It was inevitable, I suppose, that the king of double dippers – Sir Peter Jackson – would try and wring a bit more cash out of his salivating fan base with an extended version of the first part of The Hobbit trilogy of films.
Ten years ago I was one of those salivating fans with more disposable income that sense. I’d been a long time fan of Jackson’s earlier cult efforts and was pleased with the reverence that the New Zealand native was displaying with Tolkien’s work. I am the proud owner of both the standard DVDs and the Extended versions of The Lord of the Rings trilogy. Whilst I still hold up the three Lord of the Rings movies as example of modern cinema excellence, my view of Jackson has grown rather tarnished.
In the tens year since the last of Jackson’s Tolkien films I’ve spent six years living in New Zealand, viewing the cult of Jackson up close. In that time I realised that, whilst Sir Pedro is a shrewd businessman, his success is more down to the talent of his colleagues than the actual auteur himself. Despite my rather dim view of many aspects of New Zealand society, namely the “she’ll be right” attitude and “No 8 wire” mentality, the folks at Weta are cinematic wizards and the real heroes behind Jackson’s success. The likes of Richard Taylor, Tania Roger and Greg Broadmore (whom I conversed with at an Auckland convention, oblivious as to who he was), are the reason that what we see on the screen, in Jackson’s fantasy films, works so well.
Then King Kong happened.
The remake of the mother of all monster movies was directed by a Peter Jackson that was obviously suffering from Lucas-syndrome (whereby nobody had the stones to give him any constructive criticism). The result was an overindulgent retelling of the classic movie. Breathtaking in parts, but for the most part overly long and dull as dish-water. Ever the geniuses at Weta couldn’t provide enough smoke and mirrors to hide the fact that Peter Jackson was out of his depth.
With Guillermo del Toro working on The Hobbit, Jackson turned his attention to his next directing project, The Lovely Bones. It’s a film that I’ve not seen, but again, like most of Jackson’s projects it is based on the successful work of someone else. That film didn’t go down well, either, suggesting the Pete was maybe a bit of a one trick pony.
Whilst not quite duds, Jackson two post-Rings movies didn’t give him the success that he had previously enjoyed. It must have been tough and I don’t blame him for pulling a Kevin Smith, scurrying back to the franchise that made him him a household name. I’m not party to what actually happened with del Toro and The Hobbit, but I’d put good money on Jackson kicking the Mexican director off the project. Guillermo del Toro had spent a few years developing The Hobbit even moving his family over to The Land of the Long White Cloud, I can’t believe that he awoke one day a decided to up sticks and go do something else (even if it was the apparently fantastic Pacific Rim).
Another thing that turned me off Peter Jackson was the bullish way that he and his Hollywood cohorts twisted the arm of New Zealand’s poor excuse of a Prime Minister, John Key (Don-key), to actually change employment law for contractors (all contractors, not just those in the movie industry), removing some of their rights. It was a nasty bit of business. The affair was certainly a factor in my decision to leave NZ; who wants to live in a country that is so desperate that it’s laws can be dictated my Hollywood?
Turning The Hobbit, a relatively short children’s book compared to the weighty tomes that made up the The Lord of the Rings, into the three movie epic was another eyebrow raiser. Sure Tolkien left us with copious notes and background information filling in the events going on in Middle-Earth, but I’m not sure that using these to stretch out another epic fantasy movie series is appropriate.
As for the first film, The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, I’ve tried watching it a couple of time, in 2D and 3D, and can’t seem to get engaged by it, it starts just too slowly.
Peter Jackson devouts that have yet to be tarnished in the same way that I have will be thrilled to know that The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey Extended Edition is on it’s way. Available on DVD, digital download, Blu-Ray and Blu-Ray 3D the package adds a whopping 13 minutes of extra footage (that quite possibly could have been included in the original home release) and nine hours of extras.
3D fans, whom it seems have more disposable income will need to pay an extra AUD$50 for their extended edition which comes complete with a statue of Gollum and Bilbo.
Here are the details from the horses mouth, as it were:
AN UNEXPECTED JOURNEY
A PRODUCTION OF NEW LINE CINEMA AND METRO-GOLDWYN-MAYER PICTURES,
ARRIVES ON DIGITAL DOWNLOAD ON OCTOBER 22ND AND ON BLU-RAY 3DTM,
BLU-RAY™ AND DVD NOVEMBER 20TH FROM WARNER BROS. HOME ENTERTAINMENT
Features a 13-Minute Longer Cut and
Nearly Nine Hours of New Special Features
SYDNEY, Australia, July 31, 2013 – Fans of Middle-earth will have the opportunity to gain a broader experience of The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, from Academy Award®-winning filmmaker Peter Jackson, when the epic fantasy adventure is released as an Extended Edition on Digital Download October 22nd and on Blu-ray 3D, Blu-ray and DVD on November 20th from Warner Bros. Home Entertainment (WBHE). A production of New Line Cinema and Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Pictures, this new cut includes 13 minutes of extra film footage that extends individual scenes, making this the must-see, definitive version for fans. All disc versions of the Extended Edition include nearly nine hours of new bonus features and will be available just ahead of the December 26 theatrical release of the second film of the trilogy, The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug.
“I’m thrilled that the Extended Edition will give fans the opportunity to experience certain key scenes in the film as they were originally shot, as well as an abundance of special features,” said Jackson. “It’s exciting to present this expanded and enriched version of ‘An Unexpected Journey’ to allow fans to fully immerse themselves in the movie, before seeing the second part of the trilogy.”
The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey Extended Edition will be available as a 7-disc Blu-ray 3D set ($99.95 RRP) that features the Blu-ray 3D, Blu-ray and DVD versions of the Extended Edition and an exclusive statue of Gollum and Bilbo; a 5-disc Blu-ray ($44.95 RRP) that features the Blu-ray and DVD versions and a 5-disc DVD ($39.95 RRP). The Blu-ray 3D, Blu-ray and DVD all include UltraVioletTM which allows consumers to download and instantly stream the Extended Edition to a wide range of devices including computers and compatible tablets, smartphones and game consoles.*
The nearly nine hours of new special features boasts audio commentary with Peter Jackson, director/producer/screenwriter, and Philippa Boyens, co-producer/screenwriter, and “The Appendices,” a multi-part documentary focusing on various aspects of the film and the Trilogy. Complete special feature details are provided below.
The first of a trilogy of films adapting the enduringly popular masterpiece The Hobbit, “The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey” was nominated for three Academy Awards®*.
ALL-NEW SPECIAL FEATURES ON BLU-RAY 3D, BLU-RAY AND DVD:
- Commentary with Peter Jackson, Director/Producer/Screenwriter and Philippa Boyens, Co-Producer/Screenwriter
- The Appendices – A multi-part chronological history of the filming of The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, covering pre-production in the various departments of the film in the months leading up to the start of principal photography, the boot camp training for the main cast, the work done on set chronologically through the three shooting blocks and in the world of its digital effects.
- New Zealand: Home of Middle-earth
Blu-ray 3D™ Extended Edition- $99.95 RRP
- Extended Edition on Blu-ray 3D, Blu-ray, DVD and Ultraviolet
- Statue of Gollum and Bilbo
Blu-ray™ Extended Edition- $44.95 RRP
- Extended Edition on Blu-ray, DVD and Ultraviolet
DVD Extended Edition- $39.95 RRP
- Extended Edition on DVD and Ultraviolet
* 2012 (85th) Makeup and Hairstyling, Production Design and Visual Effects