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Blu-ray Review- THE HOBBIT: BATTLE OF FIVE ARMIES Extended Edition
PHOTOGRAPHY

THE HOBBIT: THE BATTLE OF THE FIVE ARMIES Extended Edition

Blu-ray review by David Blackwell

 

DETAILS: 164 minutes, featurettes, documentaries, audio commentary trailers, digital HD copy

VIDEO: 2.40:1 (Anamorphic Widescreen) 1080p High Definition

AUDIO: English 7.1 DTS-HA MA, French 5.1 Dolby Digital

Subtitles (Disc 1): English SDH, French, Spanish

Subtitles (Disc Two and Three): English, French, Spanish- Latino, Spanish- Castellano, Dutch, Italian, Thai, Portuguese, Mandarin, Cantonese, Korean, Russian, Polish, Hungarian, Netherlands, Ceske, Magyar

 

STUDIO: Warner Bros Pictures/ New Line Cinema/ MGM/ Wingnut Films

Theatrical RELEASE DATE: 12-17-2014

Blu-ray/ DVD RELEASE DATE:  11-17-2015

The third and final part of THE HOBBIT trilogy is here, and it is long overdue as I feel director Peter Jackson should have left the adaptation at two books (as originally planned) instead of expanding it to three.   The movie starts out resolving the Smaug storyline in the first ten minutes (which could have easily been resolved during THE DESOLATION OF SMAUG) and then the movie switches gears to the aftermath of events along with Gandalf getting rescued by his friends (wizards and elves) .   THE BATTLE OF THE FIVE ARMIES resolves mostly around the battle for Erebor as Thorin gets inflicted with Smaug’s “dragon sickness” and a big battle resulting with five armies (or is it six) that lasts for an hour of the film’s running time.

 

THE BATTLE OF THE FIVE ARMIES is a frustrating adaptation as the big battle runs for too long and feels like Peter Jackson has drunk out of Michael Bay’s cup of action movie editing (the TRANSFORMERS movies where the climatic battle scenes go on for too long and it is the same case with the big battle in this final part of THE HOBBIT).  Then you have resolution of the love triangle between Kili, Tauriel, and Legolas that no one really cares about (and something that Peter Jackson and the other screenwriters added when they expanded THE HOBBIT from 2 to 3 films).   The parts that work the best are the small moments and call outs to THE LORD OF THE RINGS trilogy along with the rescue of Gandalf.   The extra twenty minutes which includes bits of the battle that Peter had to cut (due to time constraints to deliver the theatrical cut on time) brings the full vision of what Peter Jackson had planned for the big battle.

 

THE HOBBIT is probably the last journey to Middle Earth unless they remake the movies or Christopher Tolkien sells the rights to the other books (which isn’t likely since he doesn’t like the adaptations and feels he isn’t getting a fair share of the profits from the movies).    I feel THE LORD OF THE RINGS trilogy is a better adaptation of the material than THE HOBBIT trilogy (which is over bloated and full or pacing problems in movies one and three).   The cast isn’t at fault with this trilogy as they excellently play their characters.   They padded the trilogy out too much with too many additions and trying to give everyone their moment in this final part of the trilogy.   If any of the other J.R.R. Tolkien books do get turned into movies, I do feel it might be time for Peter Jackson to step away from directing and being involved in the writing of the movie.  It might be better to give someone else a try at adapting the material.  THE LORD OF THE RINGS trilogy will remain a wonderful adaptation where THE HOBBIT unfortunately is a flawed adaptation.

 

SPECIAL FEATURES:

Blu-ray Disc 1-

Audio commentary with Peter Jackson and the producers/ writers of THE HOBBIT: THE BATTLE OF THE FIVE ARMIES

 

NEW ZEALAND: HOME OF MIDDLE EARTH Part 3

Trailers for THE BATTLE OF THE FIVE ARMIES

 

Blu-ray DISC 2-

THE APPENDICES PART 11: THE GATHERING STORM-

THE CHORNICLES OF THE HOBBIT PART 3 (04:52:49)- Peter Jackson admits he was sometimes winging it in this very extensive almost five hour long making-of documentary:

IN THE DUNGEONS OF THE NECROMANCER (30:08)- Ian McKellen and cate Blanchett cuddle on set, Gandalf’s dummy is featured, Benedict Cumberbatch says Black Speech backwards which is played forwards, and Zack Weiner unveils his wheel of wonders

FIRE AND WATER (30:02)- behind the scenes of the opening sequence of the attack on Lake-Town to the death of Smaug

UNDER THE SHADOW OF THE MOUNTAIN (18:03)- cast and crew face some challenges while filming on the south Island’s Rock and Pillar Range when the clouds and fog roll in

