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

Ralph Potts reviews this Extended Edition Blu-ray release that brings to an epic conclusion the adventure of Bilbo Baggins, Thorin Oakenshield and the Dwarves of Erebor that 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.

The Review at a Glance:
(max score: 5 )

Film:

Extras:

Audio/Video total rating:
( Max score: 100 )

97

Details:

Studio and Year: Warner – 2014
MPAA Rating: PG-13
Feature running time: 164 minutes
Genre: Fantasy/Adventure

Disc Format: BD-50
Encoding: AVC/MVC
Video Aspect: 2.40:1
Resolution: 1080p/24

Audio Format(s): English DTS-HD 7.1 Master Audio, French/Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1
Subtitles: English SDH, French, Spanish
Starring: Ian McKellan, Martin Freeman, Richard Armitage, James Nesbitt, Ken Stott, Orlando Bloom, Evangeline Lily, Lee Pace, Luke Evans, Kate Blancett, Hugo Weaving
Directed by: Peter Jackson
Music by: Howard Shore
Written by: Fran Walsh, Phillipa Boyens, Peter Jackson, Guillermo Del Toro
Region Code: A,B,C

Blu-ray Disc release Date: November 17, 2015

“The epic conclusion to ‘The Hobbit’ Trilogy”

My Take:

I reviewed The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies when it was released on Blu-ray in March. I will include my comments from that review and add my thoughts on the newly integrated footage.

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.

The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies is the final chapter in Peter Jackson’s new epic trilogy set in Middle-Earth 60 years before J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings saga. Beginning with Bilbo Baggins who at the request of the wizard Gandalf the Grey, joins a company of thirteen dwarves led by the legendary warrior Thorin Oakenshield, soon finds himself entangled in a quest to reclaim the lost Dwarf Kingdom of Erebor, long ago conquered by the dragon Smaug.

Their journey will take them through treacherous lands swarming with Trolls, Goblins, Orcs and deadly Wargs. They must escape the goblin tunnels, where Bilbo meets the creature Gollum who he will unwittingly be forever tied to. Alone with Gollum on the shores of an underground lake, the unassuming Bilbo not only discovers guile and courage that surprise him, he also gains possession of Gollum’s “precious” ring that holds unexpected and useful qualities, tied to the fate of all Middle-Earth.

Their flight leads them to several encounters beginning with Beorn, the skin-changer, The Elven realm of Mirkwood led by King Thrainduil who has a deeper understanding of the foreboding evil that threatens Middle-Earth and the Men of the fishing village of the Lake-town of Esgaroth which sits at the base of the Lonely Mountain. Their plan is to utilize the talents of their “burglar” to recover the Arkenstone out from under the sleeping dragon Smaug. In the Meanwhile Gandalf investigates the portending darkness emanating from the Dol Gudur ruins to south. All the while the group is being actively pursued by a pack of Orcs led by Azog The Defiler whose hatred for Thorin is fueled by a vengeful thirst that is eons old.

What lies in wait in the bowels of the mountain amidst the vast horde of riches is the most imposing, vile and bloodthirsty villain to pose a threat to Middle-Earth in ages. Awakened, angered and bent of vengeance Smaug descends upon the unsuspecting and unprepared inhabitants of Esgaroth as the impending evil prepares to reveal its true identity and purpose.

In the meanwhile having reclaimed the vast wealth of their homeland the Dwarves of Erebor and Bilbo come face to face with an unexpected peril. 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. As darkness converges, the races of Dwarves, Elves and Men must decide – unite of be destroyed.

As with each installment of The Hobbit trilogy I saw The Battle of the Five Armies in the theater with my daughter Having been left on the cliffhanger that was The Desolation of Smaug I was all in to see where things would shake out to close the story. I thoroughly enjoyed it and reveled in the action, drama and epic nature of the telling. I am certain that this needed to be a trilogy but I still found it rewarding. The pacing in the last two installments versus An unexpected journey was smoother and I found myself engrossed in the plot, and the characters both old and new. The building storyline includes snippets of humor, engaging banter and typically entertaining elements of adventure as it steams toward a rewarding final act. Some have complained about the addition of certain plot points such as the Tauriel/Killi subplot but I had no problem with it.

