I am the wife of the great Stromboli Bones himself! Prepare yourself for a long one and please read this knowing that (while biased) my review will be quite honest!
Stromboli and I got together after these movies came out. I am a very avid fan of the Lord of the Rings universe and I have always enjoyed the Hobbit movies (I went and saw them all on opening night of the original theater releases). I want you all to know I never minded any of these movies and having more time with the characters I so loved is a treasure to me. That being said I only watched The Battle of the Five Armies the once in theater. When I say I never thought that cutting these movies down I mean I NEVER thought that fanedits were a thing nor would I ever take an interest in finding a better version.
This Journey for me started when Stromboli decided the originals were not "good enough". There was AMAZING potential but the studio really stunted the greatness that could have been the Hobbit franchise. So he found this website. Where he combed through what felt like a BILLION fanedits of this film to find the version that felt perfect. I cannot even to begin to put into words how EXHAUSTING it is to see the same movie and the same scenes reworked over and over again in another person's vision of how it "should" go. I heard "Babe look at how DonKamillo put it into episodes" and "YOOOOOOOO check out how Maple Films made this song flow into this other song" IN A FREAKING SECOND TRANSITON THAT NO ONE IN THE WORLD WOULD NOTICE. We combed though every edit that this stupid website had to offer way past the point where I was tired of seeing these movies. Until, to the dismay of us both....he decided to make his own...
This man of mine obsessed over these edits, taking his favorite bits from his hardworking precesessors. Stromboli took bits and bobs and even full scenes yes from other people but he had to recreate, mesh and come up with his own ideas as the time went on. The barrel scene was probably the MOST painstaking. I cannot tell you HOW MANY TIMES I would be in the middle of putting away laundry or watching my own show when I would hear "Honey will you watch this it will only take a sec!!!" (when it rarely ever took one sec).
When I say he obsessed I mean it he OBSESSED over getting every minute detail right. On game nights, I kept hearing from his coworkers "if I have to listen to him tell me about this part of his edit or that part of his edit anymore I'm gonna be sick. I don't know how you do it".
I had a LOT of fun at first hearing how he was gonna take out Radagast and get rid of showing Bilbo leaving the dwarfs to give Gandalf the Arkenstone. But when it got to the eagle scene taking the troop from the flaming trees to the mountain where they first see Erebor...I almost lost it.
We had to put in a rule, he wasn't allowed to talk about the Hobbit in the car or in the shower, especially the shower (yes we are gross and in love that we shower together daily). Yet in one of these breaks of my rule was the time when I got to do my part and suggest a way to make that eagle scene work!! HUZZAH! When all was said and done, (because in the middle of this he proposed and asked me to marry him after 4 years together on Hobbit day 2020) my wedding gift to him was renting out a theater where all his friends and family could see the masterpiece I knew he had created. Here we asked ALL of his friends to come and watch and to do so with a critical eye. He wanted any and all feed back; he wanted to know if anything felt wrong or jarring.... and that is where my dear readers......someone told him "I loved ALMOST all of it".
The ONE scene that I helped piece together...the one that made me feel like I was part of the team.... was the one small piece that didn't quite fit :( Out of nowhere he found a new edit with the perfect to pieces to Stromboli's problems. This guy M4 had digitally removed the scars from Thorins face after the eagle rescue, AND fixed the Smaug exit from the building where he was all gold (another major pain point that I just couldn't watch ONE MORE editors rendition cause they all felt the SAME!!!!) Thank god for those small but lifesaving changes that someone took the time to do. You have No IDEA how nice it was to stop hearing about those parts of the movie.
With this long winded story coming to a close, the man of my dreams has added what I'm sure may be just another drop in the bucket of hobbit edits. And while I don't wanna watch the Hobbit originals or any of the edits for a very Very long time, this edit was combed over to be the most digestible, most entertaining, and to show the upmost respect for all the creators and people who worked on the originals and edits. This IS the best edit for me. It has everything I want. The episodic format is easily shared with friends who don't have enough time in their day for extended editions (that I normally prefer). The pacing is done well and maintains the integrity of the story, improves it actually! The music is fun and whimsical as a movie about Dwarfs on an epic quest to kill a dragon should be and the transitions in the audio were done in such a way that I could never find them if I tried (and believe me, I have heard every single one so, SO many times). I am so incredibly proud of this man you have no idea. This is a very enjoyable experience and in my very biased opinion: a 9/10 (minus a point for my pain and suffering, because oh boy I do not wanna watch these again ANYTIME soon).
