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Thursday, 24 April 2014

The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies & Desolation Extended Edition Details Announced

Bilbo Baggins' next big-screen outing changes its name!
Warner Brothers Pictures have today announced a revised title for the upcoming third instalment in Peter Jackson's trilogy of film adaptations of J.R.R. Tolkien's classic fantasy novel The Hobbit. Taking place sixty years before the events of The Lord of the Rings, the prequel movies star Sherlock's Martin Freeman, Robin Hood's Richard Armitage, X-Men: Days of Future Past's Ian McKellen and Star Trek Into Darkness' Benedict Cumberbatch amongst dozens of other esteemed British and American thespians.

Before today, this year's franchise finale went by the name of The Hobbit: There & Back Again, but we now know that it'll be called The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies when it lands in cinemas later this year. Subtlety has never been the order of the day for the trilogy's various sub-titles, but it seems fair to say that this one pretty much takes the biscuit in terms of setting the stage for Jackson's piece to do precisely what it says on the tin. Those of us who've read The Hobbit in its entirety will recall that the Battle of the Five Armies is glossed over in the original text, not least because Bilbo ends up being knocked out in the opening moments of the confrontation, so unless Jackson and co are planning to throw a real curveball into the mix in eight months' time, expect them to have tweaked Bilbo's role in the narrative somewhat so as to have him contribute to the titular conflict in a meaningful way.

Not content with ruffling a few fans' feathers, however, Jackson has gone a step further and confirmed an approximate running time for the Extended Edition cut of the second film in the trilogy, The Desolation of Smaug. As was the case with An Unexpected Journey, the bumper-length version of last December's mediocre middle instalment will land around a month before Battle hits cinemas, packing a host of original and extended scenes in the process. Rather than simply extending the running time by a reasonable 5-10 minutes, though, the director has revealed that he expects the final cut to be around 25 minutes longer than the box office version, bringing the running time up to approximately 186 minutes. Trust us when we say that the additional ten minutes of footage added to Unexpected in 2013 didn't do it any favours (in fact, they resulted in us dropping its 5* score down to 4* in that particular guise), and as we awarded Desolation just 3* due to its already overly hefty running time, suffice to say that we've got serious concerns about having to endure twenty-five further minutes of the Company of Dwarves being chased around the corridors of Erebor by Smaug (no doubt we'll be able to empathise with his fury come the credits...).

The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies wages war in cinemas worldwide this December 17th, while The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug- Extended Edition lands on DVD and Blu-Ray this Winter.

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