BLU-RAY REVIEW: The Hobbit: The Battle of The Five Armies

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“Having reclaimed Erebor and vast treasure from the dragon Smaug, Thorin Oakenshield (Richard Armitage) sacrifices friendship and honor in seeking the Arkenstone, despite Smaug’s fiery wrath and desperate attempts by the Hobbit Bilbo (Martin Freeman) to make him see reason. Meanwhile, Sauron sends legions of Orcs in a sneak attack upon the Lonely Mountain. As the fate of Middle Earth hangs in the balance, the races of Men, Elves and Dwarves must decide whether to unite and prevail — or all die”

Personally I felt that The Hobbit being made into three films would make the story rather like Fellowship of the Ring Bilbo – feeling thin, sort of stretched, like butter scraped over too much bread.

The Hobbit: The Battle of The Five Armies is the much-anticipated end to the trilogy; not anticipated because of that driving desire to see another part of a franchise you love (like what pretty much all of us are feeling about the new Star Wars film) but more of an “Ok, now we get some closure and it’s done” kind of feeling.

That’s not to say it isn’t a visually stunning film when viewed at home on Blu-Ray, the all-digital cinematography work of Andrew Lesnie is as impressive as it has been in all the other films. His work on The Hobbit: The Battle of The Five Armies is visually stunning in the 2D version of the film and I found that the quality of the image in the 2D Blu-Ray to be sharp and looks exceptional – the details and quality of, clothing armour and weapons as well as the gritty, realistic feel of all the different textures in the sets and on scene location. The work of Weta Digital needs to be commended as well, watching the Blu-Ray and getting to experience their digital characters and landscapes was an utter treat and in a perfect world they would have had a whole special feature just for them on this Blu-Ray special edition.

Not that the special feature content was a disappointment but I felt that for the cumulative film of the series and the Tolkien franchise as a whole (Unless some Fool of a Took actually goes ahead and tries to make a Silmarillion film*) there could have been a whole lot more. I also felt that what content we did get wasn’t really on par with the other special editions we’ve had in the past for this franchise.

Although a lot more content has been included than on other Blu-Rays I’ve seen (*Coughcough* The Avengers: Age of Ultron *Coughcough*) it just doesn’t feel like a big enough deal was made for this, potentially, end of an era film.

For your money you’ll get special features such as:

  • New Zealand: Home of Middle-earth Part 3(HD, 6 min) — Peter Jackson, cast and crew travel the various shooting locations across the New Zealand landscape and share their thoughts while explaining how they transformed it to represent Middle-earth.
  • Recruiting the Five Armies(HD, 12 min) — A collection of BTS footage showing the daily routines of actors and extras.
  • “The Last Goodbye”: Behind the Scenes(HD, 11 min) — A look and discussion on the end credits song by Billy Boyd, who played Pippin in Lord of the Rings.
  • A Six-Part Saga(HD, 10 min) — The crew explains how they weaved events and aspects of ‘The Hobbit’ into the original trilogy so that fans can enjoy the saga as one continuous, interconnected tale.
  • A Seventeen-Year Journey(HD, 9 min) — Cast and crew talk further on the decades-long making of Tolkien’s fantastical mythology and finally bringing it to a close.
  • Music Video(HD) — Billy Boyd performs the aforementioned song, “The Last Goodbye,” heard over the end credits.
  • Trailers(HD)

Now those special features are all relatively short for my liking and this is where I feel like The Hobbit: The Battle of The Five Armies falls a little short. Surely a featurette titled A Seventeen-Year Journey about the whole film making adventure of bringing Tolkien’s world to life should be, well… a nearly feature-length thing? I surely cannot be the only one who feels that cramming, what has the potential of being a cinematic release documentary in itself, into a little under ten minutes is a crime? How is the featurette on the actor’s daily routines longer than this?

Although I’m hesitant to say I’m disappointed in the special features on this five disk set, I will say that there is a LOT of missed potential there. I enjoyed what there was, but as a fan, feel a little let down at the overall lack additional content.

In summary; it’s a good little box set to have and there is a proper selection of extras to choose from but, just like a taster menu or tapas meal shared between friends, you’ll be left hungry for more.

*EDIT: After I finished writing this a friend messaged me with a link where Peter Jackson announces he is definitely doing the Silmarillion. Joy.

Rating: 3.5/5

Reviewer: Fia @madame_fifi

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