The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey Blu-ray Review
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Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey
is Peter Jackson's
return to the land of middle earth (also commonly referred to as New
and it's another epic adventure that is sure to delight moviegoers of
The story of The Hobbit takes place
before The Lord of the Rings. It connects
some of the dots to Jackson's earlier trilogy and it's once again an
of the beloved writing of J.R.R. Tolkien as brought to cinematic life.
one journey you are absolutely going to want to make because this is
one of the
most exciting motion pictures released in the fantasy genre since this
adventure began with The Lord of the
story takes place before the events that unfold
in The Lord of the Rings. Things
start to unfold in flashback style
through the storytelling of a much older Bilbo Baggins (Ian Holm),
upon his earlier adventures as he reminiscences with Frodo.
learn about how a powerful dragon named Smaug
destroyed much of the land where Dwarfs lived, and claimed their Dwarf
leaving the dwarfs without a place to call home. Flash forward and onto
encounter between young Bilbo (Martin Freeman) and Gandalf the Grey
McKellan) who informs the merry hobbit that he'll be going on an
that he needs to prepare. Before the evening is even over with, Bilbo
at his quiet home with the presence of thirteen dwarves, including the
leader Thorin (Richard Armitage).
The company is quick to make themselves at home, feasting
and celebrating, and all before Bilbo learns of their journey to
Dwarf kingdom known as Erebor. Reluctantly at first, Bilbo eventually
ranks of the team as their "thief" (a role they needed him to fill
size was so small) and journeys with them on an adventure he never
the first place. Gandalf saw something in him that he couldn't even see
the perilous journey continues, they face great
danger against Trolls, Orcs, Goblins, and other obstacles on their way
Erebor. What no one expects is that Bilbo will accidentally stumble
small golden ring, and that there would be a chance encounter between
a creature named Gollum. The rest of the history of Middle Earth waits
was so much anticipation for this film that it
is nearly unparalleled in the history of film. It sounds like an
to state that there was that much hope and anticipation surrounding
but the fan-base surrounding this production is unlike anything else
The fan base is so dedicated and enthralled in the works of Tolkien and
director Jackson's vision for bringing these stories to life. There is
a lot of
dedication from the fans and from those who are involved with making
many big-budget films are given a prequel
treatment that is massively enticing to loyal fans and the masses at
only film to compare it to (while seeming reasonable
in making a comparison) is that of Star
Wars's prequel The Phantom Menace.
Unfortunately, we know the results of that prequel film and series was
disappointing for many fans. So the question soon centers upon whether
fans felt the same way about The Hobbit
on film. Luckily, the comparisons can end there, because while some
quibble over sentiments that express disappointment that The
Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey isn't exactly on the same precise
level of filmmaking found in The Lord of
the Rings trilogy it's clear this film isn't underwhelming, even
some it failed to live up to the built-up anticipation.
clear that some audience members were
disappointed in this film. Not everyone walked away with the results a
part of the audience. Some fans expected this film to play out like a
into the Lord of the Rings. This film
works in perfect unison with those films but unlike those stories it
some of the more playful and comedic elements found in the original
wouldn't call The Hobbit a book that
had the same purpose for Tolkien's readers as he surely envisioned as a
himself. Tolkien's Lord of the Rings
saga was much darker, epic, sprawling, and ambitious. Peter Jackson has
a few interesting
cards up his sleeve nonetheless.
is also a revolutionary film that changes the game
of filmmaking. This is the first production of films to be filmed with
(frames per second) technology. The entire idea behind it was to make
films take full advantage of 3D technology so as to remove the effects
motion-blur commonly found and to increase the overall resolution and
It wasn't something the studio had in mind. This was all a part of
for how to impact the future of filmmaking.
Theaters projecting The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey
and future installments had to
upgrade their theater equipment just to project these films in the best
possible and that still isn't realistic as a possibility for many
consider the fact that this is the first film ever produced with 48fps.
was all because Jackson wanted to do something even greater; something
audiences hadn't even had the opportunity to experience before.
industry standard of 24fps won't disappear
anytime soon (especially considering the higher costs associated with
technology of 48fps cameras) but at least it seems Jackson wasn't all
wanting to advance the filmmaking game as James Cameron has already
plans to film his next motion-picture with the same 48fps frame-rate.
really quite the accomplishment.
are a few minor drawbacks to the film, though.
