by Carrie Specht
The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug, the second installment of the epic The Hobbit trilogy arrived on Blu-ray 3D and regular old Blu-ray in a new “Extended Edition” on November 4th courtesy of Warner Bros. Home Entertainment. The Extended Edition features a 25-minute longer cut and more than nine hours of new special features on two separate DVDs. That’s a whole lot of middle earth bang for the buck. The most ardent fan will be thrilled with this extremely thorough presentation package, and the less enthused admirer of the series (although I can’t imagine who these people are) will be impressed with the behind the scenes look into the production of the three most ambition films of our times. Now is the time to own it on Blu-Ray.
The 25 minutes of extra film footage is spread out, extending individual scenes, adding coverage that was previously unseen through out the known movie. So, don’t expect a surprise ending or anything like that. But instead, enjoy the welcome extension of your favorite moments that now have a little some extra. For fans such embellishments make this the must-see, definitive version of the film. And that goes for both the 3D and the regular Blu-Ray presentations. The more than nine hours of new bonus features offer exactly what you would expect and more, truly enriching the experience of the Trilogy. All this comes at the perfect time as fans restlessly gear up for the December 17 theatrical release of the third and final film, The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies.
The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug continues the adventure of the title character Bilbo Baggins as he journeys with the Wizard Gandalf and thirteen Dwarves, led by Thorin Oakenshield. Their’s is an epic quest to reclaim the Lonely Mountain and the lost Dwarf Kingdom of Erebor. Having survived the beginning of their “unexpected journey”, the company travels east, encountering a skin-changer and a swarm of giant Spiders in the treacherous forest of Mirkwood. Their luck holds out as they escape capture by the dangerous Wood-elves as they journey to Lake-town. Finally the troop (for the most part) make it to the Lonely Mountain itself, where they face the greatest danger so far, a creature more terrifying than any other; one which will test not only the depth of their courage but the limits of their friendship. This creature is of course the title character of the dragon, Smaug.
Among the many new special features are an audio commentary with Peter Jackson, the film’s director/producer/screenwriter, and Philippa Boyens, co-producer/screenwriter. The two-disc “Appendices” are really a multi-part documentary focusing on various aspects of the film and the Trilogy showcasing an immersive multi-part history of the filming of The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug. The scope of which includes pre-production in the various departments of the film in the months leading up to the start of principal photography, the extensive training required of the many actors, and the work done on set and in the world of digital effects. Of course, you can’t talk about the making of The Hobbit without giving due respect and attention to New Zealand: Home of Middle-earth. I’m telling you this is an all out effort to give the fans what they really want, and that’s to get as close to the action as possible, and this package delivers just that.
Special note: Another bonus that comes along with the purchase of specially marked Blu-ray discs is the inclusion of Digital HD with UltraViolet . THis is pretty cool, because Digital HD with UltraViolet allows consumers to instantly stream and download movies and TV shows to TVs, computers, tablets and smartphones through UltraViolet retail services like CinemaNow, Flixster, Target Ticket, VUDU and more every day (this is a wonderful world we live in). For more information on compatible devices go to wb.com/ultravioletdevices. Consult an UltraViolet Retailer for details and requirements and for a list of HD-compatible devices.
And you can have all that goes with the purchase of The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug Extended Edition on Blu-ray 3D for $54.98 and Blu-ray for just $35.99. That’s a pretty awesome price, especially when you consider that Warner Home Video Blu-ray Discs offer resolution six times higher than standard definition DVDs, as well as extraordinarily vibrant contrast and color and beautifully crisp sound. I watched this on an 80″ screen and it was the most beautiful thing I’ve ever seen on it. No kidding. I know I sound like a print ad, but it’s true that the format also provides a higher level of interactivity, with instant access to extra features via a seamless menu bar where viewers can enjoy features without leaving or interrupting the film. Why hasn’t someone thought of this sooner!