Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey - Arkenstone Edition, The

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9.9
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I made an account just so that I could write this review. This fan edit was fantastic. The original film left a slightly bitter taste in my mouth. The awful slapstick and cheesy jokes did not go well with the otherwise dark-ish tone that Jackson was going for. This edit cuts all the annoying crap out, and keeps all (well, mostly all) the good stuff in. Obviously this edit was made to keep continuity with the rest of the trilogy, so as a result, plot points that seem unnecessary and added in had to be kept. Still, only the necessary shots remain in this edit.

Something MUST be said about the audio editing. I gave it a 9, which was tough to do considering it was both one of my favourite as well as least favourite aspects of the edit. The music from the original AUJ was very welcome, and the voice (and visual) clips integrated from The Fellowship of the Ring were incorporated magnificently. The only gripe I have (which is why I gave audio a 9) is that as a result of working your audio wizardry, some of the dialogue is hidden under the score. You can still make out what they're saying, but it's definitely more difficult than it should. Nevertheless, this will be my go-to version of the film from now on, and I look forward to seeing your edit of DoS (which I'm hoping to be able to watch within the next month or so...?)

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Overall rating
 
9.9
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Just chiming in to add that this edit got me to this site [and the world of fan-editing in general].

This is not a purist cut; it's a cut that exercises good judgement, across the board. There are maybe 4-5 minutes of footage I’d see additionally cut from Arkenstone AUJ, mostly material involving Azog (the warg chase, Amon Sul, and the Azog/Thorin duel in Out of the Frying Pan). Otherwise it’s perfect—it leaves in (compressed versions of) the useful additions to the book (White Council, Radagast) while losing the stupid parts (the stick bug, the hedgehog, Galadriel telepathy and teleporting, the Stone Giants, the Goblintown hamster wheel etc.) Other scenes are trimmed to make them work a lot better in the awkward tonal place PJ has put the movie in by adapting it as a LOTR prequel—Kerr carefully edits scenes like the trolls and Goblin King to retain some of the Hobbit’s levity but still in a world that feels recognizably like that in LOTR—no mean feat. The extended editions are lightly mined (specifically, the fantastic work with Bilbo in Rivendell), pulling only what’s necessary without rebloating the run time.

I watched it with four diehard fans of LOTR, all of whom absolutely loathed AUJ's theatrical release, and I’ve recommended it to other friends. All have had a uniformly ecstatic reaction (although none go as far as me to say it approaches ROTK, which I consider the low end of the LOTR trilogy.)

The only minor complaint, and I understand that it has to do with the available audio, is that some of the mixing in Hobbiton makes the dialogue a bit hard to follow. That’s it. That’s all I have to complain about, in an otherwise fantastic edit. I will never again watch the theatrical or extended cuts, and I refuse to allow members of my family to see them—Arkenstone only. This is the definitive Hobbit AUJ.

I'd love to see you do a similar prudent, but not book purist edit, combining material from the DoS and BOFA extended editions, as a first pass before you release your 2015 purist one alluded to in the headnotes to this.

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Overall rating
 
8.8
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10.0
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10.0
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10.0
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9.0
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8.0
I'll dive right into this - audio and video was outstanding. Seamless really, like it was a director's cut (but the true director is the problem lately!). Definitely put a personal stamp on the musical sound track with all the reworkings. 10s across the board well earned.

Now for the story. I recently watched the hobbit edit by menbailee, so I could not help but compare the two. Both edits are obviously such a huge improvement over the original, for the same basic reason -they cut out much of the over the top action and humor geared toward kids and made it a more serious movie. But here are my specifics for this edit:

--dwarf prologue; I prefer how menbailee moved these scenes to later parts of the movie.
--the dwarves dinner song, sadly it could have been a good scene but PJ made the action too ridiculous. kerr cut this out completely and I think that's the best call.
--trolls: I'm ok with keeping much of this, it has some silliness, but it's definitely part of the book, which has a lighthearted element. HOWEVER, I found it ridiculous that the dwarves charge and fight until the trolls hold up Bilbo - then they choose to lay down their weapons. Come on! Why would the dwarves do that? Like the trolls are going to then let them all go? Menbailee cut this - though it was a rough cut - I still would rather have that tough transition then a dumb scene.
--Radagast: kerr cut the lame scenes with stick insect and the smoking cross-eyed, nice job. however, I preferred how menbailee left the warg/rabbit sled chase out completely. Which leads me to..
--the White ORC: I don't understand how such a lame villain was created by PJ and group. Boring looking, bad CGI, generic lines and actions. I truly hate this character. As such, I was glad to see his role reduced in both edits - I very much enjoyed how menbailee almost completely cut him from the film. I realize this creates complications with the storyline, but man I'm willing to deal with it, it's worth it.
--Rivendell: kerr's inclusion of the extra material was great, particularly liked scenes with Bilbo just hanging out, and Gandalf and Elrond discussing Thorin. But the Council scene is still out of place and I would have preferred it been cut. They all just happened to be meeting around the same time the dwarves showed up? Their discussion is distracting from the hobbit story. Maybe the scene could be used as a flashback somewhere in the trilogy, I don't know.
--Goblins: well done for the most part, I like how Gandalf beheading the goblin was removed, it's very out of his character to take that so lightly. Removed all the lame video game like action scenes.
--out of the frying pan into the fire: again, i hate the white orc, so this is really a tough scene to salvage, other than shorten any shots of him. Menbailee did this, even to the point of excluding the Thorin/Bolg clash, and it worked well, though it left a mysterious injured Thorin in the final scene. Again, I dislike the white orc so much I'm willing to deal with that. And the whole thing is so Hollywood, Thorin charges, gets knocked down, villain slowly talks and casually has another orc do deathblow (see Austin Powers), and they end up waiting too long so the eagles save the day.
--final scene: Thorin's over dramatic speech to Bilbo is so horrible, have to cut it. Pretending to be mad at him still, then turning it around. Reminded me of dumb and dumber - "then you totally go and redeem yourself!"

