Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey - Arkenstone Edition, The

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(Updated: February 18, 2016)
Overall rating
 
9.9
Audio/Video Quality
 
10.0
Visual Editing
 
10.0
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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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(Updated: January 05, 2014)
Overall rating
 
9.7
Audio/Video Quality
 
10.0
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10.0
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9.0
Narrative
 
9.0
Enjoyment
 
10.0
I can't say much which hasn't been said already in other reviews.

When I watched the first part of the Hobbit in the theater, I thought that there was a good movie hidden in the theatrical edit. Kerr was able to unearth this movie – or better – get the movie somewhat more down to earth. Gone are most of the many physical impossibilities, most of the "funny" stuff, the pacing is better, the story does focus much more on Bilbo.

Sure, I could imagine an even better version if Radagast's Raving Rhosgobel Rabbits were gone, too, if the orc subplot was toned down, and if the White Council vanished, but I totally understand the choices Kerr made to keep it compatible to what came in DoS and most likely will come in the final part (I still hope that an almost close to the book fan edit, without any added stuff, will be possible in 2015). I thoroughly enjoyed the edit (and the incredible audio wizardry, though in a few parts the dialog was a bit hard to understand).

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Yes
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AVCHD
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Overall rating
 
9.5
Audio/Video Quality
 
10.0
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10.0
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10.0
Narrative
 
10.0
Enjoyment
 
9.0
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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Yes
Format Watched?
DVD
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Overall rating
 
9.0
Audio/Video Quality
 
9.0
Visual Editing
 
9.0
Audio Editing
 
9.0
Narrative
 
9.0
Enjoyment
 
9.0
Professionally done. This is a great alternative to the original movie. My issue with the original movie was that sometimes it feels like we jump from a movie to a video game (stone giants, goblin town escape sequence). Radagast also had too many silly moments and his original introduction scene felt like we suddenly jumped to Narnia. All that and more was improved by this edit.

Another major improvement this edit has to offer is the sound editing and some alternative soundtracks (Thorin vs. Azog and eagles rescue scenes, especially) which work incredibly well.
I think, the minor negative I have in this regard is the missing sound piece from the scene when Gandalf breaks the rock to reveal sunlight on the Trolls. I liked that scene, as it originally was, with the Trolls' response to Gandalf.

Overall, it's an awesome work with a lot of heart put into it. This should have been the movie released in theaters.
Well done, Kerr.

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Do you recommend this edit?
Yes
Format Watched?
Digital
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Overall rating
 
10.0
Audio/Video Quality
 
10.0
Visual Editing
 
10.0
Audio Editing
 
10.0
Narrative
 
10.0
Enjoyment
 
10.0
I greatly enjoyed this fanedit, it had been sitting waiting to be watched for a couple years for a number of personal reasons and today I finally decided to go ahead and watch it.

It is edited perfectly, everything is seamless. Superior skill is shown by Kerr. It being available in HD is most welcome.

Narrative wise, it provides a very lean and entertaining take compared to the bloated and honestly boring original cut.

Kudos!
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