This extended cut of The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies includes 20 minutes of extra film footage that extends individual scenes. The sequence that contains the bulk of the additional material occur during the battle in the third act, with smaller extensions of scenes, such as those that take place during the encounter in Dol Gudur and within the Lonely Mountain. Predominantly speaking I didn’t find that the additional scenes enhanced the narrative as it stood however I really liked an added scene that showed Thorin, Kili and Fili lying in state while everyone mourned them. Following this scene is another add on showing the crowning of Thorin’s replacement, Dain. For those that wondered what became of Alfrid, after Bard let him go (dressed as a woman) with his bosom full of gold, there is an added sequence where you find out. I wouldn’t say that the extended edition needed to be 20 minutes longer but a few of the additional elements proved enriching.

The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies comes together with ties to the events that will transpire in The Lord of the Rings Trilogy. While this series doesn’t have the depth, emotion and superlative scope of those films there is still much for fans of Middle Earth to feed on. As a fan I enjoy these films and appreciate director Peter Jackson’s attention to detail and handling of the production design/elements and casting choices. It has been a fun ride and I am pleased to place The Hobbit alongside The Lord of the Rings in my video library.

The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies Extended Edition will be available as a 3-disc Blu-ray set ($35.99 SRP); and a 5-disc DVD set ($34.99 SRP). The Blu-ray and DVD include a digital version of the movie on Digital HD with UltraViolet. Fans can also own “The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies” via purchase from digital retailers.

The nine plus hours of new special features boasts audio commentary with Peter Jackson, the film’s director/producer/screenwriter, and Philippa Boyens, co-producer/screenwriter, as well as The Appendices, a multi-part documentary focusing on various aspects of the film and the Trilogy.

The Hobbit Trilogy Extended Edition will be available as a 9-disc Blu-ray set ($99.98 SRP); and a 15-disc DVD set ($78.92 SRP). The Blu-ray and DVD Trilogy sets include digital versions of the movies on Digital HD with UltraViolet. Fans can also own The Hobbit Trilogy Extended Edition via purchase from digital retailers.

Parental Guide:

The rating is for extended sequences of intense fantasy action violence, and frightening images.

AUDIO/VIDEO – By The Numbers:
REFERENCE = 92-100/EXCELLENT = 83-91/GOOD = 74-82/AVERAGE = 65-73/BELOW AVERAGE = under 65

**My audio/video ratings are based upon a comparative made against other high definition media/blu-ray disc.**

Audio: 94
(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)

  • Dynamics:
  • Low frequency effects:
  • Surround Sound presentation:
  • Clarity/Detail:
  • Dialogue Reproduction:
  • Low frequency extension * (non-rated element): NA
  • DSU Rating * (non-rated element):

Video: 100
(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)

  • Resolution/Clarity:
  • Black Level/Shadow Detail:
  • Color Reproduction:
  • Fleshtones:
  • Compression:

The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies comes to Blu-ray Disc from Warner Brothers Home Entertainment featuring 1080p AVC encoded video that has an average bitrate of 21 Mbps and lossless DTS-HD 7.1 Master Audio sound that has an average bitrate of 5 Mbps.

This film utilizes a stylized visual design that has a varied color scheme that works aesthetically well for the subject matter. The nature of the photography isn’t lent to high gloss imagery and razor sharpness however there is an enriching and film like quality that abounds. High definition’s increased resolution is readily apparent as textural nuance and subtle refinement is apparent, especially during close-ups. Wide angle vistas views tend to look gorgeous more often than not but can be limited by the film’s post production effects. The color range is comprised of earth tones, shades of dark blue, brown, gray and black with splashes of crimson and green/blue hues. Like the color palette fleshtones shift accordingly to coincide with the mood, lighting and scenic theme. The overall result works perfectly within the film’s narrative construct. Uneven light and shading are prevalent. Contrast is boldly applied which empowers whites and grays with minimal loss of detail. Blacks are dynamic and gradationally revealing and shadow detail is equally discerning. The film’s deep grays, rich contrast and stimulating visual aura makes for a perfect companion to the story‘s elements. The use of CGI/green screens and photographic effects innately softens some elements but doesn’t detract in my opinion. I didn’t see any signs of video degrading artifacts or extraneous noise. The result is a gorgeous high definition rendering that mimics that theatrical presentation.

