Although 13 extra minutes doesn't sound like much, especially when the original was already 169 minutes, the Extended Edition of Peter Jackson's The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey is well worth the watch. It may not have the same absolute heart of The Lord of the Rings trilogy, but the film is still as much a fun ride.
Set 60 years before The Fellowship of the Ring, Bilbo Baggins is the image of respectability when he is invited by Gandalf the Grey (Ian McKellan) to go on an adventure. Bilbo joins Thorin Oakenshield (Richard Armitage) and his company in the attempt to reclaim the kingdom of Erebor from the dragon Smaug (Benedict Cumberbatch).
Bilbo, born and raised in Hobbiton, leaves his quiet life and comes across a variety of creatures across his travels, both nefarious and benign. Bilbo meets characters established in The Lord of the Rings such as good friend, Elrond (Hugo Weaving), and old enemies in Gollum (Andy Serkis) as Bilbo first finds the infamous One Ring.
Bilbo and The Company only complete a third of the original novel in this film, but they still meet trolls, goblins and orcs whilst the audience is introduced through Radagast the Brown (Sylvester McCoy) the dangers of The Necromancer and the action builds throughout each of these encounters.
The pacing of An Unexpected Journey can be debated on, a single (rather short) book split not into one, but three films. Nonetheless, the content of An Unexpected Journey is only a small fraction of the original plot but still manages to keep the fine balance between action and reaction, comedy and drama.
Casting Freeman as Bilbo is a sublime choice by Jackson; in the nuances of his indignation and naivety, his courage and his fear, this is shown especially so when contrasted against Armitage as the gruffer Thorin. This tension between the actors brings a depth to the script, one that leaves the audience on edge and hoping for the best between the two protagonists.
The extra 13 minutes of the extended edition isn't essential to the action of the film, but rather gives small insights into the various characters of the film.
A young Bilbo Baggins is shown with Gandalf and an extended scene showing Thranduil's (Lee Pace) animosity with Thrσr (Jeffrey Thomas) in the prologue of the film, giving an added depth to history of Tolkien's world. The elves and dwarrows' differences are highlighted again in several scenes at Rivendell, quickly followed by an extended scene of the dwarrows within the goblin caves, both with musical numbers performed within them.
The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey is not as much a classic as the original trilogy by Jackson, but is still filled with as much adventure and excitement. The extended edition adds to the comedic tone of the film as well as a deeper understanding of the characters for fans of Jackson and Tolkien.