While The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey felt padded and inconsistent with what Peter Jackson and his team at WETA had brought to life in the now classic Lord Of The Rings film trilogy with only the return of Gollum serving as the highlight for the entire film, The Hobbit: The Desolation Of Smaug proved to be a tighter, faster paced and more exciting entry because in part it leaves behind some of the silliness with the Dwarves at Bilbo's home and it moves faster with a plot line that feels more adult as well as truer to the novel, which is far less of a thriller, but still a great novel for children and adults alike. It took an hour just to get Bilbo out of his house in the first film, but here we move from set piece to set piece much faster so that before one knows it, we finally see the magnificent Smaug in all of his glory complete with Benedict Cumberbatch's signature and almost unearthly deep voice. He also provides the voice for the Necromancer in the films. While Smaug is clearly the star in terms of visual effects and is perhaps one of the greatest dragons to ever appear on the silver screen, the characters get to do more here and by the time the film reaches it's conclusion, one feels a better understanding for what is on the line and who the characters are beyond any superficial facades.
At twenty five minutes longer than the theatrical cut, the Extended Edition of the Desolation Of Smaug goes deeper into the lore of Middle Earth without getting bogged down in the process. This is not just a film with scenes reinserted, but rather a complete reshaping of the movie, which is what made the original Lord Of The Rings Extended Editions so fantastic. Once more Jackson has made a good film on home video even better and it shows with a stunning transfer on both Blu-Ray Disc and Blu-Ray 3D too. The feature is presented in fantastic detail across two discs for the 3D version and disc three contains the complete extended edition in high definition on Blu-Ray Disc too. The Hobbit: The Desolation Of Smaug: Extended Edition is presented in a 1080p 2.4:1 aspect ratio for both presentations. The soundtrack is every bit as expansive as I remembered it in the theater. It really is quite amazing. Both presentations include English 7.1 DTS-HD Master Audio Soundtracks along with a French Dolby Digital 5.1 Dubbed Surround Soundtrack and English Subtitles for the Deaf and Hearing Impaired as well as French and Spanish Language Subtitles included as options. Both presentations include the New Zealand: Home Of Middle Earth - Part 2 featurette in 2D in both cases.
The two-dimensional version of the film also includes a Filmmakers feature length audio commentary with Writer and Director Peter Jackson as well as Co-Producer and Writer Philippa Boyens. The commentary goes into great detail about how the second film was crafted after Peter Jackson got the permission to expand what was originally a two-part film into another trilogy and it is very interesting because Jackson is screen specific regarding exactly where the film would have begun and ended if it remained a two-part feature. He describes the construction of The Desolation Of Smaug as being a Frankenstein's monster of literally restructuring what had already been written and shot with additional pickups produced after the fact and during the production as well. It is a very good audio commentary that even hints about a remote possibility of The Silmarillion being brought to the big screen some day with Philippa Boyens sweetly telling her husband, Peter Jackson, "No." I certainly would love to see that book brought to life even if Jackson was not directing so long as it retains continuity with the other films.
The fourth and fifth Blu-Ray Discs contain the Appendices Parts 9 and 10 and showcase in great detail the pre-production, photography, training, and visual effects. There is also a limited time only redeemable code for a free Ultraviolet Digital Copy, which can run either streaming from the cloud or downloaded on to both Android and iOS devices as well as Windows and OSX computers and television streaming devices like a Roku or the smart TV suite that came with your TV where available. I ordered the Amazon exclusive that comes with a WETA Collectibles statue and will have a companion review of it added to this Blu-Ray 3D/Blu-Ray Disc set review via a link to my YouTube channel where I review select high end collectibles at TBC718.
Here is a text link for mobile and desktop users to my off the cuff video review of the Barrel Riders statue on my YouTube channel, TBC718:
The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug: Extended Edition Blu-Ray 3D and Blu-Ray Disc Set is available now at retailers on and offline courtesy of Warner Brothers Home Entertainment.
(C) Copyright 2014 By Mark Rivera
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