--This review is about all six books, not only about this one--
So, I finally got to see Kerr's vision here. In total, it's about 7 1/2 hours long and therefore around 1/3 shorter than the extended editions.
That said, I don't think the pacing of this "Red Book" series is too fast, but the events told sometimes (really only sometimes, like the fellowship's voyage from Rivendell to Moriah, Frodo's encounter with Faramir or Aragorn's meeting in the path of the dead) feel a bit rushed - but that might also be just because I knew what's been cut out...
What I like about Kerr's approach is that his Middle-Earth landscapes feel bigger, more epic and more fitting to the story - yes, even though Jackson always gos for bigger, I really always thought the movies felt small regarding the landscapes! So wonderfully, Kerr achieves to let LOTR happen in more adequate geographic surroundings. This and his use of alternative music (besides of course the well-known various themes of LOTR) give his edit a more mythical and awestruck quality.
What I do not like is (and yes, I know it's this edit's trademark) - or put better, what didn't work too well for me was Kerr's approach to tell the several story lines each by itself and without switching from one to the other.
I mean, it's okay and one might like it, but imo it's one of the original book's strenghts and tricks to achieve a certain grandeur that gets lost when ignored.
Now for the cutting itself, I think it's rather flawless - Kerr is successfull in keeping in all significant highlights in all their glory and removing much of what could be considered lenghty, inadequately blown-up or simply unnecessary. He also changes the placement of backstories (or puts them back in the original book's order) in convincing style, meaning Peter's changes for the better of the movies themselves are all "corrected", and still Kerr's cut is not suffering from that, which is quite an achievement!
All in all, his LOTR feels more serious, more mature - but then again, I must admit I haven't seen the original Extended Editions for years, maybe these are not as overloaded as I remember them?
I also want to add that I saw Kerr's edit in compressed DVD resolution which just looks not too good on today's HD TVs.
I definitely can recommend this edit, and it was a joy to watch, but it won't be my go-to-version.
I've watched and deeply enjoyed all of Kerr's Red Book edits, but this one was, I felt, the most improved. Rather than splitting the audience's attention between the two halves of the divided Fellowship, sticking with one plot at a time worked wonders for the film, and I didn't find it dragged at all, which I absolutely cannot say for the original theatrical cuts.
I absolutely loved these edits, and it felt like watching a riveting miniseries rather than a poorly paced film trilogy. Very highly recommended to fans who want to see a fresh, more Tolkien-accurate take on the Peter Jackson films.
Book III is a mixed bag. There are some changed scenes that are big improvements over the original, but other alterations are less successful. Overall, I cannot say this Book III edit is an improvement over the original.
The reassembling of Merry and Pippin’s abduction and escape, and the tracking by Aragorn & co., is marvelous. Instead of rapid intercuts, we get a more continuous story flow. It makes more sense and the emotional beats are strengthened.
However, cutting Merry and Pippin’s encounter with the White Wizard in Fangorn was a mistake IMO. It has so many repercussions on characters and motives, and cutting it makes several following scenes more confusing and less satisfying. The consolidation of the Ent scenes does not work so well either. It plays like a random montage instead of an involving progression.
I found the Rohan sequence difficult to watch. It is filmed in desaturated browns and grays; the mood is unrelieved poverty and grief. The original provided a lot of needed breaks from that by intercutting among five or so different story lines. Cutting most of those storylines is an improvement, but I think keeping the intercuts with the Ent sequence would have helped both threads.
The Helms Deep battle is significantly reduced, and the silliest comedy lines are cut, which gets the sequence closer to the spirit of the book. But Tolkien only spent 10 pages on the battle; it’s an important event but not a central climax. So I would have liked to see the battle cut more, especially to make the two sides a little more even so that the humans could plausibly defend against the orc army.
Kerr’s choice of ending is good, highlighting the final loss of innocence and ending on a note of suspense. Technically the edit looks great and I cannot detect any flaws. Rating: 8/10 based mainly on the “improvement over the original” factor.
Review by mullholland665 — July 15, 2010 @ 6:06 am
Pretty damn good. This is the most radically changed edit in the series so far yet is mostly a success.
Really thoughtful editing with the characters here. Aragorn is stronger and continues to look like he really might be king, we have no Arwin romantic nonsense, and the humor is toned down to a level that’s believable. I loved that the story extended to Saruman’s final big scene, Pippin’s encounter with the Sauron in glass Orb, and then the low key ending with Pippin being whisked away by Gandalf as an early prelude to the battle Minas Tirith.
Only one major problem for me: the Ents marching to war so early in the edit. Reasembling all the Ent and Treebeard scenes in the forest
into once sequence during the early part of this fanedit does work for the most part and is faithful to the book. But the timing of the narrative is then thrown right out of whack by the final shots in this sequence, in which the Ents start marching on Isengard which looks to be only about 10 miles away. Surely this departure of the Ents and the two Hobbits from the forest could have been inserted later in the edit, closer to the time of the Ents actual arrival at Isengard? I know these are book edits, but in my opinion this disconnect in the screenplay is too major a problem to justify.
This gets 8/10 from me. There is much that is worth watching and I’m looking forward to Part 4!