Watched this edit last weekend. I got to say this was an amazing edit, great quality. The colour correction was great as I disliked the way the original versions looked. I also thought the restructuring of the movies into a 4 hour cut was well done, the unnecessary sub-plots are removed quickening the pace and I didn't mind the long hour run time as I liked that it was split in two just like the Extended Editions of The Lord of the Rings Trilogy. Ultimately this was more in tone with The Lord of the Rings Trilogy and more structured like Jrr Tolkien's Novel and all and all I really loved this edit and for me it is definitely the definitive version.
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.
Watching this edit made me realise just how much of the theatrical Hobbit movies was bloated and unneccessary to the main story. The movies are called The Hobbit - instead we got The Dwarves v Legolas v Gandalf v Azog starring A Hobbit. Bilbo nearly vanished in his own movie under everything else. When he returned to Hobbingen in the end, and the movie so obviously wanted the viewer to feel the "man, have we had an adventure with this guy, right?"-moment, I felt nothing for the little man who indeed traveled a long and bumpy road. Too much else had happened.
That is not to say I hated the movies in general; I enjoyed Part I and II in the cinema for the most part (returning to middle-earth in super-3D was just great), especially Part I, Smough was great and the actors all did a good job, but I was severely disappointed by Part III, which was just such an obvious "Hey-The-Kids-Liked-LotR-Battles-right"-cashgrab.
Anyway, enough of me: I loved this edit of The Hobbit. By cutting practically everything what wasn't in the book, now you have the 4,5h movie The Hobbit - with his hero front and center and never too far from the action. Yet it preserves the central arc of its secondary characters, the dwarves and their quest to reclaim their stolen home, who also profit from not drowning in side-quest and god-awful love stories (seriously, tell me one good reason this was in the movies except to stretch the run-time to fill three movies). Gone are: Legolas (except for a nice little cameo), Tauriel, Gandalfs side-quest (which I thought was cool in itself, but again just distracted from the main arc and the emotional core of the story), Azog-related flashbacks (turns out you don't need an hour of backstory to give an Orc a motivation to hunt good guys. That's just what they do. And without telling the viewer his history in detail, he even gets a bit more mystique and seems more threatening than before) and the more ridiculous and/or stupid parts of action and humor. The editing was seemless all the way, and yes, me and my girlfriend too noticed the gold falling off of Smough when he exits the mountain, but as another reviewer already said, this is a minor thing which will only register with viewers already familiar with the theatrical cut.
All of this combined makes for an adult movie, which still has a lighter tone to it that LotR, in which all the care and work that was obviously put in it by director, actors, costume designers etc. etc. can really shine. I could talk a lot more about this, but other reviewers have already said it all in a more eloquent way than me, so let me just finish with the statement that this is now the definitive version of The Hobbit for me, and I'm already in the process of spreading the word to friends and family, who unanimously loved it, too.
I have to say, I had high hopes for this, I even hyped it up to my friends prior to watching seeing the good reviews and whatnot. And wow did it deliver.
Here's the thing: I watched this with 3 other people, 1 one of whom had seen The Hobbit trilogy once before, the other 2 having not seen the trilogy at all (but they did watch LOTR). For my part, I watched The Hobbit trilogy Extended Edition once like 6 months ago after seeing them in theater, and LOTR, well, I lost count. We watched both the movie and the short film, Durin's Folk and the Hill of Sorcery, which I will rate separately from the main edit. The most important part is still the main movie, after all.
So, this is splendid work. What Maple Films have accomplished is incredible. I can safely say this will replace The Hobbit for me, and I kinda like the original movies, even though they're quite bloated. This is just better pretty much on all fronts, including the short story.
Editing is seamless throughout, especially audio. I LOVE how Maple Films changed some of the soundtrack in the movie to that of The Hobbit (or outright removed some scenes with the wrong LOTR music in it), excellent choice. Much of the info that has been cut out, like Azog's lack of presence early in the movie, the viewer can fill in very, very easily. The focus is on Bilbo, and it's for the better.
Here's what those who watched with me said (remember, 1 who had seen the trilogy before, 2 who hadn't):
- Everything makes sense. They never felt lost, although some events happened rather quickly near the end.
- The pacing is perfect, they weren't bored nor overwhelmed.
