The wait was over this week with the New Line Home Entertainment release for the first installment of The Hobbit – The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey – on Blu-ray and Blu-ray 3D March 19th, 2013.
The movie based on the Tolkien story was written by Peter Jackson, Fran Walsh, Philippa Boyens and Guillermo del Toro.
The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey 3D the Movie
The movie opens as Bilbo Baggins makes plans for his birthday, and the aging hobbit decides to recount the full story his adventure for Frodo.
But first the background story of the Dwarf King of the Lonely Mountain is told.
The Dwarf Thror is King of the Lonely Mountain during an era of great wealth and prosperity for his kin.
However the vast stores of gold in the Lonely Mountain attracts Smaug the Dragon, who single handedly takes the mountain and all its riches for himself.
Many years later, a young Bilbo Baggins is tricked by the wizard Gandalf the Grey into hosting a party for Thror’s grandon Thorin and his company of Dwarves.
The thirteen dwarves plan to retake the Lonely Mountain and reclaim their lands and wealth.
Gandalf aims to recruit Bilbo as the burglar in order to complete the gang for their quest.
While Bilbo is at first unwilling to accept the role, he soon has a change of heart and joins the company on their quest for the Lonely Mountain.
Their journey takes them takes them through many toils and dangers, facing trolls, goblins, wizards, elves and orcs, many of whom are keen to kill them.
The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey has certainly been an eagerly anticipated film to kick off what has become a new trilogy based on the Tolkien novel.
With various delays and changes in leadership, the project finally came to fruition with this first installment.
The film featured a number of technical innovations in both image and sound.
While 3D has become fairly common, the film was also shot at 48 frames per second and presented in this High Frame Rate at a number of cinemas.
On the audio side, the movie also featured the latest Dolby Atmos technology.
Sadly these cannot currently be presented on Blu-ray Disc, so we will have to wait for the home theater technology to catch up before we can take advantage of these advances at home.
The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey features pretty much all the elements you would expect, with flawless presentations of the beauty of Middle Earth and its various inhabitants.
Again the production has gone all out to recreate Tolkien’s world in an uncompromising fashion as the story is told.
That said, I think that this movie lacks some of the depth of the Lord of the Rings trilogy, quite possibly due to the relative simplicity in the novel the new films are based on.
Personally I could have done with less Dwarf singing and shenanigans, though it seems that they are all part of the original story-line.
Certainly Jackson and team have put together a film that conveys the ideas Tolkien put forth, and fans of the book and original film trilogy will certainly enjoy this new installment.
The cast includes returning characters played by Ian McKellen, Cate Blanchett, Christopher Lee, Hugo Weaving, Elijah Wood and Andy Serkis, while adding Martin Freeman, Richard Armitage, James Nesbitt and Ken Stott to the cast.
The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey 3D was of course directed by Peter Jackson, whose body of work includes The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring, The Two Towers, and The Return of the King, as well as The Lovely Bones, The Frighteners, Dead Alive, Heavenly Creatures, and King Kong.
Reviews for the movie were predominantly positive, with a Rotten Tomatoes score of 65% and an IMDb score of 8.3/10.
The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey 3D has to date earned $296.3M at the US box office, and over a billion dollars worldwide.
The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey 3D on Blu-ray 3D
The video on this release is stereo 3D MVC 1080p encoded at 25-26 Mbps, and is presented in its original aspect ratio of 2.40:1.
In order to maintain this kind of bitrate on a movie almost three hours long, the movie is split over two Blu-ray 3D discs.
The image quality is superb – hardly surprising given that the footage was either shot on Red Epic cameras or created in the VFX department.
Colors are rich and strong and the tone changes throughout the movie at the discretion of the film makers.
Sadly the High Frame Rate 48 fps is lost for this release, and the faster shutter speed of the 48 fps may result in a lack of motion blur that could irritate some viewers.
Overall though the movie looks excellent.
The 3D effect is also solid here, with the movie shot on stereo 3D Red Epic rigs, each configured to allow flexible 3D film capture.
Certain scenes take advantage of the 3D to great effect, with extreme depth presented on the screen.
