April 19, 2016
Billy Batson's edit here is pretty good. It's got a few rough spots, and it's not my favorite edit (that would be a combo of Maple Films and Spence if you're asking), but it has a few, cool innovations that I hadn't seen before, and for the most part, it's well executed. My critique, in chronological order:
- Interesting choice opening on Hobbiton. It works, but I think I prefer the older Bilbo striking a match "My dear Frodo..." opening I've seen in other edits.
- I missed having Gandalf name off the various dwarves as they bustled through Bag End.
- Good job on cutting "...or brightest" (and the ensuing argument)
- The troll scene, "there--that's my grog" cut was a bit rough
- The waterfall audio as they approach Rivendell was very rough. I know you mentioned in other comments that audio is not your strong suit. If I were to fix it, I'd say first get a sample with much more bass in it, then cut it in as soon as the scene changes at about 70% volume, fading it in over the next couple seconds as the camera pans closer, as if it's getting louder because you're approaching it. The music carrying over the scene change works very well and the idea behind this cut is good, it just needs some polish.
- I liked your cutting of the dwarves being encircled at Rivendell by the incoming elven riders. I always thought them taking such a hostile posture was out of place for Elrond's people. The wood elves, sure, but Rivendell elves I think are beyond such intimmidation. Good work.
- Not sure what I think of the song during dinner at Rivendell. Yours is the first edit I've seen that kept that scene. I think, like much of the "humor" in these films, it's funny the first time, but it detracts from the overall dignity of the films.
- Slightly rough on the audio ducking out of the (cut) meeting with Galadriel. We hear the eerie musical cue of her about to show up, then it just fades out suddenly.
- There's an odd audio issue just after Bilbo is saved from falling off the mountain, "we must find shelter!" It's too soft and it's a little out of sync with Thorin's mouth
- Again, your edit chose to keep something most have not, the "Goblintown" song sung by the king. It's hard for me to say it's a bad thing and should be removed because it -is- part of the book, but it just doesn't quite transfer over to film.
- An extremely rough cut from goblin king to Bilbo awakening alone near gollum's cave
- You retained gollum losing the ring--most editors cut this for two reasons: first, it's more true to the book for Bilbo to simply find the ring without knowing where it came from; and second, seeing the ring fall means Bilbo knew who it belonged to, which actually -does- make him a thief. In the book, he only slowly pieces together who the ring belonged to and by the time he figures it out, Gollum is in a rage ready to kill him and he has no choice but to escape with it.
- A slightly rough cut when the goblin king falls--mostly from the music skipping a beat
- Azog is never mentioned before he shows up, so his introduction is kind of sudden. I've seen edits retain the campfire scene where Balin tells Bilbo of Thorin's history in flashback (how he got his name "Oakenshield") and other edits that keep the goblin king's lines of "a pale orc searching for you." Either one works, but I feel it needs something.
- Transitions getting out of AUJ and into DoS (from after the eagle rescue continuing into Beorn's house) are all a little rough. The music fades too suddenly, the cuts to chasing orcs and the company on the run, and the music ducking beneath Gandalf's voiceover, are all a little off. You had the right idea using Gandalf's "there is a house..." as a voiceover, though. The Maple Films edit takes Gandalf's lines about "there is a house" plus his details of Beorn "not overly fond of dwarves" as a voiceover to the scene with the eagles in flight as they carry the company over the land. Then it just cuts straight to Beorn's intro. It's not perfect, but it's the best I've seen. Or you could do like Spence and just cut everything from leaving Goblintown to entering Mirkwood, but that's rather drastic.
- Excellent work all throughout Mirkwood, the spiders, the elven prison, and the barrell escape. I like that you removed Bilbo's scene with the ring and the baby spider. That always felt out of character and the Ring should not be so powerful at this time.
- Good work getting rid of Master (and Alfred)--similar treatment to what Spence did and it works well.
- You kept a little more of Laketown than I expected, but no real problems. I like the scene with Bard researching Thorin's name and lineage.
- You cut the explanation of the loosened scale and "only a black arrow..." That will cause some issues later on...
- Simple and effective fix for hiding Kili's injury--simply cutting to the sounds outside the building of weapons falling rather than Kili falling. Good work
- Good cut from "...thrice welcome!" to the boat
- Bit of a rough cut to Bilbo finding the stairway
- Really great handling of key/doorway scene--I've seen many overly-complicated solutions for trying to hide that there are missing dwarves, trying to hide their temper tantrum when the door won't show, trying to cover the fact that they gave up and started back down the mountain... yours took care of all of those issues simply and elegantly. The cut was a little rough in the audio, but that wouldn't take much to fix.
- Another rough cut before "give him more time"
- Plot hole: Bilbo can't say "the stories are true" of the loosened scale since you cut the scene where he learns of that story
- Very good getting Smaug out of Erebor while skipping the gold. I also recognized Spence's solution for cutting Bard's imprisonment--good choice borrowing that
- You used mostly Spence solution for slaying of Smaug, too. There are differences, but it's good. I note you didn't kill the Master--I thought this would have issues (a plot hole concerning Bard's rise to de facto Master), but I think the crowd cheering for the dragon slayer is enough to grant him right of leadership--and you even managed to keep Alfrid out of it, always a plus.
- More good cuts of Alfrid--not perfect, but good. As things move on, I see you've kept more Alfrid than most, but what you've kept works fine.
- Thorin is defintely a bit sicker in your edit vs. others. I like the vision in the pool of gold, glad you included that.
- Very rough cut after Legolas informs Gandalf of the 2nd orc army
- Again, another comedic scene you've kept, this time Bifur's axe. It was amusing the first time, but I think I'd have cut it.
- Editing the final fight between Thorin and Azog is very difficult--a bit quick jumping b/w scenes, but a good job. I prefer Spence's solution to Legolas. Also, a plot hole: you forgot to kill Kili (yet he's shown dead with Fili and Thorin later on).
- Your ending offers a lot less closure than others--it's not bad, but it's very different. It's rather sad to see him simply looking out the window of his now emptied home, wondering where life goes now after so much has changed.
My favorite edit remains the Maple Films edit (which, for whatever reason, isn't listed here on FE.org but can be found easily enough) along with a strong nod toward Spence for some key scenes. This edit is a good effort, and has some really cool ideas, but there are definitely technical issues. The video is native 1472 x 624, which is a really strange resolution--about half-way between 720p and 1080p. Aside from that, the visual consistency was fine (no color or gamma issues). Audio mix (voice channel vs. music/effects) was fine, but there were many rough cuts--about three very obvious ones plus several more that were not quite as jarring, but still not fully blended in. The concept of this edit was good--there were a few more recreational/humor scenes in this edit than in others (Goblin King's song, the jig on the dinner table in Rivendell), but most of the important cuts you'd expect from any mainstream Hobbit edit are there: Tauriel/love triangle, the stone giants, potty humor, ridiculous Legolas acrobatics, over-the-top violence, extended chase/running scenes, Alfrid--all minimized or completely gone. There were a few minor plot holes which I'm betting most viewers wouldn't notice. In all, this was a solid book edit that definitely needs some polish, but also packs a few pleasant surprises I hadn't seen before. Good work!