Fulvue Drive-In.com
Current Reviews
In Stores Soon
In Stores Now
DVD Reviews, SACD Reviews Essays Interviews Contact Us Meet the Staff
An Explanation of Our Rating System Search  
Category:    Home > Reviews > Fantasy > Adventure > Swords > Battles > Sequel > Epic > Literature > The Hobbit - The Desolation of Smaug (2013/Warner Blu-ray 3D w/Blu-ray 2D, DVD & Digital Copy)

The Hobbit - The Desolation of Smaug (2013/Warner Blu-ray 3D w/Blu-ray 2D, DVD & Digital Copy)

3D Picture: A Picture: A-/B Sound: A/A/B Extras: C+ Film: A-

Peter Jackson may not have realized the epic journey he was embarking upon when he took on The Lord the Rings Trilogy all those years ago now, but has managed to do everything right in the process. With fans adamant that The Hobbit could not and should not be made without Jackson at the helm; the studio (for once) listened and made it happen. Now, whether we as fans would have known he and the studio would stretch Tolkien's shortest book into separate films is anyone's guess, but to date there are no complaints here. Sure it was somewhat of a money grab for the studio, but with both films released to date standing on their own as epic adventures there is nothing to lose sleep over.

The Desolation of Smaug is the second film in what will become The Hobbit Trilogy. Again, whereas it might seem strange to stretch such a short book into three films, it gives Jackson the opportunity to tell the untold stories of Middle Earth; diving into Tolkien's appendices and tangential tales to construct an even more vivid world.

Picking up where The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey (2012) left off, The Desolation of Smaug has Bilbo Baggins (Martin Freeman) and Thorin [Richard Armitage] (with his crew of dwarves) continuing their path toward Lonely Mountain. The second part of the trilogy is darker in tone (somewhat) as we get the opportunity to see more Orcs, battles, bloodshed, and less silliness. As we finally get into the meat and potatoes (po-tate-ohs precious!?) of the the tale of The Hobbit we are introduced to the character of Beorn (Mikael Persbrandt) the bear man; or giant shape shifter to be more precise. An animal in size, shape, and personality Beorn gruffly helps the hobbit and his crew on their journey; leading them to Mirkwood. It is here when Gandalf (again Sir Ian McKellen) departs on his own side quest; discovering much more than he bargained for at the Tombs of Nazgul. Introducing the audience (as if we didn't already know) that much darker plans are afoot in Middle Earth. Meanwhile the dwarves are captured by a horde of spiders in Mirkwood; only to be rescued by the unassuming, slick Bilbo. We as an audience see Bilbo slowly beginning to comprehend the power of the ring; as invisibility, the ability to understand the spiders and the general hold the ring has on those who possess it takes center stage.

Moving along the crew makes it to Lake Town where we meet the Bard of Esogaroth (Luke Evans) and the comically disturbing Mayor played by Stephen Fry. Bilbo, Thorin, and the dwarves are on a covert mission at first, but that doesn't last for long before they are rushed to Lonely Mountain to face off against Smaug (Benedict Cumberbatch) himself.

It seems clear that the third and final chapter will be the best; finally showcasing The Bard, the battle of wits between Smaug and Bilbo, and a final epic battle featuring the entirety of The Hobbit crew. This second film was an improvement over the first in tone, timing, and pace. The film felt well balanced as it managed to create a vehicle for the talented actors to display their range; while continuing to deliver an adventurous tale that was faithful to Tolkien's original works. The addition of elements from Tolkien's other works, as well as Jackson's choice to incorporate his own original ideas were brilliantly executed; seamlessly ingraining themselves into the journey as if they had always been.

I highly recommend The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug as it again brings a classic tale to life and shows why Jackson and will always be the right man for the job.

For a look back at our review of The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, please see the review link below:


The technical features on this Blu-ray 3D and Blu-ray release are all done exceedingly well. The picture on the standard Blu-ray is a 2.40 X 1 image in a 1080p, AVC encoded, MPEG-4 that is stunning from beginning to end. The image is crisp, clean, and clear throughout; giving off astonishing realism and capturing the true essence of the film. Every hair, every fiber, every bit of rust can be seen. The film is without light and dark issues; projecting the finest details in even the murkiest of atmospheres. There are the occasional moments of aliasing, but far and few. Peter Jackson filmed The Hobbit exclusively on a Red Epic Camera System at the 48 frames per second (fps) rate; which translates to 24 fps here on Blu-ray without any issues to be seen. My main issue with the film (similar to the first) is the brighter style of The Hobbit. With the Lord of the Rings Series we were delivered all of the fine detail and life, but with a dimmer lighting scheme and grit that made the film appear realer. As we move from An Unexpected Journey to Desolation of Smaug the film does take on a somewhat deeper, darker feel; but not enough for this reviewer's taste. The 3D contains all of the same positive elements as the standard Blu-ray, but with the added screen jumping 3D action. The 3D for The Hobbit was done exceedingly well and again translates nicely to Blu-ray. I would say even somewhat better than the standard release this time around; as Jackson had always intended for this adventure to be in the 3D format. The dimensionality that the 3D brings to the film whole heartedly encompasses the world of The Hobbit and Jackson's true vision.

The sound on both the 3D and standard Blu-rays are presented as a 7.1 DTS-HD Master Audio (MA) lossless mix from the theatrical Dolby Atmos 11.1 presentations in select venues that is flawless. Desolation of Smaug has a heavy track to deal with as the film is action packed and constantly moving. Prioritization is spot on as the speakers come to life without a single moment of muddled sound. Solid bass brings a vibrato to the film that keeps the viewer on the edge of their seat. The dialogue, the roar of the dragon, the musical scores, and the clang of each sword projects with ease; in the end creating a truly dynamic track.

The DVD and Digital Copy releases are merely downgrades of the already stunning Blu-ray and 3D releases.

The extras are a bit weaker than fans will like; but this is most likely due to a jam packed extended addition on the way. The ~2.5 hours of extras include:

  • Production Videos

  • Live Event: In the Cutting Room

  • Peter Jackson Invites you to the Set

    • All In a Day's Work

    • In the Company of the Hobbit

  • New Zealand: Home to Middle Earth - Part II

  • Trailers and Previews

  • Music Video for I See Fire by Ed Sheeran

For more on this film, try this link:


- Michael P. Dougherty II


 Copyright © MMIII through MMX fulvuedrive-in.com