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on 8 November 2014
This is a far better extended edition then an unexpected journey's one.
Firstly, the design of the box is much better. The golden writing on the front is shiny rather then plain and the detail on the front and back pictures are good. When you take off the sleeve, there are some good pictures of the map of Erebor and Bilbo, Smaug and the Arkenstone.
Secondly, the extended scenes are worth nearly 27 minutes. AUJ's extended scenes were a mere 13 minutes that did not change the story whatsoever. The best scenes are perhaps the longest. After waking up at Beorn's house, Gandalf and Bilbo introduce themselves to Beorn and the dwarves follow in paris. This is a great scene because in the theatrical cut there was too little of Beorn. The next scene i loved was of more Mirkwood. Here we see the Company crossing the bridge and Thorin trying to kill a deer. The third and probably the best scene that was new is Gandalf meeting thrain (Thorin's dad) in Dol Goldur. Some of the scenes in the theatrical cut of Dol Goldur just had Gandalf, here you have Gandalf and thrain. This is emotional particularly when the scene ends.
Thirdly, the extras are even better. Nine hours of fun film making with some scenes devoted to the Battle of the Five Armies film.
In total, this is an extended edition fit to match the first two lord of the rings extended editions.
BTW, parents dont be pertubed by the 15 rating this has been given. The film itself is a 12 as it says on the actual disc and it is one of the appendices that has a 15 on the disc.
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on 6 October 2014
It's ok, if you like big action movies. But emotionally unsatisfying. It's beautifully filmed, the score is lovely. The acting is ok. And yet there are serious problems with this movie. It's not that easy to put my finger on what they are, but I'll have a go.

I don't mind if plot details are changed from the book. A lot is changed. That's ok. It doesn't have to be the book in film. So yes, Jackson is going to put in a romance story. Can't be helped, ok I'll wear that. However, it's worth noticing what effect plot innovations have. Do they help? Is more gained or lost? This is where I think the problem lies.

There's such a lack of mystery. Where characters were fascinating and mysterious in the book, Jackson has the impulse to reveal everything about everyone. We get to hear everyone baring their soul, everyone engage in mundane conversation. Take Beorn for example. By having him tell his backstory to these strangers, he suddenly becomes - ordinary. Even the dragon loses his mojo by talking too much.

The mysterious woodland lights that lead the party off the path in Mirkwood - missing in the film. It's one of the most memorable and emotionally charged parts of the story. In fact Mirkwood in general is lacking in mystery and fear. The mysterious black stream that brings sleep - gone.

Gandalf himself was an enigma in the book. Not here: we get the inside story. He too is stripped of any mystery. In fact part of the charm of the book was its simple, linear story. We pass through interesting places and touch on issues little understood, such as the Necromancer. But they never become the story,we just keep going with the dwarves. The wider world is mysterious and fascinating because it is just barely glimpsed. Jackson constantly fills in all the side information, adds in whole plot lines from LotR to create something much more complex and explained. Subtlety is not Jackson's strong suit. Sometimes things are more interesting if you don't put them under the spotlight for close examination.

Then the lightness and humour of the book is hardly in view here. So much is dark, serious and heavy. All the funny scenes are missing. When Bilbo runs off from home without his pocket handkerchief, its a funny, exciting scene in the book. Not in the film - the music is dark and grim. The introductions to Beorn, one by one. Gone. The argument Gandalf foments between the trolls - gone. Bilbo's taunts to the spiders - gone. All this humour is excised. Jackson is not keen on humour it seems. The result is that instead of the story gradually shifting from light to dark, as in the book, here it's unvaried, dark all the way, and frankly becomes a bit wearisome.

The dragon was wonderfully created. However I thought having the dwarves choose to go in and take him on was just silly. The dragon is supposed to be utterly, paralysingly terrifying. By the end of the dwarves vs dragon fight scene, we don't feel even scared about him any more. He's no match for a handful of dwarves apparently!

Cheap heroics seem to take the place of real feeling and atmosphere again and again. It feels like pretty generic Hollywood fantasy action stuff. Oh, another extended group fight against orcs. Yawn.