--Mrs. Stromboli Bones
That being said, it is absolutely clear that this editor poured his/her heart and soul into this project, and the results are something he/she should be proud of. I have come to expect sharp cuts and awkward transitions in Hobbit edits. That is not the case here. This is easily the closest level of polish I have seen to the theatrical releases. This must have been an enormous endeavor on behalf of the editor and his/her success in this regard cannot be understated. If you want to check out the cleanest edit on this forum in terms of mimicking the polish of a theatrical cut, look no further.
In addition to creating an unexpectedly smooth watching experience, Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Edits nails all of its thematic decisions. To name a few standouts, I love how Azog no longer falls into the ice and then breaks out in a way that is BEYOND ridiculous. That change allowed me to remain immersed in the story without that jarring interruption. Additionally, the flow of some of the earlier scenes leading up to the eagle rescue seem to progress in a way that emphasizes the bonds growing within the dwarf party without the complications of the bilbo/thorin bonding scene. Finally, and most importantly for my own preference, this edits keeps Smaugs death as true as possible to that in the book. This was the most irksome departure for me when watching the original releases and many edits fail to do this important death justice. These decisions and a few others made this edit stand out to me and really enriched my viewing experience.
Thanks for reading my first review and to the owner, keep up the good work!
My biggest issue with The Hobbit has always been the length. To me, this is a story that didn't need more than 3 hours or so to be told, yet we ended up with almost 9 hours of it. It's bloated, messy, and doesn't feel as technically proficient as the original trilogy of films.
In this edition, the story is told in a 5-part structure. This made it feel less like a trilogy of movies and more like one of those big epic TV miniseries they used to make back in the day. I feel like this structure allows the story to take it's time, and makes some of the things I personally would've cut out a lot more palatable. Beorn doesn't feel like a waste of time now, he's just another stop on the journey.
The "greatest hits" approach really shines here, and I was honored to see some small parts of my edit reflected in this edition. However, It can't be looked how much Stromboli Bones put into this and let's their own sensibilities shine. This isn't just a mash up of 5 other edits, Stromboli really made it their own.
Quality wise, I didn't spot any issues, though I've never been much of a tech head. Everything was in sync, looked good, and the edits are hidden well.
In my personal opinion, this is still too much Hobbit. Obviously I feel that way, as I did my own edit that's significantly shorter. However, if you want to take your time with the story and really spend some time in Middle Earth with Bilbo, Thorin and Gandalf, this is likely the best way to do it.
When Amazon announced their new Lord of the Rings prequel show, it got me thinking that the Hobbit would've been great as a limited-run miniseries, due to the episodic nature of the story. The trolls, the stone giants, Riddles in the Dark, Beorn's house, Mirkwood, etc. - these are all essentially stand-alone scenes that would work as episodes in a TV show and not suffer from needing to cut way too much cool stuff from the book in order to make it a single movie, or else making a single butt-numbing 4+ hour long movie.
It didn't occur to me that one could split Jackson's movies into episodes, but it is a stroke of genius that works incredibly well. I also love how excising most the cartoonish and videogamey action scenes that Jackson added to pad it out to a trilogy has the side effect of making the movies more appropriate for the same age range as the book, seeing as how most of the gratuitous violence was in the various Azog/Orc attack scenes that have been almost completely cut here. I have two kids, who are now about the age I was when I fell in love with the book - I wouldn't be comfortable showing them the theatrical or extended editions, with all their beheadings and squirting gore, but this version scales that back to an acceptable level, while splitting it into episodes makes it digestible for kids in the high single-digit age range, who would never have sat through a single 3.5+ hour movie in one sitting (let alone three).
In my dream version, the Ian Holm/Frodo prologue would've been excised, but I get why it was kept (in abbreviated form), since otherwise the movie starts very jarringly with no real introduction for Bilbo and Gandalf showing up in basically the first shot, as in a few of the other edits I've watched. Which speaks to the great job this edit does of threading that needle between following the book more closely and making the "best possible version of these movies" (as Stromboli Bones states as his thesis for this edit). One could expect that if this was the version of the prologue we got in the theatrical version, it would've felt a lot less egregious and felt less out-of-sync with the rest of the movies. The only other thing I would say is that the climactic battle could stand to be shorter still, with some of the more ridiculous CGI troll antics cut (peg leg trolls, battering ram trolls, etc).
The attention to detail that has been paid to not creating continuity errors or jarring cuts is far and away better than any of the others I have watched. A few nice nods to the further LoTR films have been kept (the shards of Narsil being glimpsed in Rivendell, etc.) while removing the egregious prequel-ish easter-eggs and heavy-handed foreshadowing that Jackson larded it up with.
