The Hobbit Extended Edition provides some insights, yet even more to sit through
‘The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey’ wasn’t long enough for you? Well, there are two more films on the way. If you can’t wait for those, there’s a bit more this set can offer.
I’m not quite sure why I keep doing this to myself. Maybe it’s because I really, really want to love The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey. Maybe I just want to further understand why — oh, why — the beloved source material needs to extend to three movies instead of one. Whatever the reason, I’ve once again put myself through a viewing of the film, though this time it’s extended to, well, the extended version.
First let me note that I loved the Lord of the Rings trilogy, both the books and the movies. Admittedly, I know the movies took some liberties and strayed some from the books, but it’s safe to say the majority of Tolkien fans were pretty OK with that. For me, I was really OK with it, and in fact I was all over watching extended footage when it came out. Three books, covering three enormous books — of course there’s going to be extra stuff that may not have made it into the films. Totally understandable.
When the news came out that writer/director Peter Jackson was splitting The Hobbit into three films, I know I wasn’t alone in wondering “W in T ever-loving F is he doing?!” How can ONE book need three films to cover (and let’s not get into the appendices and The Silmarillion material — this movie series is called “The Hobbit,” so why is it anything more?). Yet Jackson is doing this in three movies, and on top of that he wasn’t given enough time to add all he wanted in the first film. I wouldn’t call myself a purist to the source material at all, but there’s a point where the liberties taken are just too freakin’ much.
All of that complaining aside, the extended footage here is worthwhile material to watch, though there is not much of it. Within the disc menus it’s clear which scenes are completely new ones and which were modified or appended to with new material. Three of the new scenes in particular stood out from anything else:
- More details into the Fall of Erabor, which isn’t part of the original book at all really but was fun to watch.
- A scene in Rivendell that is actually rather important to framing Thorin’s fall into an almost madness for gold, and a deep discussion with Saruman regarding the one ring and the Necromancer.
- A heck of a lot more Goblin King, including a lengthy song.
The extra features are aplenty, including the commentary tracks you’d expect from the filmmakers. Then there are quite a few making-of featurettes that will keep you busy for hours, from the early days of drawing up the ideas for the film(s) through the final days of shooting. I found the one regarding Radagast the Brown to be most interesting, since this is one character so outside of The Hobbit story that I had to know why he was thrown in. Peter Jackson telling the crew of his idea of Radagast being pulled with giant rabbits was somewhat comical, as the looks on their faces seemed to say, “I better keep my mouth shut or be out of a job.” Also, seeing the various ideas for the other not-in-The-Hobbit character Azog was worth a watch for sure.
Overall I’d say the extended version of The Hobbit is only worthwhile to those who found the movie incredible enough that you simply have to see what more they cut from the already-long film. Even then, I’d wait for the trilogy to come out in a few years and get the extent of all that footage in one fell swoop.
The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey Extended Edition is now available in stores.
[The above review was made possible by a distributor-provided review copy of the media.]