THE HOBBIT: AN UNEXPECTED JOURNEY
MOVIE: **** (out of 5)
BLU-RAY EXPERIENCE: ***1/2 (out of 5)
Ian McKellen as GANDALF
Martin Freeman as BILBO
Richard Armitage as THORIN
Andy Serkis as GOLLUM
Hugo Weaving as ELROND
Cate Blanchett as GALADRIEL
Christopher Lee as SARUMAN
Studio: Warner Bros.
Directed by: Peter Jackson
BY KEVIN CARR
I was never one of those people who was looking forward to the release of “The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey” last Christmas. I was interested in it, sure, for no other reason than for the special effects and the advent of 48 fps. However, I’m not what you’d call a Tolkien nerd. I never read “The Lord of the Rings,” and I didn’t get all weak in the knees during the trailer for this film when the dwarves started singing the songs from the book.
I liked “The Lord of the Rings” trilogy well enough, but I had some problems with it. And considering the news that Jackson had split the rather short book “The Hobbit” into three films gave me pause.
However, when I saw the movie in December, I really liked it. In fact, it’s probably my favorite of the “Lord of the Rings” series as a whole. The reasons for this are partly why so many people find the other films superior, mainly that I enjoyed the simplicity of “The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey” as well as its less grim tone. I suppose that makes me more in tune with my childish nature, considering Tolkien wrote the book as a children’s story rather than an adult epic.
So I never raced out to get “The Lord of the Rings” on VHS, DVD or Blu-ray, but I was excited to get “The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey” on Blu-ray. And as can be expected, this film looks fantastic in a high-definition format.
The colors are crisp and beautiful, offering a richer palate than Jackson gave us in the previous three films. A lot of this comes from the tone of the book, but I enjoyed the heightened greens, yellows and reds you see in this film. Even the dreadful and dangerous troll village had a rich texture that was missing in the previous movies (or at least wasn’t able to be achieved with the technology of the day).
I didn’t bother switching my television over to a high refresh rate while watching this Blu-ray. While I thought the high frame rate looked great in some of the excellent action set pieces of the film, I am still not sold on the video look. However, with the image originating in that format with the superior RED digital cameras with a system that more emulates the human eye, you get a fantastic image.
The Blu-ray of “The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey” comes with a bare-bones Blu-ray as well as a second disc that features a short making-of video and a feature-length presentation of the film’s production diaries. Sure, these were available online throughout the production of the film, but they are gathered nicely in a continuous format.
While I would have preferred a little more meat on this second disc, these production diaries are quite extensive and show a comprehensive look at the film’s production. I normally get bored with the long-winded diary nature, but I found these fascinating, especially when the secrets and challenges of the new technology were highlighted.
Sure, there’s going to be an epic 48-disc set when all three “Hobbit” movies are finally released, but this product is a nice start to your early “Hobbit” collection.