Hobbit: The Spence Edit, The
My goal is not to make the film more like Lord of the Rings in tone, but in spirit. The gag-filled action scenes that Peter Jackson has become fond of are minimized, except when appropriate. It feels more epic. The pacing is quicker. It feels more in line with those films, while also becoming even more different from them.
Howard Shore's scores from all six Middle Earth Films
Far Over The Misty Mountains Cold by Clamavi De Profundis
A few shots from The Lord of the Rings here and there.
- Remove Prologue with Older Bilbo
- Much of the Dwarves dinner antics are cut
- Azog is no longer following/hunting Thorin's company, but he is still one of the main villains.
- Radaghast is removed until his scenes with Gandalf in DoS.
- The White Council scene in Rivendell is removed, but they still rescue Gandalf later in the film.
- Rock Giants are gone.
- Goblin tunnels are heavily cut, but 99% of Gollum's scenes are kept.
- Beorn is not in this film.
- Most of Bilbo's struggling with how the Ring is changing him is gone, as it felt out of place in this story.
- Tauriel is now just another elf, her relationship with Kili does not occur.
- Legolas is heavily trimmed to be more of a fun cameo than a full fledged important character.
- The Barrel sequence is much shorter, and the company is no longer chased by Elves or Orcs.
- Bard's family and the politics of Lake Town have been completely removed.
- Alfrid appears in some shots but has no lines of dialogue.
- Dol Goldur is wrapped up before we meet Smaug for pacing reasons.
- The Dwarves fight with Smaug inside Erebor is completely removed.
- Smaug's attack on Lake Town is heavily edited.
- Major cuts throughout Battle of the Five Armies to get the story moving and the pieces in place faster.
- Major cuts to the battle for length and pacing.
- "Misty Mountains" theme re-instated when Thorin rallies the army.
- Kili's death rearranged to remove Tauriel.
- Many cuts to Ravenhill for pacing.
- The film features a new ending created using the various Old Bilbo shots and voice overs, shots from Lord of the Rings, and the delted "Dreaming of Bag End" music cue.
The Hobbit movies all had a very The Phantom Menace kind of feel to me; overly campy and childish acts of self-indulgence on the part of a director who clearly wasn't told "no" a single time during its entire production. Despite my dislike of the theatrical releases however, I still held out some hope that they all could be edited into a more sensible and appropriate film. Sadly, I found the few cuts I found too campy to watch. While they were shorter, they still felt too cartoonish, too dense, and too aimless for me to watch it past the first half hour or so. With that, I pretty much gave up hope of ever enjoying The Hobbit movies.
Then, on a whim, I decided to check out this version of the film. And to my great shock and surprise, this was it. This IS it. Spence does a tremendous job of cutting the film down to not just one feature, but realizing exactly what should and shouldn't be in a major motion picture and tailoring the story to those demands. It's tight, it's engaging, it's almost as serious as the original Lord of the Rings movies too. I was shocked by just how much he was able to cut - even down to the company of Dwarves getting far less exposure - yet never doing it at the cost of the plot or the story. In fact, for the first time, I actually felt a connection to these characters. I actually found myself caring about their journey, and I ended up watching 2 and a half hours of the movie without even noticing how much time had passed.
While I've seen a lot of fan edits, and a lot of good ones, this one is probably my favorite yet because it took a series of movies that I found downright unwatchable and crafted and refined them into something that I not only enjoyed, but could easily sit through multiple viewings of.
This is now my go-to-version of The Hobbit. So much more enjoyable than Peter Jackson's overly long version. Here we get Tolkien's single book in a single movie. Still long? Yes. Does it feel too long? No.
The flow of the story is seamless, as are the video and audio editing. The one audio problem is that the volume is very low, you have to jack it up to hear all the dialog. Subtitles would help. If anyone made those, please share. Otherwise I may make the srt file myself.
