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9.6 31 10
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Audio/Video Quality
Audio Editing
Visual Editing
A new Kerr fanedit of Tolkien material is always a cause for celebration. The Hobbit AUJ Arkenstone Edition was conceived from start to finish with definite ideas for tone, pace and story, and those ideas have been applied with brilliant judgment to achieve a consistent and lucid viewing experience.

First off I want to call attention to the sound design. The musical score has been changed or replaced in many sequences and Howard Shore's original score has been used as much as possible. That makes the whole movie sound and feel much more familiar (which is a good thing). It also makes for much better integration of action and musical atmosphere, really bringing the plot into better focus and making it more readily comprehensible and coherent. Given how much of the soundtrack has been reworked and redubbed, the final product sounds very clear and smooth with very minor variations in sound level and balance. The reworked sound design by itself transforms the movie.

Kerr has trimmed about 40 minutes from the movie and it is so much better with lighter baggage. Many times the action moves along smartly instead of slogging through scene after scene of fan service. Even some suspense is restored to some of the sequences that were buried under layers of meandering exposition, cartoony slapstick, and call outs to the first trilogy. The action and fights through the whole movie are more believable, something I appreciate a lot. Everything in Goblintown was far more snappy and the riddle sequence is more powerful now that it isn't intercut. You get a stronger sense that Bilbo has survived a test that has changed him. Everywhere there's less grandstanding, more subtlety.

The editor's knife is more deft than ever and sequences are rebuilt with a great feel for maintaining the rhythm of scenes, inserting reaction shots that flow well, synchronizing with musical beats - all the fine points of the fanediting art.

I have my disagreements with the story structure that Peter Jackson & Co. came up with and the fanedit still has at least two too many flashbacks for my taste. But here they move along better and don't bog down the main story quite so much. The Rivendell sequence seems more relevant and less pointless and inert, and I could not detect the rotoscoping even though I was looking for it.

I'm still eager to see Kerr's more radical edit that he is planning after all three Hobbit movies are released. For now, this version is one that complements the LOTR trilogy instead of being an embarrassment. I hope that anybody who hasn't seen the Hobbit yet gets to see the Arkenstone Edition as their first experience of the movie.

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