The M4 Book edit takes the extended Hobbit trilogy and only cuts what wasn't present in the book. Whist this does remove bad elements such as Legolas being forced into the movie and the love triangle which everyone despised, it also cuts parts that were enjoyable such as shortening the "Blunt the Knives" song (Which is one of my favorites alongside misty mountains) in favor of minimizing the fantastical elements. The new VFX are seamless but I feel this edit, although true to its goal, cuts too much of what I enjoyed on top of what I didn't. If you're looking for a truly faithful adaptation of the book, here it is. But if you enjoyed the Hobbit movies for what they were, you may find certain elements lacking.
First of all, I would like to say my brief thoughts on the original Hobbit Trilogy and other edits that I've seen, plus my relationship with LotR in general. I have read The Hobbit and the LotR trilogy many years ago, although I did that after seing LotR in cinema. I enjoyed all of them, it is an amazing work that changed and shaped the fantasy theme forever. I also loved the LotR movies, seen them many times both in theatrical and extended versions. The Hobbit films on the other hand, not so much, with the exception of the first. I also did watch them several times, both theatrical and extended versions. The first one I really liked, I don't care that it alleviated from the book. I didn't like every minute of it, nor did I enjoy having as a new main villain a cgi monster, but whatever. Let's just say that from the overall three hours extended version, I could easily cut 20-30 minutes and be completely happy. The second Hobbit, was just a drag. It wasn't bad per se, I was just bored out of my mind, felt like a filler. Finally, the third one I really disliked. At first I thought, ok we went through the filler the last time, now it will be the good stuff. Nope, that was a bad movie alright. But I should have known, when they decided to make a trilogy out of a 300 pages book and some extra notes.
Before this I watched "The Hobbit, There and Back Again" version, by L8wrtr. Unfortunately, he saved only the second film for me. To be more specific, I was fine with everything up until the death of Smaug. So, overall, the third film remained to be saved. I needed a more aggressive edit. When I remembered to search about it, there where actually quite a few of them, but I saw lots of people mentioning this and Maple's edit, so I went with this. I checked to see the runnitme here after the death of Smaug, and I realised that M4 had cut an extra 20 minutes compared to L8wrtr's version. So I thought, maybe this will do it. Yeap, it did!
FIrst of all, even thought I was ok with the folllowing in the original, I realised I didn't mind at all or even liked:
- that Galadriel was gone
- Radagast too
- the fight with "Sauron", Gandalf, Galadriel etc bye bye
- Azog was only at the end as an unknown leader
- Legolas was as a cameo
- and the most important change of all, the removal of Arkenstone's effect on Thorin. Now, the overall problem was greed, one of the oldest reasons in history of "man".
Be that as it may, although I understand that the editor was going for a "book edit", I couldn't get over the following two cuts (the third one I just went with it):
- Firstly, the flashback of the war with the dwarves and Azog, was a much needed scene in order to establish Thorin as a character and make the audience understand where he comes from and why he is a little bit of a jerk. After all, besides Bilbo, he is the main character, so the background was important aaand it didn't contradicted the fact that we see him again at the end of this edit.
- My second issue has to do with the second and third film. Removing everything about Bard, first of all created a missing part with the destruction of the town, where everyone suddenly is safe and sound in a camp, after the onslaught of Smaug at Laketown. I mean, at one moment Smaug destroys everything and Bard kills him and then "everyone" is ok outside the city. Secondly, it wasn't a bad plot having Bard playing a role as a leader to these people, it actually enriched the character.
- Lastly, by removing everything that actually involved Gandalf offscreen, it made him look as if he is always missing for no reason! It makes the viewer wonder, why isn't Gandalf, yet again, with the company? What on earth is he doing?
So, for anyone who is a purist or didn't like all of the films, I most definitely recommend this version! I mean, how much more to cut out without it becoming a mess? And a huge plus, it has subtitles!!! For me, it will be my go-to version for the last two films. I checked if I can watch this after I watch L8wrtr's version up until the death of Smaug, but it's not possible, they contradict each other a lot. So I will either watch L8wrtr's edit of the first one or even the original movie and for the last two films, M4's will be my go-to version!