I recently rewatched this edit and it's easily the best 3-in-1 edit I have watched. It seamless combines all three movies and makes them one huge epic. There is however some minor nitpicks that I feel if addressed could make this stand up as if it was planned all along.
First of all I like the fact that you kept the Dol Guldur subplot and that you set it up as early as possible because that way we are introduced to the big baddies that play heavily in the end battle. However it does feel like the sense of threat by Azog and the Necromancer are not as looming in the film as they could be, mainly because in this version they only connive in their lair. We don't see them have a presence of physical threat to the company, which I feel would add a much needed sense of importance and urgency to their quest. It's much more engaging to watch the company if you know they're being hunted. The way to fix this I feel would be to leave the reference that the Goblin King makes of Azog and him sending one of his underlings to tell him of Thorin's whereabouts. And before the scene of arriving in Mirkwood have the scene of weather top where the orc tell Azog through new subtitles that the goblin's have spotted the company on their way to the forest. Then we show Azog dispatching orcs. Then you integrate the orcs back into the barrel sequence, without a lot of the superflous action of course, but having their presence alone makes for a better set up of the Battle of Five Armies. It also explains Kili's injury.
The third act is the messiest mainly because the third film is just the messiest of the three. I feel like the moment where Thorin has his acid trip and comes to his senses is a bit silly but essential to his character arc. Otherwise his change of heart seems way to jarring. The extended edition with the funeral I feel would add emotional resonance to the story.
The animosity between Dwarves and Elves should be restored in the Rivendell scenes since it sets up Throin's discontent with Thranduil. One of the most important things that I feel should be restored is the extended conversation between Gandalf and Elrond where Bilbo and Thorin overhear them speaking of the sickness of the treasure. This sets up that storyline early on as the prologue is no longer present to do so. Without it, it kinda comes outta nowhere when Balin brings it up outside the mountain.
I know all these suggestion might make the runtime too unbearable but I feel like if that is the case then the movie should be split in two. And the first one should definitely end after the barrel sequence.
As far as 3-in-1 I feel like this is as good as it gets. It's fast, almost all the story information is there and it's all done in a manageable length considering. Oh and the way you handled Smaug not having a gold crust I thought was genius. Great job Spence.
My critique, in "play-by-play" style:
- The edit opens with a short pan across Hobbiton and then immediately goes into a conversation between Bilbo and a newly-arrived Gandalf. Gone is the Prologue, older-Bilbo's narrative, and Frodo.
- Cutting "are there any other wizards?" line makes Radagast's intro later a little sudden
- I missed Balin's explanation of sword names since it helps explain "Sting" later on
- Very good keeping Azog/Sauron conversation--helps promote the idea of "bigger things afoot"
- Trolls handled well, good work removing most of the juvenile humor
- I personally missed bombur breaking the bench, but that scene isn't necessary
- Excellent editing of Bilbo no longer falling from cliff
- Goblins handled well--especially the cut to Orcrist falling to ground with the other swords. very clever. Like most edits, the Goblin King's fall down into the depths is assumed to be his end.
- Subtle but excellent edit of finding of the ring. In Spence's edit, the sword illuminates the ring, but Bilbo doesn't notice it at first--then he does a double take and stoops to pick it up. In the Maple Films edit (which is my go-to edit of the Hobbit Trilogy), he just does the double take--we don't get the slow reveal of the ring on the ground. It's a very quick edit, but it really made a big difference toward not making the finding of the ring so sudden (in the original cut, he sees gollum drop it, which introduces a host of problems of its own--the least of which is that Bilbo really is a thief since he knows the ring belongs to Gollum long before meeting him).
- There's a huge cut of the entire "Out of the Frying Pan" chapter as well as the Eagles and Beorn. There's a -lot- of material gone, and while I would have preferred to keep Beorn added, the cut works fine for the most part.
- One thing -not- explained by the previous cut is the rather noticeable plot hole of them suddenly having ponies again.
- Why didn't Gandalf warn them to "stay on the path"?
