I watched the version with 5 episodes, which I thought was a great idea. I couldn’t fault the audio and visual editing for the most part, however the lurid colours used for the title at the beginning of each episode wouldn’t be to my taste, they looked a bit tacky to me. I also remember a pretty noticeable cut at the “out of the frying pan into the fire“ point, where the light changes quite suddenly. I do believe other edits have edited that part a little more smoothly. You correctly imo deleted the very cringeworthy Orc ambush/Radagast bunny sled sequence, yet at the beginning of episode 2, during the dinner scene in Rivendell, Gandalf mentions being ambushed by orcs. I was also disappointed to see several cringeworthy scenes retained in episode 2, namely some of the dwarves antics and the song number in Rivendell, the entirety of the sockem Rockem Stone giants scene and the Goblin King song. Good effort overall though.
First of all, I want to say thanks to everybody for enabling me watching this. Second, I wouldn't call me neither a film or a tolkien expert, but just a fan with average knowledge who wnats to share his thoughts.
So is this cut any good? In short, I'd say yes, plain and simple.
What I liked immediately was the format of the miniseries which makes "The Hobbit", as DonKamillo put it, much better to digest - sitting there for some 5 hours takes... well, quite a while!
I also appreciate this edit technically, as I couldn't find any flaws regarding cutting within both, video and audio - it's all perfect, really, and it sets a wonderful tone similar to the LOTR film trilogy.
This edit is not the true-to-the-book edit, but the anti-cringe edit, and I get and confirm that: It leaves out many of the bloated stuff like Azog and Radagast in their totality, the horrible romance between Tauriel and Kili, the orcs attacking the barrelled dwarves, the scheming moves of Laketown's master (and servant)...
These and some more left-outs make you cringe less most definitely, and they also help to keep the focus on the main protagonists and storyline.
Now, if you don't know the book, this edit is indeed a solid recommendation and big improvement over the original three movies, and I think i will never reach out for these again.
Unfortunately (and unlike, say, Star Wars), "The Hobbit" is a well-read classic of the 20th century, so it cannot but be compared to the written book.
And so, it fails...
I had quite some observations from things I disliked during watching this edit, but after refreshing my memory with some help from Google, I realized DonKamillo can't be blamed on most of them... what kept stuck in my head were two things here:
While it's great we don't learn any of Laketowns hideous politics, Alfrid Lickspittle (the servant) is still present in the movie, but I think his attention-grabbing presence is not justified at all now (except discovering Bilbo's escape after handing over the Arkenstone, but that's hardly something essential) and distracts from the ongoings: You think "uh, that Mr. Eyebrows must have something wicked going on!", but there's just nothing...
A similar effect (I mean makin' you feel there's an important character, but then nothing is made out of it) is at the very end of the grand battle, where the dwarves seek out to "cut off the head of the snake", and then all there is are some few orcs - of course, that's where Azog was to come in.
Minor flaws, really. But DonKamillo can't save "The Hobbit"; the ultra-dislikeable Thorin (who would ever call that always grim and harsh fella his "friend"???), the change of some of the most crucial and memorable scenes (dwarves are IN the barrels to remain unseen during their voyage down the river, hence the "barrel-rider!") and lines (Thorin's famous last speech:"...If more of us valued food and cheer and song above hoarded gold, it would be a merrier world. But sad or merry, I must leave it now...") will always be a slag in the face of Tolkien fans, and the only thing I can hope for is there will be a better film adaption for "The Hobbit" one day.
The only good thing about the present project is Martin Freeman: I still think he's the perfect Bilbo, playing with a feel of being overstrained, a fitting down-to earthness and with a big heart -okay, some dwarves are also fine, and of coursethe reunion of some of the "old" cast. But Martin is gold.