Saturday, 3 January 2015

Film Review: The Hobbit - The Desolation of Smaug Extended Edition

One of the presents that knew I was getting this year was The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug Extended Edition on blu-ray. It's quite convenient the way the films come out because it is at just the right time for the theatrical version for my birthday and the extended one for my Christmas. It's taken care of my gifts for about three years now!

My in-laws took care of this for me and I was itching to watch it from Christmas Day onwards. Obviously the bread board incident delayed our return home so we watched it in the evening last Saturday and I loved it!

Mr Click made sure that the version we got matched the one we already had. I wasn't too bothered myself, until I actually got it and saw the case and it's so pretty. It's got both the regular blu ray and the 3D blu ray so this version has the lenticular cover so it looks like you're looking through a window at the scene. At first glance I thought it was just Smaug, but down at the bottom right is a little Bilbo, looking very small beside Smaug.

The extended edition adds roughly 25 minutes to the film and as such it feels like you're watching a brand new film. I won't list here all the extra bits that have been added in or scenes that have been extended, you can find that information elsewhere on the internet with a quick Google search, but I'll talk about some of my favourite ones.

It felt like much of the additional material had gone in at the beginning. One of the main differences between this and the theatrical release is the inclusion of Thrain, Thorin's father. He gets a mention right from the off when Gandalf meets Thorin at The Prancing Pony and then when Gandalf goes to Dol Guldur we actually get to see him as well.

And he's not looking well.

I was pleased to see that the time spent with Beorn was extended too. One of the things I was a little miffed about in the cinema was that they didn't do the bit where Gandalf gradually introduced all of the Dwarves to Beorn by having them come out in pairs while he's telling the story. It's one of those sequences that works well on the page, but I figured was harder to execute on the screen, so I accepted its removal.

That said, I was thrilled to see it back in this version. It wouldn't have been right for the pacing of the theatrical release, but in the extended edition where you're able to watch it in the comfort of your own home (and more importantly, pause the film for bathroom breaks) it fits right in.

We saw the final film before we watched the extended edition whereas normally I would like to see the extended version before because then you can appreciate things you wouldn't otherwise have noticed. Beorn showing up at the Battle of the Five Armies was cool, but I felt like it was odd because we hardly saw him in the first film, he lent the Dwarves his horses and we didn't see anything else of him. This extra interaction helps to add to the final film.

My least favourite bit in the second film is probably the bit in Mirkwood. Purely because of the spiders you understand. I don't think there were any extended bits with the spiders, though to be fair I was watching it from behind my hands for most of the sequence. They did add in the bit with crossing the river which I liked. That's another of the bits that I enjoy in the book.

I'd read that there was more in Mirkwood but as I was watching the film I thought they'd skipped over it. Then the Dwarves come to the broken bridge for crossing the river and Bombur falls in (and asleep). There's even the white hart which is a nice little nod to the book as well.

I was grateful that there wasn't anything (that I noticed) added to the battle with Smaug inside the Lonely Mountain, though there were some more scenes in Laketown, particularly with the Master and Alfrid. Stephen Fry makes a really good Master, he's vile and disgusting and you just have to hate him, which is the complete opposite for how Fry usually makes me feel.

My favourite scene there has to be the 'bollocks' one. You have to watch the extended edition to understand it, hehe. Then watch the special features and giggle your way through the filming of that particular scene.

I've just started brushing the surface of the 9+ hours special features. On Tuesday night we had some time to kill while we ate our tea before I called my Mum, so we watched the introduction and first two documentaries.

I was quite surprised to learn that those fish they poured onto the Dwarves in their barrels were real (and really big to be to scale with the Dwarves). It's the first documentary and I'll admit to finding it hilarious. They couldn't use fake fish because they didn't flop properly and poor Adam Brown, who plays Ori, has a fish phobia. He may have been slightly traumatised by the filming of that bit.

I've still got another four hours of special features on the first disc alone, plus another four on the second disc and the commentary on the film as well. It'll probably keep me going until nearly Easter!

So is it worth it?

Definitely! Set aside an afternoon, get some popcorn and enjoy watching a nearly brand new film. Then stick the special features on and find just how how they did it all.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Let me know what you think. :-)