Monday, April 8, 2013
FILMonBLU-RAY: Hobbit An Unexpected Journey (Review)
2012 - New Line Home Video
Released on Blu-Ray/DVD on March 19, 2013.
# of Discs: 3 (2 x Blu-Ray, DVD)
Runtime: 169 Minutes
Before the tale of Frodo and the Fellowship of the Ring, there was another journey involving a Baggins from the Shire. Bilbo (Martin Freeman) finds himself drafted into an epic quest to reclaim the lost Dwarf Kingdom of Erebor from the fearsome dragon Smaug.
Introduced by Gandalf the Grey (Ian McKellen), Bilbo joins a crew of thirteen dwarves led by Thorin Oakenshield (Richard Armitage). Their trek takes them through the goblin tunnels, where Bilbo crosses paths with the creature, Gollum (Andy Serkis), and its precious ring.
It is only the beginning of their journey, but this motley group face many dangers that seek their end.
THE HOBBIT: AN UNEXPECTED JOURNEY continues the outstanding visuals of THE LORD OF THE RINGS, using prosthetic and CG work combined with the stunning vistas of New Zealand in the background to create a masterful image for this prequel story.
The return to this fictional universe gave director Peter Jackson a chance to improve on what was done before and that is immediately seen with the time spent in the Shire. Many more wide shots, as well as from overhead to really give the feel of a living, breathing village.
One of the most memorable character introductions in cinematic history happens when Bilbo's meal is interrupted by the gathering of dwarves instigated by Gandalf. The dumbfounded Bilbo is treated to repeated unexpected guests that invade his kitchen, and raid his food in their rowdy dwarf manner. Then before they get down to business the dwarves burst into song while they do the dishes.
And of course the battles are a wonder to watch, whether it be the dwarves against the two trolls, the goblins in the tunnels or the orcs in the woods, each was unique, exciting and dangerous, keeping the audience on the edge of their seat.
The extras that are included on the Blu-Ray is where my ire is drawn. How much of it is due to the odd production of filming all 3 films at the same time but I found the minimal content to be lacking. Yes, there are the fantastic behind-the-scenes production videos by Peter Jackson but as most if not all of them were previously released online during the making of the film they did not make for something new and unique for this first film's disc release. I pray that there is not going to be extended editions in the future that are the reason for the minimal extras.
There is a challenge in trying to follow a series of films that were a wide success and THE HOBBIT: AN UNEXPECTED JOURNEY does an admirable job to match the feel of adventure and danger that THE LORD OF THE RINGS trilogy had except with a much more noticeable slower burn to the story. If you were a fan of the previous films, you should love this one as well, and seeing it on Blu-Ray only accentuates the visual wonderland Peter Jackson has put on film.
You can buy the THE HOBBIT: AN UNEXPECTED JOURNEY Blu-Ray on Amazon for $19.99