Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug - Arkenstone Edition, The

Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug - Arkenstone Edition, The
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Brief Synopsis:
The belated follow-up to my “Arkenstone Edition” of AUJ, this edit aims to remove the bloat and improve the pacing of “The Desolation of Smaug”, while still retaining all the additional characters and storylines found in Peter Jackson’s retelling of the story.
As with my AUJ edit, this is not a purist edition, but an attempt to improve upon Peter Jackson’s story. I wanted to keep Legolas, Tauriel, Dol Guldur and other material that many previous edits have removed entirely, but reworking these elements to make them work in the larger story that Peter Jackson is telling, and not be the annoying digressions I found them to be in the original version of DoS.

I’ve tried to keep the focus on Bilbo, Thorin and Gandalf as much as possible, while still making room for characters like Tauriel, Legolas, Bard and their stories (but making sure they never overshadow our main storylines). The last 45 minutes or so have also been reworked heavily to improve the pacing, and I’ve replaced the sequence in the forges with Smaug’s rampage in Laketown from the beginning of BotFA as the climax of the film.

Like I did with AUJ, I’ve also restored a lot of Howard Shore’s fantastic music that Peter Jackson decided not to use. The music editing in DoS wasn’t as much of a mess as it was in AUJ, but there are a lot of weird starts and stops in the music that don’t really work, so I think my restored soundtrack is much more coherent and effective, and more in line with the musical landscape of the LotR films.
Other Sources:
- The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey
- The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies
- The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey
- The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug Soundtrack
- The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies Soundtrack
Release Information:
Cuts and Additions:
- The entire film has been color corrected to make it less dark and gloomy. I actually liked the bright and vibrant colors of AUJ, so I’ve tried to give DoS a similar color palette.
- Used the EE version of the meeting in Bree.
- Restored music to Gandalf meeting Thorin.
- Trimmed the Moria flashback and replaced some footage with shots from AUJ.
- Added exposition about the seven dwarf rings from the council scene in AUJ. I didn’t think the ring exposition would be necessary, so I didn’t include it in AUJ, but I was able to use it here, where I think it fits better anyway.
- Restored music to the company seeking refuge in Beorn’s house.
- Trimmed Bolg’s warg snarling at Azog.
- Slight change to subtitles for Bolg’s Black Speech to set up the Eye of Sauron. Sauron hasn’t really been properly set up in these films (and especially not in my AUJ edit, where I removed all the name-dropping completely), so I’ve tried to make the buildup to his appearance work a bit better.
- Cut Bilbo looking at the Ring in Beorn’s house.
- Azog’s arrival in Dol Guldur has been moved to a bit later.
- Included the EE scene of the Dwarves meeting Beorn.
- Changed music for Beorn changing back to human form from one of Sauron’s theme to one of Beorn’s themes, since this scene is no longer preceded by the Dol Guldur scene.
- Included the EE scene of Gandalf and Beorn discussing the Necromancer.
- Cut Bilbo being tempted by the ring outside Mirkwood.
- Gandalf discovering the Eye of Sauron painted on the Elven statue has been altered , using dialogue from Beorn instead of Galadriel, and Gandalf also identifies the Eye as the Eye of Sauron.
- As the Company enters Mirkwood, we cut to Azog meeting the Necromancer in Dol Guldur.
- Restored music to Azog and the Necromancer.
- Changed audio and subtitles of the Necromancer’s dialogue. I found the original dialogue to be quite vague and confusing, so I rewrote the dialogue to make everything a bit clearer, and then inserted some Black Speech lines by Benedict Cumberbatch from the Appendices to match the new dialogue (in sound, at least, if not in content).
- Used the longer Mirkwood sequence from the EE.
- Restored music to the spider encounter.
- Bilbo still loses the ring in Mirkwood, but doesn’t encounter and kill a spider creature.
- Added faint whispers of “Baggins…” from the Ring once Bilbo has recovered it. I wanted to keep some of the mystery and ominous aura surrounding the Ring, without going as overboard as the original version.
- Restored music to Legolas’ intro.
- Cut Gloin’s and Legolas’ banter about Gimli.
- As the dwarves are locked up in the cells of the Woodland Realm, we cut straight to Thorin meeting Thranduil.
- Added a bit of dialogue for Thranduil: “It has been a long time since Thorin Oakenshield traveled so far east… for what purpose?”
- Cut Tauriel’s scene with Thranduil.
