The Review at a Glance: (max score: 5 )
Audio/Video total rating:
( Max score: 100 )
Studio and Year: Warner - 2012
MPAA Rating: PG-13
Feature running time: 169 minutes
Disc Format: BD-50
Encoding: AVC (MPEG-4)
Video Aspect: 2.40:1
Audio Format(s): English DTS-HD 7.1 Master Audio, French/Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1
Subtitles: English SDH, French, Spanish
Starring: Ian McKellan, Martin Freeman, Richard Armitage, James Nesbitt, Ken Stott, Cate Blanchett, Christopher Lee, Hugo Weaving, Ian Holm, Andy Serkis
Directed by: Peter Jackson
Music by: Howard shore
Written by: Fran Walsh, Phillipa Boyens, Peter Jackson , Guillermo Del Toro
Region Code: A,B,C
Blu-ray Disc release Date: March 19, 2013
The Hobbit: An unexpected journey follows the title character Bilbo Baggins, who is swept into an epic quest after joining a company of thirteen dwarves vying to reclaim their home from an evil and powerful menace. Their journey will take them through treacherous lands teaming with enemies and lurking danger. For Bilbo, a simple fellow that looks no further than the warmth of his hearth or the confines of his Shire home for comfort, this journey will come to define him and place in his hands an object of power that will change the course of his life and ultimately that of Middle-Earth.
The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey is the first chapter in Peter Jackson’s new epic trilogy set in Middle-Earth 60 years before J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings saga. Follow Bilbo Baggins as he’s swept into a quest to reclaim the lost Dwarf Kingdom of Erebor, long ago conquered by the dragon Smaug. Approached by the wizard Gandalf the Grey, Bilbo finds himself joining a company of thirteen dwarves led by the legendary warrior Thorin Oakenshield.
Their journey will take them through treacherous lands swarming with Trolls, Goblins, Orcs and deadly Wargs. They must escape the goblin tunnels, where Bilbo meets the creature Gollum who he will unwittingly be forever tied to. Alone with Gollum on the shores of an underground lake, the unassuming Bilbo not only discovers guile and courage that surprise him, he also gains possession of Gollum’s “precious” ring that holds unexpected and useful qualities, tied to the fate of all Middle-Earth. Several key talent members from The Lord of the Rings trilogy reprise their roles, along with exciting new cast members.
I love Peter Jackson’s The Lord of the Rings Trilogy. When The Hobbit: An unexpected Journey was announced I looked forward to seeing what he would do with it. The idea of bringing The Hobbit and ultimately Billbo’s story, which links to the events in Lord of Rings, to life in similar fashion appealed to me especially in light of how entertaining the first trilogy was. As I sat watching it in the theater I had an unshakable feeling of déjà vu which I guess shouldn’t have been surprising based upon the subject/director. Of course the opening sequence, featuring Frodo/Elijah Wood and older Bilbo/Ian Holm, which unnecessarily ties into the opening sequence in “Fellowship of the ring” didn’t help.
The film proves to be epic in scope and indeed plies with plenty of moments that remind us why we enjoy Tolkien’s work as well as Jackson’s treatment of it. I didn’t find The Hobbit: An unexpected journey to be as thoroughly gratifying as I’d hoped. I think the reason is that the film feels as though it is building toward a singular goal which is to set in motion the events that will bring us into the next installment. In that vein the material contained therein occasionally felt stretched out (“like butter being spread over too much bread” to paraphrase Bilbo) with over extended sequences. The slow building narrative includes snippets of humor, engaging banter and elements of drama/action. Fortunately it picks up steam and provides a rewarding final act that segues into the next installment.
As an opening chapter it would have been fine and probably flowed better at two hours or less. I did enjoy The Hobbit: The unexpected journey and reveled in the familiarity of Middle-Earth, the introduction of the various components including the characters and look forward for what is to come.
The rating is for extended sequences of intense fantasy action violence, and frightening images.
AUDIO/VIDEO - By The Numbers:
REFERENCE = 92-100 / EXCELLENT = 83-91 / GOOD = 74-82 / AVERAGE = 65-73 / BELOW AVERAGE = under 65
**My audio/video ratings are based upon a comparative made against other high definition media/blu-ray disc.**
(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)
- Low frequency extension:
- Surround Sound presentation:
- Dialogue Reproduction:
(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)
- Black level/Shadow detail:
- Color reproduction:
The Hobbit: The Unexpected Journey comes to Blu-ray Disc from Warner featuring 1080p AVC encoded video that has an average bitrate of 21 Mbps and lossless DTS-HD 7.1 Master Audio sound that has an average bitrate of 4.8 Mbps.
