31st Oct2014

‘The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug – Extended Edition’ Review

by Paul Metcalf

Stars: Ian McKellen, Martin Freeman, Richard Armitage, Ken Stott, Graham McTavish, William Kircher, James Nesbitt, Stephen Hunter, Dean O’Gorman, Aidan Turner, John Callen, Orlando Bloom, Evangeline Lilly, Lee Pace, Cate Blanchett, Benedict Cumberbatch, Sylvester McCoy, Luke Evans, Stephen Fry, Manu Bennett | Written by Fran Walsh, Philippa Boyens, Peter Jackson, Guillermo del Toro | Directed by Peter Jackson

the-hobbit-the-desolation-of-smaug

It’s that time of year again…and no I don’t mean Halloween.  We are at the point of the year where the next Tolkien movie is just around the corner and it’s been long enough since the last one came out for an extended edition to be something the fans may consider spending their hard-earned cash on.  The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug – Extended Edition is not only a good reminder of where we left Bilbo and the dwarves last, but also a good edition for fans of Lords of the Rings and Sauron.

One criticism some people have is if there is a need for extended editions?  They even argue that they are just an attempt to get more money off the paying public, but with The Desolation of Smaug I would argue against that.  There is about 25 minutes worth of added footage this time with the most interesting being added around Gandalf’s investigation of Dol Guldur.  This includes Thrain, Thorin’s father who some fan will know is imprisoned within its walls.  Adding these scenes adds to just how interesting this section of the film is, especially when it fleshes out the confrontation between Gandalf and the Necromancer (I won’t spoilt who it is just in case you don’t know…but you know, right?) and makes it all the more spectacular.  The added scenes also make The Hobbit feel more connected to The Lord of the Rings, which it has always been, but there is more context now and more of an impression that as the Necromancer’s powers grow stronger his reach is growing, and it may even reach even to Smaug, which puts Bilbo and the dwarves in danger.

One of the things I enjoy the most about the extended editions is the commentary track that is included which is as interesting as ever.  Peter Jackson and the writers are always informative and fun to listen to when they talk about not only the extended scenes but also the original material and there is plenty to learn as to why scenes were saved and also removed.  If you’ve listened to previous commentaries it’s easy to get comfortable and listen to them talk, especially Peter Jackson who seems a little confused and flustered as at the time of the commentary he was busy working on the next movie.

Chapters nine and ten of the appendices are included in The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug – Extended Edition and they offer over ten hours of behind the scenes footage which is more than any fans can handle really.  I’m sure there are plenty of people who will watch them though and for those willing to sit through them all there is plenty to see, including a mention of Peter Jackson’s cameo appearance that got cut out.  Stephen Fry talking about the food he had to eat is also amusing, especially when we see one of the extended scenes…it is quite grotesque.

I liked The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug in its original form so I’m sure it’s pretty easy to guess that I liked the extended version.  With the additional scenes that push more into events leading up to the Lord of the Rings I find that I prefer the extended edition, especially with the inclusion of Thrain.  The film feels like it really needed him in it, he is a further connection between events in The Hobbit and Lord of the Rings and it just feels right.  Maybe it was better to save him for this version, but at least he is in it now and answers a mystery that some fans may have not known the answer to, especially if they have not read the book.

The main question from fans is probably going to be is it worth spending money on the extended version, and the answer is an easy yes.  The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug – Extended Edition feels like a more complete chapter of The Hobbit and brings things together nicely, just in time for The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies.  With all of the appendices there is plenty for fans of the film to watch, with over ten hours you can’t go wrong really.  These editions are created for the fans, and it may be easy to be cynical and look at them as just another attempt to get more money but the work that goes into putting these together shows they are far from that and give an insight into the making of the movies that some people may not care about, but others love.

***** 5/5

The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug – Extended Edition is released on Blu-ray and Blu-ray 3D in the UK on November 3rd.

Review originally posted on PissedOffGeek
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