IN THE WAKE OF THE DRAGON (27:28)-  filming on the shores of Lake Pukakui on the South Island where the shore must be dressed up, extras must act like its cold when it is actually summer, and Luke Evans warns the first Victoria’s Cross which is given when the actor keeps his character continuity in check from shot to shot

THE GATHERING OF THE CLOUDS (30:10)- filming nears its end as Lee Pace’s horse decides to have a mind of its own while every department feels the time crunch

MANY PARTINGS (30:02)- Bilbo’s farewell is shot and a funeral scene is filmed before principal photography wraps after 266 days of filming

THE CLOUDS BURST (29:49)- pick-ups, Evangeline Lily and Orlando Bloom make fun of their mounting scenes on a green screen rig, and fire interrupts shooting

A LAST DESPERATE STAND (30:12)- Orlando is surprised with gifts from Peter Jackson, Evangeline Lily bids farewell to cats and crew, and Ian McKellan shoots his final scenes as Gandalf

OUT FROM THE GATE (30:10)- Erebor pick-up shooting for the battle and Martin Freeman says farewell to Middle Earth

THE LAST STAGE (34:05)- the final day of pick-ups as it is a race between Main and Splinter Units to finish

 

 

Blu-ray DISC 3-

THE APPENDICES PART 12: HERE AT JOURNEY’S END (five hours)-

 

BEANEATH THE THUNDER: FORGING A BATTLE OF FIVE ARMIES (1:30:00):

A MASTER PLAN, LONG IN THE MAKING (30:18)- shooting the battle sequences with the characters against a green screen (at times) and on sets in addition to planning how they were going to create the battle

ON THE FRONT LINES OF A VIRTUAL BATTLEFIELD (30:08)- filming plates of New Zealand to reorganize to form the valley of Erebor, shooting performers for the battle on the mo-cap stage, and virtual camerawork by Peter Jackson

TURNING THE TIDE (29:49)- finishing the battle sequences in time for release and finishing parts of the battle they cut for the extended edition

 

THE PEOPLES AND DENIZENS OF MIDDLE-EARTH (1:28:08):

TAURIEL: DAUGHTER OF THE FOREST (27:55)- behind-the-scenes of the development of Tauriels’s armor (which started as movable chain mail which looked like a dwarf on Evangeline Lily), the casting of Evangeline Lily (The Hobbit was one of her favorite books), and why the character was created

THRANDUIL: THE KING OF WOOD AND STONE (30:17)- expanding on the character for THE HOBBIT movies, the casting of Lee Pace, the arc of the character and tying it in with the history of the books, and Lee Pace’s other activities of helping WETA in his downtime to help make the weapons and paint the armor

DAIN IRONFOOT: LORD OF THE IRON HILLS (30:16)- casting Billy Connolly as Dain, behind-the-scenes of the make-up and armor and riding a virtual warthog, and how the character’s arc differed from the book (since Azog meets his fate at the hands of a different character in the movie)

 

REALMS OF THE THIRD AGE: FROM THE CITY OF DALE TO THE HALLS OF EREBOR (1:30:28)- a behind-the-scenes look at the making of key locations in the word of THE HOBBIT with interviews with famous Tolkien artists John Howe and Alan Lee, director Peter Jackson, various members of the crew and production/ writing team, and various actors:

DALE: THE CITY OF MEN (30:18)- building the location of Dale from the outside set to the virtual location in the computer

DOL GULDUR: THE HILL OF SORCERY (30:14)-  a look at Dol Guldur from concept sketches to building the set in pieces to assembling it to the virtual set of it

EREBOR: THE LONELY MOUNTAIN (30:16)-

A look at the architecture of dwarves, the sets of Erebor (which took of two sound stages), and using green screen to expand some sets in post

 

FAREWELL, FRIENDS! (32:56)- cast and crew reflect on the end of THE HOBBIT and what it means to them (including those cast and crew who were also involved with THE LORD OF THE RINGS) as everyone bids farewell to Middle Earth

 

ANDREW LESNIE REMEMBERED (5:47)- cast and crew remember the director of photography of THE HOBBIT and THE LORD OF THE RINGS films with behind-the-scenes clips of Andrew from the filming of THE HOBBIT

 

code to download and stream a digital HD Ultraviolet copy of THE HOBBIT: THE BATTLE OF THE FIVE ARMIES Extended Edition

 

FINAL ANALYSIS:  THE HOBBIT: THE BATTLE OF THE FIVE ARMIES is a flawed conclusion to THE HOBBIT trilogy which would have been left at being two movies instead of three, but the extended edition does make the movie flow better.  The extras are the real gem here of the Extended Edition set of THE HOBBIT: THE BATTLE OF THE FIVE ARMIES with nine hours of documentaries that are very informative and entertaining.

 

This review is 12-2-2015 David Blackwell and cannot be reprinted without permission.  Send all comments to feedback@enterline-media.com