Bilbo's gradual transformation into a hero takes patience and discipline to pull off. It means he has to seem a bit useless earlier on. He can only come good gradually. And this is core to the story. But Jackson can't tolerate this. So Bilbo has to be a hero from the first film. Outsmarting trolls, fighting orcs, etc. No room for a transformation!

I found it disappointing that Thorin didn't look like a dwarf.

All the orc fights before they reach the mountain have to be totally one sided, because all the dwarves have to live. So the orcs are laughably easy to knock over. The dwarves and Bilbo sail through swarms of them untouched. Orcs die left right and centre. The orcs come out as pretty pathetic.

The desolation was a bit lacking. The whole territory was sposed to be scorched and barren from the dragon. Actually it looked pretty nice in the film. Good place for a hiking trip! Pity really, given the film is CALLED the desolation of Smaug!

I could go on, but overall my feeling was, this is a film made by people who didn't love the story. The Hobbit story. They often didn't seem to notice what they were losing when they changed the plot. It seemed they didn't value it much in the first place. And so much was lost. For this viewer, the losses far outweighed the gains.
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on 14 February 2016
PACKAGING:

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.

VIDEO (2D):

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)

VIDEO (3D):

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)

AUDIO:

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)

EXTENDED EDITION:

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.

TRIVIA:

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.

FINAL THOUGHTS:

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.
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 16 December 2013
I liked this second part of "Hobbit" film trilogy, even if the changes made to the original story become here as large and sometimes as vicious and destructive as Smaug the Magnificent. Below, more of my impressions, with some SPOILERS, which I tried to keep to strict minimum.

First, the good stuff:

1) Visually this film is breath-taking! Mirkwood, Dol Guldur, Erebor, and of course Smaug - pure perfection. Creatures were also very well made, with the attercops (ettercaps) from Mirkwood and Bolg, son of Azog being the most impressive.

2) The excellent casting. Not one mistake, and that includes Evangeline Lilly, who did a great job even if her controversial character Tauriel shouldn't be here at all... (see below). Special acclamation for Stephen Fry as Master of Lake-town of Esgaroth

3) Acoustics and music. Flawless.

4) Certain (but not all - see below) changes and additions to the story were well done and are very welcome, even if they take really big liberties with Tolkien's lore. Amongst them my favourites are the dark tombs in high mountains of Rhudaur and the long sequence in which Gandalf finally discovers who EXACTLY is the master of the "abandoned" fortress of Dol Guldur. I also rather liked the glimpse into the background of Elvish king Thranduil, as it explains why is he such an a-hole...

5) Some of most humorous action scenes. I liked the deliberately over the top character of some of the stunts during supposedly very dramatic fights - it very pleasantly reminds of the lighter tone of "Hobbit" as compared with the much more serious, darker and violent "Lord of the Rings".

6) Some insight into Orcs minds, especially when one of them, made prisoner by Elves, is interrogated... I found this scene very good and I wouldn't mind to hear more from the Orcs to know more of their point of view about all this Middle Earth business...

There were also things which I liked less, even if they can be defended:

1. Tauriel. Peter Jackson shouldn't create her and honestly, Evangeline Lilly shouldn't have accepted this role, because adding such an important character is no more "licentia poetica", this is raping Tolkien's books by conceding to political correctness... Nowhere in Tolkien's books are there elvish female warriors - extremely powerful and influent elvish females of course existed, but they were spell-casters and charm-weavers like Galadriel or Luthien, not shield-maidens.

BUT, that being said, considering that what is done is done, I must concede that Tauriel is definitely not half-bad looking and also that the strange game she plays with Legolas and Kili is interesting to watch. She certainly is one kinky, flirtatious wench and maybe even more than that - me I wouldn't be surprised if she was in fact a cynical manipulative vixen, playing poor Kili to try to inflame Legolas feelings and therefore bed her way into royalty...

2. Master of the Lake-town. In the book he was greedy and cowardly but he was an elected leader respected for his ability. Why destroying completely this character and make him a kind of little tyrant? BUT, on another hand, that gives Stephen Fry an occasion to fully deploy his great talent...

