August 14, 2016
When I left the theater after seeing the first of the Hobbit "trilogy," I didn't enjoy the movie on the whole, but appreciated elements of it. My end game was always going to be a 3-in-1 edit of the whole trilogy into a proper precursor to the LOTR trilogy. After the second two films, I felt very cynical about the whole endeavor and did not bother to check out any fan work in that department... until now.
Once enough time had passed, and my distaste was not so close at hand, I decided to check out and watch whichever 3-in-1 seems to have been most well received, preferably one that claims to be faithful to the book, and does not try to retain the White Council stuff. I think I made the right decision in picking this one.
I sat down and watched it in one sitting, punctuated with a few pauses. I had an open mind, intentionally not being in a critical mindset, but instead imagining that I had just time travelled from early 2012 and was skipping straight into THIS being my only experience with Peter Jackson's Hobbit project. And, with that mindset in place, I was enthralled. As someone who fusses with perfectionism when editing, I didn't notice many issues at all. There are a few spots where the audio transitions aren't fully seamless, but I was more than willing to go along with these and take them in stride; I doubt they could be made very much better. Only after watching this one did I download a few other Hobbit edits to compare and contrast, and this one appeared more sound (no pun intended) in this regard than the portions of the others I spot-checked.
This cut removes much, and does so with fluidity. A fair bit is retained that I would have liked to see gone, but I understand why they are there. Orcs still attack the company as they flee in barrels, but I understand that it would have been very abrupt to remove completely, and jarring with the music. The editor does, however, tie this sequence into the story later with a reworked scene in which Bolg and Azog meet up and march on the Lonely Mountain. It's a little unfortunate that Kili gets injured and appears to be in pain, but we don't follow up with him again.
For the time being at least, this is my go-to version of the film, and I look forward to having friends and family over to watch it as part one of four in a LOTR quadrilogy.
I do have a few suggestions, however, should the editor decide to revise this work. These are minor, and the edit has great integrity as it is. Nevertheless, being fidgety, I went ahead and did my own little fan edit of this fan edit, with the following changes:
[Redacted; I feel bad for listing such minor things which don't amount to much. The edit doesn't need any tweaking, even if I did a smidge just for myself.]
All of these tweaks are very minor, which is a testament to a very well-done fan edit. I heartily recommend this as "The Hobbit" movie for any audience.