Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Edits, The

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Overall rating
 
8.6
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10.0
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8.0
Although the first movie offers the most material to work with (and two of the five episodes are thankfully dedicated to it), I’m still of a mind that there’s too much included here. I can do without the dish song for example. I’m biased as I believe the original movies don’t capture the tone of the Hobbit book but rather they feel more like the tone of a prequel to the LotR movies yet undermine that repeatedly with silliness and inconsistencies. As such, scenes like trolls, goblins, and dragons talking or spontaneously breaking into song while juggling dishes feels out of place in the movie. That said, if you can accept all that, the episodic nature of this edit works very well. Though Gandalf suddenly appearing out of nowhere to save the day near the climax of multiple episodes does stand out. And there’s things that I feel are narratively inconsistent. For example, I may be mistaken, but is there any reason given for the orc army to join the battle at the end? I watched this over two weeks and of course also have the prior knowledge of the movies, but I can’t recall that army being a significant part of the story at all up to this point.

Overall it works better than the movies for me, but it isn’t a home run. It’s somewhere between a LotR prequel and a book edit, though closer to the latter. I want my Hobbit edits to be closer to the former as I believe that is what the source material calls for. Though I admit it would be tough to make it totally consistent with LotR given the talking dragon, etc.

That said, it is clearly what many other Hobbit fans do want and it is flawlessly executed. I now really want a strong LotR prequel style edit that uses the same episodic nature. Though I still think four hours, max, is enough time.

This is a very strong edit, if not one that satisfies my issues with the source material.

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Overall rating
 
8.7
Audio/Video Quality
 
9.0
Visual Editing
 
8.0
Audio Editing
 
9.0
Narrative
 
8.0
Enjoyment
 
9.0
Overall this edit has a lot to love, and some things I have personal preferences against.

The vast majority of transitions are great and mostly unnoticeable. This goes for visual and audio transitions. I absolutely love the pacing, especially the beginning and end. You aren't rushed between each chapter as most Hobbit edits are. You get to breathe between each mini-story. The pacing does get a little messy in the middle chapters though.

Another thing I enjoyed was keeping in a lot of the dwarf character moments. I know they get a little goofy, like Bombur breaking the bench, or the burps at the table, but a lot of other edits lose the group dynamic by taking so many of these out to make it more serious.

Since the story of the Hobbit is basically a bunch of self contained mini-adventures, putting the format in 5 hour long episodes rather than longer movies works great. Each one has a start and a proper conclusion. But if I was watching this alongside the Lord of the Rings I'd probably choose to watch a 2 movie edit rather than this to have a similar experience with the runtimes, but as a standalone watch this is amazing because of how episodic the story already is.

Individual episode notes:

E1: I think this episode is perfectly paced. Loved how it started a bit slower than most edits, and then ends well right after the trolls. I think this episode was done exceptionally well. I wouldn't change a thing.

E2: Also loved this episode. The story is mainly confined to the caves and then their escape and works really well. The whole Gollum sequence is fantastic. And the escape from the wolves is great. Just a few minor complaints:
- When Bilbo is talking to Elrond there is some dialog cut out here so Bilbo's little joke loses some context.
- A lot of editors cut the goblin cave escape fight way down, but not usually completely out. I wish some of it was left in. They jump very quickly from Gandalf arriving to them escaping the caves. It was nice to see some of their capabilities as fighters because they haven't done much yet.
- The transition could be cleaned up when the wolves attack. Maybe some color correction to try to match the change in time or a different shot because it is pretty noticeable.

E3: The pacing on this episode doesn't work as well for me. The wandering through the forest feels really rushed between entering and then getting disoriented. It happens almost instantly. There was a lot cut out in this section and you can really feel it. The latter half of the episode I enjoyed a lot more. I like that some of the river barrel fight was left in. I think it's a fun battle that most edits cut completely out. I just wish Kili's leg being shot could have been removed as it creates a bit of a continuity error because his injury just gets forgotten after that.

E4: Overall this episode was pretty good, mainly focusing on the dragon and his demise, and then the buildup to the battle of the five armies. I do wish we could have spent more time with the dragon and have his death be the climax of the episode, but the episode works very well regardless. This edit gives a bit more fleshing out of Bard than other edits I've seen especially the book edits. His character works much better than those other edits in my opinion. I only have a few critiques:
- The hidden door scene is handled mostly well. I think there was just a bit too much of Bilbo reacting. It would be better if everyone just looked like they were all in awe when they found the keyhole.
- During Bilbo's time with Smaug there is a cutaway to Thorin not wanting to go in to help. This scene feels weird without any buildup of Thorin going crazy. I think it could have been left out. After the dragon dies there are more natural scenes building to his madness.
- Also, the scene a little later where the dragon breaks out and Balin comments that it is a dragon just feels out of place. They already heard the dragon before when they were debating to go in to help Bilbo. If the scene before was removed then this one would feel better.

E5: This final episode concludes so well! This is definitely my favorite edit of the last battle. It isn't cut completely down like so many edits do, and it feels like a proper finale. A big change was to not show Bilbo delivering the Arkenstone to Bard. While there were some good character moments there with Bilbo, I like Stromboli's choice to cut it. It worked really well. The goat ride up to the top of the fortress is kept in. Other edits kind of just have them appear up there. Much better choice to keep it in. The only thing about this episode that still doesn't work for me is Thorin's change of heart. Him simply recalling things his friends said to him and then going back to normal is so anticlimactic for his arc. I'm not sure there is a way to fix this though, so no fault to the edit. Other than that I loved this ending!
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(Updated: December 06, 2021)
Overall rating
 
8.7
Audio/Video Quality
 
8.0
Visual Editing
 
9.0
Audio Editing
 
9.0
Narrative
 
8.0
Enjoyment
 
9.0
EDIT: I may not be quite as active on FE in the coming days so I wanted to revisit this review. After speaking with the editor, I know he will address the quality issues, so I have adjusted the rating to where I know it will be once those changes are accomplished. Thanks Stromboli Bones.