But then there were also some things and changes which simply went too far and can NOT be forgiven:

1. Portrayal of humans and their dwellings. Both Bree and Esgaroth are really kind of disgusting, with mud, waste and dirt everywhere, as opposed to perfectly neat cities of Elves, Dwarves and Hobbits. Sapristi, even the supposedly evil fortress of Dol Guldur, infested by orcs, wargs and attercops, is not as piggishly disgusting as those two human cities! And most of people living there are ugly and wear horrible, colourless, dirty rags! This was already a little bit annoying in "Lord of the Rings", in which we saw people from Rohan and even from mighty Minas Tirith dressed as beggars in deep mourning - here that is really too much!

2. Beorn. Even if he looks impressive in both of his shapes, his character was comprehensively jarjarbinksed and for some reason Peter Jackson deprived us of one of the merriest scenes in the book (the one in which Gandalf tells Beorn the story by introducing more and more dwarves...). Let's not lose all hope however - maybe at least this scene can be somehow re-introduced in the extended version... EXTENDED EDITION UPDATE: yes, it was! There is more Beorn in Extended Edition and those are good scenes.

3. Too many useless, repetitive fights between Elves and Orcs. All those scenes could be assets rather than issues, if the Orcs were able to score at least one point from time to time - but in this film they are completely hapless sword and arrow fodder. Many dozens of Orcs appear in fights in this film and even if they always come loaded for bear and have the numbers for them all they achieve is to bring down two elves and inflict a wound on one dwarf... Then, if they are so pathetically clueless warriors, why even run away from them!? That one sided character of fights makes them finally boring...

4. SPOILER HERE! Considerable change in the whole conversation of Bilbo with Smaug and especially the stupendously idiotic Bilbo's decision to reveal himself to the dragon by taking off his ring - followed by Smaug NOT eating him... That was one SUPER BIG BLUNDER which absolutely cannot be forgiven...

CONCLUSION: this part is of a lesser quality than the first one, but still, it is a great show which I enjoyed mightily and all the good things ultimately overweighed the bad ones. I am going to buy the Extended Version DVD as soon as it is available and I will now wait impatiently to see the last part of the trilogy next year.
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 13 May 2016
This is a review for the Extended Edition of "The Desolation of Smaug" in 3D (on Blu-ray). It comes in a deluxe outer-box, with a nice holographic image on it. Inside it is a plastic Blu-ray case, housing 5 discs. You get the movie in two parts in 3D; there is also the 2D version; and two bonus discs of special features (several hours in length). The extended edition of the film is 186 minutes long.

This movie is the second instalment in a three part franchise. The other two movies that comprise this trilogy are: 'An Unexpected Journey' (2012) and 'The Battle of Five Armies' (2014). These films are based on the fantasy novel by J. R. R. Tolkien (first published in 1937). They constitute a prequel to the 'Lord of the Rings' saga. That saga was made into a trilogy of films by director Peter Jackson - who returns to direct this Hobbit trilogy.

This film is set in Middle-Earth, some sixty years before the events of The Lord of the Rings. It continues the tale of Bilbo Baggins (Martin Freeman) who, at the request of the wizard Gandalf (Ian McKellen), has joined a company of thirteen Dwarves - led by Thorin Oakenshield (Richard Armitage) - on a quest to reclaim the Lonely Mountain, their former kingdom, from the dragon Smaug. This group is being pursued by the nasty Azog and his Orc party (following the events of the previous film), and so the Dwarves enter the treacherous Mirkwood Forest on their way to the mountain - only to be ensnared by giant spiders! Fortunately, the Wood-elves capture the Dwarves, and bring Thorin before their king Thranduil. Bilbo, having avoided capture, arranges an escape. But now the Dwarves are pursued by the Wood-elves and the Orc party. Eventually the company reach Laketown, and from there several Dwarves and Bilbo make their way up to the mountain ... but they awaken the mighty Smaug, who flies off to destroy Laketown.

