The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies Extended Edition – Blu-ray Review

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Peter Jackson gained a lot of criticism for splitting The Hobbit into three films instead of two. Although the split wasn’t necessary, it seemed to help Five Armies the most. Battle of the Five Armies has a far more driven narrative than the previous Hobbit films. There is little fat here and each and every subplot pieces together into one coherent film. Not to mention, the tight pacing and epic battle set pieces will keep you captivated throughout the film.

Yet amongst all the battles and Orc killing, Jackson still tries to find room for a little human emotion. While it’s not as emotional as The Return of the King, Five Armies still has some endearing moments — a majority of it coming from the brilliant Martin Freeman. However, there are personal moments where it was meant to be endearing but just comes out flat. This is mostly due to the some of the poorly defined characters that we SHOULD care about, but ultimately don’t.

This isn’t because of the actors though as each actor did a fantastic job in the film. Richard Armitage delivered an intense and commanding performance as Thorin Oakenshield and is arguably the true star of the film. Armitage was also very skillful at portraying the subtle and the heightened aspects of Thorin’s internal struggles. But with Thorin being the star of the film, this also means that Bilbo Baggins plays more of a secondary role (in a film that’s named after him). This is unfortunate since Freeman’s sympathetic and caring Bilbo Baggins delivers much of the touching moments in the film.

However, after watching the extended edition I wonder why the some of the new footage wasn’t edited into the theatrical version. The theatrical runtime was significantly shorter than the other Hobbit films, so the length wouldn’t have been an issue. It makes me wonder if the theatrical film suffered purely for the sake of creating an extended edition for later. The extra minutes improved the scenes so it would’ve been better left in the theatrical film. The R-rating is well-deserved since there were several moments that were significantly more violent and gory than the original.

Overall, Five Armies is a richly satisfying end to the Hobbit trilogy. It is filled with terrifically staged and constructed action sequences, even if its impact is more about Lord of the Rings nostalgia than emotional engagement. We have now, once again, made it there and back again. It’s time to say goodbye to Middle-earth and despite some serious bumps along the way, it is a journey that I’m still glad I took again.

Movie rating: 4/5 atoms
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Video
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The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies Extended Edition is presented in a 1080P MPEG4 AVC encoded video with a 2.40:1 aspect ratio. Compared with the theatrical Blu-ray release there isn’t a noticeable improvement over the previous release. The black levels are deep yet they contain some minor but noticeable crush here and there. Peter Jackson’s wide array of color palettes ranges from lush green to cool and warm hues. The colors are rich without any oversaturation or bleeding at all. Details are quite impressive as they are consistent across foregrounds and backgrounds alike. Overall, the video is top notch as you’d expect from a Lord of the Rings Blu-ray release.

Video rating: 4.5/5 atoms
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Audio
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The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies Extended Edition is presented in a DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1 surround audio track. The mix doesn’t hold back with the sounds of roaring dragons, arrows flying, weapons clashing, and battle mayhem. The epic sense of scale and dynamic range will showcase your speakers across every channel. The front and rear speakers provide an atmospheric sound field that’s both engaging and immersive. The center channel provides clarity in the dialogue even during the grandiose battle sequences. Let’s not forget the subwoofer, which is is the star in the film. The robust sounds coming from your subwoofer provide the type of heavy booms to help fully immerse you in the film. After all, what kind of Lord of the Rings/The Hobbit Blu-ray would it be without a fully immersive audio track.

