The Movie: 7.5/10
Do I like it more as I think back on it? Maybe, probably, most likely it’s floating around inside my movie brain finding its way into a better place than it was in on the day I watched it. I’m not phased by the promise of these stories. Middle Earth and the Hobbit don’t mean anything to me beyond mega-billion dollar movies of the late 20th and early 21st centuries. I ‘m not a reader so the books are a non-issue. I’m not a huge fan of fantasy stories of this specific type, so that doesn’t make me swoon without something pretty darn good to back it up. The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey perks my lesser fantasy cilia up with a specific heartiness. The look of the sets and locations, the style of the CGI, the clothes, and the whole vibe is the fun version of a world steeped in what feels like our own ancient history.
It’s fun and adventurous and it makes me want to be there to live the journey. If you hear something behind what I’m saying it is that I was not fully satisfied with this trek into Middle Earth. The lush costumes and sets are, again, amazing. The textures and colors make it all feel like a real world and that’s one of my favorite things about it. The cast is quite extensive, so to be brief, Bilbo is awesome, as always. Gandalf is who he is, good’n’wizardy. Everyone else is playing their roles as they are designed, either powerful or goofy, across the board it’s a solid performance filled flick. I like the main bad Orc, the Pale Orc, but overall they got a bit tiresome for me after a while. I don’t really get into long fight scenes, war scenes, extended action sequences that are all about pitting one or more characters against each other. I like brief intense battles and then let’s get on with the characters and the story.
What did not convince my movie watching brain to love it? The first whole section of the movie, meeting the dwarf warriors, well, it was a hot mess. I didn’t understand who was who, what personality traits they have, their names, or even why I needed to care about their cause. Their cause is reasonable. They need to get back to their original homeland, a mountain, and win it back from the terrible dragon who claimed it some time ago. A noble cause and I could have gotten behind the whole thing so much more emotionally if I cared about the individual characters. As it was presented and directed I didn’t get time to dig into who everyone was enough to care if they got that home-mountain back into their own fighting hands.
Some of the action sequences were amazing, like inside the caverns with the bridges falling, that was pretty cool. The fight with the gross looking guys, that wasn’t so interesting. The trolls around their camp fire, that was not interesting or funny or entertaining. It was as if that was spliced in as an after thought, or as a nod to the book maybe. Remember, I’m one of those people who isn’t sitting there going, “Oh that’s in the book. OH THAT’S in the book.” or filling in whole bits and bobs from having the book in my head. It has the distinct feature of being less of a stand along moving pictures telling of the story, and more of a supplement to the book and subsequent installments yet to come. I don’t appreciate that kind of story telling, so it was frustrating at times.
Overall I did have some fun and got lost in the world once again. I wish there was more connection to the main people we spend the whole journey with, but that was lost. Maybe if I watch it again I’ll gather more and more information about the dudes we are supposed to be rooting for, that will make it more satisfying for sure. If you are a fan of the fantasy world of Tolkien, why are you reading this review? You’re gonna watch it anyway. If you are just here to be annoyed with anyone who doesn’t love it, well, welcome and enjoy. If you are like me, unimpressed by the mere mention of Peter Jackson, Hobbits, Wizards, etc. you just need to watch it and get on with your life. It won’t do you any harm, you will smile several times, and possibly give your eye-rolling muscles a good work out:)
- DVD & UV Digital Copy
- 10 Production Featurettes – These 10 featurettes are the production diaries that are available on the website. They are very good. They take you through every aspect of the production. Best of all, they are hosted by Peter Jackson himself.
Cover Art and Menus: 4/10
It’s the HOBBIT!! There are so many opportunities for amazing images and designs, but what do we get? Our hobbit and his companions looking into the distance with worried expressions on their faces. Lost chance for making something epic to wrap around this movie. I would not have this cover as a poster. As for the menu, themed navigation, end of description.
Audio & Video: 9/10
A very epic movie like The Hobbit needs to be accompanied by a superb Blu-Ray presentation and The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey fortunately has a great transfer. I actually got to see this movie in it’s 24fps non 3D form theatrically not long ago, so the look of the movie is still fresh in my mind. What I did notice here on this 1080p AVC transfer is how crisp and sharp the image was, it actually seemed sharper than the theatrical image. Fleshtones are great despite the image having a deliberate washed out palette. Also there are no signs of Macroblocking or banding here and you will be hard pressed to find any fault.
The DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1 transfer is way more impressive than the already perfect picture quality. From the quiet shire scenes at the start to the thunderous mountain scenes near the end everything here is rich and enveloping. When the ring is used in the third act the effect produced makes it seem like someone put cotton wool in your ears, it’s an impressive effect that is hard to describe until you hear it yourself.
Overall The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey is a great start for this new trilogy on Blu-Ray. There will be a Extended Edition down the line but for now this is the one disc to rule them all.
$21.00 for the first of a series is not a reasonable amount to throw at a section of a movie. If you wait for them all to come out and then wait some more, you will find the whole thing for a price that has some wiggle room. Rent it if you can and must, get it into your brain, and then decide if you want to buy it instead of buying some food or electricity for livin’. The extras are good, yes, does it fill in the cost of the entertainment well enough? That would be for you to decide.
Overall Score 7.5/10