This is a highly entertaining movie - full of adventure, thrills, suspense and humour. I've not read the novel, so I didn't know what to expect ... and I thoroughly enjoyed this film. In 3D the special effects - which are plentiful - look amazing. Having only watched this extended version, all I can say is that the narrative made complete sense - and not once did I get bored.

This film picks up exactly where the first instalment of the Hobbit trilogy ends - and, if you've not seen that movie, I think you'd feel lost. Having watched both, I eagerly awaited the final film ...

I fully recommend this movie to those who enjoy fantasy based drama.
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on 17 March 2014
This film is largely criticised for not being true to the books etc, as I'm sure you are aware. However one thing that cannot be ignored is the fact that this is a GREAT film.

Some have criticised the Lord of the Rings trilogy for focussing so much on epic movie making, the story was neglected. However with the Hobbit, the best of both worlds has been achieved.

I went to see this film, and it has got to be one of the best movie experiences I've ever had. There's comedy, action, and the spectacular non-CGI scenery thats typical of Peter Jackson. The first film was perhaps a bit slow to start, but after watching this sequel, you'll forgive the filmmakers, as from the moment you see the words 'The Hobbit', the action starts.

Buy, watch, and enjoy!
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on 4 November 2014
Already owning the first Hobbit in both Theatrical and Extended and loving it in Extended format, I could not resist getting this one in Extended Edition. Now for most people I would just say stick with the Theatrical because honestly the extended scenes don't really add too much to the overall story but for those of us who are massive fans of Middle Earth the extended scenes add greatly to the wider story in Middle Earth by uncovering and showing certain interesting aspects. This is worth getting if you are a massive Middle Earth/Tolkien/LOTR/Hobbit fan like me :)
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on 10 September 2014
Why all the fuss about not following the story 100% ?

Most of the important parts of the story are here plus ALOT of bits that are only referenced in the appendixes of LOTR's. As a massive Rings and Hobbit fan (both books and films) I love Peter jackson's adaptations. Of course there are elements that are not in the book but isn't that artistic licence? If he made a mess off all the previous films I could understand people kicking off about the changes but to be honest, all the films (including this one) to date have been outstanding quality both as adaptations and as films. The attention to detail is phenomenal. People have done the same with George R.R Martins song of fire and ice series (which I have read and seen) and I feel people just want to kick off because they feel they have to because they have read the books, as long as it is done well what's the issue?!
Yes the film could have been made n two parts but I love Peter Jackson's films so I'm happy to sit through 9 hours or so as it is entertaining and isn't that what films are about???!!!!!
People should stop fussing, just because they have read the books doesn't give them license pick holes in a fantastic film trilogy/ series. But I guess you will never please everyone!
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on 17 January 2015
It's not Tolkiens imagination, nor Peter Jackson's skill as displayed in LOTR, but the CGI industry taking over. The film could have been shorter, left out a substantial part of the padding, yet included all that was necessary to cover the original Hobbit as well as the flashbacks and previews of the rise of the Necromancer/Sauron. Overall however, I enjoyed it and am looking forward to viewing the Appendices. As a LOTR fan it's a must.
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on 14 November 2014
Why do New Line bother to release the theatrical cuts of these films at all. Compared to this version they seem incomplete. I did see the picture at the pictures last year and wasn't really impressed with it. Second viewing of it in the extended version seemed like an entirely different film. I was always going to by slightly biased in favour of the extended version as I knew it included my favourite scene from the book, albeit delivered slightly differently here, namely where the company is introduced to Beorn. That being said that additional scene was just one of the many joys of the extended version. We also see the enchanted stream, Gandalf's encounter with Thrain the Second and many more snippets and exposition here and there. All of which give the film a much better feel. I also think I enjoyed it more knowing what the writers had done with the story this time rather than expecting a straight adaptation of the book. Parts of the barrel ride had me chuckling which I certainly don't remember happening at the pictures.

There is also the, by now usual, excellent appendices, all of which are worth watching at least once. It is always amusing to see Peter Jackson interviewed because he strikes one as the king of person who couldn't organise the proverbial piss up yet always comes across as very exacting, precise and knowing exactly what he wants.

Lastly was I not paying attention but when did Bombur wake up?
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