While the point of “The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey (Extended Edition)“–a copy of which our friends at Warner Brothers sent out for us to review–may be lost on some, on others it will be quite clear. And even for those who don’t immediately see the point, trying it out will make it all quite clear once you get an eyeful of just what’s going on on in this one, offering up a whole lot of extra value to own on Blu-ray.
The plot of “The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey Extended Edition” will be much the same as the plot of the original release, in which a tiny collection of dwarves–backed up by a wizard and a Hobbit to serve as a burglar–set out to recover both ancestral home of Erebor and the fortune in gold, jewels and industry contained therein. Though the dwarves are few, and the burglar reluctant to say the least, the lot of them have a clear path ahead. But this path will take them through many hazards, up to and including perhaps the worst of all, the enormous fire-breathing horror known as Smaug the dragon.
On a strictly narrative level, there’s not much different about this one and its predecessor. Nothing seems to have been removed from the previous one, so for those who have already seen the first one, this one won’t be lacking. Thus pretty much everything said in the earlier review must stand. But what it does do is provide some interesting new looks at things, and some new twists on things that were just sort of rushed by before. For those craving a fuller, richer Hobbit experience, that’s going to be the order of the day right here.
But the clear benefit of this title is not the extra footage of the movie itself, though that is welcome. There’s certainly more here than there was, and in terms of raw value, that’s never not good. The clear benefit here will be in terms of the special features which will fill this movie like a pipe of Old Toby on a cool autumn night. The first disk alone has a nice array of same, including, a commentary track from both Peter Jackson and Philippa Boyens on creating “An Unexpected Journey,” a featurette on the locations involved in making “An Unexpected Journey” that were themselves scattered throughout New Zealand, as well as a variety of language tracks in English, French, and Portuguese. Subtitles will provide all of these and the addition of Latin Spanish.
There are two completely separate discs here marked “The Appendices,” and between the two, these discs will provide hours of material not previously on hand regarding the making of the film itself as well as closer looks at the individual elements comprising the film’s construction. This block of film comprises several hours, and anyone who wants a look at the closest details of this operation will be in for a treat beyond compare.
The question that “The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey Extended Edition” asks that each viewer must inevitably confront is: “Is it worth it?” Is it worth the extra money to pick this up, especially if that viewer already has the earlier version? Perhaps somewhat unexpectedly, yes, it really is. While the extra 13 minutes wouldn’t have been so much–not unwelcome, but still not all that much–the extra two discs are going to make this one tough to pass up, and especially for those who loved their first go-round with The Hobbit.