- The nighttime scene between Tauriel and Kili has been recut to remove Legolas. I had to reorder the dialogue to make this work, but I think it works even better this way.
- Several cuts and trims to the barrel scene, as well as added music.
- Cut Tauriel and Legolas capturing an Orc and bringing him back to Thranduil.
- After the barrel scene, we cut straight to the Dwarves getting out of the barrels and meeting Bard.
- Restored music to the Dwarves negotiating with Bard.
- After the scene with Bard, we cut to Gandalf exploring the tombs.
- Replaced Gandalf’s mention of “the Ringwraiths” with “the Nine”. Calling them Ringwraiths at this point is just confusing.
- After the Gandalf/Radagast scene, we cut to Bolg and the Orcs tracking the Dwarves, and then straight to the Dwarves hidden inside Bards’ fish barrels, skipping some unnecessary scenes.
- Cut all of the Master’s scenes before the Dwarves are brought before him.
- Cut the Master’s elaborate “spy network” – now it’s just the two fishermen outside Bard’s house.
- Restored music to Bard reuniting with his daughters.
- Recolored the flashbacks to Girion to match the style used for flashbacks elsewhere in the film.
- Cut straight from Thorin’s “Where are the weapons?” to Bard laying said weapons on the table, skipping the scene where he leaves to find the weapons.
- Cut the scene with Tauriel and Legolas outside Laketown, making their later appearance a surprise.
- Slight trims to the scene outside the Master’s house.
- Used the EE scene of Bilbo vouching for Thorin’s character.
- Used the EE scene of the Dwarves begging the Master to help Kili.
- Recut the Dol Guldur scene and changed Azog’s subtitles to remove the “Spell of concealment” element, and used some bits from the EE.
- Changed subtitles for Azog’s dialogue with an Orc to set up the Eye of Sauron.
- Gandalf’s encounter with Thrain from the EE is used, but has been moved to after the Dwarves enter Erebor.
- Cut one of Thrain’s flashbacks to the Battle of Moria.
- After Thrain’s “No one must enter that mountain”, we cut to Bilbo entering the treasure room in Erebor.
- Cut Bilbo picking up various pieces of treasure in Erebor.
- Restore music to Smaug searching for Bilbo.
- Replaced Eye of Sauron when Bilbo removes the Ring with closeup of Smaug’s eye.
- Restored music to Smaug chasing Bilbo.
- The scene of the Dwarves outside Erebor (“That, my lad, was a dragon”) has been moved later in the film.
- The music when Bard reveals the black arrow has been moved forward a bit to where it was originally meant to play.
- Restored music to Smaug chasing Bilbo, with some trims to the footage in order to make the music work.
- Cut Bard’s plan to head for the windlance, since the windlance is never used or seen again.
- Cut from the Master knocking Bard out to Bilbo hiding from Smaug, with an establishing shot of Erebor in-between. The scene between Thorin and Balin outside Erebor has been moved to a later point.
- Smaug’s “a darkness is coming” leads into Gandalf and Thrain in Dol Guldur, instead of Bolg and the Orcs in Laketown.
- Cut Thrain’s line about Smaug and Sauron being in league.
- Shortened Gandalf’s battle with Sauron.
- Cut some of the psychedelic closeups of the Eye of Sauron.
- After Gandalf is defeated by Sauron we cut to the Orcs sneaking through Laketown.
- Restored music to the fight in Bard’s house.
- Trimmed Tauriel’s appearance so she joins the fray a bit quicker.
- Trimmed Legolas decapitating one of the chief Orcs.
- Trimmed Tauriel contemplating whether or not to go with Legolas.
- After Tauriel’s “I’m going to save him”, we cut to the scene between Thorin and Balin outside of Erebor, and then to Smaug telling Bilbo that he’s just being used by Thorin.
- After Smaug starts spewing fire, we cut to Bolg sending the Orcs back to Dol Guldur and his fight with Legolas.
- Legolas’ fight with Bolg has been intercut with Tauriel healing Kili (which has also been trimmed considerably).
- The entire forges sequence has been cut.
- Cut from Legolas chasing Bolg out of Laketown to Smaug an Bilbo in Erebor.
- After Smaug declares his intention to destroy Laketown, we cut to the Dwarves’ scene outside the mountain (“That, my lad, was a dragon.”)
- After that we cut to Bard waking up in prison, and then to the gang in Bard’s house, with added sound effects so they’re reacting to Smaug’s approach.
- After “I am death”, we cut to the opening scenes of BotFA, with several trims to keep the pace going.
- Restored music in several places of Smaug’s rampage in Laketown.
- Lowered the pitch of Bain’s voice when he arrives with the Black Arrow to make it less obvious that the actor is much here younger than in previous scenes.
- Trimmed Smaug taunting Bard.
- Restored/replaced music for Bard readying the Black Arrow.
- Restored music to Smaug’s death.
- Cut from Balin’s “Word will spread. Soon every soul in Middle-Earth will know – the Dragon is dead” to Gandalf imprisoned in Dol Guldur and Azog’s army marching out – and then we smash cut to credits.
Cover art by kerr (DOWNLOAD HERE)

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How it should have ended.

