’t let that limitation fool you however, even without 48fps’s judderless ability “The Hobbit” looks as stunning a transfer as one could hope for. Detail is absolutely incredible and both long shots and close ups are a sight to behold. Facial detail is crystal clear and makes you feel as if you were standing in the company of 14 yourself. The rich New Zealand country side is ripe for eye candy and doesn’t disappoint here as it didn’t in the trilogy before it. Blacks are deep and inky as can be and shadow detail is spot on. Contrast and facial colors are natural and satisfying, the only slight thing to be aware of is the fact that Peter Jackson tinted this film with the same green tint that he used on the remastered versions of the LOTR trilogy.
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=13652[/img]As with the video encode there is almost NO difference between the 7.1 DTS-HD MA track from the theatrical release and this extended cut. The only real difference here is the LFE. With this new cut the 50hz High Pass filter that was present in the theatrical cut has been lifted, but the bad news is that the 50hz filter has been replaced by a lower 30hz filter, so there is STILL filtering in place. The bass carries a bit more "weight" to it, so to speak, but really isn't any more powerful with the added extension. Gorgeously balanced it gives proper credence to both subtlety and pure aggressive battle mode. Voices are locked in the center channel and the surround usage is through the roof. The thundering footsteps of the wargs echo all around and the simple crunch of leaves underfoot are clear as a bell. The scene with Gollum in the goblin caves is a perfect example of fantastic directionality of the mix among all 7 speakers. Howard Shore’s beautiful score fills the room with sounds of Dwarven melodies and epic battle songs. The LFE was fairly mild in the first 40 minutes of the film, so mild that I checked my subwoofers to make sure that I had these puppies turned up. However, once the trolls came on scene the subwoofers started and just wouldn’t stop vibrating my house (albeit mostly in the higher frequency range). The Rock giants made my pant legs vibrates and the thunderous sounds of battle echoed throughout the whole house. A fantastic audio track that is just nigh perfect.
• Audio Commentary
• New Zealand: Home to Middle-Earth
The Appendices Part 7: A Long Expected Journey
• Introduction by Peter Jackson
• The Journey Back to Middle-Earth
• Riddles in the Dark
• An Unexpected Party
• Roas Mutton
• Bastion of the Greenwood
• A Short Rest
• Over Hill
• Under Hill
• Out of the Frying Pan
• Return to Hobbiton
• The Epic of Scene 88
• The Battle of Moria
• Edge of the Wilderland
• Home is Behind, the World Ahead
The Appendices Part 8: Return to Middle-Earth
• The Company of Thorin
• Mr. Baggins: The 14th Member
• Durin's Folk: Creating the Dwarves
• The People and Denizens of Middle-Earth
• Realms of the Third Age: From Bag End to Goblin Town
• The Songs of "The Hobbit"
The Extended cut of “The Hobbit” isn’t as cut and dry a comparison as one would have hoped, some of the scenes create a rough feeling to this cut, but others tend to be exquisite in nature. With only 14 or so minutes of added footage it isn’t like they changed the entire feel of the movie as they did with the LOTR series. Instead it creates a “different” cut that allows for a different feeling movie, while still staying essentially the same. For all of you extras fanatics out there, you’ll be well pleased with this release, the extras missing from the theatrical release are there and just as glorious as we’d imagine. With the same fantastic audio and video scores plus a very pleasing slip box to house the black blu-ray case in this is a collectors dream come true.
Starring: Martin Freeman, Ian McKellen
Directed by: Peter Jackson
Written by: Fran Walsh, Philippa Boyens
Aspect Ratio: 2.40:1 AVC
Audio: English: DTS-HD MA 7.1, French Portuguese DD 5.1
Studio: Warner Brothers
Blu-Ray Release Date: Nov 5th, 2013
Buy The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey - Extended Edition Blu-ray on Amazon
Recommendation: Buy It
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