I enjoyed the audio presentation in the theater and looked forward to hearing it in the familiar confines of my theater room. The 7.1 DTS-HD Master Audio surround mix treated me to an impeccably detailed and rewarding listening experience. Dialogue is supremely articulated with excellent focus, clarity and descriptive intonation. Multi-layered sound effects are appropriately placed within the soundfield so that their purpose is definable yet not overstated. The mix makes effective use of the surround channels to elongate the front soundstage as it reproduces the spatial and discrete sounds contained in soundtrack. The front and rear sound fields are integrated with precision which enables a seamless transference during sequences involving sounds that travel through the room. The opening sequence sounds terrific as Smaug swoops back and forth, spewing fire upon the village below. Listening later to the rotation of voices throughout the soundstage, as Thorin battles the torment of the dragon-sickness, is effective and pretty cool.

As with the last two installments on Blu-ray bass response remains in the upper LFE registers with occasional dips that engage the room. The battle/rescue at the ruins has a few moments that bring everything together as does the extended series of engagements during the final act. Low frequency effects are palpably reproduced with respect to points of contact during battle and large scale proportional events/elements. I couldn’t say with absolute certainty that there has been filtering applied to the LFE channel but the lack of extended low frequency response is notable. That shouldn’t be taken to mean that the soundtrack has anemic bass quality as there is ample punch to the low end however given the nature of the source material it doesn’t descend into the infrasonic depths that bass lovers clamor for.

Bonus Features:

  • Disc 1: The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies EE[/b]
  • Audio commentary with Peter Jackson and Philippa Boyens
  • (HD) New Zealand: Home of Middle-earth: Part 3 – 6 minutes
    Discs 2 & 3:(HD) The Appendices Parts 11 and 12 (9 hours 50 minutes)[/b]
  • In the Dungeon of the Necromancer
  • Fire and Water
  • Under the Shadow of the Mountain
  • In the Wake of the Dragon
  • The Gathering of the Clouds
  • Many Partings
  • The Clouds Burst
  • A Last Desperate Stand
  • Out From the Gate
  • The Last Stage
  • Beneath the Thunder: Forging a Battle of Five Armies
  • The People and Denizens of Middle-earth
  • Realms of the Third Age: From the City of Dale to the Halls of Erebor
  • Farewell Friends!
  • Bonus Features (3 segments)
  • Andrew Lesnie Remembered
  • Digital HD Copy

Final Thoughts:

The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies brings a close to Peter Jackson’s new epic trilogy set in Middle-Earth 60 years before J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings saga. To sum up my feelings on the film both in its original form as well as this new Extended Edition, it would be fair to say that I thoroughly enjoyed it, reveling in its epic scope, familiarity and Peter Jackson’s flair for storytelling. The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies Extended Edition comes to Blu-ray featuring superlative and faithfully rendered high definition audio/video and a bountiful supplemental set that will give fans their fill. Warner Brothers Home Entertainment has delivered a terrific Blu-ray offering that delivers an enriching home theater experience. Should you already own the original Blu-ray release, the decision to upgrade will depend largely on how important the large supplemental package is to you, as the majority of the additional footage does little to bolster the already solid theatrical version. I suspect that diehard fans will want to pick this up, so for them, I say go ahead and enjoy.

Ralph Potts
online-shashki Forum Blu-ray Reviews

Reference Review System:

JVC DLA-RS4910 3D Ready 1080p High Definition Front Projector
(Calibrated with Calman 5 & C6 Meter from Spectracal)
Stewart Filmscreen – Studiotek 130 G3 100” 16×9 Screen
Carada Masquerade Horizontal Masking System
Marantz AV8802A 13.2 Channel Audio/Video Processor
Sherbourn Technologies – 7/200 Seven Channel Amplifier
B&K Reference 200.7 Series 2 Seven Channel Amplifier
Oppo BDP-103D Universal Disc/3D capable Blu-ray Player (With Darbee video processing)
Panasonic DMP-BDT310 3D capable Blu-ray Player (HDMI Audio/Video)
Toshiba HD-XA2 HD DVD Player (HDMI Audio/Video)
Sony Playstation 3 Blu-ray disc Player (HDMI Audio/Video)
System Controller: Apple iPad/iRule Pro HD Universal Remote Control
Canton “Ergo” and In-Ceiling series speakers
Axiom Audio QS8 Quadpolar speakers
SVS PB-13 Ultra (Rosenut finish)
SVS PC12-NSD
Panamax M5400-PM Power Conditioner/Surge Protector
Wireworld, Better Cables (Silver Serpent) – Audio/Video/Speaker Cabling
Cool Components – CP-CP102 cooling package

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