April 15, 2015
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.