The episodic structure allows keeping a lot of iconic stuff I love from the book (the songs, the eagles, Beorn, etc.) while not making everything feel either ploddingly overlong or way too rushed and confusing, like a lot of the 3-in-1 edits.
I love that Stromboli actually rented out a local theater to screen it for his friends and then incorporated feedback to fix any continuity errors or editing issues, which speaks to the amount of effort and attention to detail that went into making this the best edit available of these movies. This will be the canonical version for my family from now on!
So, my wife and I, (both being casual fans of Lord of the Rings) have tried twice to watch the Hobbit. The first time was when An Unexpected Journey was released at home and we rented it, and the second was when we bought the blu-ray set with all six films in it. Both times, after about 30-60 minutes into the first one, we both said "this sucks" and turned it off.
Something was wrong. It looked weird. The tone was off, and it was supremely boring. I think it was best described by that skit SNL did where one reviewer says "after about an hour I fell asleep and when I woke up, the dwarves were building an Ikea bookshelf."
I haven't checked out any of the many edits of this movie series over the years because I couldn't really bring myself to return to it. I didn't believe there was hope for any discernible, accessible story to be pulled out of the muck. But, after reading some of the buzz about "The Battle of the Five Edits", I was intrigued by the idea of taking the five best edits of this disaster, re-working them into the TV episode-style format and turning them into The One Edit To Rule Them All!
Fast-forward to last weekend. I put on the first episode of this edit, fully intending to only watch the first one and then move on to other things I needed to do. After the first five minutes, my wife walked in the living room and said "Lord of the Rings?" I said, "no, it's an edit of The Hobbit." She groaned, but sat there with me and watched it while we drank our coffee.
Five hours later, we had binge-watched the whole damn thing! I got absolutely nothing done that day, but now I finally know how the entire Hobbit trilogy plays out! That should tell you how good the editing was.
Stromboli Bones cut the "episodes" so that tension builds before the cut to credits in a way that really makes you want to watch the next one to find out what happens (like Game of Thrones, et al.), and that approach was so effective we literally couldn't stop watching!
WHAT I LOVED:
-First of all, that synopsis Stromboli wrote on IFDB that rewrites Galadriel's voiceover. That made me smile.
-The frame rate. It must have been taken down to 30fps, because it actually looks cinematic, and like it belongs next to Lord of the Rings. The soap opera effect is no longer there. The 48-frames-per-second "Peter Jackson Shit-vision" as one reviewer called it, is no more.
-The titles of the episodes are great references to LotR. He acknowledges they were borrowed from another editor, but they were really well chosen.
-I was engaged with the story from the very beginning and it held my attention the entire time. Stromboli took a solid story that was encased in hours of unneeded material and managed to chisel out the things we really cared about, recraft them, and place them at center stage.
-The use of Legolas. I know from reading reviews his presence and love triangle subplot was one of the major complaints about the original versions. He's my wife's favorite character, and I don't think she even realized he was in the Hobbit movies, so she actually cheered when he showed up. When the "That's my wee lad, Gimli" moment happened, we both looked at each other and shouted "Gimli!" There was just enough Legolas to delight us. That was perfect. Give him his cameo at Mirkwood, the fun barrel chase action scene, and then he shows up at the final battle. Fan-service, sure...but good fan-service. We loved it.
-The choice to not show Bilbo delivering the Arkenstone. I think it created a palpable tension in that part of the story that you want at that moment. We want to wonder what happened. Who has it? I wasn't sure if Bilbo took it or the old Dwarf. It created a "need to know" feeling that carried us through to Bard's revelation, followed by Thorin's emotional explosion. It was really excellent, and as far as I know, was a story choice unique to this edit. Sometimes, the information you choose to withhold is more dramatic than the information you give. This sequence is a perfect example of that.
-As a first-time viewer, unfamiliar with how the original versions of the film played out, I thought the story Stromboli crafted worked incredibly well. It didn't feel like a fanedit at all. And when I looked at his changelist after I watched, I was blown away by how much major surgery he had to do on this.
There were a few minor things that, had I gone to see this at the theater, I may have questioned. In no way, however, did they impact my enjoyment of this edit.
-The weakest edit in this whole series was the transition between the eagle rescue and Bilbo hiding from the wargs and seeing the Bear-shifter guy (Beorn?). It builds a cliffhanger for the next episode, but I wonder if it would have worked better to leave them dangling from the cliff as the literal cliffhanger, only to be rescued by the eagles at the start of the next episode.