Seriously, the best part of this fan edit is the absolutely brilliant decision to cut the laborious "dwarven gold" setpiece and move the death of Smaug from the Beginning of the Battle of the Five Armies to this film. It's absolutely baffling that the filmmakers didn't chose to do this originally, since it's the natural climax of this film.

All the other various cuts and trims are also welcome, and keep them film focused on the adventure of Bilbo and the Dwarven company. Tauriel and Legolas showing up in Laketown now feels somewhat unmotivated, but I'm willing to roll with it since losing their earlier scenes improves the film's pacing tremendously. Gandalf's scenes still drag the film down a bit, but I do think it's necessary to keep at least some of that plotline.

My only real disappointment with this edit is the fact that's it's only available as an >8GB MKV file. The first Arkenstone edition had an excellent 25GB Blu-Ray version that preserved the video quality of the source. The smaller file size of this release led to noticeable compression artifacts and visual muddiness throughout the film. Now that The Hobbit trilogy has been released on 4K HDR Blu-Ray, the gulf in visual quality will be even more severe. I do hope Kerr eventually releases a higher bitrate version of this edit.
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Finally we have the DoS - Arkenstone Edition =)

I only have a few comments to make:

-Regarding the Necromancer's revelation as being Sauron, i think it shouldn't be mentioned anything about the Eye of Sauron by Bolg or any other Orc. Sauron should have always been addressed as Master and the his revelation left to Gandalf, when the two battle.
For us fans who know the story, we know that the Necromancer and Sauron are the same but for the regular viewer i think it would be great to leave that ambiguity as much as possible and then we get to Gandalf's fight when Sauron finally reveals himself and the Eye. This will link with Gandalf's mention of the Eye of Sauron in Mirkwood. In my opinion it works even better this way.

- If there has to be a love triangle then I agree with masirimso17 in his assessment of the following:

1 - "The only time it kind of bothered me was in the Smaug scene. More specifically, the rescoring over “You carry something” and the lead-up to it felt tacky. I think Jackson made the right choice to make it silent in this instance. In the original movie it felt tenser to me with just Benedict Cumberbatch’s awesome voice."
2 - More of Legolas, Tauriel and Thranduil build up as characters, not necessarily exactly as in the original but a bit more exposition using those scenes would be instrumental.
3 - "Maybe if the ring’s voice is more clearly heard and just the part where Bilbo almost vomits is cut then this would be perfect." With that sound effect I've mentioned earlier, if doable, on all Sauron's lines).
4 - "Finally, I wish you had included the main Hobbit theme from An Unexpected Journey, but I understand why you didn’t add it in."
I'm biased in this regard, because i love The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey - Song Of The Lonely Mountain and The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies - The Last Goodbye. Both have that "LOTR universe" ring to it, whereas Ed Sheeran - I See Fire doesn't (I hate it actually).

PS: You already know my closing end song's suggestions =)

Positive points to mention a few:
- Color correction =)
- Narrative in general (with those aforementioned touches)
- Sound effects, editing, audio, quality

I expected nothing less from you Kerr =).

Congrats and keep it up =) Can't wait for BotFA - Arkenstone Edition

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(Updated: March 18, 2018)
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After countless edits of the Hobbit and a spiritual sequel to the first Arkenstone Edition made by me, the long awaited sequel to An Unexpected Journey: Arkenstone Edition is finally here. Was it worth the wait?

Well, the audio and video quality was very good, I don’t have issues with it. The editing, though, is where the edit really shines. Most, if not all, changes made to the movie were perfectly edited. The restored OST was awesome to hear. The only time it kind of bothered me was in the Smaug scene. More specifically, the rescoring over “You carry something” and the lead-up to it felt tacky. I think Jackson made the right choice to make it silent in this instance. In the original movie it felt tenser to me with just Benedict Cumberbatch’s awesome voice.

When it comes to the narrative, I have a few qualms. First and foremost: the love triangle between Tauriel, Kili and Legolas. Now I know love triangles in general are a plague among pieces of art and literature, and must be avoided; however in this case the love triangle is surprisingly very well executed. Also, it serves a greater purpose, which is Legolas’s character development.

