The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug
Like An Unexpected Journey before it, this movie was shot in 3D on digital video and displays a perfectly natural filmic look. For optimal quality, the 161-minute movie is spread across two platters (with a rather abrupt disc break), and the high bitrate yields razor-sharp clarity. The inherent loss of brightness from the current 3D technology is not really a problem for the sublimely lit and hued image—this is largely a story about darkness, after all—and shadow detail is tremendous. The 2.4:1 frame is frequently composed with clever layers and foreground objects that lend ample opportunity for effective stereoscopic illusion, and the sheer breadth and depth of Smaug’s lair is awe-inspiring.
Yes, this is a sprawling fantasy yarn, with an ambitious DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1 soundtrack to match. Surround channel usage is lively, with immersive shouts and footsteps plus interesting bits like a group of scurrying, muttering spiders. That’s in addition to some clean, hard surround effects. Bass is more than ample, contrasted against the airy trebles, as for the ping of a certain golden ring.
Curiously, disc one contains a 2D mini-documentary about the New Zealand shooting location, which is repeated on Disc Three, a single-platter 2D Blu-ray presentation of the movie. Disc four carries most of the lazy, lackluster extras we should be used to by now. (DVD and UltraViolet Digital Copy also included.) Once again, looks like we have to wait for the Extended Edition if we want the good stuff.
Studio: Warner Bros., 2013
Aspect Ratio: 2.40:1
Audio Format: DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1
Length: 161 mins.
MPAA Rating: PG-13
Director: Peter Jackson
Starring: Ian McKellen, Martin Freeman, Richard Armitage