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The Hobbit: Desolation of Smaug Ext Edition (blu-ray, not movie review): Wonderful video & dynamic immersive audio; 3D preferred
on 14 February 2016
The 3D version of The Hobbit: the Desolation of Smaug Extended Edition comes with a sturdy, attractive slipcover lightly textured to simulate leather and a lenticular image of Smaug. The five BD-50 discs are housed inside a black, eco-elite keepcase with a middle panel that holds two discs on either side. The 3D version occupies two separate discs, while the 2D version is on one disc. There are two blu-ray discs for Special Features: The Appendices Part 9 and Part 10.
The Hobbit: the Desolation of Smaug arrives on blu-ray with MPEG-4 AVC 1080p 2.40:1 encode. It was filmed entirely on a Red Epic Camera System, using the high frame rate of 48fps and thankfully, it translates well to the traditional frame rate of 24fps on blu-ray. The overall presentation is consistently detailed and razor sharp, exposing the tiniest flaw and imperfection in the clothing, armor, buildings and various weapons seen throughout. Individual hairs are distinct, and the textures of the fabric in the costumes are very well-defined and lifelike. Facial complexions are highly revealing as well, showing every wrinkle and pore in the faces of the cast. (4.5/5)
The Hobbit: the Desolation of Smaug 3D arrives on blu-ray with MPEG-4 MVC 1080p 2.40:1 encode. All the positive attributes in the 2D version are present. The picture is stunning and dazzling. Background activity and information pushes deep into the screen, which pull viewers into this adventure with superb dimensionality and separation, creating a wonderfully immersive viewing experience. Aside from a few minor gimmick shots, the 3D picture is all about a sense of realism. This is a reference 3D presentation. (5/5)
The DTS-HD 7.1 Master Audio track is reference quality. Dynamic range is astoundingly extensive and broad, exhibiting the smallest detail with superb, crystal-clear clarity. Every pop and sizzle of Smaug's fiery breadth is distinct and accurate with incredible realism, as it spreads across the entire front soundstage and moves into the back of the room. Dialogue is lucid and well-prioritized in the center. Howard Shore’s thrilling musical score gives us a complete immersive experience. (5/5)
It should be noted that decision was made shortly before release of Expected Journey to make the journey into a trilogy. As the result, most of the materials destined for the extended version of the Expected Journey were used in the Desolation of Smaug. Therefore, the extended edition of Expected Journey did not add more to the movie, but it just made the journey even longer. In the case of Desolation of Smaug, the 25 extra minutes did make the film more entertaining.
The Hobbit: the Desolation of Smaug has a respectable worldwide gross of $958 million, with 70% from overseas. Currently, The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies is at $724 million so far.
As my practice in the past, I would wait until the Extended Edition before purchasing the set for the Lord of the Rings series and the Hobbit series. If you have a 3D set, the 3D version is preferred.