This is a fine, fine edit and exactly the right spirit with which to tackle these movies: one that does not aspire to be artificially constrained as a three in one, or as a book purist edition, but which simply tries to make the most compelling films possible by judiciously employing the best from the source material, which means a streamlined focus on Bilbo but which also recognizes the material from the wider Middle-Earth world (most notably with the White Council).
For folks who enjoyed Kerr’s justly celebrated Arkenstone edition of the Hobbit, which used the same strategy, volume 1 of TABA is nearly identical to Arkenstone, only removing a few scenes which Kerr marked for provisional deletion in an updated version but wanted to see if they ended up proving necessary later. Because Unexpected Journey is, like FOTR, the most character-focused of them, L8wrtr has left much more of that in his edit, while compressing the far more bloated DoS and BoFA. What we have now we have, in effect, is an improved Arkenstone and a sequel.
L8wrtr has eliminated nearly all of the absurd action sequences, over the top violence, gross out humour, baffling non sequiturs (Thranduil’s dragon-fire moment or Bard’s arrest) and other ridiculousness that bordered on parody and felt detached both from the childlike charm of the Hobbit source material and the semi-realistic world depicted in the LOTR films. (There are a couple of short scenes that probably could go as well, but they’re no more than a minute in total, and inoffensive.) All of the scenes you wanted gone—the Warg orc pack, the Goblin wheel, the barrel escape, the molten gold fight with Smaug, the Orc attack at Laketown, or Legolas killing Bolg in midair—are removed.
In many cases, judicious cuts preserve the essential parts of otherwise unnecessary scenes.
Radagast is brilliantly minimized—not eliminated—and his sparing use--especially at the White Council in Rivendell-- makes him far more effective. Sylvester McCoy’s performance is charming and I hate to see it go, but his design and plotting were simply too much and too detached—the High Fells adds little, and Radagast’s house in AUJ adds even less. The dragon sickness hallucination- redundant on top of two other scenes explaining this more effectively-- is eliminated. As with most fanedits, the stone giants are removed, but so is Bilbo’s falling off and being saved by Thorin flinging himself off a cliff—which is now minimized but preserved to keep the essential character moment between them.
His treatment of Tauriel, however, is arguably the most distinctive and most successful move. Even as someone who actually, in spite of myself, really enjoyed the Kili Tauriel arc [at least until the absolutely wretched final exchange with Thranduil at Ravenhill which ruined it all], I was blown away by what I took to be one of the most innovative fanediting decisions I've ever seen. [I know L8wrtr also enjoyed this material but correctly observed that it was a major distraction, and thus the fine performances and beautiful Tauriel musical cue heard in Kingsfoil and Feast of Starlight—arguably Shore’s best work in this series—are necessary casualties.]
TABA didn't eliminate her character or reduce her to a few lines of expository dialogue, as many edits do, but left her in as a forceful character, albeit one who is now something of a competing political vision to Thranduil's bitter isolationism--a rival but loyal counselor. I had never thought of her that way before, but now it's impossible to see her otherwise.
There is no doubt in my mind that this will remain my definitive Hobbit and I suspect that will be true for all of my friends as well—a handful of fellow demoralized fans who watched these movies together at midnight but, by the end, more as an excuse to hang out rather than to actually enjoy the films themselves.
Now we can. We all knew that these films contained much that is worth celebrating—Martin Freeman’s subtle and moving Bilbo, for example, should be celebrated as the equal or even better of Sean Bean’s Boromir or Bernard Hill’s Theoden, and the exchanges between Smaug and Bilbo, or between Thorin and Bilbo, are just as we hoped from the books. Jackson successfully infused several of the dwarves—Balin, Dwalin, and Bofur—with a genuine warmth matching that of returning figures, like Blanchett’s Galadriel and Weaving’s Elrond, to say nothing of McKellan’s perfectly realized Gandalf.
But it was far too easy to forget these moments amidst an unnecessary and never-ending CGI spectacle, a temptation Jackson was already beginning to succumb to in RotK [most notably with the Army of the Dead] and which only became worse in his later work. It is a shame that that the viewing public more broadly will continue to forget these moments due to justifiably ignoring the bloated movies that swallow them.
L8wrtr’s celebrated Star Wars prequel edits drastically improve the movies, but in the end, there was simply too much wrong with the source material that even his heroic efforts could not overcome in attempting to make them into legitimately great films.
Not so here. I genuinely believe that L8wrtr’s handiwork approaches the quality of TTT and ROTK's extended editions now [FOTR will always be a cut above], which is not something I ever thought possible from those films. He has saved the Hobbit, and we all owe him thanks for it.
I have always felt divisive of the original Hobbit movies, I love the way Peter Jackson captures the Tolkien world but his Hobbit trilogy was a let down at points, I could imagine there was a great movie there when I watch the originals but somehow it always disappoints until I saw this edit, I want to say THANKS L8wrtr for this fantastic presentation, this is by far a great way to watch the Hobbit, I felt as if I was watching one of the LOTR movies, I felt completely immersed in that world without the child like camp and the horrible CGI at times.
If you are a fan of the Tolkien world and always wanted to see a good version of The Hobbit, trust me, THIS IS THE ONE.
I was a huge fan of Jackson's LotR trilogy, and, like a lot of people, was really disappointed with the confusing mess that was the Hobbit trilogy. I've watched several fanedits, and this is the best I've seen. I thought that the path Maple Films took, following the book as closely as possible, would have lead to the best outcome, but there were still problems, and the film felt a little empty after disposing of so many plotlines. I really enjoyed the Spence Edit, but it left out the Eagles and Beorn.
This edit is the best I've come across so far. It makes the best out of the source material without trying to artificially constrain it to Tolkien's original work. The use of Tauriel is absolutely fantastic. The audio and visual quality is superb. I now have a way of watching The Hobbit that doesn't make me actively question my life decisions. L8WRTR does it again.
L8wrtr has done a tremendous job streamlining The Hobbit, a series I felt way too bloated and unnecessarily long. Gone are many of my the grievances. I am torn, however, because while this version is vastly superior to the original, I still feel some scenes played out too fast while others felt they could be trimmed. While not a perfect film, this version is thoroughly enjoyable. A/V quality is what I would expect from a BR source, and while I saw no noticeable video edits I did pick up on a few audio cues that seemed to fade abruptly. This didn't lessen my enjoyment though.
I still enjoy the extended theatrical editions of The Hobbit trilogy, despite their many faults. That being said, the opportunity for a streamlined fanedit is clear, and L8wrtr has brought his great skill to this project to provide a wonderful alternative to the official releases.
The story is tight and focused on the emotional core of the characters and their relationships. The pacing and scope still feels epic and has room to breathe, but the fat is trimmed and Peter Jackson's more indulgent impulses significantly reigned in.
There are so many highlights and clever editing manoeuvres on display here, but the whole is still greater than the sum of its parts. It feels like the carefully executed vision of a great storyteller, and has the professionalism of an official studio release. Technically flawless, and thoroughly enjoyable.