Review Detail

9.5 35 10
FanFix April 15, 2015 27542
(Updated: June 20, 2016)
Overall rating
Audio/Video Quality
Audio Editing
Visual Editing
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.

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