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TV show review: CONTINUUM season 4
PHOTOGRAPHY

THE HOBBIT: THE DESOLATION OF SMAUG

Blu-ray review by David Blackwell

 

DETAILS: 161 minutes (PG-13), featurettes, production blogs. Music video, trailers, DVD, digital copy

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

AUDIO: English 7.1 DTS-HD Master Audio, French 5.1 Dolby Digital, Spanish 5.1 DD, Portuguese 5.1 DD

Subtitles: English SDH, French, Spanish, Portuguese

 

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

Theatrical RELEASE DATE:  12-13-2013

Blu-ray/ DVD RELEASE DATE: 4-8-2014

In the second part of THE HOBBIT film trilogy (continuing from Part 1: AN UNEXPECTED JOURNEY), the company of 13 dwarves, Bilbo Baggins (the Hobbit), and wizard Gandalf journey into the Elfish forest known as Mirkwood and reach Erebor to have Bilbo steal the Arkenstone.  In THE DESOLATION OF SMAUG, they may face more challenges as they encounter elves who want nothing to do with the outside world as the forces of Sauron grow and Gandalf may have to take a journey to Dol Goldour to find out about the mysterious Necromancer.   Meanwhile, Legolas (along with Elf warrior woman crush Tauriel) becomes involved in the fights against the Orcs who are hunting the dwarves.   Also Smaug makes himself known as the universe of THE HOBBIT continues to develop in the second film which is an improvement over the first one.

 

THE DESOLATION OF SMAUG is the middle segment of THE HOBBIT trilogy directed by Peter Jackson which adds a few things to the story not in the novel like Legolas and Tauriel (a character created for the movie) as they work to connect these films to THE LORD OF THE RINGS trilogy.   The New Zealand countryside continues to be awe inspiring and the production design is top notch from the Elfish kingdom of Mirkwood to Laketown to the vaults of Erebor.   The only downsides with THE DESOLATION OF SMAUG are the cliffhangers which the film ends on (and waiting for another year to resolve everything) and the battles on the river with CGI Orcs and Elves (which are painfully obvious when they switch between real to CGI during that sequence).   Smaug is an impressive digital creation with a deep menacing voice performance form Benedict Cumberbatch.  

 

The second installment isn’t as padded as AN UNEXPECTED JOURNEY and it really flows as it introduces more characters and moves the story along.  I expected the second part to end somewhere later and not with the mother of cliffhangers.  Before this movie, Peter Jackson usually didn’t leave THE LORD OF THE RINGS films and AN UNEXPECTED JOURNEY on big cliffhangers.   He usually left it at a place where the current threads are wrapped up (like the Fellowship breaking up at the first LOTR, the siege of HELMS DEEP ending in THE TOWERS, and the company of dwarves seeing Erebor in the far distance at the end of AN UNEXPECTED JOURNEY).   It looks like I have to go reread THE HOBBIT in the meantime while I wait until next December for the conclusion to Peter Jackson’s trilogy of THE HOBBIT.

 

SPECIAL FEATURES:

DISC 1-

NEW ZEALAND: HOME OF MIDDLE EARTH, PART 2- journey to the locations used in THE DESOLATION OF SMAUG including the Maori blessing the production to shoot at a sacred place and filming on a river that reminded Peter Jackson of a great location reminiscent of some of the movies he grew up on.

 

DISC 2-

PETER JACKSON INVITES YOU TO THE SET:

IN THE COMPANY OF THE HOBBIT (18:10)- a look at the challenges and demands that go into creating the movie for the various places like Mirkwood, Lake-Town, and Dale along with creating pivotal moments in THE DESOLATION OF SMAUG

ALL IN A DAY’S WORK (22:25)- a behind-the-scenes look at all of the different department that go into producing the THE HOBBIT during one day of the production

I SEE FIRE MUSIC VIDEO (5 minutes)- a music video that intercuts the recording of the song with clips from the movie

LIVE EVENT: IN THE CUTTING ROOM (37:52)-  Peter Jackson answers video and twitter questions

 

PRODUCTION VIDEOS:

11: INTO TO PICK-UPS SHOOTING (9:06)- behind the scenes production blog as pickup shooting begins for Part 2 and 3 of THE HOBBIT

12: RECAP OF PICK-UPS PART 1 (8:20)- first part of what went on during the shooting of the Pick-Ups

13: RECAP OF PICK-UPS PART 2 (8:46)- a wrap up of the pick ups shooting without teasing Part 3 too much

14: MUSIC SCORING (10:28)- a look at the recording of the music score with a look back at the recording of the score for THE LORD OF THE RINGS in the same location

 

Two theatrical trailers and extended three minute preview for THE DESOLATION OF SMAUG are also on the disc in addition to trailers for the Extended Edition for AN UNEXPECTED JOURNEY and two game trailers (one is for THE HOBBIT LEGO video game).

 

Rounding out the combo pack is the movie in standard definition on DVD and a code to add a digital HD ultraviolet copy of THE DESOLATION OF SMAUG.

 

FINAL ANALYSIS:  THE DESOLATION OF SMAUG is a big and faster paced improvement on AN UNEXPECTED JOURNEY, but I wonder if an extended edition is even necessary for this film as I wait for the third and final film in THE HOBBIT trilogy.  The extras are a nice tease for the extensive documentary extras that will be out in another release of THE DEOSLATION OF SMAUG around November.  I just wish they didn’t have to end this one on several cliffhangers.

 

This movie review is 4-11-2014 David Blackwell and cannot be reprinted without permission.  Send all comments to feedback@enterline-media.com

 

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