9 Hours Of Extras? You Guessed it Hobbit Special Edition Time Again

The Hobbit: The Deso?lation of Smaug

The second chapter in The Hobbit Trilogy arrives on Blu-ray 3D and DVD on 3rd November from Warner Bros. Home Entertainment

This Extended Edition of The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug Features a 25-Minute Longer Cut and More Than Nine Hours of New Special Features

This all comes before the December 12 theatrical release of the third and final film, The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies.

Ian McKellen returns as Gandalf the Grey, with Martin Freeman in the central role of Bilbo Baggins, and Richard Armitage as Thorin Oakenshield. The international ensemble cast is led by Benedict Cumberbatch, Evangeline Lilly, Lee Pace, Luke Evans, Stephen Fry, Ken Stott, James Nesbitt and Orlando Bloom as Legolas. The film also stars Mikael Persbrandt, Sylvester McCoy, Aidan Turner, Dean O’Gorman, Graham McTavish, Adam Brown, Peter Hambleton, John Callen, Mark Hadlow, Jed Brophy, William Kircher, Stephen Hunter, Ryan Gage, John Bell, Manu Bennett and Lawrence Makoare.

The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug Extended Edition will be available as a 5-disc Blu-ray 3D set featuring the Blu-ray 3D and Blu-ray versions of the Extended Edition and a 5 disc DVD. The Blu-ray 3D includes a 2D digital version of the movie with UltraViolet. More On Amazon

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. Complete special feature details are provided below.

Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug Synopsis

The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug continues the adventure of the title character Bilbo Baggins as he journeys with the Wizard Gandalf and thirteen Dwarves, led by Thorin Oakenshield, on an epic quest to reclaim the Lonely Mountain and the lost Dwarf Kingdom of Erebor.

Having survived the beginning of their unexpected journey, the Company travels East, encountering along the way skin-changer Beorn and a swarm of giant Spiders in the treacherous forest of Mirkwood. After escaping capture by the dangerous Wood-elves, the Dwarves journey to Lake-town, and finally to the Lonely Mountain itself, where they must face the greatest danger of all–a creature more terrifying than any other; one which will test not only the depth of their courage but the limits of their friendship and the wisdom of the journey itself–The Dragon Smaug.

The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug NEW Special Features Blu Ray and DVD

Commentary with Peter Jackson, Director/Producer/Screenwriter and Philippa Boyens, Co-Producer/Screenwriter
The Appendices – The Appendices Parts IX and X showcase an immersive multi-part history of the filming of The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug, covering pre-production in the various departments of the film in the months leading up to the start of principal photography, training, the work done on set and in the world of its digital effects.
New Zealand: Home of Middle-earth – Part 2

Note: All enhanced content listed above is subject to change.

About The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug

From Academy Award®-winning filmmaker Peter Jackson comes The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug, the second in a trilogy of films adapting the enduringly popular masterpiece The Hobbit, by J.R.R. Tolkien. The three films tell a continuous story set in Middle-earth 60 years before The Lord of the Rings, which Jackson and his filmmaking team brought to the big screen in the blockbuster trilogy that culminated with the Oscar®-winning The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King.

The screenplay for The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug is by Fran Walsh & Philippa Boyens & Peter Jackson & Guillermo del Toro, based on the novel by J.R.R. Tolkien. Jackson also produced the film, together with Carolynne Cunningham, Zane Weiner and Fran Walsh. The executive producers are Alan Horn, Toby Emmerich, Ken Kamins and Carolyn Blackwood, with Philippa Boyens and Eileen Moran serving as co-producers.

New Line Cinema and Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Pictures Present a Wingnut Films Production, The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug. The film is a production of New Line Cinema and Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Pictures (MGM), with New Line managing production. Warner Bros. Pictures handled worldwide theatrical distribution, with select international territories as well as all international television distribution being handled by MGM.

More SMAUG

 

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The Hobbit – An Unexpected Journey – Review by Neil Gardner

The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey
The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey

It is Sunday evening at 6pm, and for most of the afternoon I have been sitting uncomfortably in the Odeon Leicester Square in London watching a screening of Peter Jackson’s new LOTR movie, The Hobbit. Uncomfortably not just because the film is long (too long by far), and not just because the Odeon’s seats are ruthless on your nether regions (some padding towards the rear of the seat would be nice, guys!), but because as I watched this ‘epic’ I knew I would have to write the following words:

