Click here to return to the main site.

Blu-ray Review

DVD cover

The Hobbit
The Motion Picture Trilogy
(2020 4K Ultra HD)


Starring: Ian McKellen, Martin Freeman, Richard Armitage and James Nesbitt
Distributor: Warner Bros. Home Entertainment
RRP: £74.99

5 051892 230070

Certificate: 15
Release Date: 30 November 2020

Warner Bros. Home Entertainment releases the outstanding New Line Cinema and Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer movies The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug, and The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies – in a Trilogy Boxset. They are mastered in stunning 4K Ultra HD resolution with High Dynamic Range, which showcases a wider colour spectrum (brighter, deeper and more lifelike) for a much improved viewing experience. The remastering was overseen by original director Peter Jackson...

Peter Jackson, of course, famously adapted J. R. R. Tolkien’s timeless The Lord of the Rings trilogy of books into the films The Fellowship of the Ring, The Two Towers, and The Return of the King. So ground-breaking and successful were they that the studios wanted Jackson to move directly on to The Hobbit – a prequel of sorts. However, he had worked tirelessly for five years on three films back-to-back and was desperate to do something else. It was reported that the studio executives threatened to give The Hobbit film to someone else, but he was determined to have a break. It was well that they waited for him, because Jackson essentially made three long but very fine movies based on only a single book – and a relatively short book, come to that. One of the writers for the film was Guillermo del Toro, a director I have a great deal of respect for (Pan’s Labyrinth, Hellboy, etc.). In the films, Bilbo Baggins is politely goaded by the wizard Gandalf into accompanying a band of warrior dwarves in an epic journey to take back their home in Erebor from the fearsome dragon, Smaug. They are obliged to tackle Orcs, Goblins, Mountain Giants, and a host of other hazards. The cast includes Ian McKellan, Martin Freeman, James Nesbitt, Sylvester McCoy, Kate Blanchett, Ian Holm, Christopher Lee, Hugo Weaving, Andy Serkis, Benedict Cumberbatch, and many, many more.

I mention the word ‘stunning’ in the first paragraph, and I don’t use it lightly. Many 4K releases fail to impress, as they are simply upscaled or poorly mastered offerings. Some truly stand out. V For Vendetta, The Dark Knight Trilogy, and the John Carpenter films Escape From New York and The Fog are good examples of how they should be. Even Carpenter’s The Thing was released as a Blu-ray but with 4K remastering of the original negatives, and it’s so good that I spent much of the viewing time appreciating scenery I had not seen in detail before. I would certainly place The Hobbit Trilogy in this top class group of releases. There appears to be more depth to the experience, and the colours are vibrant without being cartoonish. Everything seems more real and gritty; which is certainly what is required in a fantasy – albeit a Dark Fantasy from a classic book. I possess the original DVD releases of these films, and noticed no difference at the time because you come to accept the new technology as standard. But the difference between the DVD and 4K viewing pleasure is tantamount to the distance between The Shire and Erebor.

The Lord of the Rings Trilogy is also available in the same format: both have the Theatrical Version and the Extended version of each film (6 discs in each set). These contain only the films, no extras. Both trilogies are also out in Steelbook format. It should be pointed out that in the Summer of 2021 a 4K UHD “Middle Earth” Ultimate Collectors’ Edition featuring the Theatrical and Extended Versions of all six films, with new Bonus Content and Blu-ray versions of the films also included, is released. You might feel this is a bit of a con, but some people only want to see the films, and are not interested in the special features. Therefore, if you are a Peter Jackson or Middle Earth keen enthusiast I would suggest waiting and saving your pennies for the Summer Ultimate set. My opinion is that these should have emerged at the same time. But as for this trilogy set, it’s practically faultless.


Ty Power

Buy this item online