The Appendices from the extended Blu-ray edition of The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug

In celebration of the release of the final Hobbit/Tolkien film (at least from Peter Jackson), I decided to do something different and review the Appendices from the Blu-ray version of The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug.

If you’re a fan of the series, you’ll really enjoy the bonus materials included here. As a filmmaker, it was really entertaining and educational getting to understand how they constructed certain scenes. The gold chamber with Smaug was especially enlightening in terms of how they filled the room with gold coins. There isn’t as much CG as you’d think and since they effects are done so well on top of the live action pieces, it’s hard to tell where reality ends and digital begins. It makes you appreciate just how good Weta is at effects.

The appendices are loaded with material (about 9 hours or so) including a deconstruction of each of the major scenes and how they were orchestrated. It’s amazing to see how elaborate some of the sets are – for instance, they basically built what would be a canyon rapids ride in an amusement park for the barrel riding scene down the river. And as for the fish dumping? Yep, real fish. In fact, they dumped 400 pounds of dead fish on the one actor who happened to have a phobia about fish during the Laketown entrance.

There’s plenty of interviews with Peter Jackson and the cast. Some of the more in-depth interviews are with the side players which is nice since it doesn’t make the material feel star-centric. The inside stories are fun to listen to and include insight from the crew too. Everybody on a shoot is important, I don’t care what your job is, you’re important, and that’s a nice sentiment to be realized as you hear these interviews. Included in the lineup is Ian McKellen, Martin Freeman, Richard Armitage, Evangeline Lilly, Benedict Cumberbatch, Ken Stott, Graham McTavish, William Kircher, James Nesbitt, Luke Evans and Orlando Bloom.

I couldn’t think of a better way to prepare for the premiere one last time. It’s bittersweet to know this is the last one but at the same time, I can’t wait to see it. This has been my favorite series of films ever, thank you so very much for your work Peter Jackson, cast and crew, you’ve created something beautiful, epic and timeless. I can’t wait to sit down with a friend and enjoy the final chapter…

reviewed by Sean McKnight