He starts out as a racist towards dwarves, just like all the other elves in the Woodland Realm. Only Tauriel doesn’t seem to have this prejudice. She cares about other races, she doesn’t deem her race as better than all others, unlike Thranduil (“Other lands are not my concern.”) Throughout the two films we see Legolas’s admiration towards Tauriel, and his jealousy towards Tauriel and Kili's relationship affect his view on dwarves. We see him having this inner conflict throughout the two films. An example would be Thorin saving Legolas from orcs at the Forest River, then Legolas returning the favor at Ravenhill. At the end, the effect of Kili's death to Tauriel also affects Legolas after seeing her so distraught. Seeing Tauriel’s love to someone he deemed lesser than their kind, has made him reevaluate his views. You see: his platonic love for Tauriel, getting to know her philosophy, and seeing her fight for Kili the dwarf she loves, changed his views. He is now a changed man ("I cannot go back"). We see the continuation of this progression as if it was meant to be in the first place, with Legolas and Gimli's relationship. The biggest pay-off to this progression comes in Return of the King.

It's also worth pointing out that the love triangle is also representing the end of the hatred between the species, and bridging them together.

I’m going to get a bit critical here; I hope you don’t mind. Let me go step by step with the scenes you cut:

1. The exchange between Gloin and Legolas: This is not just a quick laugh and reference to a LotR character; it’s also a large setup and natural beginning to Legolas’ character development.
2. Two scenes of Legolas feeling jealous towards Tauriel and Kili (bickering between the three by the cells, and Legolas watching them from a distance): Like I said, we need to see Legolas’s love for Tauriel and how he watches her and Kili. It continues his arc; he’s trying to comprehend how Tauriel could love such a being lesser than them.
3. Tauriel and Thranduil’s talk about the spiders, which leads to talking about Legolas’s feelings towards Tauriel. This scene is important so we can get to know Tauriel’s world view and personality. She makes it clear here that she cares about the outside world; she can’t simply stand by in the Woodland Realm while the rest of the world suffers.

This also begins Thranduil’s arc that carries over to The Battle of the Five Armies. He begins as a dick who doesn’t care about the rest of the world, but in TBotFA, not dissimilar to Legolas, seeing Tauriel fight for what she loves, and his own son supporting her decision, makes him think about his ideals, and reevaluate them.

Again, this scene also adds context to the love triangle.

5. The orc interrogation: important for no reason other than serve the purpose of being the precursor to the next scene I’m talking about…
6. Tauriel and Legolas by the lake: Great stuff, they argue over their ideals, Legolas wants Tauriel to return and obey Thranduil, while Tauriel firmly states that she cannot sit idly by while the rest of the world needs help. In the end, Legolas’s love for Tauriel makes him agree to fight alongside her.

Keeping all these in mind, their appearance in Lake-town, the skirmish, and the healing of Kili is much more rewarding, necessary, and deserved. Unfortunately, none of this can be found in your fan edit. I realize this is done to keep the focus on Bilbo, but in doing so you have severely weakened both Tauriel’s and Legolas’s characters; now, they’re just there to kill some orcs. There is no substance left. Tauriel and Legolas suddenly appearing in Lake-town now feels extremely forced and undeservedly convenient.

I also had a different issue; there was a scene that you cut containing the dwarves seeing the Lonely Mountain up close. It’s a very emotional scene; the goal they’ve been talking about for two movies is ever so closer. They’re almost home. Plot-wise it may not be that necessary, but character-wise I think it’s essential.

One thing that stuck to my mind was the ring scene in Mirkwood. Seeing as the baby spider murder was (thankfully) removed, Bilbo’s reaction to the ring felt strange to me. I understand that the intent was to have the ring speak to Bilbo so it has a mysterious presence, the execution of this felt a bit off to me.

However I must concur that not much can be done about this, and it is better to have the ring mysterious rather than being blatantly Sauron’s ring or just a magic ring, the latter of which is because of the moment where Bilbo has to take the ring off in front of Smaug, which would not work as well if the ring wasn’t set up as mysterious. So in my opinion having this scene as odd as it may be, is better than not having it at all. Maybe if the ring’s voice is more clearly heard and just the part where Bilbo almost vomits is cut then this would be perfect.

Maybe I’d like to keep the spy network for Stephen Colbert, but I understand why it was cut. It’s fine by me either way.

Finally, I wish you had included the main Hobbit theme from An Unexpected Journey, but I understand why you didn’t add it in.

Outside of these few qualms and preferences, I think every single change was spot-on. For example, I thought deleting the two Master scenes wouldn’t work, but actually all we needed was presented to us with the Alfrid fish scene and the part before the dwarves ask for medicine. I also loved how Kili’s healing and Legolas’s fight with Bolg was intercut, plus the removal of Kili’s speech worked surprisingly good.

So yeah. I had a blast watching this. I’m very much looking forward to The Battle of the Five Armies: Arkenstone Edition.

Keep up the wonderful work!
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