The special effects could have been better. Some of the effects are
and beautiful to behold (such as the environmental shots) while other
as when the Hobgoblin confrontation takes place, and when the onslaught
attack, it all seem somewhat simplified compared to the more hands-on
Jackson's Lord of the Rings efforts,
with body-paint designs for Orcs and additional characterizations.
suffers somewhat and primarily in cases of
the artists trying to make Elijah Wood and Ian Holm look younger in
that would have occurred during the opening part of The
Fellowship of the Ring when following the film's timeline.
Luckily, other actors fared better: Cate Blanchett looks as beautiful
as Galadriel. Naturally, there are other cameos featured in this film
actors from The Lord of the Rings
trilogy and most of the makeup seemed far better for these other actors
did for Elijah Wood and Ian Holm. Certain drawbacks like this can
be expected given how long it's been since visiting a magical place
everyone involved with The Lord of the Rings films
creation in prominent roles came back
to work with Peter Jackson in making The
Hobbit films. This is perhaps one of the most notable elements of
entire production. Howard Shore has crafted another score that is just
essential to the backbone of the film. Although it is highly enjoyable
also a bit repetitive compared to earlier outings, with the greatest
accomplishment in this entire outing being the stellar Misty Mountains
Director of photography Andrew Lesnie is also back to being brilliant
official photographer of Middle Earth and New Zealand. He's a brilliant
underused cinematographer but it's clear a lot of his passion resides
of returning individuals, not only does
Andy Serkis return to reprise his legendary performance of Gollum but
receives a promotion to second unit director. He continues to prove
deserves a special Academy Award for outstanding acting in an
outfit and suit thingymagig. Of course,
he's also brilliant all around and a real asset to these films (and now
apparently in several ways).
Returning to the discussion of the film's story; I'd
just like to remind everyone that this story was intended to be read by
children. Jackson gets that aspect of the book's story. The
Hobbit isn't meant to be as serous or overwhelming in themes as
its related books: it carries a more lighthearted air of adventure and
most of the journey and for most of the big sprawling runtime that
kept more akin to the roots of the book.
also keeps things interesting for the adults in the audience
plenty of good old fashioned action in the film that adults won't feel
out) he clearly seems to keep in mind that the story needed to be a
jubilant one and the results are the funniest and most simply enjoyable
the series to date. It's the kind of film you could simply put on and
within for a few joyful hours. The whole family can share in enjoying
Jackson isn't just telling us the story of The Hobbit
though, of course. He is a
visionary who wanted to bridge the story into being not just an
Tolkien's novel, but he's clearly crafting it to be a full-fledged
trilogy to his beloved Rings films.
Originally, Jackson was going to do one film. Then one film became two.
then somewhere after production wrapped on filming he realized he had
footage that there could be an additional movie.
The concept then shifted to making this a trilogy. Not
only that, but the decision was made to have the films contain elements
appendixes of The Lord of the Rings, and
that is quite clearly something that cements that idea of this
perfectly united series for Jackson's vision of adapting Tolkien's
on the results of the first film, following my
enjoyment of this energetic and lively work, I'd say he made a good
make it a three part adventure. It's remarkable to be able to return to
earth. It's like visiting old friends again, and if everything coming
Jackson's new trilogy is as good - if not
greater - than what we found here, I'd say this is the greatest
ever had returning to a series with any prequel outing. For some that
sound like I'm giving only slight praise, but I mean it as the highest
of the filmmaking imaginable.
Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey
is only unexpected in
the sense that it's unexpectedly in existence at all following several
talk and that it didn't disappoint most audiences the way many people
expect for it to. Jackson did not seem keen on the idea of returning to
Earth as the director at the helm of The Hobbit
for several years, and it was actually a disheartening bit of news to
me (to small
degree) when learning that Guillermo del Toro was going to direct
even if only because this is clearly Jackson's own visionary world to
around with some more.
might consider it nothing more than a cash-grab that the film turned
films and then turned into three films. I know there have been a lot of
the decision. Well, all I can say is that I don't think it had anything
with money for Jackson. This is something that was done out of his
filmmaking and the stories of Tolkien. He's making a trilogy again
his love for the storytelling, the characters, and for his audience.
to a kid playing with all his toys when he makes a movie, and
about this bothers me because I love his sheer ambition and joy in
for whatever the unexpected journey is that he's planned for us.
Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey
Blu-ray with a 1080p MPEG-4 AVC encoded 2.35:1 transfer retaining the
theatrical aspect ratio presentation. This is a lush encode that should
to please any fan of the film.
cinematography by Andrew Lesnie looks remarkable from beginning to end
an array of colors that help to make this a beautiful visual feast
The depth of it all is astonishing and the clarity is just as
are no sign to be found of murky and distracting DNR, edge enhancement,
other ailments that could have affected the transfer. This is a
transfer that doesn't disappoint.
7.1 DTS-HD Master Audio is an
equal match for perfection in the presentation department. The clarity
audio is so immense. The dialogue is clear and easy to understand and
of inventive sound effects which add an extra element of intrigue to
the sound design and
mix. Howard Shore's music sounds splendid on this release: the
something that sounds as good as one could hope with a lossless
are presented in English SDH (for the deaf
and hard of hearing), Spanish, French, and Portuguese.
an image to view the Blu-ray
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aren't as many supplements on
this release as fans were probably hoping to see included. It's obvious
be seeing more supplements included on an extended edition release. It
same way with the other Lord of the Rings films and their home-media
The bulk of content included here was also previously made available
The upside is that everything is presented in 1080p High Definition and
included on a separate disc (providing greater breathing room for both
feature film presentation and for the solid supplements included).
interesting supplement (can I
call it that?) is that early purchasers receive an access-code
exclusive sneak peak of The Hobbit: The
Desolation of Smaug, which will be presented by Peter Jackson on
2013 at 3 P.M. Eastern Standard Time & Noon Pacific Standard Time.
know about you, but I'll be tuning in for the preview. This certainly
something exciting for fans.
Zealand: Home of Middle-Earth (7
min.) is a brief tour and/or commercial (kidding!) for the beautiful
known as New Zealand, where The Hobbit:
An Unexpected Journey was filmed.
main area of the supplemental
section is devoted to video blogs
previously released online. These featurettes focus on a variety of
the beginning of production, location searching, early filming, work
the 3D presentation, studio touring, photography, post-production, the
comic-con visit, and the world premiere.
told, there's over two hours of
worthwhile and entertaining supplements included in this section. The
was kept closely under-wraps of course, so you don't see much in that
because of the nature of pre-release extras. It doesn't make them less
or entertaining and informative. I'm glad that these were all included
release. I really enjoyed seeing how enthusiastic Jackson was to return
Middle Earth. He was quite an entertaining person to behold on these
some trailers have also been
included for The Hobbit: An Unexpected
Journey and several tie-in Hobbit games.
Jackson's return to Middle Earth was worth the
wait. This is a lovingly made film with an amazing amount of adventure,
comedy, and whimsy: enough to maybe fill three
films! I'm only jokingly referring to the decision to split The
Hobbit into three parts, of course.
This adventure is one that I'm not keen on seeing end. I will miss it
so much when it is over. It's been far
since our last visit to Middle Earth happened before The
Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey arrived and for my money this is up
there amongst the
best fantasy films ever made.
buyers should be forewarned that an
Extended Edition awaits release in the future. Reportedly twenty or so
will be finished in post-production and added back into it. While that
enough to stop some potential purchasers it won't stop me from enjoying
on Blu-ray in the meantime. I enjoy having both releases of these films
a technical perspective, the Blu-ray PQ/AQ is
superb. This is a demo-worthy disc. Supplements are a bit light on this
(even if still highly enjoyable) but there will undoubtedly be more
the release of the extended edition.
Neil Lumbard is a lifelong fan of cinema, and a student who aspires to make movies. He loves writing, and currently does in Texas.