A strange thing happened to me the other night when I watched "The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey" on Blu-ray in the comfort of my own home. I actually enjoyed it much more than I did seeing it in the theater in its "intended" 48 FPS. I'll confess I never gave it a chance in 3D for fear that I might embarrass myself by blowing chunks in the person's hair seated in front of me.
Don't get me wrong. There are still many things wrong with Peter Jackson's first entry into his new Middle-earth saga. However, it was easier to be forgiving when viewed in 24 FPS.
"The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey" tells the story of Bilbo Baggins and his adventure outside his comfort zone of the Shire in the wilds of Middle-earth. The wizard Gandalf and his band of dwarves need a master burglar to accompany them on their quest to retake their kingdom from the evil dragon Smaug. Along the way they run into a number of different obstacles including orcs, goblins, and a strange creature calling himself Gollum.
Re-visiting my earlier theatrical review of the movie, I found opinions of certain aspects swaying a bit. The backstory for the Wizard of the Woods wasn't nearly as tedious as I remembered it being. It was actually quite entertaining and humorous this time around. The CGI wasn't nearly as noticeably awful as it was on the big screen, although there was still an air of artificialness to almost every frame of the film.
The biggest problem with "The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey" is its structure. I can't shake the feeling that the film has no real rhythm. It's just a series of actions and cause and effects with no real organization.
The high-definition transfer is top notch for the most part. I was surprised to notice some banding in one night scene, but that was the only complaint I can think of. The audio is stunning and will please home audiences with its 7.1 surround sound. You'll feel as if you're sitting in the center of Middle-earth, which could be good on a peaceful day in the Shire or bad if you're in the thick of a battle with Gandalf and the dwarves.
Bonus material for the Blu-ray version of "The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey" is contained on a separate disc from the feature film. They include 127 minutes of "Behind-the-Scenes" video blogs addressing everything from location scouting to filming in 3D. There's a tour of New Zealand's countryside, also referred to as the "Home of Middle-earth." Six full and alternate trailers are found as well. Trailers for "Kingdoms of Middle-earth," "Guardians of Middle-earth" and "LEGO LOTR" will excite gaming fans. A Sneak Peek Access Code for "The Desolation of Smaug" rounds out the special features.
If you had issues with the 48 FPS and 3D presentations of "The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey," I would give it another chance on Blu-ray or DVD. It's a great deal easier on the eyes and doesn't highlight the limitations of the CGI as much as the theatrical viewing experience did. I was pleased with my second trip to early Middle-earth, although I'm fairly certain it will be my last until "The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug" comes out.