The Hobbit is a pretty bad film

Phew, there, I’ve said it. So, let’s start with Mr Jackson’s much vaunted 48fps HFR 3D technological breakthrough. Oh dear lordy, for all that is good in the world, let this technology die right now! I am a real fan of 3D movies, thinking they often have a certain additional depth to them that helps make the movie-going experience more immersive. But guys, what the heck went wrong with The Hobbit? Are you telling me that someone has sat down, watched the film on a big screen and signed off on it?! If they have then they deserve the sack, because this film looks bad, very bad. Now, let me discuss the 48fps issue. There have been accusations from early part-screenings that this process made the film look like an HD TV series, pristine and shiny. Jackson et al claimed this was because the film hadn’t been graded, coloured, and generally ‘film-ified’ yet. “Don’t worry” they said, “it’ll look epic and grand on final release”. Well my friends, we have been duped. It looks like the shiniest of shiny things ever. Pristine is a good word for it, but STERILE is a far better one. There is rarely a scene with any ‘filmic’ feeling to it, everything is just so goddamn clean and crisp and perfect. It really DOES look like a top end HD TV production. There are a few saving graces, such as the battle scenes and the Gollum cave sequence where things get better, mostly due to interesting lighting and darkness. But overall it is all way too clean to feel like a LOTR movie. Is this the end of the world, or the very start of a new one? Who can tell. It doesn’t destroy the movie but it does lack warmth and flavour and the heightened sense of reality forces you away from the film rather than bringing you closer to it.

But that’s not the real bugbear I have with 48fps, oh no. There was a much greater, more aggravating issue. Now, it may have been a technical fault with the Odeon’s brand spanking new equipment. Possibly they don’t have it ‘run-in’ quite correctly. But throughout the screening we were subjected to sudden and terrible speed-ups, where a person would be moving across screen and suddenly speed up for a second or two. Or when they were talking. Or during a battle scene. Or…well, so often I lost count. It was as if the film were buffering and catching up with itself. A symptom of 48fps technology and all-digital prints & projectors? I know not, but it really did destroy the film for me, it was like adding a Benny Hill sketch into an epic Western. Utter technical failure. End of story.

Dwarves - THE HOBBIT: AN UNEXPECTED JOURNEY, a Warner Bros. Pictures release.
Dwarves Group Shot

So what then of the Jackson claim that 48fps would enhance the Real3D experience and make the movie more immersive? Well, it might have if not for all of the above and the fact that it seems WETA allowed the work experiencers to do the CGI and blending. The Hobbit never once achieved what the previous LOTR films managed 90% of the time, and that was to blend the CG with the real and make it all seem as one. In scene after eye-sapping scene the CGI backgrounds and creatures looked like badly layered early 2000’s computer game characters. In fast moving scenes actors appeared completely disconnected from their surroundings. Feet floated above and away from CGI landscapes, and as for poorly matted and layered…don’t get me started. Who cleared this film for theatrical release? Technologically the 3D (except in close-ups and real landscape shots), looked cartoonish and low resolution. The blending of real and CGI was cringe-worthy, and the sense that you were watching a 10-15 year old computer game cut-scene built throughout the movie. If you HAVE to see this movie, see it in 2D, because the 3D print is truly lamentable.

So that is the technology considered, but what about the story, the plot, the purpose of the movie? Well, it’s not terrible. I honestly can’t say it is epic, or thrilling or life-changing. The sense of scope and proportion wanders between small and personal to grand and majestic. But it does so with stops and starts, stumbles and staggers. Rarely does The Hobbit flow from scene to scene. It is as though everything we loved about Peter Jackson’s vision and style in LOTR has been erased by The Lovely Bones and replaced by whip-pans, juddery camera moves and just-a-fraction-too-early editing style. Add in some often-wooden, occasionally forest-like acting (sorry Sir Christopher and Sir Ian!) and a dearth of believable side-characters and you are left with a movie that is an hour too long, and a soul too missing. Not to say there aren’t some good performances…Martin Freeman owns the role of Bilbo and is immediately loveable and relatable. King Thorin and a few of the dwarves are likeable and well-rounded. But Gandalf feels lacking in purpose or reason, Sir Ian offering a muted and not altogether weighty performance. Hugo Weaving appeared to have phoned his Elrond in from another film-set (while doing his best to sound like David Bowie in Labyrinth), and Sir Christopher Lee’s CGI’d in Saruman was so lacking in spirit it was a geek-tragedy. But in all this there was one shining light…the brilliant Sylvester McCoy as Radagast the Brown was pitch-perfect, mysterious and loopy yet courageous and outrageous. A true Tolkien character brought to life with flair and charm. If only the rest of the film could have been populated by such well-crafted and well-acted characters.

