Greetings, Friends and Fiends! This isn’t going to be a full-blown exhaustive review at this time. I’ve been through the movie twice now, once with the commentary track. I’ve also only been through the pair of Appendix discs once each. I’d really like to go through each disc at least another one or two times before a full review. But I’d like to give my first impressions, at least.
I was very disappointed that Warner Bros. opted for a different design for The Hobbit than The Lord of the Rings Extended Editions. Don’t get me wrong, the slipcase has a nice textured design, but I would’ve liked a similar appearance to make it look like a cohesive part of a collection. Within the slipcase is a black opaque plastic clamshell like the ones used for the LOTR Blu-ray editions, but the insert sleeve design is different from those as well. Also noticeably missing is the nicely designed booklet that details the new/extended scenes and maps out the special features.
I was rather disappointed that the Appendices were very different than those of the LOTR extended editions, though they continue the numbering from the earlier collection. Personally I preferred the setup and the format designed by New Line Cinema’s designers.
Where the previous collections had a definite structure where the first disc was broken down into sections on different behind the scene aspects such as chapters dedicated to Weta Workshop or the miniatures work, and the second disc pretty much dealt with aspects of filming the trilogy.
In the case of The Hobbit Extended Edition, the first disc is broken down into chapters of different sections (and locations) of the film in a linear format. The chapters cover design as well as filming and scripting of each section.
The second disc is more of a background on each of the Dwarves (and their families) and Bilbo, and some more background on location shooting and general behind the scene operations.
I was rather disappointed that there were no chapters or sections dedicated to the breakthrough of the 48 frames per second format, or the trials and tribulations of filming in 3-D as opposed to converting the film to a 3-D format. I know that these concepts were lightly touched upon in Sir Peter Jackson’s video diary feeds, but there should have been a fair amount of coverage on these Appendix discs.
Over all, my first impression of the extended edition of The Hobbit: an Unexpected Journey is a fairly good one. Although, it’s a little hard to think of a mere 11 1/2 minutes as extended. I think I could’ve handled that short amount of time in the theater. The extra footage does nicely add to the story. Personally, I didn’t see any disruption to the story flow so I’m assuming it was strictly a matter of time allowance, but again a loss of 11 minutes or so this kind of negligible in my opinion it almost seems like you might as well leave it in.
I will shortly be doing a first impression review of the LOTR Extended Edition Blu-ray set (which I also got for Christmas).