Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies - Arkenstone Edition, The

Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies - Arkenstone Edition, The
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Brief Synopsis:
The third and final installment of my “Arkenstone” edit trilogy. Like before, I’ve tried to keep the focus as much as possible on Bilbo, Thorin and Gandalf, while still giving the various side characters their moments to shine, without drawing attention away from the main story.
In addition to keeping the focus on the main characters and storylines, my aim has been to improve the pacing and creating a more consistent tone. While the original cut featured several great character moments and dramatic scenes, there was unfortunately too much focus on battle scenes, action and silly comedy, which detracts from what is actually a good and effective drama – which I have tried to bring back to the forefront.

The first act has also been recut and reordered considerably to create a better and more logical flow. Many scenes in the original feel a bit disjointed and disconnected from the main story, so removing some scenes entirely and reordering the rest has hopefully resulting in a more exciting build-up to the battle. Unnecessary side plots, such as Tauriel’s banishment and the brief mentions of Angmar and Legolas’ mother, have been cut, keeping the focus on the plot threads that actually matter.

The battle itself has also been recut heavily to focus more on character moments than on over-the-top effects and action sequences. All in all this edit should provide a more satisfying conclusion to the Hobbit trilogy. In addition, the film has been color corrected to match the more vivid colors used in AUJ and my DoS edit, creating a more coherent color palette for the three films. Several bits of Howard Shore’s unused music have also been restored, wherever possible.
Other Sources:
- The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey
- The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug
- The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies OST
Release Information:
Cuts and Additions:
• Replaced opening credits music with a piece from “Over Hill” from the AUJ soundtrack, which wasn’t used in that film, and that I wasn’t able to restore in my AUJ edit either – but it finds a new home here.
• After the credits, we open on Gandalf imprisoned in Dol Guldur, and the White Council coming to rescue him.
• Cut Gandalf’s telepathic communication with Radagast.
• Changed the dungeon keeper’s subtitle to remove his mention of Gandalf casting spells.
• Restored music to Galadriel confronting the dungeon keeper.
• Trimmed the dungeon keeper’s death.
• Restored music to Galadriel lifting Gandalf and carrying him.
• Sauron now recites more of the Ring Verse, lifted from a DoS scene that I didn’t include in my edit of that film.
• Elrond attacks the Ringwraiths immediately after saying “You should have stayed dead.”
• Used a mix of the theatrical and extended versions of the White Council battling the Ringwraiths.
• Cut Sauron claiming that “The kingdom of Angmar will rise again”, which has no real bearing on the plot and makes Sauron’s plan even more confusing than it already is.
• Recut Galadriel’s banishment of Sauron to make it a bit less psychedelic, using some footage from the appendices.
• Added some lines of exposition from Saruman (taken from the extended edition of AUJ): “Without the ruling ring of power, Sauron can never again hold dominion over Middle-Earth, and that ring was lost long, long ago.”
• After Gandalf’s “The battle for the mountain is about to begin”, we cut to an establishing shot of Erebor, overlaid with the title card.
• Used some footage of Erebor from DoS to improve the pacing of the change of scenery.
• From there we cut to the Dwarves searching for the Arkenstone and Bilbo sitting on the ramparts, showing us that the stone is in his possession.
• Restored music to Bilbo and the Arkenstone on the ramparts.
• Then we cut to the shores of the long lake and the survivors of Smaug’s rampage, with some color correction applied to match the time of day of the previous scene.
• Changed the order of the shots on the shore to establish Tauriel and the others before Alfrid.
• Trimmed Kili’s farewell to Tauriel so Legolas interrupts them before they have time to share any words, and changed the order of shots so her looking at the runestone comes at the end of the scene.
• Cut some Alfrid stuff after Bard returns.
• Restored music to the end of the long lake scene.
• Restored music to the four Dwarves entering Erebor.
• Cut Bilbo saying that Thorin “has been down there for days”, which doesn’t make sense continuity-wise.
• Restored music to the Dwarves entering the treasure room.
• Restored music to the end of the treasure room scene.
• Cut the reunion of the Dwarves to create a better transition to the next scene.
• Cut Legolas’ and Bard’s scene at the camp, cutting directly from Erebor to Azog and his army.
• Recreated and retimed Azog’s subtitles to better match what he’s saying.
• Restored music to Legolas and Tauriel talking about Bolg and the Gundabad army.
• Cut the Elf messenger who arrives to say that Tauriel has been banished – this whole subplot has been removed.
• Cut from the refugees heading for Dale to Thorin fretting about the Arkenstone in the throne room.
• Changed the order of scenes so we see the refugees entering Dale before the acorn scene with Thorin and Bilbo.
• Restored music to Gandalf riding towards Erebor.
• Cut the voiceover flashback about the gems of Lasgalen.
• Slight trims to Thorin and Bard’s parlay at the gate of Erebor.
• Cut straight from Thorin’s “We have reclaimed Erebor. Now we defend it” to the laketowners and Dwarves preparing for war.
• Cut from the war preparation sequence to Gandalf arriving in Dale. The Mithril vest scene and Tauriel and Legolas arriving at Gundabad now come a bit later.
• Trimmed Alfrid’s berating of Gandalf.
• Cut Gandalf’s mention of Angmar.
