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DVD Review

DVD cover

The Hobbit
An Unexpected Journey (Extended Edition)


Starring: Ian McKellen, Martin Freeman, Richard Armitage, James Nesbitt, Ken Stott, Cate Blanchett, Ian Holm, Christopher Lee, Hugo Weaving, Elijah Wood and Andy Serkis
Distributor: Warner Home Video
RRP: £24.99
Certificate: 12
Release Date: 11 November 2013

Towards the end of the Third Age of Middle-Earth the hard fought peace which the peoples had fought for has almost imperceptibly started to break down. Orcs and Goblins have spread from their hidden nests and evil has risen in the north. In Bag End peace reigns, as it had for a thousand years and the Hobbits who live there have grown fond of food and comfort. In this age the Dwarves of Erebor, the kin of Durin, determine that it is time that they wrestled back their kingdom, which had fallen to the Dragon, Smaug. Twelve in number the company cannot attack the kingdom's main gate, but must use a back door. To aid them they require a burglar and Gandalf chooses Bilbo Baggins, setting in motion events which will lead to the last Great War of The Third Age...

The Hobbit: Extended Edition (2012 - 2 hr, 55 min, 05 sec - 2D) is a fantasy film directed by Peter Jackson. Jackson has a history of producing extended versions of the films, not that there is usually anything wrong with the theatrical versions, but fans like to see everything put back in, even if it is redundant or throws the pace of the film out. I’m as guilty as anyone else for buying both versions.

Thankfully, this time, you have the choice of either going straight to the Blu-ray version or sticking with the DVD version. The film and extras are presented on a five disc DVD box set, with the film spread over two discs. As in the previous extended versions there is a meticulous attention to detail, from the packaging to the menu screen, which doubles as a journey through Bilbo’s home.

On its release the film did come in for some contentious reviews, after all the book was a fairly thin tome, so stretching this out over three films seemed to many to be a lesson in excess, looked at objectively, this turned out not to be true. Jackson had taken not only the original book, but also all the appendix’s from The Lord of the Rings to present a fuller picture of what was happening around the main story. For purists this may seem apocryphal, but for lovers of Jackson's Middle-Earth this seemed like a dream come true.

Unlike The Lord of the Rings, the extended version consists of either extensions to scenes or small moments, so the film has only been extended by around ten to thirteen minutes. What makes this version worth buying is the extras, over nine hour in total. One confusing aspect to the box set is the numbering on the extra discs which starts at number seven. This is to tie them into the DVD extended box set of The Lord of the Rings. There is a single extra on the first disc, New Zealand: Home of Middle-Earth (6 min, 19 sec) a travelogue across New Zealand which would make their tourist board very happy, with the cast and crew expounding on the beauty of the islands.

On the DVD set, the full length commentary is provided by Peter Jackson and Philippa Boyens. Like the previous sets this is a relaxed and informative stroll through the making of the film and well worth listening to.

The extras are too vast to go into individually, but carry on the tradition of showing and explaining just about everything you could ever want to know about the making of the film, with lots of input from the cast and crew. You can see how the special effects are made and see the raw performances. Like the commentary there is a relaxed and honest aspect to the presentation, often making you feel like you’re getting a personal tour while the film is being made. In total you get thirty-five extras.

The film looks stunning with an aspect ratio of 2.40:1. There are dubs for French, German and Italian, even the songs are dubbed. The film also come with subtitles for English, Danish, Dutch, Finnish, French, German, Icelandic, Norwegian and Swedish.

Overall it’s an impressive package, on par with the presentation and depth of the extended The Lord of the Rings. Whether you think the length is overindulgent will have to be a matter of choice, but it’s a film that becomes more enjoyable with multiple viewings.


Charles Packer

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