Congratulations to the Gollum team who produced another unsurpassed moment of movie magic

Once again, Andy Serkis comes to the rescue (although possibly not in his role of second-unit director). The scenes with Gollum and Bilbo under the mountain playing a game of riddles are superb. The CGI is magical, the setting exquisite, the lighting and blending spot-on. Why oh why couldn’t the rest of the film have been made with such love and care? Gollum is a whole new creature here, expressive and exciting, terrifying and unstable. You feel the threat he poses, and yet you continue to sympathise with him. His look of pain, anguish and sadness at losing his precious is heartbreaking. Congratulations to the Gollum team who produced another unsurpassed moment of movie magic.

While in no way perfect, the story is certainly interesting and stays pretty close to the book. The additions of some Dwarf/Orc history are superbly handled (with some of the better CGI work employed here). It is to the film’s credit that the backstory to the Dwarf’s quest is explained so well and so succinctly. I’m not so sure about some of the ‘fan service’ additions, such as lines repeated from the original trilogy, and knowing nods and winks. But all in all the film trots along its trail without too many stumbles. Sadly, our return to Rivendell is marred by it looking like a matte-painting taken from a late 80s kids TV show. In fact a lot of the film feels oddly akin to a Russell T Davies CBBC series…lots of running around in front of green-screen and a set of CGI backgrounds that feel like updates on the old Captain Zep early 80s technology. My over-riding thought throughout The Hobbit was that I was hankering after watching some classic Knightmare episodes, rather than wanting to keep watching the film. I might just do that, or put Labyrinth on…something with way more character, soul and sense of the epic.

I really was looking forward to The Hobbit. While the book is certainly a classic, it has never been a rip-roaring adventure tale. However, the masterpieces that were the original LOTR trilogy had me believing Peter Jackson & co would pull something special out of their knapsack. Unfortunately all they’ve done is tire my bottom out, give me a sense of loss and annoyance, and made me want to go find the person who is pushing 48fps Real3D technology and introduce them to the words ‘Over my dead body!’

With the Hobbit we return to Middle Earth, but it isn’t how we remember it. It is all shiny and computery and cut-sceney. It is full of pixels and cartoonish speed-ups. It groans with the weight of expectation and falls flat on its need for putting technology before storytelling. Please Mr Jackson, re-grade and re-colourise the film, put it in 2D and turn the volume down just a tad…cut about 40-60 mins from it and sort out the lack of scope. THEN I’ll be the first in line to buy the Blu-ray edition!

Doctor Who: The Acheron Pulse/The Shadow Heart

Doctor Who: The Acheron Pulse

Written by Rick Briggs

Doctor Who: The Shadow Heart

Written by Jonathan Morris

Published by Big Finish

Two very different audio dramas play out the latest Big Finish trilogy, which features the Igris as introduced in The Burning Prince.

The Acheron Pulse opens with the Sixth Doctor on the planet of Cawdor, where the Drashani are mining Galdrium. When a strange ship approaches the planet with a devastating weapon, the Doctor must lead a rescue mission aboard the planet’s encircling space station.

The frenetic pace of the opening story slows considerably here, allowing several new characters to develop fully in the listener’s mind. Chief among them are Duhkin and Teesha, whose relationship develops from initial suspicion to a satisfying conclusion. The mysterious Tenebris (played by James Wilby) is somewhat less engaging, and his true identity is unlikely to surprise any regular Big Finish subscribers.

What does fascinate in this story are the Igris. Reintroduced initially as the unstoppable killers we loved in The Burning Prince, the backstory that emerges here gives fresh insights to the race. The concept of an Undervoid, where the Igris’ better nature is banished, is intriguing if underdeveloped.

By comparison, The Shadow Heart changes story gear back into First, with the Seventh Doctor pursued by Vienna Salvatori, a bounty hunter tasked by the Igris to capture the Time Lord and discover the secret location of Tenebris.

Presumably recorded after his Hobbit duties, this lively story gives Sylvester McCoy more to do than other recent releases, as he enlists the help of several rather comedic characters to evade Salvatori (played by Chase Masterson) and reach Tenebris before the Igris. The latter have morphed into a Judoon-like race in this tale, albeit with rather more murderous tendencies.

Taken as a trilogy, this sequence of stories is less satisfying than the previous Fenric arc, though The Burning Prince remains a standout release. The Igris have proven they have legs, and teeth, which may yet bring them back to the Big Finish universe, and Masterson’s Salvatori already has her own spin-off series in the wings.

Here’s hoping that after the inevitable Christmas confection, the Doctor gets another meaty multi-generation story arc to celebrate his notable birthday in 2013.

