Over and above this Extended Edition’s Smaug-sized extras menu, the most apparent positive lies in Jackson endowing this edition with an additional 13 minutes of content.
In the interests of foregoing a complete revamp of my gushing review of The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey put forth earlier, I thought it best that with Warner’s newest, and quite frankly more commendable, release of this film I focus all my energy on why you definitely need this newest version over its featureless predecessor.
Over and above this Extended Edition’s Smaug-sized extras menu, the most apparent positive lies in Jackson endowing this edition with an additional 13 minutes of content. And though it may not seem like much to those whose penchant for Tolkien falls more on the mellow side of Middle-Earth, the extensions alone, both good and bad, should be enough to push many fans past the point of purchase pondering.
If that isn’t enough, Jackson reprises his gift of gab, along with fellow writer Philippa Boyens, to forge another exhaustive and expansive commentary. In it, Jackson and Boyens point out many of the initial set-backs that loomed over The Hobbit, along with the usual blending of production notes, anecdotes, and personal perspectives. Jackson also reprises his tour of New Zealand feature in New Zealand: Home of Middle-Earth, where fans once again are whisked back to the lush locales of a man-made Middle-Earth.
The goblin-cleaver blow to this edition has to be the continuations of the now thankfully present 7th and 8th appendices, assumed to be included in the film’s initial release, but Warner held out until now. Appendices 7 and 8 pick up where the gargantuan Lord of the Rings Motion Picture Trilogy left off, more pointedly where Return of the King’s appendices 5 and 6 left off, shoe-horned into the familiar structure of Jackson’s meticulous detail to provide a kitchen sink included look at every aspect of the production. Fans of Jackson’s previous appendices will be thrilled to finally see these in place, and Jackson gives of himself completely to make 7 and 8 just as memorable as those in the previous canon. Appendices 7 wholly deals with all things production, as Jackson and the crew take you through the ins-and-outs, positives and pitfalls of working on such a large scaled film – from Jackson’s last minute changes to the set design of a scene, to the touching moments that made up Andy Serkis’ final scenes as the loathed yet lovable Gollum – while doing the seemingly impossible by filling the screen with all new and exciting content. Appendices 8 hands everything over to the cast and creatures of Middle-Earth, as the dwarves are heavily explored,
Freeman’s Bilbo gets several well deserved blurbs, and many of the secondary characters get their fifteen minutes of foraging. Also explored are the locales of Middle-Earth, as the map is spread wide to reveal the haunts and happenings in Hobbiton, Rhosgobel, Rivendell, Goblin Town, and the Misty Mountain. Those unfamiliar with the written chronicles of Tolkien may not realize how many songs he bestowed on his series, but fortunately Jackson thought it right to highlight these sleeping gems with the sets last supplement, The Songs of the Hobbit. Typically the songs of a saga never warrant their own segment, but in the case of Tolkien’s tale-weaving tones, this feature is a welcome addition indeed. Only the true brilliance of Tolkien could amass such a wealth of creative content, and only a true craftsman such as Jackson could go 8 appendices deep and still keep the run times longer than the actual films themselves. So with Jackson’s hammer getting stronger blow after blow, and the anticipation of knowing there’s two films to go, The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey Extended Edition is absolutely an adventure worth taking.
Studio Synopsis: The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey is the first chapter in Peter Jackson’s new epic trilogy set in Middle-Earth 60 years before J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings saga. Follow Bilbo Baggins as he’s swept into a quest to reclaim the lost Dwarf Kingdom of Erebor, long ago conquered by the dragon Smaug. Approached by the wizard Gandalf the Grey, Bilbo finds himself joining a company of thirteen dwarves led by the legendary warrior Thorin Oakenshield. Their journey will take them through treacherous lands swarming with Trolls, Goblins, Orcs and deadly Wargs. They must escape the goblin tunnels, where Bilbo meets the creature Gollum who will change his life forever. Alone with Gollum on the shores of an underground lake, the unassuming Bilbo Baggins not only discovers guile and courage that surprise him, he also gains possession of Gollum’s “precious” ring that holds unexpected and useful qualities, tied to the fate of all Middle-Earth. Several key talent members from The Lord of the Rings trilogy reprise their roles, along with exciting new cast members.
The new Extended Edition includes 13 minutes of extra film footage that extends individual scenes, making this the must-see, definitive version for fans. All disc versions of the Extended Edition include nearly nine hours of new bonus features and will be available just ahead of the December 13th theatrical release of the second film of the trilogy, The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug.
- THE FILMMAKERS’ COMMENTARY: Director/writer/producer Peter Jackson and writer/co‐producer Philippa Boyens provide their Perspective and stories on creating the first film of The Hobbit.
- NEW ZEALAND: HOME OF MIDDLE-EARTH: From Matamata to Queenstown, travel with Peter Jackson and his team across the stunning locations of New Zealand, transformed by the filmmakers into Middle-earth.
- THE APPENDICES PART 7: A Long Expected Journey – The Chronicles of The Hobbit: A fourteen–‐part chronological history of the filming of An Unexpected Journey, covering pre–‐production in the various departments of the film in the months leading up to the start of principal photography, the boot camp training for the main cast, and the work done on set chronologically through the three shooting blocks and in the world of its digital effects.
- THE APPENDICES PART 8: Return To Middle-Earth – The Company of Thorin: Explores the characters and backgrounds of the five families of dwarves and the company of actors chosen to play Thorin’s company on the Quest of the Lonely Mountain.
- THE SONGS OF THE HOBBIT: A look at the realization of Tolkien’s songs in Film 1.