‘THE HOBBIT: AN UNEXPECTED JOURNEY’
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The Adventure Begins
“In a hole in the ground, there lived a hobbit…”
‘The Lord of the Rings’ is one of my favourite movie trilogies. So it was no surprise that I was looking forward to return to Middle-Earth in Peter Jackson’s new movie trilogy of ‘The Hobbit’. 2003 was happy period for me with ‘The Lord of the Rings’. This film trilogy gave me many nostalgia memories.
I had read ‘The Hobbit’ book by J.R.R. Tolkien in 2006 so that I could get into reading ‘The Lord of the Rings’ books. I enjoyed reading ‘The Hobbit’ as a book, but it was a long while since I could recall any of it. So imagine my surprise when I found out the book would be made as a trilogy from 2012-2014.
I wondered how one book could be adapted into three-film story. I would have preferred ‘The Hobbit’ as one movie instead of three films. But Peter Jackson and his filmmaking team could do wonders and being so passionate and inventive in the world of Middle-Earth. It was all very exciting.
‘The Hobbit’ is set before ‘The Lord of the Rings’ trilogy and is all about Bilbo Baggins. This actually Bilbo’s story of having an adventure away from the Shire; joining Gandalf and the dwarves to fight orcs; goblins; wargs and coming up face to face with Smaug the dragon. Oh…and he also gets a ring.
‘An Unexpected Journey’ was originally released on DVD and Blu-ray on 1 disc. But I decided to purchase the five-disc Extended Edition of the film that contains new extra footage and 9 hours of special features. I’d purchased the Extended Edition DVD when I shopped in Cardiff in January 2013.
There’s no information booklet for this DVD which was very disappointing for me. It would have been nice to have been given a guide on what the Appendices were. There is however an introduction about what’s included in the Extended Edition DVD. You can find this inside the box set.
‘An Unexpected Journey’ is divided into two parts with Part 1 on Disc 1 and Part 2 on Disc 2. Discs 3; 4 and 5 contain ‘The Appendices’ which are ‘making-of’ documentaries and extra material on the making of the film. It was so exciting, as it felt like ‘The Lord of the Rings’ Special Edition DVDs again.
Here’s the story then!
DISC 1 + DISC 2 – EXTENDED EDITION
I love the prologue narrated by Ian Holm as Bilbo, as he writes about dwarves, Erebor and Smaug. It was also great to see Elijah Wood return as Frodo Baggins at the beginning of the film with old Bilbo.
Martin Freeman (from ‘Sherlock’) stars as Bilbo Baggins, the hero of the story. Bilbo is a hobbit who lives in the Shire. Hobbits are peace-loving folk and they don’t go seeking for adventures and danger.
Bilbo lives in Bag End, his hobbit-hole in Hobbiton. Bilbo lives peacefully and contentedly in Bag-End. Like all Hobbits, he doesn’t want any adventures. But his home is soon invaded by thirteen dwarves.
Ian McKellen returns as Gandalf the Grey in ‘The Hobbit’. Gandalf meets Bilbo when he offers him the chance to join him on an adventure with thirteen dwarves. But Bilbo is very reluctant to join him.
The quest is to reclaim the lost home of the dwarves, the Lonely Mountain called Erebor from the fiery dragon called Smaug. Gandalf chooses Bilbo to be the burglar to get into this Lonely Mountain.
There’s more about dwarves in ‘The Hobbit’ trilogy compared to ‘LOTR’. There are thirteen dwarves featured in this trilogy and they are the Company of Thorin. It was hard to tell who is who in the film.
The leader is Richard Armitage as Thorin Oakenshield. Thorin is a battle-hardened prince, who won’t rest till he and his company reclaim Erebor. He’s pretty sceptical about Bilbo and doesn’t trust elves.
Thorin has two nephews; Dean O’Gorman as Fili and Aidan Turner as Kili. They’re both brothers as well as fighters among Thorin’s company. They’re young and reckless, but are fiercely loyal to Thorin.
There’s Ken Stott as Balin and Graham McTavish as Dwalin, who are brothers. Balin is wise before he died in Moria in ‘The Fellowship of the Ring’. Dwalin is also a great loyal warrior in Thorin’s company.
There’s also William Kicher as Bifur; James Nesbitt as Bofur and Stephen Hunter as Bombur. These three are cousins. Bifur only speaks dwarvish; Bofur is direct and funny and Bombur is fat and dopey.
There’s also Mark Hadlow as Dori; Jed Brophy as Nori and Adam Brown as Ori. These three are brothers. Dori is classy and caring; Nori is crafty and evasive and Ori is the youngest of the company.