In summary, what kerr has created is what I would call a much more mature, yet still family version of the film. The edit by menbailee has less action overall and is more focused on Bilbo - it really plays to a smaller audience of hard core Tolkienites. I see a perfect edit somewhere in the middle of these two. Ultimately the main reason I enjoyed the menbailee edit slightly more was - yes - you guessed it, almost no WHITE ORC!

Nice job Kerr, I hope you will take on the challenge of the Desecration of Smaug.

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(Updated: January 09, 2016)
Overall rating
 
9.9
Audio/Video Quality
 
10.0
Visual Editing
 
10.0
Audio Editing
 
9.0
Narrative
 
10.0
Enjoyment
 
10.0
This was the movie I was hoping to see in the theatres. I am a huge Tolkien fan and was incredibly disappointed with all six movies, but especially the Hobbit trilogy. The over the top dialogue and action scenes, constant battles, distractions from plot flow, and I could go on and on, left a sour taste in my mouth for these movies that had so much potential. then I saw this, and I have been telling everyone about it since- this is instantly my go-to version. I love the streamlined plot, and that it still kept some of the new ideas in the movie that were extrapolated from other Tolkien works.

Kerr is a gifted editor who shined in this edition. the only negative, other than minor nitpicking over the inclusion/exclusion of script/plot choices is that the dialogue is a little difficult to pick up at times in the beginning over the really great redone score.

Arkenstone has restored the warmth for Middle Earth, and I hope Kerr takes a stab at the next 2 in the trilogy, whether they are in one or two films.

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(Updated: February 18, 2016)
Overall rating
 
9.9
Audio/Video Quality
 
10.0
Visual Editing
 
10.0
Audio Editing
 
9.0
Narrative
 
10.0
Enjoyment
 
10.0
This edit without a doubt saves a bloated and childish film that was full of potential, tranforming it into one that I can truly enjoy. Where the original's poor pacing and seemingly conflicted intentions with regard to tone and audience caused what great stuff there was to get somehow lost in the mix, this version flows and carries you along on a wicked ride. Kerr demonstrates a greater understanding of what was needed in this film, using scenes from the EE which greatly enhance the narrative while drastically trimming plenty that made it into theaters. Radagast is an excellent example. By omitting his introductory scenes, the awkward humor, and Saruman's full verbal laceration of the character, he now seems quirky (although not annoying), and like someone who you can actually believe as a wizard.

Kerr's use of Howard Shore's original soundtrack also hugely enhances the whole experience, providing us with more appropriate accompaniment at almost every turn, and making you wonder how the editors thought reusing so much of the soundtrack from Lord of the Rings in favor of original themes composed for this film would be better. There are four exceptions to this however (all near the end of the film) where the change of music was jarring and/or detracted from my experience. The first is using a different version of the ring theme. The original used the same version as TLOTR which I feel both sounds better and is more thematic in this case. Likewise the eagle theme which he uses for about twenty seconds before changing to a new piece is so associated with those eagles in my mind that using anything other strips the scene of all its beauty. Third, for Thorin's charge on Azog he replaces the Nazgul theme from fellowship (epic, but very out of place) with one which I think he took from Skyrim. This sounded out of place and simply didn't work for me. Better I feel to have kept the Nazgul theme, despite the anti-thematicness. Lastly atop the Carrock when Thorin wakes and the audience is meant to be unsure whether Thorin will rebuke or thank Bilbo Kerr has used a theme which he accented to the scene beautifully and I think was much better, all except for the fact that its tone makes it clear in no uncertain terms that Thorin will not rebuke Bilbo as the scene intends you to fear. Sadly, that seems a deal-breaker for me.

All-in all a Masterpiece of an edit that will leave you exasperated with the original editors and sympathizing greatly with the time pressure everyone involved had placed on them. Personally I would add (and have done so myself) the Old Took's birthday party scene from the EE because it creates a much warmer introduction to the Shire scenes, and better establishes this young Bilbo Gandalf repeatedly recalls in later scenes. As well as Gandalf's concerns about the dwarf rings and mention of Thrain during the White Council - as this leads directly into a plot line from DOS that Kerr was, at the time of this edit, unaware of.

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