I’ve been waiting for the extended editions for a long time, like all fans and I am very pleased with it. I bought the 5-disc standard dvd set. Now having watched the extended edition and the documentaries and film commentaries of The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, I have to say a few things to say. This is a “first thoughts” review of the extended edition. It is by no means an extensive review:
The theme song at the end is starting to grow on me. It was ok when I first heard it revealed during the film premiere but now that I have heard it in the end credits and in different renditions throughout the discs, I really like it. I get the feeling that Jackson is going for a more folksy feel with these more pop-oriented theme songs for the hobbit films than the ethereal, soaring, nearly unearthy melodic theme songs for the Lord of the Rings films. I like this direction. It’s a testament to his experience and wisdom as a director. These films, while part of the larger story of The Lord of the Rings, are still different and they have their own direction to go and their own story to tell. They’re growing on me – the theme “pop” songs. The music, especially used throughout the dvds has a far more folksy feel to it. There is extra diagetic music from Planet 9 as well that I really loved. An enchanting harp and flute song is playing during the time the dwarves are feasting at Rivendell and I hope that if there are ever any complete film scores for these films that this diagetic music will once again be included.
As far as the look and feel, while the package looks nice I was hoping with more continuity with my LOTR dvd extended editions. Now, I did not buy the Blu-ray versions as I am waiting to get those as a collection when all three films are out – as extended dvds. This is what I did with the Lord of the Rings films. The LOTR Platinum series extended editions were made to look like very old and expensive books. They also came in their own box that you had to send for in the mail. It would have been nice if this look was carried through to the hobbit films dvd packaging but I suppose that’s really just a nitpick. The Hobbit dvd package does look nice and I like the acorn emblem on the back. In that aspect it does share some continuity with the other extended film editions.
What I Loved
Like the documentaries and commentaries on the LOTR films, this was an extensive look at pre-production, filming, post production, art and craft and all of the effort and the people that are needed to make a film of this magnitude. For those who have the LOTR extended editions this goes without saying; you already know. Some of the things that stood out were Ian Mckellan’s difficulties in the begining with the amount of green screen that was being used, specifically when he had to act alone in his scenes in the Bag End set, built smaller in order to make him look very big while the other actors were in another set of Bag End together. He really had a tough time of it and the cast and Peter rallied around him to make him feel better about the arrangement. It was very touching and a priceless moment on the dvds. Then there was Steven Hunter (Bombur) who sat and literally ate a dozen eggs.
When Peter Jackson needed the Trollshaw woods set changed radically because he wanted to shoot it in a specific way, all of the departments got together and worked to do what would have normally taken weeks to finish, in a few hours. They changed the set to how he wanted it at the very last minute. How they worked together was a marvelous testament to the bond this massive film crew had with each other and with the director. it is easy to see that even though there are new members to the cast and also new members to the production crew, Peter Jackson knows how to make those working with him feel at home.
What I have noticed, and this is my personal opinion, is that the film commentaries from Peter and Phillipa on The Two Towers and The Return of the King were not very good. In fact, I was sorely disappointed with them after having heard the one for the first film in that series. The commentary on the Fellowship of the Ring by the filmmakers was excellent. But it went downhill from there into really silly comments and inside joking and it became a big waste of time. What were worth listening to were the commentaries from the production crews and the actors on those two films. However, there are no production crew film commentaries on this hobbit film, only the commentaries from the film makers and it was a very enlightening one on the process of the filmmaking. I thoroughly enjoyed it and I hope that they continue with this calibre of commentary on the next two films. Pity that their comments on the last two LOTR films devolved into useless and irritating stuff that rarely had much to do with the films.
All in all, once again Peter Jackson and his film crew and cast hit one out of the ballpark. For any fan of the films this is a must-have for their film collection. The only problem now is waiting all the way until next fall for the release of the extended edition of the next film in the series!
victorialadybug (V. A. Jeffrey) is a fantasy and science fiction author. She also loves music, art, history, cooking, baking, fermenting stuff, comic book movies and nearly anything Tolkien related. Her biggest writing inspirations are Shakespeare, Frank Herbert and, of course, J.R.R. Tolkien. You can find her at: mymiddleearth.com and at Epistle Publishing.