I loved Desolation of Smaug when I saw it in theaters. It felt more like a Lord of the Rings film than its predecessor did. I've read The Hobbit, but I didn't mind the additions Jackson made to the film, and for the most part, the film didn't really drag that much. However, as was the case with edits of Unexpected Journey, I never really noticed (or cared, take your pick) how bloated the film was until watching Ranger's cut.
Ranger skillfully cuts away the extra fat of the film without sacrificing any of the core story of the film. That's right, a little over 40 minutes cut and nothing truly important was left out. That being said, leaving out four of the dwarves staying behind in Laketown and the love triangle means that this version of the film probably won't mesh perfectly with the theatrical version of Battle of the Five Armies. Ranger has said that he intends to edit the entire trilogy, so there is certainly that to look forward to.
As a film on its own, though, this is a great edit and I can't find a reason to not recommend it to anybody. Keep up the good work, Ranger. I'm looking forward to seeing more of your work. We all are!
After seeing Desolation in both 2D/3D and much lamentation, I could not heartily recommend it to any but the most devoted of Tolkien fans. The excessive use of green screen, extended drivel of a love interest and meandering motives of Thorin left me wanting. Smaug, while a lengthy portion of the tail end of the film, added some respite from the failure to tighten the script.
ranger's edit does precisely what I hoped it would do. I nearly forget the parts that were cut, helping maintain a good pace, while not overexposing some of the later mysteries. Many edits trim too much, leaving holes in your narrative that are filled by past viewings. My wife watched this cut after a single viewing of theatrical Desolation and enjoyed it far more than the original without being able to explain why. That's a high water mark for me. Helping to focus the viewer on the key story elements brought out more of the magic of Bard and the Master, which I was a bit too tired to enjoy after the first hour of orc-riding elves and pointless love connections.
This is my first of hopefully many helpful reviews on this site. First let me say a huge THANKYOU to all of the dedicated faneditors of many beloved but flawed movies. Your continued work has truly given so many of us a whole new experience of watching movies loved and/or hated. The quality of work I see is amazing and deserving of huge accolades for what has been brought to this community. I wished more people knew of the hard work and genuine skill at your craft as I'm sure much love and time goes into each project.
Now onto this fanedit. I'm a big fan of Lord of the Rings trilogy, I'm in no way a book purist as I had not even heard of the books when the original trilogy came out. I actually walked into the wrong movie in the theatre on accident, never saw a preview of Lord of the Rings, didn't know a thing about it even when the title scrolled up, let alone that it was based on a book, but low and behold I was taken away from the first scene and could not leave my seat to go watch the actual movie I paid for. I was glued to the screen and it has forever become a top 5 favorite of all time since. 10 years pass and I'm super excited for the new Hobbit trilogy. I ended up reading this book after becoming a fan of Lord of the Rings so this time I knew what to expect. I enjoyed part one for the most part, not to the level of love for the original trilogy, but still left the theatre wanting more. Skip to next year, I go to watch Desolation of Smaug in IMAX opening day, and I was in awe of my emotions inside. I HATED it. I cant tell you how many times I looked at my watch hoping it was almost over. Nothing about it felt fresh and exciting. It felt like one long dramatic soap opera stare of eyes after another for ridiculous epic moment effect, followed by a horrendous and utterly unbelievable love triangle (really! this beutiful elf has a thing for this greesy 3 foot dwarf), and then the main villains Azog and Borg (which were characters I hated in part one) who were obviously poorly done cgi creations with horrible dialoge and really served little needed purpose. They were far from intimidating like the villains in Lord of the Rings. The barrell scene was way over the top, Smaug when you FINALLY get to the mountain after what felt like 3 days in the theatre, was overlong and not that spectacular.
This edit fixes almost everything! No love triangle, Azog and Borg are almost eliminated from this cut, which actually makes them somewhat of a welcome sight when they appear for a brief scene or two, the barrel scene is still intact but because I'm not worn out by the time it comes, it is far more manageable and somewhat more exciting. Not positive if some of the long stares were cut down but I didnt seem to notice as many of them. Basically trimming almost an hour of the film allows it to move scene to scene at a far better pace so that even the little things that suck actually seem better now. The Smaug finale is still a bit too long, but maybe the Into the Fire cut will approach that. Now I'm actually looking forward to the last movie in the trilogy this year, though I have little hope for the theatrical cut, but thank the Lord, Ranger613 brings hope of a better cut of that too!
Visual Editing: Flawless, never mistaken as an edited cut
Audio Editing: Flawless, never mistaken as an edited cut
Enjoyment: Original Movie: D-
Enjoyment: Fire of the Dragon: B
Do you recommend this edit?
Owner's replyJune 25, 2014
Thanks very much for taking the time to watch and review this! Cheers and I appreciate the support. We make these edits for your enjoyment :)
I have just finished watching this edit, and I must say I am very impressed.
The audio and video quality is very good, encoding is very smooth, no stutter or jerkiness any where. The audio volume is slightly on the low side but it still crisp an clear.
Visual editing is excellent, all cuts, transitions and blends are smooth.
Audio editing is good, no volume change between scenes, nothing out of sync.
Narrative - I think this is the best part of the edit. It is well paced, and the story flows seamlessly.
For any one who has not seen the original film and read the book, this would be a complete and highly entertaining film, for Tolkien diehard fans like myself, we would probably like to cut out some more and see the purist edit; however having said that, it should not detract from the quality of this edit, Kudos to ranger :-)
Enjoyment: I gave this edit a 10 for a very simple reason, I enjoyed it much more than the theatrical cut, simple as that ;-)
I highly recommend this edit for any one looking to spend two hours with a very good movie.
Do you recommend this edit?
Owner's replyJune 24, 2014
Hasmak, thank you very much for the support. I am glad you enjoyed this edit and look forward to having you watch the purist cut. In the mean time, I'm going to check out the Adventures of Tom Bombadil, per your recommendation :)
This is a wonderful first release by a very promising new editor at fanedit.org.
Ranger613 has carefully and skilfully removed many of the elements that weighed down the second Hobbit movie, while being careful not to overcut. This doesn't feel like a fanedit, it feels like an official release. The audio transitions are smooth, the visual cutting is well paced and the sense of narrative is strong.
For some, there are elements in this cut that will frustrate - for example, the excess of the barrels chase and the dwarves vs Smaug scenes remain intact. But those elements aside, this is a much stronger cut than the theatrical version, and gives me everything I look for in a fanedit - Namely, great technical prowess, attention to detail, thoughtful narrative work and nothing distracting that makes me think, "Oh, that's right, this is a fanedit...".
Well done ranger! I will be watching your career with great interest...
Do you recommend this edit?
Owner's replyJune 23, 2014
Thank you very much for the support njvc. I hope to produce more good work for all to enjoy. The "purist" edition, titled 'Into the Fire' will be released soon, and I hope that version will satisfy any of the disappointment resulting from the more extreme narrative deviations of the theatrical cut. I appreciate the time you took to watch and review this edit. Cheers!