Thank you M4_ and thanks to anyone who read my review!
Do you recommend this edit?
Owner's replyFebruary 20, 2022
Thank you for the review! I really appreciate all the kind words. I think what you wrote is very fair, I am glad it has become your go-to version :)
Though just to comment, with the Azog flashback I can see why you think it would be a positive, but it goes against the essence of the edit. At the least, I do have it on the special features. But in the main cut, it was basically my goal to entirely remove that sideplot and center the story around Bilbo, while leaving Thorin's arc/motivations centered around the Mountain, which we see introduced heavily in Bag End, that's truly why he is a jerk.
As for removing everything with Bard, I agree that he is a good character and deserves to be fleshed out, which is why I didn't feel I removed too much of him. It was mostly elements that had to do with weird sideplots (like Alfrid). Such as, with the transition from killing Smaug to suddenly being outside of the city, that was essentially how it played out in the original with the exception of Tauriel's inclusion. I do wish I could improve that shore scene a little more and get Alfrid out entirely, but ah only so much you can do. Anyways, thanks again man for watching and leaving a review!
M4 achieved his goals in this edit. It loses all the weird time-filler side plots, it loses the physics defying antics of the elves and dwarves. Focus is back on Bilbo's adventure.
The technical aspects of the edit are flawless. I detected no issues with cuts or transitions and audio was great. The intermission was put in a great spot. I actually paused the movie a few seconds before it thinking it was a good place to take a break.
For the cuts, I liked how the early portions were adjusted; the story got going quickly and the meeting at Bag End was well trimmed. Really, up to goblin town I think it's all just right. I could have done with a bit less of the song there, but the rest was good. There was just enough running battle to get a sense of the escape; I prefer that over completely removing the running fight. Riddles in the Dark was very on point, I love that scene.
I like how the warg fight and eagle rescue was reworked, very well done. It is smooth enough that I hadn't realized the amount of work done until reviewing the change log. Again, I'm really happy with the edit right up to meeting Bard.
Perhaps because I know the original material well, the initial meeting with Bard has a big continuity hiccup--at least to me. Since the entire barrel fight is cut, there is no context for the fresh damage to them that Bard fingers; since this contributes to his suspicion of the dwarves' story it is a bit jarring to me. Granted, the battle needs to be trimmed, a lot, but there could have been a bit left to explain that. I'm undecided on the Laketown entrance scene being entirely eliminated; it felt a bit abrupt suddenly offloading, but that could be my familiarity filling in the missing bits again. Otherwise, losing all the unnecessary side plots worked well.
The dwarves' entrance to Erebor, and Bilbo's meeting of Smaug runs really well. Getting Smaug recolored when he bursts out of Erebor is masterfully done. The attack and defense of Laketown works really well.
Really my only quibble for the Erebor/Battle of the Five Armies section is that everyone simply teleports to the top of Ravenhill. A couple of short clips of the Dwarves travelling up on the boars would be enough. Otherwise it is a great reworking of the sequence. You get all the drama and major events of the battle without any silliness or side plots distracting from the main story.
While this isn't my favorite edit, it is really well done and worth the watch.
Do you recommend this edit?
Owner's replyJanuary 09, 2022
"Perhaps because I know the original material well, the initial meeting with Bard has a big continuity hiccup--at least to me."
I'd recommend checking the audio commentary as I address this, but it's far from a continuity hiccup. The barrels are normally released down the river empty, not filled with a bunch of heavy Dwarves who'd definitely bang them up on each other & on surrounding rocks. Bard pointing this out suggests that something is out of the norm, and normally there aren't Dwarves riding the barrels. Otherwise, thanks for the review and feedback!
As aomeone that read the book, I knew I had give this edit a shot. As the pale orc is not in the book I was very curious how it would come together. In the end the film came together flawlessly. I’m always surprised how few lotr lovers have only seen the movies so this was very much a, “thank you!” Experience as it was much closer to Tolkien’s vision imo. Overall as a newer viewer, if I don’t recognize that it’s an edit it’s great to me from a detail standpoint. Great edit!