With many editions undoubtedly in the pipeline (Extended Cut; Director’s Cut; Complete Trilogy; 3D; Home Study), it’s still possible to note that the initial DVD release of the second film in Peter Jackson’s HOBBIT extrapolation trilogy holds unexpected delight. The tone has been lightened, the pace zips along with delightful character readings & battle scenes that hold powerful mass against fantastic flair. All a dedicated HOBBIT maven might wish for. Until you realize you’ve been enjoying an auto-loaded ad for LEGO: The Hobbit Game. Oops! Then the actual film starts up with all the self-important ballast, ponderous CGI and endurance test length of the first HOBBIT pic. No doubt, those already hooked will make merry with the results, eating up each of its 161 minutes. Indeed, four or five of its set pieces are excitingly worked out, even if the climatic use of molten gold looks like instant butterscotch pudding. But heavens, what would J.R.R. Tolkien have made of the GAME OF THRONES tilt given his fable? On the acting front, Martin Freeman’s Bilbo is holding up well (looking more than ever like Timothy Q. Mouse from DUMBO/’41 as rendered by Rembrandt), and Benedict Cumberbatch, his boss over at BBC’s SHERLOCK, makes a grand vocal addition as Smaug-the-Dragon. While, Ian McKellen and poor Orlando Bloom seem all used up.
DOUBLE-BILL: If you’re going to bother, best start with THE HOBBIT: An Unexpected Adventure/’12 which (surprise!) has been repackaged with 13 additional minutes.