Chances are, if you wanted to see The Battle of the Five Armies then you’d have done so by now. As well as its cinema release last year, the final part of Peter Jackson’s Hobbit trilogy has already hit DVD and Blu-ray in April of this year. But you know the drill by now with these things, which means that it’s now time for the suped-up, extras-filled extended edition of this release.
Plot-wise, we pick things up as Smaug, the Benedict Cumberbatch-voiced dragon, is unleashing hell on Lake-town before the action and focus quickly shifts to the Dwarves, led by Richard Armitage’s Thorin Oakenshield, after they’ve reclaimed the riches of their homeland. The thing is, Thorin’s thirst for the Arkenstone begins to cause rifts amongst he and his brethren, whilst various other armies descend upon Little Mountain in the hope of claiming this wealth for themselves. Oh, and yes, there’s of course Orcs. Lots and Lots of Orcs. Plus Christopher Lee’s Saruman. Not to mention, obviously, Martin Freeman’s Bilbo Baggins, through whose eyes so much of the story is told. But you know all of this by now, right?
As mentioned, those who will have wanted to have seen this film will have long since done so by now, so what’s the point of this release? Well, apart from a convenient cash cow for Peter Jackson and Warner Brothers, the main selling point here is the ridiculous amount of extras present. The package as a whole is spread out over a whopping 3 Blu-ray discs (or 5 DVD discs), littered with over 9 hours of special features and bonus content, including an additional 20 minutes to the main film (even though said extra minutes don’t add all that much in terms of plot).
Whilst the special features of the previous Five Armies release are all present, the highlights of the bonus content are likely the commentary from Peter Jackson and producer Philippa Boynes, not to mention the massively in-depth Appendices featurettes that have been a key part in the special features of the previous two Hobbit instalments. The amount of bonus features here really is daunting when sitting down to have a look through them; there’s so many features, interviews, behind-the-scenes looks, and more, all spliced into individual segments – it really is enough to make a man long for the simplicity of The Shire.
When all is said and done, the film is what it is: a good conclusion to a stretched-out trilogy (we still stand by the logic that The Hobbit should’ve been two films at most…). The movie itself is as lush, rich and vibrant as you remember it, if not clearly predictable, but the purpose of purchasing this new release is either because somebody is a completist or because there’s so much bonus material to mine through.
If you own the previous release of The Battle of the Five Armies, should you pick this up? Unless you’re a mega fan, likely not. If you don’t own said previous release, dive in and have yourself a whale of a time exploring the ins and outs of Jackson’s final Hobbit movie.
Special Features: Commentary with Peter Jackson and Philippa Boyens / The Appendices – Parts XI and XII / New Zealand: Home of Middle-Earth – Part 3
THE HOBBIT: THE BATTLE OF THE FIVE ARMIES - EXTENDED EDITION / CERT: 15 / DIRECTOR: PETER JACKSON / SCREENPLAY: VARIOUS / STARRING: RICHARD ARMITAGE, MARTIN FREEMAN, IAN MCKELLEN, ORLANDO BLOOM, EVANGELINE LILLY / RELEASE DATE: NOVEMBER 23RD