To be honest, I hated the Hobbit movies. This comes from someone who watched each Lord of the Rings movie in theaters multiple times, got each of the extended editions twice (once on DVD and second on BluRay) and watched pretty much every special feature on them.
The Hobbit trilogy on the other hand destroyed what I loved most about what was honestly my favorite Tolkien book. Growing up, the Hobbit was one of the most influential to expand my imagination and introduce me to the fantasy genre.
It was simple. A hobbit joins a band of dwarves and a wizard to reclaim the dwarves home that’s been taken over by the dragon Smaug. This takes them across the exciting realm of Middle Earth on an exciting adventure. In the end things are resolved in an epic battle and that’s it. It’s short, not bloated like the LotR (which is one of the few pieces of fiction that manages it… barely in my opinion)
The movies, however, lost what made the Hobbit, The Hobbit. First of all it took a short and simple adventure and tried to make it the scope of LotR for what was clearly as cash grab for more movies. Second it took the focus off of the main character and instead made it a string of over the top filler to not only buff out the movies but added characters that should never have been there (looking at you Tauriel) which bloated it more and made the entire mess seem like a teenager’s fan fiction.
In a recent special feature we finally see much of why this happened. Much of which was due to Guillermo Del Toro leaving the project which was taken up by Peter Jackson who admitted:
I didn’t know what the hell I was doing.
He ended up redoing all of the preproduction work they had done for Del Toro which led them into a downward spiral of poor planning and bad decision making.
This all being said is nothing new. You can likely find many reviews online that echo this opinion. As someone who has been an editor I couldn’t help but think as to how these movies could bet cut and improved upon… it turns out I wasn’t the only one.
Several editors in fact, since the Battle of the Five Armies came out, have managed to create good edits of the films to make them everything from 3-5 hours in one single film. These also have various degrees of success depending on the skill of the editor in question. If you’re interested in searching some of these others, it’s not too hard to find with a simple Google search.
I was invested in finding one that I could consider the definitive cut of the Hobbit. This would take the bloated husk of three bad films and turn it into one memorable film which could recapture the essence of the book. Finally I found Maple Films’s Hobbit Fan Edit and wasn’t disappointed.
The editor has managed to not only seamlessly weave all of the films together into one four hours and a half long epic masterpiece, but he has recaptured to me what always made The Hobbit.
Once again the story focuses solely on Bilbo, cutting out the unnecessary bulk and side plots that burdened the series down. This isn’t to say it neglects the other characters, in fact, I felt a stronger connection to all of them, as once Bilbo takes center stage again are able to shine as characters in their own right instead of being lost in the clamor.
Also the editor has been able to skillfully edit in such a way that all of story sections make perfect sense. You would think that things like the White Orc coming would come out of the blue after the Goblin tunnels be strange, but no, he left in just enough content that it flows and makes everything make perfect sense with the story and pacing. This includes Gandalf’s disappearances (which were never explained in the original book and I believe work best in the edit which hints at Sauron’s return but doesn’t do more).
In the original movie I also felt the action scenes, which sometimes fun, were so long and over the top I was bored half way through. Well in this edit he manages to either cut them when totally unnecessary (like the giants in the mountains what the hell was that?), or edit them down so that they are interesting but not ridiculous such as the barrel riding scene. Again all with the skill of a Hollywood edit so that if I hadn’t seen the original I would never have known they were there. Which from a technical standpoint he matches the new cuts with incredible skill so that each is color corrected to match and has seamless sound cuts.
I can’t speak well enough of this edit. If you own the original films and can legally download them under the fair use copy write law that he uses, and you love the original story you owe it to yourself to download his edit. It has brought back the story in such a way for me I can enjoy it again and has given me the original Hobbit movie I had always dreamed about as a kid.