Doctor Who: Gods and Monsters

Doctor Who: Gods and Monsters
Doctor Who: Gods and Monsters

Written By Mike Maddox and Alan Barnes

Published by Big Finish

The conclusion to this latest Seventh Doctor trilogy sees the Time Lord a prisoner of long-time adversary Fenric, trapped in a simulacrum of Asgard with blood sucking Haemovores for company. As Ace, Hex, Lysandra and Sally rush to The Doctor’s rescue, they find themselves pawns in a much larger game.

One of Big Finish’s most ambitious productions, Gods and Monsters pulls in years of audio release back stories, as well as a good chunk of TV continuity from The Curse of Fenric right back to Ace’s introduction to The Doctor. What is pleasing is that the storyline remains clear, well paced, and full of stand out sequences concocted by writers Maddox and Barnes.

While Sylvester McCoy has a larger role here than in the last two releases, his four companions still carry most of the action, with rich character development for each of them. Sally and Lysandra get a thrilling trip into their far future, while Ace and Hex struggle with some harsh home truths. Sophie Aldred in particular gives an outstanding performance, leaving the listener in no doubt that Ace will find it hard to forgive ‘The Professor’ this time.

Against such human drama, the battle between the Elder Gods palls somewhat, though this is frequently enlivened by the interventions of the companions, not least Ace driving a freshly forged tank. An odd run of Queen jokes also ensures that some humour lightens the often dark tone of this story.

On the strength of this trilogy, Sally Morgan and Lysandra Aristedes deserve a spin-off series pronto, and the next installment in the Seventh Doctor and Ace stories can’t come soon enough for fans keen to hear the fallout from the Elder Gods grand plans.

Doctor Who: Protect and Survive Bigfinish Audio Drama

Doctor Who: Protect and Survive CD Cover
Written by Jonathan Morris

Published by Big Finish

This audio drama, the first in a new trilogy for the Seventh Doctor, Ace and audio-only companion Hex, takes us to 1980s Britain, when the threat of nuclear war hung heavy over the country.

When the Doctor mysteriously disappears from the Tardis mid-flight, and the ominous Cloister Bell begins to toll, Ace and Hex land on Earth to seek help. What they find are married couple Albert and Peggy Marsden, busily constructing a fallout shelter in the grounds of their remote cottage. For Russian troops have seized American bases in West Germany, and this version of the world stands on the brink of World War Three.

The first half of this drama is totally gripping, as Ace and Hex join the Marsdens in their shelter when the bomb finally drops. For those of us who remember the period, as writer Morris clearly does, the scenes of the aftermath are visceral and superbly acted by the cast.

It is only at the mid-point that the Doctor really appears, and his attempts to rewind history and prevent the apocalypse take this tale in a completely different direction, distinctly lighter in tone despite what has come before. This then heralds a twist filled third act, ?which while benefitting from excellent work by Sophie Aldred and Philip Oliver, cannot the sustain the tension that precedes it.

A cliffhanger ending ensures that anyone hearing this drama will want to buy next month’s release Black and White. This arc promises major challenges for the Doctor and his companions, and I feel it will not end well for at least some of them.

The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey

The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey
The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey
“The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey,? will be released on December 14, 2012 from Warner Bros. Pictures.

The adventure of ?The Hobbit? follows the journey of title character Bilbo Baggins, who is swept into an epic quest to reclaim the lost Dwarf Kingdom of Erebor from the fearsome dragon Smaug.

Ian McKellen returns as Gandalf the Grey, the character he played in ?The Lord of the Rings? trilogy, and Martin Freeman, who won a BAFTA TV Award for Best Supporting Actor for his role in the BBC series ?Sherlock,? takes on the central role of Bilbo Baggins. Also reprising their roles from ?The Lord of the Rings? movies are: Cate Blanchett as Galadriel; Orlando Bloom as Legolas; Ian Holm as the elder Bilbo; Christopher Lee as Saruman; Hugo Weaving as Elrond; Elijah Wood as Frodo; and Andy Serkis as Gollum. The ensemble cast also includes (in alphabetical order) Richard Armitage, Jed Brophy, Adam Brown, John Callen, Stephen Fry, Ryan Gage, Mark Hadlow, Peter Hambleton, Stephen Hunter, William Kircher, Sylvester McCoy, Bret McKenzie, Graham McTavish, Mike Mizrahi, James Nesbitt, Dean O?Gorman, Lee Pace, Mikael Persbrandt, Conan Stevens, Ken Stott, Jeffrey Thomas, and Aidan Turner.

The screenplays for ?The Hobbit? films are by Fran Walsh, Philippa Boyens, Guillermo del Toro and Peter Jackson. Jackson is also producing the films, together with Fran Walsh and Carolynne Cunningham. The executive producers are Ken Kamins and Zane Weiner, with Philippa Boyens serving as co-producer.