The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug Extended Edition is being released today on DVD and Blu-Ray. The digital download version has been available from iTunes and GooglePlay since October 21, and the following review is based on the Amazon Instant Video version, which does not include all of the bonus features nor the Filmmakers’ Commentary.
Sunday afternoon I sat through the new Extended Edition of Peter Jackson’s second Hobbit movie, and I was rather surprised by how much I enjoyed it. In my July 4 commentary about my hopes for the final installment, I stated that PJ has yet to make me care about the film characters. This time around, I found the filmmaker able to take time, not just to make the movie longer, but flesh out some parts which I found rather sketchy in the theatrical cut.
I enjoyed spending more time with Beorn, and the extended portions in Mirkwood show the company coming under the spell of the enchanted woods much more gradually. We spend a bit longer with the Master of Laketown, whose political motivations and arrogance are expanded upon. We are also introduced to a new character, who has a part to play in Gandalf’s side story in Dol Guldur.
Jackson doesn’t just wedge in more footage. He rearranges scenes, making this more of a “Director’s Cut” than any of the previous extended Middle-earth films. I am very encouraged by what I saw, and am reassured that the final “Definitive Chapter” will be more than just a bigger-than-life video game.
The version of the film I was able to watch included a behind-the-scenes look at how Smaug was envisioned and put to screen. Well worth the time to watch. (See the embedded clip below.)