So Friday evening the extended edition of An Unexpected Journey came. That night I skipped NaNoWriMo and watched the film. Saturday and Sunday I watched the Appendices, and Sunday night I re-watched the film again. (Also quick note: this is the DVD version, so number of disks may differ between this and Blu-Ray/3D/etc.)
Man, I love this movie (original review here--my opinion hasn't changed all that much, though overall I think I actually like the film better than I did when I first saw it). Unfortunately I haven't seen it in about a year, because I didn't want to purchase the DVD until the extended edition came out. But it was definitely worth the wait!
The extended/new scenes are great bonuses, just as they were in LOTR (I actually hadn't seen the theatrical versions of LOTR until after I had seen the extended editions about a billion times, and I always felt like so much was missing). It's perfectly understandable why these were not included in the theatrical version, but I'm so glad they were put in for the extended editions.
Of course, similar to the movie, if one is expecting the book of The Hobbit exactly, you'll be disappointed. But what I love about Peter Jackson's Hobbit is that he explores many details of Tolkien's world and tries to bridge the gap between The Hobbit and LOTR. Is it necessary? Not at all, or else Tolkien would have done it that way. But I do think it's incredibly fun and interesting to see things fleshed out more. I know the story of the book well, so it's just great to be able to see Jackson's adaptation, including the addition of things created by Tolkien and things Jackson and his team created--again, it is, after all, an adaptation, and in my mind, a great one.
A brief breakdown of the extended scenes:
- More of Erebor. You get to see a little more of Erebor and its wealth, as well as more tension between the Dwarves and the Elves--an offering of gems is made to King Thranduil, but taken away once he tries to take it.
- Slightly more of Smaug. Not much at all, and I didn't even notice this edition until I read it on another site, but you do see an extremely quick flash of his silhouetted body. Which, on that note, this is one thing that I never minded when seeing the movie--a lot of people wanted to see more of Smaug, but I actually liked this choice better. I definitely wanted to see more of Smaug because of how excited I was to see him, but in this scene, the unseen Smaug works better, in my opinion. But to each his own.
- More of Hobbiton. This was one of my favorite additions--we get to see quite a bit more of Hobbiton (which is now permanently built into the hills in New Zealand--I definitely need to visit that before I die). We see a party much like Bilbo's birthday party in Fellowship but this time Bilbo is a child, and at one point hits Gandalf with a wooden sword, which is completely adorable. Later, you see Biblo walking through the marketplace in Hobbiton as he's shopping and trying to avoid Gandalf. I love Hobbiton, and having these scenes was great.
- Probably more of the Dwarves in Bilbo's house. I couldn't tell you what they were, but the scene did feel slightly longer--perhaps just my imagination.
- A lot more of Rivendell. All very short scenes, but there's quite a few of them. There's more of the Dwarves eating, including one of my now-favorite scenes where Bofur stands up on the table (quite rudely) and starts singing a pub song (which is actually a song from The Fellowship of the Ring that Frodo sings, who says he learned it from Bilbo. I believe it's Jackson who explains in the Appendices that it's up to the viewer to decide if Bilbo learned it after Bofur sung it, or if Bilbo had taught it to Bofur before--I like both ideas, really). I just love songs like this, and hope to see more in the next two movies. You also see more of Bilbo exploring Rivendell (including looking at the image of Sauron fighting Isuldur behind the shards of Narsil that you see in Fellowship). You also hear Elrond and Gandalf discuss the quest, and the White Council scene is extended as well.
- The Goblin King. This is quite possibly my favorite new scene, because the Great Goblin sings a song based on the text in the book. It really adds a bit to his (and the goblins as a whole) character, and on top of that it's just a really fun song. It's out of tune and very goblin-y and torture-filled, but I still loved it. "Down in the Deep of Goblin Town." There's various other small bits added to the goblin scenes, too.
- There may have been a little more of the pale orc, but I can't remember anything specifically. Probably a few other small scenes I missed.
1. That the "Riddles in the Dark" were not extended. There's more in the book, and I completely understand only having the ones they did in the theatrical version, but I just wish more had been added in the extended edition. This was my single favorite scene of the whole movie (I mean seriously, Andy Serkis just did such a supurbly amazing and fantastic job--Martin Freeman, too), and I would love to have seen a longer version. Ah, well; and
2. I wish that the "Misty Mountains" song was extended. The song in the book is much longer, and I just absolutely love the melody in the movie. I wish they could have made it longer.
One thing that I thought was a little funny was how the extended edition is kind of similar to the Fellowship extended editions. Both mark their half-way points (Disk 2) in Rivendell, both have the cast running from goblins in the second half of the film, both start with Hobbiton. . . . Not a bad thing at all, IMO, but yeah.
Overall, I love the extended scenes in An Unexpected Journey, and I still love the movie as a whole. I still couldn't help to feel that some of the time the digital effects were a little much. I'm not sure exactly how to explain it, but LOTR just felt so real to me, and in The Hobbit, some things seem more obviously digital. Maybe it's just nostalgia or something, but yeah.
The movie also seems to have a constant struggle between being a kid's movie and not. The movie is by far much darker than the book, which I didn't mind, but there's also moments that it seems so close to the feel of the book that it feels much more kid-ish. LOTR seemed to have a much more consistent tone throughout the movie. It had light-hearted (Hobbiton, for example) and comedic moments, yet those scenes didn't seem to change the overall tone at all as it sometimes did in The Hobbit.
I also would have loved to have more focus on the dwarves individually. Viewing the Appendices, you can see just how much detail and depth they went into creating individual personalities for every dwarf, but I didn't feel like enough of that went into the film. Yeah, they're still more fleshed out than they were in the book overall, but just knowing how much work they put in to making each dwarf a singular character, it made me want even more for them to be more individualized. However, considering the sheer numbers, I do have to commend them for the job that they did, because that's an extremely hard thing to do. Doesn't mean I don't wish they could've been fleshed out slightly more, though, especially in the extended edition (which they were, but I wanted even more =P).
I still wish the dwarves could've had their colored hoods and instruments, I still wish the troll scene could have been a little closer to the book (though I do like some of the changes they made), I still wish the stone giants were just in the distance (though this doesn't bother me too much at all), I still wish the tree scene at the end would've been different . . . but overall I do love the film, especially the extended edition.
I have yet to watch the film commentaries, but I suspect I will soon enough--the Appendices, as I've said, were really great to watch, though.
Part 7 (which is actually two disks, instead of the usual one--parts 1-6 were covered in LOTR) is titled "A Long-Expected Journey" and covers a lot of pre-production; includes a great introduction where Jackson explains how the film came to be and how he came to be director once again; the actors' boot camp and various other training; the shooting of the film and the various sets; pick-up shooting; and more.
Part 8, "Return to Middle-Earth" further details the development, design, and production of The Hobbit, and explores in-depth the background of the main characters and the casting for said characters. There's a section on creating the dwarves as a whole, and how Jackson wanted to do for the dwarves what Tolkien did for the elves, and really go in-depth to their past and history and life. It also shows the concepts, creation, and design of the various sets (both physical and digital), and lastly, there's a look at the songs of The Hobbit.
The first disk of the movie also has "New Zealand: Home of Middle-Earth" which is a cool look into the various places in NZ that were used for the film.
I always loved watching the Appendices to LOTR, and The Hobbit was no different. I would definitely recommend this five-disk set--the extended edition of the film is amazing, and all the special features/appendices are just really great and interesting, too.
And now, back to NaNo. . . .