More Bilbo! More Orcs! The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey Extended Edition brings more of, well, everything


I love that work on some movies never seems to cease, even years later. There have been umpteen versions of Ridley Scott’s Blade Runner, Oliver Stone seems to revisit Alexander about once a year, and there are, of course, several infamously different cuts of Terry Gilliams Brazil. (Love conquers all!)

Peter Jackson has taken full advantage of the ability to expand your work on DVD and Blu-ray. The “extended editions” of his Lord of the Rings films were devoured by fans, and allowed the director to include scenes that for one reason or another had to go. When Jackson began work on The Hobbit, it was certainly reasonable to expect the tinkering to continue.

Indeed, it has, even though the novel was divided into a trilogy. The new Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey Extended Edition (Warner Home Video) was released just a few weeks before the second film in the series, The Desolation of Smaug, drops, and watching the now 13-minute longer film (that’s quite reasonable, really), it is clear that Jackson’s fun, somewhat underrated film is pretty darned impressive.

As I put it a few months ago for

[The response to The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey] was a bit muted. Perhaps some critics and audiences felt as if they’d been there and done that. The Lord of the Rings Trilogy does not seem too long ago, after all, and the film faced some negative prerelease hype with its controversial 48 frames per second frame rate. And come Oscar time, the film was mostly ignored, losing the three technical awards it had been nominated for.

With the film arriving on DVD and Blu-ray from Warner Home Video, the time is right to take another look. Watching it again, months after its release, it seems clear to me that above all else, it is a film for the converted. An Unexpected Journey is unlikely to win over Shire haters, but for everyone else, it’s a wonderful piece of storytelling.

Fans might be most intrigued by the nearly nine (!) hours of new special features, including an audio commentary with director/producer/screenwriter Peter Jackson and co-producer/screenwriter Philippa Boyens and a multi-part documentary called “The Appendices.” (My favorite is a look at the great Martin Freeman. It’s a treat to see the Office star in such a high-profile role.)

In short, it’s more everything. What more could a Bilbo die-hard desire?

Here’s a synopsis:

The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey is the first in Peter Jackson’s highly anticipated trilogy adapting the enduringly popular masterpiece The Hobbit, by J.R.R. Tolkien.

The adventure follows the journey of title character Bilbo Baggins, who is swept into an epic quest to reclaim the lost Dwarf Kingdom of Erebor from the fearsome Dragon Smaug. Approached out of the blue by the Wizard Gandalf the Grey, Bilbo finds himself joining a company of 13 Dwarves led by the legendary warrior, Thorin Oakenshield.

Their journey will take them into the Wild, through treacherous lands swarming with Goblins, Orcs and deadly Wargs, as well as a mysterious and sinister figure known only as the Necromancer.

Although their goal lies to the East and the wastelands of the Lonely Mountain, first they must escape the Goblin tunnels, where Bilbo meets the creature that will change his life forever…Gollum.

Here, alone with Gollum, on the shores of an underground lake, the unassuming Bilbo Baggins not only discovers depths of ingenuity and courage that surprise even him; he also gains possession of Gollum’s “precious” ring that holds unexpected and useful qualities … A simple, gold ring that is tied to the fate of all Middle-earth in ways Bilbo cannot begin to know.

The screenplay for The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey is by Fran Walsh & Philippa Boyens and Peter Jackson & Guillermo del Toro, based on the novel by J.R.R. Tolkien.  Jackson also produced the film, together with Carolynne Cunningham, Zane Weiner and Fran Walsh.  The executive producers are Alan Horn, Toby Emmerich, Ken Kamins and Carolyn Blackwood, with Boyens and Eileen Moran serving as co-producers.