THE HOBBIT: THE BATTLE OF THE FIVE ARMIES – EXTENDED EDITION
MOVIE: **** (out of 5)
BLU-RAY EXPERIENCE: ***** (out of 5)
Ian McKellen as GANDALF
Martin Freeman as BILBO
Richard Armitage as THORIN
Benedict Cumberbatch as SMAUG
Orlando Bloom as LEGOLAS
Evangeline Lilly as TAURIEL
Luke Evans as BARD THE BOWMAN
Lee Pace as THRANDUIL
Studio: Warner Bros.
Directed by: Peter Jackson
BY KEVIN CARR
It is finally over. The Tolkien/Jackson epic saga in movies has reached an end. Sure, “The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies” arrived in theaters about a year ago, but I never considered the saga to be complete until the extended edition of the film got it’s home video release.
The time for that is now, as “The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies – Extended Edition” is now available on all formats. Like the previous extended editions of each “Lord of the Rings” film and the two previous “Hobbit” movies, this special edition Blu-ray includes the final two appendices to complete the twelve-part look at the making of this entire series.
The extended versions of the “Hobbit” movies have always been somewhat superfluous, considering the story had been padded out quite a bit for the theatrical cuts that there was very little necessary plot that needed to be injected back into the films. Unlike the “Lord of the Rings” extended editions, which featured characters and arcs deleted from the books to appease a running time, the “Hobbit” extended scenes were larks and just added a little more depth to Middle-earth.
Take, for example, the inclusion of some extra bits of Goblin Town in “An Unexpected Journey,” which made the introduction of the goblins a little more delicious. However, it didn’t quite change the characters and story arcs in the film.
However, “The Battle of the Five Armies” offers something you haven’t gotten from a “Lord of the Rings” release before: an R rating.
This rating tidbit made some news several months ago when the release was publicized because the title alone evokes images of violence and carnage. Even though the movies have featured some fantastic battle sequences, they’ve been safely filmed and cut for a PG-13 audience. Now, we have a chance to see a glorious Middle-earth battle with a little more grit.
For my take on the full movie itself, check out my theatrical review from last year or my 3D Blu-ray review of the film when it first hit home video. Let’s take this time to look at the R-rated content of this movie and how well it fits in.
Like the other “Hobbit” films, the new content exists in additional shots and extended sequences, as well as one particular action set-piece where the R-rated content really resides. Outside of these moments, the movie has not been re-edited to feature full-blown battle gore throughout.
The added and extended sequences are fun and exist in the action parts of the final battle. In particular, there’s a brilliant chase sequence with the dwarves on a carriage pulled by rams. This carriage itself becomes a weapon as they literally tear through trolls and wargs, often sending up jets of blood, which reveal the R-rated money shots. Sure, it’s all digital blood, but who can seriously complain about this when it’s spurting from digital creatures.
The R-rated moments make the extended edition a bit more satisfying, and you also get the gobs of bonus material that comes along with this release, making this the more definitive version of the final “Hobbit” film.
The bonus material on the feature disc is limited, offering a new director’s commentary along with the six-minute featurette “New Zealand: Home of Middle-Earth – Part 3,” which was also included on the previous release.
However, the real bonus features are found on the two additional discs in the set. These include the four-and-a-half-hour appendix 11 (“The Gathering Storm”) and the five-hour appendix 12 (“Here at Journey’s End”). Any fan of the “Lord of the Rings” series is familiar with the appendices, which offer more than three times the content of any of the films. These in-depth and meticulous documentaries are some of the best behind-the-scenes work you’ll see on home video.
Additional bonus material on the final disc includes Eric Vespe’s Butt-Numb-a-Thon greeting from 2011, the “Rivers of Gold” music video, a not-very-clever fake hit piece on one of the dwarf actors “The Real Adam Brown” and a touching tribute to cinematographer Andrew Lesnie, who passed away shortly after the film was released.