August 14, 2016
I've long known that there must be a good movie hiding within the mess that is The Hobbit trilogy. The Maple Films edit takes some excellent steps toward pulling that good movie out of the muck. It's an improvement, to be sure. But for me, it ultimately fell short.
In an effort to save time, the Maple Films team ended up cutting out a lot of moments and scenes that I believe were necessary for narrative cohesion. Most notable, the Battle of Azanulbizar, which establishes Thorin's history with Azog. For better or worse, Azog is the major antagonist of the trilogy, and in order to give the final fight some emotional weight the history of the two characters is essential. Without it, he's just a random orc that is, for unknown reasons, an old enemy of Thorin and their conflict falls flat for the viewer.
-In an attempt to achieve visual consistency with The Lord of the Rings, they went overboard with the color grading. The desaturation throughout the film is far too extreme.
-A good effort at fixing Smaug the Golden, but he still appears wet while exiting Erebor. I acknowledge that this is one of the two most difficult challenges that fan editors of The Hobbit face. The other great challenge is...
-...the transition between An Unexpected Journey and The Desolation of Smaug. This cut leaves a lot to be desired. The voiceover was a creative solution, but in my opinion the flight of the eagles was cut far too short and the whole thing feels off.
-I loved the way this cut handled the deaths of Kili and Fili. I think the cut could have used a bit of polish, but the idea was fantastic.