The Battle of 5 Edits takes many different ideas from the best edits of the Hobbit trilogy and combines them into a new storyline. I like the idea of this: building one edit to rule them all. Here's what I liked most about this edit: it did a good job of splitting up the story into a more easily digested series. The re-scoring effort took a lot of love and it shows. Also not seeing Gandalf for quite a while and then all of a sudden he steps forward to save Bilbo from Thorin throwing him from the ledge-- that was a superb dramatic moment!

As a personal preference, I enjoy little to no expository especially of the type where characters explain the storyline itself. Much of that was left intact in this edit. Overall, this is a good effort, but I would have enjoyed it more if I wasn't distracted by the audio fidelity and many not quite seamless audio transitions-- and glitches.

The audio is in surround format so high praise for that alone, but it sounded rather compressed throughout all episodes. The lower audio bitrate of 384 kbps (for 6 channels) resulted in an overall slight muddiness of the voices, and during orchestral parts, a noticeable swirling sound of higher frequency compression artifacts. The rendered audio differs greatly from the original source in terms of fidelity.

The audio fidelity ranges from fair (6) to below average (4) depending on content, average rating of 5.

The video fidelity of the series ranges from good (8) to below average (4), depending on content, average rating of 7. So I gave the average of the audio and video which is a 6. The great disparity on video fidelity (ranging from good to below average) is due in part to editing the renders from other editors rather than ripping the original source and recreating what the other editors made. Also the final bitrate or encoder used for this edit appeared not to handle dark scenes well.

The visual editing I rated at good with a rating of 8, rather than excellent (9) or best in class/perfect (10) because of one flash frame and some jittery slo-mo, which are easily corrected (detailed below).

The audio editing I rated a 4 because of non-seamless audio transitions and various glitches. When watching an edit of a film, I don't want to know I'm watching an edit of a film, so audio anomalies really stand out to me. Audio is the most important part of fan editing really. More details given below.

Video artifacts below, listing just some examples to support the video quality rating given:
Ep 1 26:44 banding artifacts noticeable artifacts on chair
Ep 1 31m 29s major banding artifacts in background during song
Ep 1 31m 49s extreme banding artifacts in the night sky
Ep 2 8m 37s significant banding night sky
Ep 2 14m 39s background night sky blockiness and banding
Ep2 31:02 significant moving blocks on Gollum's arm
Ep 2 50m 45 much blockiness during bird rescue with night sky
Ep 3 5m transformation from bear to man - moderately blocky
Ep3 50m 9 extreme banding/blocking on Thorin's and Bilbo's clothing, night scene
Note Ep4 overall appeared to have mostly good perceptual quality
Ep 4 39m 28s extreme blocking/pixelation in out of focus foreground
Ep 5 20m 31s moderate blocking on close shot of Thorin
Ep 5 24m 48s blocking/banding in background when Thorin expresses a change of heart

And below are detailed comments for each episode:

Ep 1
Nice job on the opening titles The Hobbit Battle of the Five Edits for all the episodes.
4m 14s the tail end of some of Bilbo's cut dialogue is audible for a split second.
I like how we don't see Gandalf give Thorin the key, makes it seem later like they have a backstory together
30m 7s Thorin is still shaking the key but no longer talking
53m 42s audio abruptly goes out in right channels for a moment
55m 24s audio fade out at end stops abruptly

Ep 2
16m 33s disharmonious audio transition, notes here do not blend well because the pieces blended were in different keys.
48m 53s example of high frequency sound artifacts during music
50m 50s jarring audio transition. Sounds like maybe reverb was used to help blend it but the reverb effect abruptly stops???
52m 23s audio transition problem in quick shot from Thorin back to mountain. Sudden jump in EQ or content on a channel with no audio blending.
52m 51s as Bilbo peers over the rocks, very choppy slow-mo. I suggest optical blending mode.
Really nice ending on part 2 with the bear and the music!! Creates a sense of danger.

Ep 3
2m 5s audio skips for a split second just before Gandalf says, "there is a house."
Cool how the A Warm Welcome text disappears with the axe hit. I like things like that.
10m 9s audio sync is off for a few seconds, as Beorn speaks
10m 14s odd audio fade in happens mid-scene as Beorn continues to speak
13m 51s flash frame split second shot of Gandalf at a different angle
Audio fade out for end titles jarring/has an error. It starts to fade but shifts suddenly to port noises then immediately goes silent.

Ep 4
6m 34s music transition from Bilbo being surprised to Thorin ready to open the lock is a bit abrupt and could probably be smoothed out some
39m 16s as Thorin fortifies the mountain, ambient noise suddenly cuts out mid scene. Possibly center channel muted.
Overall Ep4 has the best video quality and fewest audio transition issues

Ep 5 (Note: much improved music choices for the end credits!)
18s audio glitches a little before the WB logo
6m 11s audio skips while the wind whistles around
38m 35s in the audio transition from battle to the flying creatures, can't tell if this is a clunky audio transition or just audio artifacts from low bitrate.
41m 26s un-smooth music change
1h 1m 7s disharmonious audio transition during end credits
End credits music ends long before credits end

Overall, I did appreciate this edit and will enjoy it more once it gets a little more refined. Thank you Stromboli Bones!

User Review

Format Watched?
Digital
Owner's reply November 28, 2021

Sorry you found so many technical issues! I'll definitely look into these ASAP and get them polished up!

I do have some less compressed files, I'll start including them as options for people who don't care that much about big downloads and have a more refined palette!

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