Hobbit Unexpected Journey

Tuesday brings the Blu-ray release of The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey Extended Edition. Ever since The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring, director Peter Jackson has been releasing one version of each of his Tolkien films theatrically, reserving a longer version for DVD. In the case of the Lord of the Rings films, when one book equalled one movie, the extra few time helped flesh out the stories and improved already fantastic films.

Since The Hobbit, which is shorter than any of the Lord of the Rings books, has already been stretched into three films, the theatrical version itself feels quite long and drawn out. Adding 13 minutes might not sound like the best thing and, in terms of pacing, it’s not. The Extended Edition additions, which are largely in the beginning and middle sections of the film, make a long movie feel eternal. On their own though, there are some great scenes in there including some ominous teases to The Lord of the Rings trilogy.

Read about the extended scenes below.

The additions start quickly, in the prologue that gives background to the dwarves. We see Lee Pace’s elf-king Thranduil a bit earlier, helping give context to the feud between elves and dwarves. This is something that plays into all six movies so while it’s an interesting addition, later scenes serve the same purpose.

We also learn a bit more about Thorin’s (Richard Armitage) time between losing the Lonely Mountain and setting off as the quest. He does a few odd jobs and while the scene is incredibly short, I felt it added some depth to the character.

Next, there’s a brief scene of Bilbo (Martin Freeman) as a child, playing with Gandalf (Ian McKellen). This is also a welcome addition. The Hobbit is Bilbo’s story, yet in the theatrical cut we only see the homebody Bilbo, never the playful character Gandalf refers to. This quick scene serves that purpose.

In a scene that serves very little purpose, however, Bilbo is avoiding Gandalf at the market and buys the fish he later tries to eat for dinner. (He purchases it from a Hobbit played by Eric Vespe of Ain’t It Cool News.) It’s a funny scene but we didn’t really need to know where he got the fish.

With all these additions, it now takes about 43 minutes from the start of the film to Bilbo’s decision to go on the quest. The film remains largely the same for the next hour or so while until the group finally arrives at Rivendell to seek the council of Elrond (Hugo Weaving).

The dinner scene, where the dwarves complain about green food, has a bunch of new bits. First up, Kili (Aidan Turner) flirts with one of the Elf girls, then mistakes a male for a female, which gets all the dwarves to laugh at him. Bofur (James Nesbitt) then leads the group in the first of several song additions lasting about a minute or so. Both scenes are cute, but unnecessary.

For the rest of this section, the film adds a lot of Bilbo exploring Rivendell, helping establish what will become a lifelong fascination with the place. The first such scene sees him walk by the the shards of Narsil and a painting of Sauron having the ring cut off. He lingers for a second as the camera zooms in on the ring in the painting. While this is a nice link between The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings, the actual purpose of the ring is so far away in terms of story, this was a wise cut. Bilbo has no idea the consequences that will follow him taking the ring from Gollum later in the film. Even a suggestion he knows what the ring is distracts from the story. The scene itself is great, but doesn’t really help The Hobbit as a whole.

Bilbo later chats with Elrond about Rivendell, and they playfully rib one and other about their place in the world. Elrond then tells Bilbo he can stay there whenever he likes, an offer he of course takes up about 60 years later.

In the next added scene Lindir (Bret McKenzie) complains the dwarves are stretching the resources of Rivendell. It then cuts to a long shot (so no closeups) of the dwarves bathing, naked in a fountain. It’s very funny.

As Bilbo does some more exploring, he overhears Gandalf and Elrond talking about the extreme risk and dangers in this quest. How the dragon Smaug could do some very bad things and other people (who we’ll see in later films) will not be okay with the dwarves trying to take back the mountain. Bilbo is then joined by Thorin, so they both hear the concerns.

Once Saruman (Christopher Lee) comes to Rivendell to talk with Gandalf, they now talk about the legend of the rings and “The One” having gone missing long ago. Saruman flat out says the other rings are pointless without the ring of power and they believe it washed out to sea. Again, as a fan of the original films, these connections are incredibly cool, but considering the main story of The Hobbit has yet to even begin at this point, looking too far ahead is a distraction.

That’s the final addition in Rivendell, and by the time the dwarves sneak out, the movie has been going on for 110 minutes.

From there, the film then goes back on the theatrical track for a little bit until the dwarves are captured by the Goblins. The Goblin King is so excited by the event, he sings a brand new song which he says he wrote himself. “Catchy, isn’t it?” It actually is, but it feels a little too Return of the Jedi. Meaning it’s cute, but ultimately takes away from the tension of the scene.

Right after that, when the King asks the dwarves why they’re there, a few of the them come up with humorous improvs as a way to protect the fact Thorin is among them. Then, of course, he shows himself, which is in the film.

And that’s it. The battle afterward is the same, the Gollum riddle game is the same, and the film ends exactly the same.

If you are a fan of The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, the extended edition has some very interesting additions. Overall, though, they hinder an already poorly paced film. Of course the set also comes with two full discs of extras that are likely incredibly awesome so it might be worth buying just for those.

The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey Extended Edition is out November 5.

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