Hobbit blu-ray (2)Following on from MrCere’s excellent post yesterday, telling you all about the different formats tempting you to part with your cash and take home The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, here is a ‘mini-review’ of the Blu-ray 3D Combo pack which will be available in the United States.  Staffer greendragon was fortunate enough to receive a copy of the Blu-ray/DVD pack in advance of a press junket taking place in London today; here are her thoughts on the precious!

First of all, the packaging is beautiful.  The cardboard slip case has the lenticular image of Gandalf which we saw on one of Empire magazine’s covers. Underneath this slip case, the box has the same image on the front, with the back showing a small picture of Bilbo running off from the Shire, contract in hand, above the details of the contents.

This ‘combo pack’ is the five disc version: it contains the movie (over two discs) on 3D Blu-ray; one disc of the movie on 2D Blu-ray; one disc of the 2D DVD version; and one disc of ‘Special Features’.  These features are, as MrCere mentioned, the ten Production Videos which Peter Jackson published on his facebook page during the making of the film.  I agree with MrCere’s thought that, whilst this may not be adding anything new, it is very nice to have all these videos gathered in one place, where you can easily find them to watch them again and again.  One word of caution, however: if you are purchasing a Blu-ray combo pack with the thought that you will get a Blu-ray player ‘one day’ and in the meantime will watch the film on the DVD which comes in the set, note that the Special Features disc is a Blu-ray, not a DVD.

As with all the different versions available for purchase, this pack also comes with details on how to access your ‘UltraViolet’ copy of the movie, so that you can download and stream the standard definition theatrical version of the film to your various devices.

Sitting at my laptop in London, I haven’t been able to try out the Blu-ray discs, but I did watch the DVD last night.  The main menu shows footage from the film, playing on a loop; it starts with a zoom in on the map of Middle-earth, a shot of Bag End, and then the dwarves singing part of the Misty Mountains song. Following scenes include Bilbo running to join them on their journey, the trolls gathered around their fire, Radagast and his rabbits fleeing the orcs, and shots in Rivendell, Goblin Town and Gollum’s cave.  The montage ends with Bilbo drawing Sting for the first time; and then the loop starts again.

The movie is divided into thirty-two scenes, and the scene selection menu has part of the map of Middle-earth in the background.  The other menu choice from the main menu is for languages; the DVD can be played in English, French or Spanish, and has subtitles also in those languages.  The background for this menu is a picture of a pensive-looking Gandalf, seated by a tree and smoking his pipe.

As for the film – well, of course I love the film. It thrills me to hear that opening melody and to know I can now watch this movie whenever I like!  After all these years of waiting for The Hobbit, it seems even a little surreal to have these discs in my hands. I must confess, though, I rather wish that the home entertainment release could have been a little later; I’d like to have seen An Unexpected Journey in the cinema a few more times before I moved to a smaller screen!

The Blu-ray and DVD of The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey will be available for you to take home in the US from March 19th; but if you just can’t wait that long, digital download (from retailers such as iTunes, Amazon and Vudu) will be available from March 12th.  The hard copies (in whatever format you purchase) and digital downloads from ‘select digital retailers’ will come with a code which will enable viewers to watch the live stream of Peter Jackson’s sneak peek of the next movie, The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug.  This will play live on March 24th at 3pm Eastern/noon Pacific time; so if you’re in the US and eager for a glimpse of the second part of the trilogy, (and let’s face it, if you’re reading TORn, you probably are eager for a glimpse!), be sure to get your copy of An Unexpected Journey before March 24th, so you’ll be ready to watch!  (MrCere’s article lists the April release dates for the Blu-ray and DVD in some other parts of the world; I’m told by Warner Bros. that codes for the sneak peek will be available outside the US – for example, possibly given to those who preorder a Blu-ray or DVD – but as yet there’s no confirmation on details for that.  We’ll let you know as soon as we hear!)

Finally  – as MrCere mentioned yesterday, the press release which came with this Blu-ray pack from Warner Bros. confirmed that this ‘home entertainment release will be followed by an Extended Edition available just in time for the holidays’.  Now THAT is something I can’t wait to see!

You can preorder this Blu-ray/DVD Combo Pack here; or preorder the digital download here.