Two months before the release of The Hobbit: The Battle Of The Five Armies, it is time to step back to Middle Earth with The Desolation of Smaug Extended Edition. This cut adds 25 minutes of additional footage to the film. I can gladly say that these scenes add to the story unlike the slightly disappointing extended edition of The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey.
First of all we get to explore more of the storyline between Thorin and his father, Thrain, who had disappeared after the Battle of Moria. We learn that King Thrain was the bearer of one of the seven rings that Sauron gave to the dwarf lords. The ring, like its bearer, has gone lost, thus raising Gandalf’s concerns about the future of Middle Earth.
In my review of The Desolation of Smaug I lamented the fact that we did not spend enough time in Beorn’s house. This edition does not disappoint. One scene in particular is an homage to the book – if I say ‘pairs’ does it ring a bell? Gandalf is once again reminded of the troubling tales regarding Dol Guldur and its so-called Necromancer – “He’s not what he seems” remarks Beorn. In Mirkwood we see a few more scenes which book lovers will remember, including Bombur falling into the enchanted stream and illusions of the forest itself.
Finally, there is an long chunk that was cut off from the film in which Gandalf meets a near-crazed Thrain in the ruins of Dol Guldur. We learn that Thrain’s ring, the last of the seven, was taken by Azog, the pale orc who has been hunting Thorin and his company since the previous film. There’s a hopeful moment in which Thrain might be reunited with his son. However, soon Gandalf discovers that Sauron has indeed returned, Thrain is slain by the Dark Lord.
The 9+ hours of special features are, like for all the LOTR and Hobbit boxsets, packed with excellent insights into the making of the film. There is more of Jackson mistreating his actors (and enjoying it a lot!) with all sorts of punishments – stinky fish, barrel riding and eggs are just some of those. Cumberbatch fans will be pleased to see him squirm and wriggle on the floor in tight mocap suit. And, Tolkien aficionados will appreciate the appendices delving into the conception of creatures such as Smaug, Beorn and the Mirkwood spiders which take you back to Tolkien’s earlier writings and their roots in Nose sagas.
The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug Extended Edition is available on the 4th of November.