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9.5 31 10
(Updated: January 06, 2014)
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I would imagine I come to these movies in a somewhat unique way. I didn't grow up on the books and only read LOTR after having seen the movies and the EEs many times. I have never read the Hobbit or any other ancillary material, including the appendices for LOTR. With that, I would imagine I came to the theatrical version with a bit less baggage than typical fans of the book. Overall, I enjoyed the movie, but not as much as I had the LOTR movies. I purchased the EE when it was released and actually enjoyed that quite a bit more, though there were some additions I could do without. Most notably, any additions to the Goblin King section. I feel my enjoyment of the EE more than my initial theatrical experience is due, in part, to more familiarity with a large ensemble cast. The issues I initially had, ironically, are expanded in the EE, namely some slow, plodding sections and over-the-top silliness. Yet I enjoyed the EE more. Again, I feel this is because, with no prior exposure to most of these characters in my initial viewing, it took me a while to get to know them and care about them. I think this is why PJ made the Bag End scenes so long. Kerr's shortening to about 30 minutes certainly feels right now, but if this were my initial viewing, would I feel the same way? That's the tough thing about reviewing these fan edits; it's impossible to go in with a clean slate.

By far, for me, the biggest improvement is the cuts to the Goblin Kingdom scenes. Thank god the song is gone (the biggest problem I had with the EE). The chase scenes are so cartoonish and silly--like something from Sonic the Hedgehog--that the fact that Kerr completely removed them was a huge aspect of my enjoyment. Compounding the issue, these silly scenes were intercut with the Riddles in the Dark scene, the best part of the movie. It reminded me of the silliness of the Ewoks intercut with the Throne Room duel in RotJ. I would guess a lot of the silliness is in this movie to try to keep it more in line with the tone of the book (which, again, I haven't read). But I think it needed to be completely a children's story or completely in line with the LOTR trilogy. Kerr does about as good a job as I can imagine making it the latter.

It's impossible to say for sure if I would have enjoyed this version the best, had I seen it first. But it is now my go to version. I will need to grab the Blu Ray version as soon as possible!

One question I did have is where the video game sources were used. I didn't seen them referenced in the changes section.

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