For full resolution PNG screen captures taken directly from the disc you can check the details page for The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey 3D.
The main audio is lossless DTS-HD Master Audio with 7.1 channels – 24 bits resolution at 48 kHz.
The Blu-ray 3D version is presented on a pair of dual layer BD50 discs, with 34 GB used on each and coded for All Regions.
The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey 3D on Blu-ray 3D – The Bonus Features
While in most releases the Blu-ray Disc of the movie also holds the supplements, in this case they are on an additional disc due to the length of the film.
There is a short promotion called New Zealand: Home of Middle Earth.
Here the various incredible locations for the movie throughout New Zealand are revealed.
It is wonderful to see my old home land presented in such a glorious light, though the segment speaks for itself with the stunning visuals.
The main chunk of supplements is the series of video blogs that were made and presented during the production of the film.
All in all there were ten different blogs presented, coming in at over two hours in total run time.
While these video blogs are all very insightful, they are limited to what could be publicly revealed during production, and I have to wonder if there are further behind the scenes supplements waiting for future versions of the movies.
That said there are certainly a wide range of topics discussed in the blogs and certain entries stand out.
The first two video blogs cover the start of production and the location scouting.
Shooting Block One covers the studio sound stage production and Filming in 3D covers the family of 48 Red Epic cameras that were used in pairs to shoot the film in 3D.
The next two blogs cover the shooting on location throughout New Zealand.
The extensive post-production is covered in the second to last blog, and finally the Wellington World Premiere is presented.
This final blog is well worth checking out – they certainly went all out to prepare for the huge event that set records for the longest Red Carpet ever.
The disc also features a collection of theatrical trailers as well as game trailers for Hobbit video games.
As is Warner’s way, this release includes both a DVD Copy for legacy players and an UltraViolet Digital Copy code.
The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey 3D on Blu-ray 3D – Final Thoughts
The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey 3D is a fun fantasy movie that will no doubt be a must own for fans of Hobbits, Dwarves, Elves and Orcs alike.
New Line Home Entertainment has put together a tidy Blu-ray 3D package for this release, with over two hours of behind the scenes supplements.
The release was split over 2 Blu-ray 3D discs for the feature, and includes a regular Blu-ray of the movie, and addition Blu-ray for the supplements and a DVD Copy and UltraViolet Digital Copy code.
The retail price is $44.95, or order it right now at Amazon for $29.96, saving 33%!
- New Zealand: Home of Middle Earth
- Video Blog #1 – Start of Production April 14, 2011
- Video Blog #2 – Location Scouting July 9, 2011
- Video Blog #3 – Shooting Block One July 21, 2011
- Video Blog #4 – Filming in 3D November 4th, 2011
- Video Blog #5 – Locations Part 1 December 24th, 2011
- Video Blog #6 – Locations Part 2 March 2, 2012
- Video Blog #7 – Stone St. Studios Tour June 6, 2012
- Video Blog #8 – Wrap of Principal Photography July 24, 2012
- Video Blog #9 – Post-Production Overview November 24, 2012
- Video Blog #10 – Wellington World Premiere December 14,2012
- Theatrical Trailers
- Game Trailers
The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey is the first chapter in Peter Jackson’s new epic trilogy set in Middle-Earth 60 years before J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings saga. Follow Bilbo Baggins as he’s swept into a quest to reclaim the lost Dwarf Kingdom of Erebor, long ago conquered by the dragon Smaug. Approached by the wizard Gandalf the Grey, Bilbo finds himself joining a company of thirteen dwarves led by the legendary warrior Thorin Oakenshield. Their journey will take them through treacherous lands swarming with Goblins and Orcs, deadly Wargs, giant Spiders, Shapeshifters and Sorcerers. They must escape the goblin tunnels, where Bilbo meets the creature Gollum who will change his life forever. Alone with Gollum on the shores of an underground lake, the unassuming Bilbo Baggins not only discovers guile and courage that surprise him, he also gains possession of Gollum’s “precious” ring that holds unexpected and useful qualities, tied to the fate of all Middle-Earth. Several key talent members from The Lord of the Rings trilogy reprise their roles, along with exciting new cast members.