And there’s John Gallen as Óin and Peter Hambleton as Glóin, who are also brothers. Óin is the physician among the company while Glóin is the firemaker. Glóin is also the father of Gimli in ‘LOTR’.
Bilbo soon agrees to join Gandalf and the dwarves on their mission to Erebor. He leaves the Shire behind him to have an exciting time, going to places he’s never been to and facing terrible monsters.
Bilbo gets to go to the Trollshaw Forest and meets three stone trolls called Tom, Bert and William. They want to eat the dwarves and Bilbo, but Gandalf turns them into stone as shown in ‘Fellowship’.
In this movie, there’s Sylvester McCoy (from ‘Doctor Who’) as Radagast the Brown. Radagast is a wizard like Gandalf, although he is more interested in the birds and animals than other things in life.
Soon Gandalf, Bilbo and the dwarves visit Rivendell, refuge of the elves. They get help from Hugo Weaving as Elrond about the quest. They also meet the elves who are beautiful and graceful people.
The Company of Thorin are in great danger, as they are being hunted by orcs and wargs. Their leader is Azog the Defiler who commands every orc on Weathertop to hunt them down, which ends Disc 1.
Disc 2 begins with a nice scene of Bilbo seeing more of Rivendell. This is a new scene in the Extended Edition. It was good to see Bilbo have a conversation with Elrond as he considers staying in Rivendell.
Gandalf soon meets with the White Council in Rivendell. As well as Elrond, there’s Cate Blanchett as Galadriel and Christopher Lee as Saruman. They discuss the dwarves’ quest and of the Necromancer.
It was great to see Cate Blanchett as Galadriel from Lothlórien in this movie. She has an interesting relationship with Gandalf, as they share a telepathic communication during the White Council scene.
Elrond also has an interesting friendship with Gandalf. Elrond is sceptical of the quest taken by Gandalf and the dwarves. He and the others are surprised when they discuss the great evil dawning.
It was a surprise to see Christopher Lee as Saruman in this movie. By this point, Saruman is a good, wise wizard, although he disapproves of Radagast the Brown and believes power is really important.
Pretty soon, the Company of Thorin with Bilbo leave Rivendell unawares and make the journey up the Misty Mountains. They soon fall into a trap as the dwarves are soon captured by horrible goblins.
But Bilbo manages to sneak away without the goblins seeing him. He soon falls down into the depths of the mountains and he meets Andy Serkis as Gollum, a wretched creature who says ‘precious’ a lot.
Bilbo picks up a gold ring on the way, before he hides it from Gollum. He gets into a riddles game with Gollum, which I enjoyed seeing. Bilbo cheats by asking Gollum “What have I got in my pocket?”
Bilbo wins, but it turns out the ring he had in his pocket once belonged to Gollum. Gollum realises this and he chases Bilbo to get his ‘precious’ back. Bilbo uses the ring to help him in escaping Gollum.
With the dwarves, they are in the custody of the goblins, led by the hideous Goblin King in Goblin Town. In the extended version, the Goblin King likes to a sing a song which was really terrible indeed.
The dwarves are soon saved when Gandalf arrives and they make their escape through Goblin Town. There’s an exciting chase sequence with Gandalf and the dwarves battling their way through goblins.
Bilbo manages to rejoin Gandalf and the dwarves after his escape from Gollum. But it’s ‘out of the frying pan and into the fire’, as the orcs led by Azog the Defiler come along to kill Thorin and his kind.
The orcs have wargs – ferocious beasts that are a cross between a wolf; a hyena and a bear. They’re pretty ferocious as they chase Gandalf; Bilbo and the dwarves who climb up the trees and get away.
Azog the Defiler wants the head of Thorin Oakenshield. Thorin has a score to settle with Azog concerning his family, but he soon gets beaten when he tries to take on Azog during mortal combat.
But Bilbo comes to the rescue and saves Thorin from getting killed by Azog and the orcs. Soon, the eagles come to the rescue as they, summoned by Gandalf, take him; the dwarves and Bilbo Baggins.
The Company of Thorin is back together again and Bilbo gains the respect from Thorin that he deserves. They look to the east and see the lonely mountain Erebor ahead as their quest continues…
TO BE CONTINUED…
The DVD special features of ‘An Unexpected Journey’ are as follows. On Discs 1 and 2, there’s the filmmakers’ commentary with director/writer/producer Peter Jackson and producer/writer Philippa Boyens. On Disc 1, there’s the ‘New Zealand: Home of Middle-Earth’ behind-the-scenes featurette.
