The Review at a Glance: (max score: 5 )
Audio/3D Video total rating:
( Max score: 100 )
Studio and Year: Warner - 2012
MPAA Rating: PG-13
Feature running time: 169 minutes
Disc Format: BD-50
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:
3D Presentation: 94
(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)
- Depth (Onscreen):
- Dimension (Beyond the screen):
- Color reproduction:
The Hobbit an unexpected journey 3D comes to Blu-ray Disc from Warner Home Video featuring 1080p MVC encoded 3D video and lossless DTS-HD 7.1 Master Audio sound that has an average bitrate of 4.8 Mbps.
I have watched a variety of 3D high definition video both animated and live action. Prior to experiencing 3D in the home environment on Blu-ray, 3D wasn’t something that appealed to me. I had always found the gimmicky nature of 3D off putting and the imagery combined with the uncomfortable glasses always seemed to give me a headache. I must admit that over the last two years I have enjoyed its implementation on Blu-ray and the better quality releases have elevated the experience. I am pleased to report that The Hobbit an unexpected journey is just such an example and looks terrific in 3D. Detail is well preserved as the image retains its high level of clarity as objects within the frame are delineated and sharp. I was drawn in by the depth and realism of the three dimensional imagery. The separation of objects and or characters layered in the foreground/background creates an involving sense of virtual space occupied by things of various sizes and shapes. This is done to superb effect. Shot in 3D there is an incredibly natural sense of dimension and any use of screen popping effects never feels overtly gimmicky but rather serves to enhance the storyline. Fidelity is intact as the film’s gorgeous array of colors, defining contrast and rich blacks bring Bilbo’s world to life with visually arresting results. If I had to describe the experience of watching The Hobbit an unexpected journey in 3D I would describe it as natural and engaging. I noticed some instances of ghosting here and there but it never proved overtly distracting.
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.
It should be noted that I previously reviewed the 2D Blu-ray release of The Hobbit: An unexpected journey. Those looking for my remarks regarding the quality of the 2D video presentation can see the review here: The Hobbit: An unexpected Journey 2D Blu-ray Review
- The Hobbit: An unexpected journey part 1 in high definition 3D (BD-50)
- The Hobbit: An unexpected journey part 2 in high definition 3D (BD-50)
- The Hobbit: An unexpected journey in high definition 2D (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 superlative and faithfully rendered high definition audio/video in both 3D and 2D flavors mated with 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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Reference Review System:
JVC DLA-RS55 3D Ready 1080p High Definition Front Projector
(Calibrated with Calman 5 & C6 Meter from Spectracal)
Stewart Filmscreen - Studiotek 130 G3 100” 16x9 Screen
Marantz AV8801 11.2 Channel Audio/Video Processor
Sherbourn Technologies - 7/200 Seven Channel Amplifier
B&K Reference 200.7 Series 2 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