- Without dragon sickness they would have hated Thorin to the core, so he makes for an odd but interesting protagonist (or side protagonist, actually)
- They loved Gandalf's sidequest, but understand why it was cut. It's not relevant to Bilbo's story.
There is 1 edit which we found jarring: When the company is going into the tunnels to receive cover from the rain after leaving Rivendell (and fall into the goblin caves), Bilbo slips and falls off the cliff. The edit at this moment is quite jarring and goes from "Bilbo standing on the cliff slipping" to "Bilbo holding by 1 hand off the edge" like instantly. All 4 of us noticed.
The end with the 2 dwarves dying was a bit quick too, but I thought it would be worse. Kudos for pulling it off, seeing how complicated this situation was to begin with. Also, not even 1 of them noticed the dragon flying with gold pouring around him, so I guess this is really not an issue for first-time viewers. And I even told them there would be a visual continuity issue in the movie beforehand, and they still didn't notice. I'd say this is very much non-factor and affects only repeat viewers. After I told them, they said they thought it was dirt or remnants of the wall or something. The brain just fills it in, it would seem.
The actual Battle of the Five Armies is a bit of a mess, but then again, it is as well in the original. Cutting it just serves the story, which is what matters in the end.
Overall, I would highly recommend this edit as a replacement for The Hobbit trilogy. Tells a full, concise and cohesive story, sticks to the main characters very well, and doesn't omit any important character moments.
As for Durin's Folk and the Hill of Sorcery: I feel like either of 2 things could be done with it.
1. Trim down the scenes which are also included in the movie cut, especially the scenes before entering Mirkwood, and the scene before Radagast the Brown meets the company. Some of those scenes are borderline related with the Hill of Sorcery and its subplot anyway.
2. Remove everything not related to Gandalf and Radagast's adventures. That would remove about 30-35 minutes of content. Yes, that includes Thrain in Dol Goldur. For that, a good source of that scene would be the theatrical cut of Desolation of Smaug, where Thrain doesn't appear at all. Durin's Folk and their story is not essential viewing leading into LOTR, so it's not necessary and could be removed. Dol Goldur and the Necromancer, however, are.
Still, Durin's Folk and the Hill of Sorcery is well put together, and definitely worth the watch. A great prelude to Lord of the Rings.
Thank you Maple Films for this great work.
J.R.R. Tolkien's The Hobbit by Maple Films: 9.9/10
Durin's Folk and the Hill of Sorcery: 9/10
Most of the critique offered of these films comes from Tolkien fans and unsurprisingly most of the criticism is about adaption. For me this hides a more fundamental truth about the films failures. Whatever ones enthusiasm for the source :
1) They are extremely poorly structured, the set ups are over long and tedious, the pacing is off and the resolution to many of the set ups either telegraphed or simply wither.
2) They lack any kind of tonal personality or coherence. Indeed they do not know what they are or whom they are for. They attempt to be an homage, all-round family entertainment, profound and geo political and replace the charm of the book with occasional bouts of the most excruciatingly unfunny humour and in the last film the gags become vicious and brutal.
3) The most lamentable element is the poor values of the story telling endless fighting which achieves no change, characters undergo experiences and do not change and relationships are inconsistent. You can remove entire sections and no story telling is lost that is why the experience of watching them induces fatigue. Even more insidious are sub plots which threaten to overwhelm and indeed detract from the main story.
Some how the maker of this edit has managed to reduce or expunge many of these problems but he has had to be brutal. The sub plot of Dol Gulder which could have given these films there gravitas is axed and separated out into a small feature, entirely necessary, but the re imagining of the Hobbit in the style of the Rings needed that sub plot and was rich with potential. Indeed because it was sketched into the appendices of the Rings it needed first class writers to flesh it out and these films convince me that Fran and Phillippa, however dedicated, just do not have the talent to create something special by extension.
Other changes are less brutal but the editor of this film knows his subject and so we see Martins Bilbo emerge in to the central performance and shines more brightly for it. Curiously his editing style, which gives the story pace and focus, then enables you to enjoy the physical establishment of middle earth that much more and all the hard work of the fantastic crew in Wellington who created the textures of the film.
As others have said elements are clunky particularly the Dwarf deaths but if you want to sit down with the Hobbit as a winter film without your teeth grinding this is the ones to watch.