THE HOBBIT: THE DESOLATION OF SMAUG 3D [EXTENDED EDITION]

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BLU-RAY REVIEW: THE HOBBIT – THE DESOLATION OF SMAUG 3D EXTENDED EDITION / CERT: 15 / DIRECTOR: PETER JACKSON / SCREENPLAY: VARIOUS / STARRING: MARTIN FREEMAN, IAN MCKELLEN, RICHARD ARMITAGE, BENEDICT CUMBERBATCH / RELEASE DATE: OUT NOW

Safe to say, whether you enjoy the films or not, Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings and Hobbit movies certainly give you value for money on home release. Granted, there is the fact that several versions of the same movie end up released, but that’s a whole different argument altogether.

Plot-wise, The Desolation of Smaug continues Jackson’s Hobbit trilogy, following the story of 13 dwarves, led by Thorin Oakenshield (Armitage), on a journey to reclaim the dwarf kingdom of Erebor. Joining them on this quest are Gandalf (McKellen) and Bilbo (Freeman), with the action taking the group across lands occupied by elves, orcs, giant spiders, and many other interesting creatures. The endgame of this trip is to wind up at the Lonely Mountain, which just so happens to be home to the dastardly dragon Smaug, who doesn’t take too kindly to being disturbed.

So yeah, those who have any sort of interest in these films will already be well aware of the plot by this point – this is a film that was released cinematically last December and that already saw a home release back in April. The selling point of this latest release is the extra content that Jackson et al have crammed in. On sweet baby Blu, the release is made up of 5 discs and includes over 9 hours of genuinely interesting special features, plus the actual movie itself is expanded by 25 minutes, both in 3D and in plain ol’ 2D. Additionally, as well as a gazillion featurettes spread over 3 of the discs, there’s also a commentary included from Peter Jackson and his crew.

The film itself is vastly superior to its predecessor, An Unexpected Journey, with far greater action and character development this time out. This is only furthered with the extra running time that The Desolation of Smaug is given here, spacing out certain scenes and removing a few of the minor issues of the cinematic cut. As with the cinematic release of the film and the subsequent home release, this extended edition again looks absolutely stunning, with crisp vibrancy running throughout the film.

Whereas the film has been talked about in great depth over the last year or so, this is a release that long-time fans and the more completist-minded out there will hugely enjoy. In terms of extras, this is a release of The Desolation of Smaug that is as impressive as Gandalf’s beard. Added to that, the main feature itself is a far better one than many had anticipated, transitioning from a slow 20 minutes to become a hugely enjoyable film that makes even Orlando Bloom’s Legolas tolerable. Then there’s the great turns from Benedict Cumberbatch (as Smaug) and Luke Evans (as Bard) that add further to the core group of characters who were established in An Unexpected Journey. Now we just have to wait until December to see the final part of Jackson’s latest trilogy.

Special Features: Filmmakers’ commentary / New Zealand: Home of Middle-Earth – Part 2 / The Appendices Part 9: Into the Winterland / The Appendices Part 10: The Journey to Erebor
 

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