DISCS 3 + 4 – THE APPENDICES PART 7 – A LONG-EXPECTED JOURNEY: The Chronicles of the Hobbit – Part 1
Discs 3, 4 and 5 of the 5-disc DVD set of ‘An Unexpected Journey’ are ‘The Appendices’. These cover the making of ‘An Unexpected Journey’ from book to screen, including plenty of documentaries. The first and second discs (Discs 3 & 4) of these Appendices cover pre-production to filming of the film.
On Disc 3, there’s an ‘introduction by Peter Jackson’ who explains what happens for these Appendices of ‘The Hobbit’. It was great to see Peter Jackson introduce these Appendices for the film trilogy. There’s a ‘PLAY ALL’ option that allows you to watch all the documentaries on this disc.
‘The Chronicles of the Hobbit – Part 1’ includes an Opening; ‘The Journey Back to Middle-Earth’; ‘Riddles in the Dark – Gollum’s Cave’; ‘An Unexpected Party – Bag End’; ‘Roast Mutton – Trollshaw Forest’; ‘Bastion of the Greenwood – Rhosgobel’ and ‘A Short Rest – Rivendell & London’.
There’s also a documentary called ‘The Songs of the Hobbit’ which looks into the songs performed during ‘An Unexpected Journey’ including the two versions for the ‘Song of the Lonely Mountain’.
On Disc 4, there is a ‘PLAY ALL’ option that allows you to watch all the documentaries on this disc.
‘The Chronicles of the Hobbit – Part 1’ continue with ‘Over Hill… – The Misty Mountains’; ‘…Under Hill – Goblin Town’; ‘Out of the Frying Pan… – The Forest Ledge’; ‘Return to Hobbiton – The Shire’; ‘The Epic of Scene 88 – Strath Taieri’; ‘The Battle of Moria – Azanulbizar’; ‘Edge of the Wilderland – Pick Ups and the Carrock’; ‘Home Is Behind, The World Ahead’ and Credits.
There’s also a section called ‘Realms of the Third Age: From Bag End to Goblin Town’ which contains documentaries on ‘Hobbiton’; ‘Rhosgobel’; ‘Rivendell’; ‘The Misty Mountains’ and ‘Goblin Town’.
DISC 5 – THE APPENDICES PART 8 –RETURN TO MIDDLE-EARTH
The third disc (Disc 5) of these Appendices focuses on the characters in ‘An Unexpected Journey’.
This is divided into four sections. There is a ‘PLAY ALL’ option that allows you to watch all the documentaries on this disc. The four sections are ‘The Company of Thorin’; ‘Mr Baggins: The 14th Member’; ‘Durin’s Folk: Creating the Dwarves’ and ‘The Peoples and Denizens of Middle-Earth’.
‘The Company of Thorin’ section has six documentaries. They include ‘Assembling the Dwarves’; ‘Thorin, Fili & Kili’; ‘Balin & Dwalin’; ‘Oin & Gloin’; ‘Dori, Nori and Ori’ and ‘Bifur, Bofur and Bombur’.
‘Mr Baggins: The 14th Member’ is a documentary focusing on Bilbo Baggins and Martin Freeman who plays him. ‘Durin’s Folk: Creating the Dwarves’ is another documentary focusing on the visualization of the dwarves in ‘The Hobbit’, including Thorin’s company and the kingdom of Erebor.
‘The Peoples and Denizens of Middle-Earth’ section has four documentaries. They include ‘The Stone Trolls’; ‘Radagast the Brown’; ‘Goblins’ and ‘Azog the Defiler’. This fifth disc ends with the Credits.
TO BE CONTINUED…
The original 1-disc DVD of ‘An Unexpected Journey’ doesn’t have any special features which is annoying for those who want the original theatrical version of the movie. The Blu-ray version of the original theatrical version has special features which is annoying for those who don’t have Blu-ray.
The Blu-ray of the original version of ‘An Unexpected Journey’ has promotional special features including featurettes and trailers. They include 10 video blogs; 6 trailers and the ‘New Zealand: Home of Middle Earth’ featurette which can also be found on Disc 1 of the Extended Edition DVD.
‘An Unexpected Journey’ is a good beginning to ‘The Hobbit’ movie trilogy. In no way, does this trilogy match to the greatness featured in ‘The Lord of the Rings’ films, but this is a very nostalgic and interesting return to Middle-Earth. I really enjoyed seeing this twice when I went to the cinema.
I wondered what was going to happen next and how Bilbo Baggins; Gandalf the Grey; Thorin Oakenshield and the dwarves would reach Erebor; fight Smaug the dragon and get the dwarves’ treasure back. I’d have to wait and see as I anticipated the excitement of the next film for next year.
‘The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey’ rating – 8/10
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