- For a moment, the elven musical theme shows up during the spider fight--a very strange choice. It didn't sound bad, but it certainly didn't fit.
- Ha, you just had to keep one, over-the-top, Legolas-surfing-on-a-spider scene in there, didn't ya?
- As expected, Tauriel and the love triangle is gone
- A minor plot hole: Kili's injury is not explained, but I suppose it's not too much a stretch to just assume it was a consequence of tumbling down a ramp and through rapids in a barrell.
- The pacing feels a bit fast for Bard to just show up suddenly.
- Radagast kind of comes out of nowhere since we've neither heard of nor seen him before he shows up in the high fells. As mentioned earlier, might have been nice to retain the Bilbo/Gandalf conversation of "are there any other wizards?"
- Balin's line "only a black arrow could have pierced the dragon's hyde" is retained, but his son explaining that Girion left a weak spot is cut. This has consequences later...
- Excellent work getting rid of Alfrid and minimizing the master. Pacing is a bit quick, but ok
- Also as expected, the Dwarves are never separated in Laketown, and there is no orc/elf raid
- The cuts from sunset to moon to keyhole are a bit rough, the pacing too fast
- There are some audio issues when bilbo enters Erebor--the echoes (presumably the surround channels) are a good several seconds early
- Awesome work with Bard simply using his last arrow to slay Smaug. The extreme nature of the many cuts to Laketown lead to some issues, though. Since we were earlier told that only a Black Arrow could do the job, and Bard was never informed of the weak spot since the dialog with his son is cut, he effectively doesn't know there's a weak spot (in the book, a little bird told him--literally...). This means that when he busts out of that window, carrying only a standard bow and a quiver of standard arrows, he's essentially facing down the dragon out of desparation, trusting only to luck. This doesn't quite sit right with me. Another problem is that, since the Master was never properly established as a mustache-twirling villain, I kind of feel bad seeing the poor guy get squashed by a falling ex-dragon. There's only a split second to note that his barge is filled with gold. At the same time, he can't -not- be killed since it's necessary for the Master to be out of the picture in order for Bard to progress to leader of his people.
- Thorin's madness comes on a bit quick...
- Good handling of battle, other than the somewhat silly part where the moose scoops up a half-dozen orcs and Thranduil beheads them all in one swipe.
- The battle at Ravenhill handled very well--even explains how he got orcrist back w/out too much wacky Legolas antics.
- I would have preferred to have Radagast completely removed from the final rally (as he has been in other edits--the Maple Films edit, for example).
- Good cut of "I lost that ring anyway"--Bilbo lying to Gandalf just didn't seem right
- Interesting idea, moving older-Bilbo's narrative to the end, but I think I prefer it as an opener as it has been in other edits.
The Spence edit is an extremely innovative and high-paced edit. It comes in at a half-hour shorter than many book cuts while still retaining many of the non-book cut scenes (the White council, Dol Guldur, High Fells, etc). Visual quality is fine, but the musical score can often cover the center (voice) channel. Still, it's amazing how much material has been packed in while keeping the flow mostly intact. I personally prefer a Book Cut, but this is a very well done edit--a joy to watch, if for no other reason than to see Spence's impressive work.
As soon as it was announced they would be stretching out The Hobbit into three movies, I knew someone around here would take up the job of reducing it back down to the single movie this SHOULD have been. Spence has, IMO, done a fantastic job of doing so! A/V Quality and Editing are superb, seamless, and honestly I didn't see anything to suggest anything was cut. The only reason I was aware of anything removed was due to having seen the original versions, otherwise I likely wouldn't have known.
If I have a real criticism or complaint, it's that honestly I think more could have been cut. This is very much the film Peter Jackson probably would have made and released had he been asked to make a single film, but it's not a particularly easy film to enjoy: it's still a pretty slowly paced slog.
That said, this edit has permanently replaced the theatrical trilogy on my shelf and I HIGHLY recommend it to anyone who wants to see The Hobbit but doesn't want to sit through nine hours of film.