• The were-worms have been removed, and Azog’s subtitles have been rewritten (along with some changed audio) to establish that they’re using existing mining tunnels to sneak up on the Dwarves – and I’ve inserted a mention of the Gundabad army in order to transition to the next scene.
• After the scene at the Orc tunnels, we cut to Tauriel and Legolas at Gundabad. The two Gundabad scenes have been shortened and merged into one, removing mentions of Angmar and Legolas’ mother.
• Restored music to the Orc army leaving Gundabad.
• We then cut to Thorin giving Bilbo the mithril vest.
• Included the EE scene between Bilbo and Bofur, but I’ve placed it after Thranduil’s “the Dwarves are out of time”, recreating the way the scenes were edited in the theatrical version.
• Cut the end of Gandalf’s and Bilbo’s scene after he has given away the Arkenstone, ending the scene on Gandalf’s “don’t underestimate the evil of gold.”
• Trimmed Thranduil and co riding up to Erebor.
• Included the EE scene of Thorin stalling for time and Thranduil suggesting that Bard should sell the Arkenstone.
• Used the EE version of Dain’s arrival and the ensuing battle between Dwarves and Elves.
• Trimmed the Dwarf/Elf battle so the Dwarves only fire the “twirly-whirlies” once.
• Re-edited the arrival of the Orcs to remove the Were-worms.
• Recut the beginning of the battle to remove the Elves refusing to fight and their weird jumping over the Dwarves. Instead the Elves immediately provide arrow cover, inspired by Adam Dens’ edit.
• Restored music to the Dwarves charging.
• Some trimming and reordering of battle scenes.
• All Alfrid scenes have been cut from the battle.
• Cut Bard riding the cart to save his children.
• Cut Thranduil’s moose skewering several Orcs at the same time.
• Trimmed some of Dain’s headbutting.
• Replaced Azog’s subtitle “The Dwarves are almost spent” with “The Dwarves are losing ground,” which I think fits better with the altered rhythm of the battle.
• Cut Thorin threatening to kill Dwalin to imply that Dwalin’s words are what finally break the dragon sickness.
• Inserted Bilbo’s acorn scene from the appendices, recut and with added backgrounds and effects to make it more seamless.
• Cut Thorin’s dragon sickness scene on the golden floor. Since I didn’t include the molten gold in my DoS edit, I couldn’t include this scene.
• Cut Azog ordering his army to wait before the final assault.
• Used some EE bits of the Dwarves fighting, with added music. We haven’t seen the minor Dwarves do much in this film so far, so I thought it would be nice to give them a few battle moments. These scenes also set up the weird, blind troll that comes into play later at Ravenhill.
• Used the EE chariot scene, but trimmed it considerably to remove the most over-the-top moments.
• Cut Tauriel’s confrontation with Thranduil.
• Cut Dwalin saying there are “no more than a hundred” goblin mercenaries on the way. Yes, the Dwarves are ridiculously over-powered, but there’s no need emphasize it by saying that Thorin and Dwalin have no trouble dispatching a hundred goblins by themselves.
• Added a sound effect to Azog stabbing Fili. I guess the stabbing sound wasn’t included in the original because of censorship issues, but I think the moment really needs an appropriate sound effect.
• Ravenhill has been recut to remove Legolas flying on a bat.
• Restored some music to Ravenhill.
• Trimmed Tauriel vs. Bolg, Kili’s death and Tauriel going over the cliff with Bolg.
• Changed the order of some shots of Thorin fighting and Legolas firing arrows.
• Restored original music to Legolas jumping off the tower and onto the blind troll.
• Legolas now kills Bolg immediately after returning Orcrist to Thorin, and his gravity-defying acrobatics have been cut.
• Used EE scene of the Gundabad army approaching.
• Some minor trims to the fight between Thorin and Azog.
• Used EE shots of Beorn in battle.
• Moved Tauriel mourning Kili before Thorin’s death scene.
• Cut Thranduil’s scenes with Legolas and Tauriel.
• Used EE scene of Thorin’s funeral, adding Gandalf’s eulogy from the Appendices.
• Restored a small snippet of music to Bilbo and Balin outside Erebor.
• Recut the last scene between Gandalf and Bilbo to match the way it played out in the book (and the way it was originally shot), removing the discussion about the Ring.
• Restored small bit of music as Bilbo enters Bag End.
• Restored additional instruments to the music as Bilbo finds his handkerchief and hangs up the pictures of PJ and Fran Walsh.
• Restored music to old Bilbo sitting with the Ring.
Cover art by kerr (DOWNLOAD HERE)

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(Updated: January 03, 2021)
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I found the theatrical version of The Battle of the Five Armies extremely tedious to the point of being nigh unwatchable, so I was really interested in seeing what Kerr would do with this film. To the surprise of no one who's followed these edits, he's revealed the emotional core of the story and molded this unwieldy movie into a satisfying conclusion to the adventures of Bilbo and the Dwarven company.

Wonderful little character moments from the Extended Editions and even the Appendices bring warmth to the film, and Kerr has given these moments the opportunity to shine by cutting back a lot of the weightless, tensionless cgi spectacle. While turning The Hobbit into a trilogy may not have been the best approach for Peter Jackson and co to set out with, it's clear to me that the films, as they were made, work best as three seperate stories. I'm glad I can finally enjoy them with these edits.

My only real disappointment is the fact that's it's only available as an >8GB MKV file. The first Arkenstone edition had an excellent 25GB Blu-Ray version that preserved the video quality of the source. The smaller file size of this release led to noticeable compression artifacts and visual muddiness throughout the film. Now that The Hobbit trilogy has been released on 4K HDR Blu-Ray, the gulf in visual quality will be even more severe. I do hope Kerr eventually releases a higher bitrate version of this edit.
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