13-Minute ‘Hobbit’ Featurette: Return to Middle-earth for ‘An Unexpected Journey’

Published 2 years ago by

Peter Jackson’s The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey doesn’t open in theaters for another week, but you’d be forgiven for thinking the film premieres tomorrow – what with all the headlines it’s made of late, thanks to mixed early reviews and Jackson’s response to criticisms of the picture’s high frame-rate 3D presentation (to mention nothing of the numerous clips, images and posters that have flooded the ‘Net since the Thanksgiving holiday frame).

One thing that everyone seems to agree on (with respect to Unexpected Journey) is it’s a huge picture, be it in terms of budget, story, or sheer hype. Thus, Warner Bros. has unveiled an immense 13- minute featurette for the film – much like the studio did for The Dark Knight Rises over the summer – and it encompasses all the behind the scenes footage, glimpses at concept art, and (over?)enthusiastic interviews you could want.

Not surprisingly, the extended featurette puts an optimistic spin on what’ve been some points of contention for J.R.R. Tolkien purists and cinephiles alike throughout the buildup for Unexpected Journey. That includes the (at times, striking) variation in appearance among the film’s dwarf characters, tonal differences between The Hobbit and Lord of the Rings – and how, exactly, Tolkien’s appendices for the history of Middle-earth (from the third Rings novel, Return of the King) are being interwoven with the Hobbit narrative foundation.

However, even taking into consideration the concerns expressed about Unexpected Journey to date, there is something infectious about the passion that Jackson and his collaborators have expressed throughout the promotion for the project; not just in terms of words, but with respect to the time and energy poured into every facet of the filmmaking process (as demonstrated throughout Jackson’s production video series).

bilbo rivendell hobbit trailer 570x244 13 Minute Hobbit Featurette: Return to Middle earth for An Unexpected Journey

Bilbo Baggins (Martin Freeman) takes ‘An Unexpected Journey’

That’s all to say: Unexpected Journey may indeed have a number of issues, due to such factors as: the decision to adapt Tolkien’s source material into three, rather than two, movies; a $250 million + budget that’s allowed for an excess of set pieces, spectacle and story material; and, any purely-technical problems that are related to the 48 fps 3D format (look for all that to be addressed in detail when our Unexpected Journey review goes up next week).

However, at the end of day, it may just be that the (as Jackson jokes) twice-in-a-lifetime experience of getting to visit Middle-earth on the big screen is enough for us fans to push on through the rough early-going with Unexpected Journey (and maybe even enjoy it more than some of our fellow intrepid ‘adventurers’).

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The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey opens in theaters (regular and IMAX 3D) on December 14th, 2012.

Source: Warner Bros.

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  1. Every new bit of footage just reassures me that the preview critics have horribly mistaken. One week left, I simply can’t express my anticipation.

    • Fear not…it was just a few critics, as opposed to many, who expressed relatively mild disatisfaction with the film. Can’t please all of the people all of the time. Do the bright thing, and judge the film for yourself.

      • Most critics have been positive about ‘…An Unexpected Journey’, there’s always a few dissenting opinions on every film, but what many have agreed on is that it could have been a little shorter and tighter, especially during the first hour where it seems to take it’s sweet time with the Ian Holm prologue, the introduction of the dwarves, and before the group actually leave the Shire and begin the quest, but almost all agree that once that happens, the film never looks back…

        I get the feeling that an extended edition of ‘…An Unexpected Journey’ is unlikely because THIS IS the extended edition; because it’s not as long as the theatrical cuts of the LOTR movies, Peter Jackson has much greater leeway in keeping scenes that he otherwise might have reluctantly trimmed to get it to the studio-mandated three-hour mark, that and the fact he more than likely has final cut approval on the ‘Hobbit’ films this time around… and that’s just fine and dandy with me, I trust Jackson more than corporate executives any day, he’s more than earned the right to make these films his way, and they’ll be all the better for it!

        • And we all have to keep in mind that this trilogy will likely be our last time in Middle Earth, so no doubt, this is part of the reason the filmmakers sought to extend our visit there, and the true fans will relish every moment.

    • F the critics on this one.

  2. Maybe I’m just being a fanboy, maybe I’m just being hard headed but I just can’t imagine that The Hobbit will be mediocre or even god forbid bad. I can’t.
    I admit that the mixed reviews or the lack of awards buzz has me a bit concerned but if next week when I buy my snacks, pop on my 3-D glasses and sit to watch the movie it turns out that Jackson did drop the ball it may be the biggest disappointment in my movie geek lifetime.
    One week to go until we know for sure…

    • “it may be the biggest disappointment in my movie geek lifetime.”

      Wait for Star Wars 7 buddy :D

  3. I’m just excited. It would be really hard to screw up The Hobbit for me. One reason being I just love Middle Earth, and to be back there–with the same actors from the original trilogy–is enough to make me hyped. Plus I’ve read the appendices regarding Durin’s Folk, the White Council, and the events that led to Smaug coming to the Lonely Mountain and most importantly the Rise of the Necromancer in Dol Gudur. Never did I dare to dream that if a Hobbit adaptation was made that I would get to see those events that so interested me, but where not expounded into novel form by Tolkien.

    TLDR; I’m psyched!

  4. Judging by the mediocre critical response (especially compared to the great response of the original trilogy) I think I’ll pass on this film. It seems Jackson is just turning a children’s book into an unneeded epic.

    • As of today, with but a handful of reviews, Rotten Tomatoes has it rated at 70%. The Dark Knight Rises, with hundreds of reviews, finished at 87%. So only a 17% difference, but it is still certified fresh, and there are hundreds of reviews yet to come in. My impression is that those of you who immediately believe the less than stellar reviews have been disinclined to see it anyway. You know…no one is forcing you to watch it.

  5. There sure are a lot of people who seem determined to absolutely love this movie regardless of legitimate criticisms.

    • And there sure are some people who seem absolutely determined to dislike this movie, regardless of the predominantly good reviews…

      • Just because somebody doesn’t have the “the Hobbit can’t possibly be anything less than amazing and anyone who says otherwise must be wrong!” mentality doesn’t mean they’re determined to hate it. And it’s not like the Hobbit is sitting at a 90 on rotten tomatoes. It’s at 70 percent so far with even the “good” reviews having strong criticisms.

        • Boogoo, it is readily apparent that you are predisposed to doubt and dislike this movie. No one is forcing you to see it, nor to comment here…

          • Actually, Jeff, the movie isn’t out yet so I don’t dislike it or love it for that matter since, you know, I haven’t seen it.

            Nobody’s forcing you to comment here either, what’s your point? That only comments that don’t annoy you should be made? Get over yourself.

            • Boogoo, stop pretending. Your comments have been more negative than either positive or neutral about the film. Of course you are free to comment here…my point is that, for someone who seems disinlined to like, or even see, the movie, it seems a wasted effort, on your part, to opine on it. You don’t meet the definition of a “troll”, but you venture near it.

  6. i cant wait to see the younger bilbo, the 13 dawfs and some of the old cast back from the lord of the rings ,and enjoy this journey