Audio rating: 5/5 atoms
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Special features
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  • Audio Commentary: Filmmaker Peter Jackson and co-writer Philippa Boyens deliver an engaging, frank dissection of the film, revealing both the joys and heartaches of the production.
  • New Zealand: Home to Middle-Earth Part 3: The third and final overview of the various New Zealand locations used to bring Jackson’s Middle-earth to life on screen.
  • The Appendices Part 11: The Gathering Storm: The second disc contains the following extra features:
    • Opening: The cast and filmmakers offer a brief glimpse at the fun, family, adventure and challenges of making the third and final film in The Hobbit trilogy.
    • In the Dungeons of the Necromancer: “Ian McKellen and Cate Blanchett form a special bond on set, the Gandalf dummy gets a star turn, Benedict Cumberbatch puts a unique spin on Black Speech, and producer Zane Weiner unveils his ‘Wacky Wheel of Wonders.'”
    • Fire and Water: “Peter Jackson puts Luke Evans through his paces on the Lake-town rooftops, WETA Workshop and John Howe create the iconic black arrow, WETA Digital kills Smaug, and it snows in Wellington for the first time in forty years.”
    • Under the Shadow of the Mountain: “While on location, cast and crew helicopter to the South Island’s remote Rock and Pillar Range. But when clouds and fog unexpectedly roll in, they quickly realize that getting off the mountain is going to be a real challenge.”
    • In the Wake of the Dragon: “While filming at Lake Pukaki on the South Island, the rugged local extras get a bit too enthusiastic, Ryan Gage has a wardrobe malfunction, and Luke Evans earns the first Victoria’s Cross, an award given for ‘Courage Under Fire.'”
    • The Gathering of the Clouds: “As filming nears its end, the Dwarf actors play a practical joke on William Kircher, Lee Pace’s horse upstages his performance, Jackson has a ‘golden’ epiphany, and almost every department finds itself in an inevitable time crunch.”
    • Many Partings: “Bilbo’s farewell leaves the Dwarf actors in tears, filming the funeral scene is surprisingly irreverent, Jackson presents a very special gift, and after 266 days of filming, principle photography wraps.”
    • The Clouds Burst: “As 2013 pick-ups begin, Luke Evans gets his Orcs mixed up, local senior citizens are enlisted, Evangeline Lilly and Orlando Bloom mount up, Jackson directs an unused payoff to the Acorn Scene, and a fire interrupts shooting.”
    • A Last Desperate Stand: “Jackson surprises Orlando Bloom on his last shot, Evangeline Lilly commemorates her team and almost gets KO’d by an Orc, Richard Armitage shoots the scene he’s been waiting for, and Ian McKellen gives his final performance as Gandalf.”
    • Out from the Gate: “The Dwarf actors are encased in real armor and get psyched up to charge out of Erebor, Bifur and Bombur finally speak, WETA Workshop creates a Dwarven Hot Rod, and Martin Freeman says goodbye to Middle-earth.”
    • The Last Stage: “The final day of pick-ups 2013 sees Jackson blogging on Facebook, Richard Armitage fighting on an oscillating platform, a race to the finish between Main and Splinter Units, and an appropriately quirky and heartfelt wrap ceremony.”
  • The Appendices Part 12: The third disc features the following extra features:
    • Beneath the Thunder: Forging a Battle of the Five Armies: “Chronicles the creation of Peter Jackson’s final battle in Middle-earth, from the designing of armies and military strategies, to the groundbreaking advances in digital filmmaking utilized by Peter and his team to bring the battle to life.” Segments include “A Master Plan: Long in the Making,” “On the Front Lines of a Virtual Battlefield,” and “Turning the Tide.”
    • The People and Denizens of Middle-Earth: “Focuses on the design, casting and creation of three major characters who personify the Woodland Elves and the Dwarves of the Iron Hills.” Segments include “Tauriel: Daughter of the Forest,” “Thranduil: The King of Wood and Stone,” and “Dain Ironfoot: Lord of the Iron Hills.”
    • Realms of the Third Age: From the City of Dale to the Halls of Erebor: “Follows the completion of the creative journey to bring Middle-Earth to life as the Art Department and WETA Digital design and build three of The Hobbit Trilogy’s most important locations.” Segments include “Dale: The City of Men,” “Dol Guldur: The Hill of Sorcery,” and “Erebor: The Lonely Mountain.”
    • Farewell, Friends!: “The fifteen-year journey of the Appendices editions concludes with what it means to come to the end of our fellowship, and bid farewell to Middle-earth at last.”
  • Butt-Numb-a-Thon 2011 Greeting: “On location in 2011, Peter Jackson, Ian McKellen and Ain’t It Cool News on-set reporter Eric “Quint” Vespe put together a surprise birthday video for Harry Knowles, host of the annual Butt-Numb-a-Thon film festival held in Austin, Texas.”
  • The Real Adam Brown: “An unflinching, uncompromising, hard-hitting, provocative, no-holds-barred expose on The Hobbit’s Ori, actor Adam Brown.”
  • Music Video: “Rivers of Gold” by Jed “Nori” Brophy.
  • Andrew Lesnie Remembered: A touching tribute to the late Andrew Lesnie.

One of the best things about a Lord of the Rings/The Hobbit Extended Edition Blu-ray release is the MASSIVE amount of special features that comes with it. As you can tell from the list above, there are a lot of special features coming your way in this release. Spanning across two Blu-ray discs, Battle of the Five Armies‘ release contains around 10 hours of behind-the-scenes footage to whet your appetite. The content will not disappoint you either because it’s both informative and extensive. Sure, there are some special feature items that should’ve been left out but that’s a minor criticism consider the amount of effort that went into the special features disc.

Special features rating: 5/5 atoms
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Overall, The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies Extended Edition should’ve been the theatrical release from the very start — minus the brutal violence to keep that PG-13 rating. There are scenes that add more insight into particular storylines which would’ve helped in the theatrical release. The video and audio are superb and on par with the other Hobbit Blu-ray releases. If you’re willing to sit through the entire array of special features then you will not be disappointed with what the release has to offer.

Overall rating: 5/5 atoms
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Mark Pacis
Mark Pacis 1518 posts

Self-proclaimed "Human IMDb" and comic book geek. Biggest Iron Man fan you'll probably ever meet.