Director: Peter Jackson
Cast: Ian McKellen, Martin Freeman, Richard Armitage
Release Date: Available on Blu-ray & DVD November 17, 2015
A Review By: Kevin Lovell
Film Rating: 9.5/10
Disc Rating: 10/10
“The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies” brings to an epic conclusion the adventure of Bilbo Baggins (Martin Freeman), Thorin Oakenshield (Richard Armitage) and the Company of Dwarves. The Dwarves of Erebor have reclaimed the vast wealth of their homeland, but now must face the consequences of having unleashed the terrifying Dragon, Smaug, upon the defenseless men, women and children of Lake-town.
As he succumbs to dragon-sickness, the King Under the Mountain, Thorin Oakenshield, sacrifices friendship and honor in search for the legendary Arkenstone. Unable to help Thorin see reason, Bilbo is driven to make a desperate and dangerous choice, not knowing that even greater perils lie ahead. An ancient enemy has returned to Middle-earth. Sauron, the Dark Lord, has sent forth legions of Orcs in a stealth attack upon the Lonely Mountain.
As darkness converges on their escalating conflict, the races of Dwarves, Elves and Men must decide – unite or be destroyed. Bilbo finds himself fighting for his life and the lives of his friends as five great armies go to war.
The final installment in ‘The Hobbit’ trilogy as well as the assumed final chapter in the Middle Earth Saga arrives home in the usual impressive ‘Extended Edition’ release that fans have been patiently anticipating in order to complete their collections. This time around, the Extended Edition of ‘The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies’ includes just over 20 minutes of additional footage, bringing the run time of the Extended Edition to 2 hours and 44 minutes, although what seems to have attracted the most attention among the fans this time around is the surprising R rating the cut received and held onto. While this certainly doesn’t mean the extended cut is riddled with R rated content, it does include some surprisingly bloody and dare I say almost gruesome sequences that feel somewhat out of place within the series. Although that certainly doesn’t mean that the new additions don’t contribute a great deal to the overall film as we are treated to some new scenes that are both incredibly rewarding and fun; one sequence in particular solved one of the sole issues I had with the theatrical cut.
Overall, while some of the bloody violence may seem out of place within series, the Extended Edition contributes some incredibly fun as well as crucial sequences that do a great deal to properly conclude the story. Many fellow fans will agree that the Extended Edition of the first Hobbit film was somewhat lacking, while the second film followed more in the tradition of the Lord of the Rings Extended Editions integrating notable and important footage into the films and I’m pleased to say ‘The Battle of the Five Armies’ continues in that trend and is unquestionably the superior version of the film.
Fans of the series will without question want to make certain to pick up a copy of ‘The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies – Extended Edition’ on Blu-ray to conclude their collections. The Extended Edition Blu-ray release for the final installment in the series delivers in every way, providing impressive high definition video and audio presentations in addition to numerous hours of in depth bonus content including the final two installments in the ongoing ‘The Appendices’ series chronicling the films’ production and more (more detailed information regarding the bonus content can be found in the special features section of the technical specification coverage below) easily making this release an absolute must own. For the fellow 3D enthusiasts out there, while Warner was unable to provide a 3D Blu-ray copy of the Extended Edition for review, rest assured a Blu-ray 3D release is also available to purchase in addition to the standard Blu-ray and DVD releases.
The Blu-ray release of ‘The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies – Extended Edition’ features a full 1080p High Definition presentation utilizing the film’s original 2.40:1 Cinemascope Aspect Ratio. The video presentation looks fantastic, delivering a sharp, detailed and impressive presentation from start to end without any notable faults to be found within, holding up impressively during the occasional darkly lit scenes and more importantly the numerous fast moving war sequences which occupy a large portion of the films runtime, never causing anything occurring on screen to become negatively affected or rendered indiscernible. Overall, just as with the previous installments in the series this is a top notch high definition video presentation that should more than satisfy the fans.
The Blu-ray release features a lossless 7.1 channel DTS-HD Master Audio soundtrack. This lossless multichannel soundtrack sounds outstanding, providing a clean, discrete and highly aggressive audio presentation, utilizing all seven available channels more commonly than not with the films gorgeous score in addition to the clang of metal on metal, arrows zipping by and numerous other action oriented auditory effects throughout, most notably during the massive battle sequences wherein this soundtrack really tests its limits and consistently holds up in every way, never resulting in any dialogue which may be occurring simultaneously to become distorted or rendered inaudible. Overall, this is an impressive and hard hitting 7.1 channel DTS-HD MA soundtrack that contributes a great deal of fun to this epic journey’s conclusion.
The Blu-ray release of ‘The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies – Extended Edition’ includes the usual impressive and massive collection of extras. Included on the Feature Film disc is an ‘Audio Commentary with Director/Writer/Producer Peter Jackson and Writer/Co-producer Philippa Boyens’, along with ‘New Zealand: Home of Middle Earth – Part 3’ (running approximately 6 minutes in length). Three trailers for the film are also included on the disc. The second and third discs are dedicated solely to the supplemental material and include the final two installments in the ongoing ‘The Appendices’. Disc Two includes ‘The Appendices Part 11: The Gathering Storm – The Chronicles of The Hobbit Part 3’ which runs approximately 4 hours and 53 minutes in length and provides the usual thoroughly in depth Behind the Scenes look chronicling the entire process of making the film. The third and final disc includes the final installment; ‘The Appendices Part 12: Here At Journey’s End’ which runs approximately 5 hours in length and explores such aspects of the film as the creation of the monumental battle in the series, the careful care in creating and casting characters and much more; as well as a ‘Farewell Friends’ segment marking the conclusion of ‘The Appendices’. The third disc also includes a few other short videos, they are: ‘Butt-Numb-A-Thon 2011 Greeting’ (running approximately 12 minutes), “Rivers of Gold” Music Video (approximately 5 minutes), ‘The Real Adam Brown’ (5 minutes), ‘Andrew Lesnie Remembered’ (6 minutes), and lastly some ‘Credits’ for the plethora of extras (5 minutes).