The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug is the second film in the blockbuster trilogy by Peter Jackson, which serve as a prequel to the well-known ‘Lord of the Rings’ trilogy. Warner Bros kindly sent us a review copy of the 3D version of the home release, which also includes a 2D copy. In this review, we will analyse both versions of the film’s home release.

As this is a review of the home entertainment release, I will not be reviewing the various aspects of the film itself but primarily the quality of its movement from the big screen to the small screen. The movie itself is a stunning feat of film-making and rivals the quality of the Lord of the Rings series, in my opinion. For the sake of those who may not have seen the film (or its predecessor) in the cinema, I will not discuss any major plot events in this review, merely the premise.

The film follows the thirteen dwarfs, their master burglar Bilbo and the wizard Gandalf as they attempt to locate the hidden entrance to the mountain (the site of their once prosperous kingdom) before the “last light of Durin’s Day” passes. They follow a treacherous journey through Middle-Earth, encountering many enemies and obstacles in their path. In the end, it all comes down to Bilbo to find the precious ‘arkenstone’, the most precious gem in the kingdom’s vast treasure.

The film is not as dark as one might expect, however, Gandalf does come face-to-face with the Necromancer (Sauron) in one brief scene. Despite this, it still has many thrilling moments, and is an extremely enjoyable tale overall. In my opinion, it is even better than the first film in the series, “An Unexpected Journey” and is certainly a recommended watch!

The 2D Blu-Ray is a far superior choice than the DVD version of the film. The film is presented in vivid, clear 1080p HD and is a treat to behold. The marvelously detailed locations of Middle-Earth explored in The Desolation of Smaug are presented in the highest of picture quality and look stunning on a large, HD television. If you compared the crisp, lush visuals of the BD version to the blurry, muddy picture given by the DVD version (blown up on a big screen), you would certainly notice the difference. The 2D Blu-Ray version of the film is currently on sale for £13.00 on Amazon UK (as of time of writing) and includes the film, a UV copy and a special features disc. It is, without a doubt, worth the £3 premium over the DVD version (selling for £10 on Amazon UK, as of time of writing).

In terms of the quality of the 3D version of the film, there are few “out-of-the-screen” moments, however, the more subtle effect of perceived depth in the film is certainly noticeable when compared with the 2D version of the film. It definitely helps to enhance the realism of the film, and is a more immersive experience overall. If you have a 3D TV, I would recommend spending that little bit more to get the 3D version of the film, which also includes the 2D Blu-ray disc and an ultraviolet copy. It is on sale for £17.00 on Amazon UK (as of the time of writing), which is a cracking price for this fantastic film in a 4-disc set. If you have a good home-cinema setup, you will have a spectacular experience with this version.

The film runs for 161 minutes, which, while long compared to your standard film, is not excessively long for any film related to The Lord of the Rings. The first film in the Hobbit trilogy, An Unexpected Journey, ran for 182 minutes. At 2 hours, 40 minutes, The Desolation of Smaug has plenty of content for all fans to enjoy. There are also a few hours of additional content, some of it being very interesting (such as the filming of a day on the set). If you are a big fan of anything LotR, make sure to check it out!

To conclude, The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug is an excellent film, and both the 2D & 3D Blu-ray home releases live up to their task of presenting this spectacle in its full glory. If you have the facilities to screen a 3D film, I would certainly recommend spending the little premium to purchase the 3D version, as it does enhance the experience. If possible, ensure that you at least pickup the 2D Blu-ray over the DVD version, as there is a massive difference in quality between the two.

We currently are running a competition to win a BLU-RAY copy of this film. If you would like to enter, please see our post right here!