-And would this movie be better with the Bear-Shifter guy completely cut? He didn't really add much to the resolution of the story. He feels like the same kind of Peter Jackson indulgence that I felt should have been cut in certain parts of The Lord of the Rings. But, I do see him as a whimsical character and it was fun to have him in there for fans of the book, I'm sure. I admit, we both laughed when he popped up later. So, that moment alone probably made it worth it to keep him.
-Thorin Oakenshield's friendship with Bilbo. Not sure about the original, but in this edit, Thorin comes off as unstable and mostly unlikeable. I didn't really feel anything for him when he died. In fact, we were both glad to see him go, as it seemed like the whole war of the five armies was his fault to begin with. Not much redemption. Not really sure why Bilbo was upset about it, since the guy antagonized him through most of the movie. Bilbo calling him his friend at the end rang hollow and just didn't feel earned, imo. I don't recall a scene where they really bonded or reconciled after Thorin wanted to kill him. But, it's a minor quibble and maybe it's something that's better understood after multiple viewings.
-The Dwarves singing at the beginning always struck me as weird and I was hoping it would be gone, but I'm sure that's a matter of personal taste.
-I was looking forward to seeing Christopher Lee's Saruman as a good guy in this story, but it seems as though those White Council scenes are something everyone edits out, so they must have been bad.
-The Orc General (Azog?), when he shows up at the final battle with his army, it didn't have as much emotional significance as it probably could have if there was an introductory scene of him earlier in the story. The reaction was more like, "Oh no! An Orc army too?" Which works fine. But, because he has a one-on-one battle with Thorin...it probably could have felt more interesting if Azog had some sort of personal motivation to kill the heroes (other than being an orc). But, I completely agree with your comparison to Gothmog. It probably works just as well as he did. It's just one of those things that felt like maybe there was meant to be a little more.
There were a few sound and picture glitches I caught, but they were immediately fixed and replaced with new files by the faneditor, so I didn't deduct any stars for technical problems. After the corrections, everything looks and sounds as smooth as an official release.
In any case, BRAVO! There were many truly fun moments that existed in this trilogy, like the barrel chase and the ram sled on ice that were on par with any of the memorable action sequences in LotR. The greatness was always there, it just had to be dug out, dusted off and polished up by a skilled editor.
I never thought it was possible, but Stromboli Bones was able to change two people's perception of the Hobbit with this edit. From weird, bloated trash to "Wow, The Hobbit was actually an amazing companion piece to LotR!" This easily ranks as one of my top three favorite and most transformative fanedits of all time! This project represents what fanediting is all about, to take something you hate and somehow make it a classic!
If this had been the version shown in theaters, I feel The Hobbit would have been as successful and beloved as its predecessor.
The faneditor acknowledges this edit stands on the shoulders of others that have come before it. But, if he stole anything, he stole it like an artist! He took the best ideas and made them his own, and that's what every good artist does.
Thank you, Stromboli, for sharing all of your hard work with us and with the world! Thank you for rescuing a franchise for me. Thank you for helping me appreciate a series of films I'd written off as garbage, and for turning it into a classic that I will watch over and over again alongside LotR.
Don't stop now. I'll be looking forward to your next project!
- I didn't change anything about the framerate, they showed these films in theaters at 48 fps but the blu-rays were knocked down to the standard 24fps. It's funny that you thought mine looked better though lol
- The titles are actually the titles of chapters straight out of the Hobbit! (DonKamillo's idea, and if it ain't broke...)
- I'm glad you appreciated the Arkenstone delivery removal, I've always been worried about that change causing controversy
- I'd never thought about doing a literal cliffhanger, I suppose it could work, but the carrock scene is such a definitive end to SOMETHING that I feel it'd be really weird if it occured 10 minutes into an episode, you know? I'd probably just be better off cutting the eagles entirely.
- Beorn's gotta stay, he's a huge part of why the battle was even won, and it'd create a bunch of narrative problems if he was cut (riding horses to mirkwood that came out of nowhere)
- I'm definitely with you on the Thorin-Bilbo relationship. The scene at the end of Episode 2 (first movie) was about as far as they got when considering how to build their friendship. Everything after is just kind of....meh. I did what I could but this is one of those rare instances where there's not ENOUGH source material.
- If you're talking about the Misty Mountains song that you think is weird, I feel personally attacked. As for Blunt the Knives....I get it. But I love it lol.
- Maybe an episode 4.5 will give you the Christopher Lee you want ;)
- Azog is definitely the hardest variable to deal with in the entire trilogy, in my opinion. He can be handled a ton of different ways, and they each have their flaws. I'm not sure there really is a "best" way to do it. I'm glad you understood my plight when you made your judgements XD
- Thank you for being so swift with the feedback! I shudder to think about all the people out there who have the unpolished copies downloaded....