This film utilizes a stylized visual design that has a varied color scheme that works aesthetically well for the subject matter. The nature of the photography isn’t lent to high gloss imagery and razor sharpness however there is an enriching and film like quality that abounds. High definition’s increased resolution is readily apparent as textural nuance and subtle refinement is apparent, especially during close-ups. Wide angle vistas views tend to look gorgeous more often than not but can be limited by the film’s post production effects. The color range is comprised of earth tones, shades of dark blue, brown, gray and black with splashes of crimson and green/blue hues. Like the color palette fleshtones shift accordingly to coincide with the mood, lighting and scenic theme. The overall result works perfectly within the film’s narrative construct. Uneven light and shading are prevalent. Contrast is boldly applied which empowers whites and grays with minimal loss of detail. Blacks are dynamic and gradationally revealing and shadow detail is equally discerning. The film’s deep grays, rich contrast and stimulating visual aura makes for a perfect companion to the story‘s elements. The use of CGI/green screens and photographic effects softens some elements but neither distracts. I didn’t see any signs of video degrading artifacts or extraneous noise. The result is a gorgeous high definition rendering that mimics that theatrical presentation.
The DTS-HD Master Audio soundtrack is reference quality and is sure to please those who like to play their systems loud. I enjoyed the audio presentation in the theater and looked forward to hearing it in the familiar confines of my theater room. I was treated to an impeccably detailed, dynamic, and demonstrative listening experience. Multi-layered sound effects are appropriately placed within the soundfield so that their purpose is definable yet not overstated. The mix makes effective use of the surround channels to elongate the front soundstage as it reproduces the spatial and discrete sounds contained in soundtrack. The front and rear sound fields are integrated with precision which enables a seamless transference during sequences involving sounds that travel through the room. Dialogue is supremely articulated with excellent focus, clarity and descriptive intonation.
Low frequency content is reproduced with authority and coincides with the recordings extended dynamic range resulting in room energizing bass transients that are deep and palpably rich. It’s easy to sometimes overlook the intricacies that go into the design of soundtracks such as this. In this case even seemingly inconspicuous minutia within the recording is detectable. The end result is a terrific audio presentation that compliments the source material.
- The Hobbit: An unexpected journey in high definition (BD-50)
- Special Features: (BD-25)
- (HD) New Zealand: Home of Middle-Earth – 6 minute featurette
- (HD) 10 Video Blog segments (totaling 123 minutes) beginning in April 2011that take you behind the scenes covering the production, shooting locations, make-up, and more leading up to post-production and the film’s premiere in December 2012
- (HD) 6 Theatrical Trailers
- (HD) 3 Video Game Trailers
- The Hobbit: The desolation of Smaug sneak peek (code) available March 24, 2013
- Bonus DVD
- Ultraviolet Digital Copy
The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey is the first chapter in Peter Jackson’s new epic trilogy set in Middle-Earth 60 years before J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings saga. As a fan of Peter Jackson’s LOTR Trilogy I wasn’t as taken with this film as I was with Fellowship of the Ring. I feel it runs longer than necessary and its narrative struggles to stay afloat. That said, there is still much to like and appreciate especially for fans that revel in the epic scope, familiarity with the material and Peter Jackson’s flair for storytelling. The Hobbit: An unexpected journey comes to Blu-ray featuring superb and faithfully rendered high definition audio/video and a noticeably trim supplemental set that will only wet the appetite of true fans. Warner Home Video has delivered a stalwart Blu-ray offering that delivers an enriching home theater experience. I look forward to the next installment and the potential it carries…
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JVC DLA-RS55 3D Ready 1080p High Definition Front Projector
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Stewart Filmscreen - Studiotek 130 G3 100” 16x9 Screen
Onkyo PR-SC5508 THX Ultra 2 Audio/Video Processor
Sherbourn Technologies - 7/200 Seven Channel Amplifier
Oppo BDP-103 Universal Disc/3D capable Blu-ray Player (HDMI Audio/Video)
Panasonic DMP-BDT310 3D capable Blu-ray Player (HDMI Audio/Video)
Toshiba HD-XA2 HD DVD Player (HDMI Audio/Video)
Sony Playstation 3 Blu-ray disc Player (HDMI Audio/Video)
System Controller: Apple iPad/iRule Pro HD Universal Remote Control
Canton "Ergo" Series speakers
Axiom Audio QS8 Quadpolar speakers
SV Sound PB-13 Ultra (Rosenut finish)
APC AV S15BLK Power Conditioner/Surge Protector
Wireworld, Better Cables (Silver Serpent) - Audio/Video/Speaker Cabling
Cool Components - CP-CP102 cooling package