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Fal J. M. Skywalker

The Hobbit Recut - The Fan Edits thread

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Multiple responses to multiple people, lol.

 

Thanks for the nice welcome. Glad I found this board! Goldeneye...hmm...I picked it more for the movie I guess. The game was fun but gave me a headache if I played more than 20 minutes straight. 

 

Blunt the Knives was in the book, and it was a fun way of getting to know the dwarves. They, along with Bilbo, are the heart of the story so I didn't think that scene was "bloat." Now, that silly extended scene of them bathing in Rivendell...um no.

 

The Intermission exists for 4 reasons. 1. It's a way to break up a four hour film in case some people want to watch half at a time. 2. It's a nod to PJs intention to split the Hobbit when it was still two films...the first film would have ended where the fan edit ends its first half. 3. It's a throwback to old Hollywood epics like Lawrence of Arabia that had intermissions. 4. It's an excuse to have another unused Howard Shore cue in the film :)

 

I've got work and stuff to do so TTFN!

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1 hour ago, Bilbo Skywalker said:

If you want to remove bloat why keep Blunt the Knives? Sure it's in the book (and I love it in PJ's film) but it's bloat. Keeping it is only being slavish to the book which is bad for an adaptation. 

 

One man's 'bloat' is another man's treasure. Who are we to judge 'bloat'? In recent years the term seems to have become little more than a euphemism for parts of a film people don't like, and an extremely lazy 'form' of criticism.

 

2 hours ago, goldeneye said:

To the user who is mad that I inserted the Misty Mountains theme during Thorins charge...Sons of Durin was not the right piece for that scene.

 

Erm.... no

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9 minutes ago, Barnald said:

 

One man's 'bloat' is another man's treasure. Who are we to judge 'bloat'? 

Um, I don't know. The consumer of the art?

 

Everyone who sees those movies or any work of art is in a position to judge it.  I think The Hobbit movies have a lot of bloat. Yes, I judge them. What I don't judge is you "treasuring" it. That's cool too. I wish I loved these movies the way I wish I loved the prequels. Or, more precisely, I wish Jackson and Lucas made movies that I could love.

 

Some people love what Jackson did with The Hobbit. Great. Dustin's version is for those of us who didn't. I don't know why the mere existance of an alternate edit freaks some people out. 

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27 minutes ago, Nick1066 said:

Um, I don't know. The consumer of the art?

 

Everyone who sees those movies or any work of art is in a position to judge it.  I think The Hobbit movies have a lot of bloat. Yes, I judge them. What I don't judge is you "treasuring" it. That's cool too. I wish I loved these movies the way I wish I loved the prequels. Or, more precisely, I wish Jackson and Lucas made movies that I could love.

 

Some people love what Jackson did with The Hobbit. Great. Dustin's version is for those of us who didn't. I don't know why the mere existance of an alternate edit freaks some people out. 

 

I'm not judging anyone (I was being somewhat facetious anyway, and when it comes to liking many aspects of these films, I'm clearly going against the grain round here as it is). I'm not against fan edits either. I guess my point is this: if we define bloat as something unnecessary (which I imagine one does), what if you enjoy that unnecessary something? Is all 'bloat' by definition bad? I think this is my issue with the blanket use of that particular term.

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1 hour ago, Stefancos said:

 

But the consumer is often ignorant about the creative process of the art or product he is buying.

Fair enough.  Most moviegoers I doubt know the blood, sweat, tears and passion that goes into films like these.  I watched every minute of The Hobbit Appendices, and appreciate everything that those people put into it.

 

But what consumers are in a position to judge is how well they like the final product. They either like it or they don't.

 

In the case of The Hobbit, Dustin didn't like it so he made his own edit...which I also like. It doesn't negate the existence of the original. And I don't see it as an insult to the filmmakers either.  Like it or not, art these days is being transformed once its released into the world. The soundtrack edits/remaster that are so popular here, fan fic, fan films and fan edits. And frankly it's nothing new. How many times has the Birth of Venus been transformed, repurposed, and reimagined? Is every instance of that an insult to Botecelli? 

 

The legality of these things is another matter, it's a grey area an certainly anyone who downloads Dustin's film should own copies of the originals.  But in terms of their mere existence, I don't think there's anything wrong with it and believe it enhances the original work rather than detracts from it.  I certainly don't see it as an insult to the filmmakers...quite the opposite in fact. 

55 minutes ago, Barnald said:

 

I'm not judging anyone (I was being somewhat facetious anyway, and when it comes to liking many aspects of these films, I'm clearly going against the grain round here as it is). I'm not against fan edits either. I guess my point is this: if we define bloat as something unnecessary (which I imagine one does), what if you enjoy that unnecessary something? Is all 'bloat' by definition bad? I think this is my issue with the blanket use of that particular term.

Ah, right. Got you. 

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3 hours ago, goldeneye said:

The Misty Mountains theme is featured in the first film's trailer. It features prominently throughout An Unexpected Journey,  during pivotal scenes. And then it never appears again. I just find that very strange. Again, it would be like having The Force/Luke's Theme in a New Hope and then dropping it for Empire and Return. 

 

 

 

You quote me, and then say MM never appears again, when in the quote I say House of Durin is a development of it?

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1 hour ago, gkgyver said:

 

You quote me, and then say MM never appears again, when in the quote I say House of Durin is a development of it?

I don't really think Sons of Durin is a development of the Misty Mountains theme...it's more of a replacement. Shore doesn't reference the MM theme at all after the first film.

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Apologies to member Goldeneye.  I accidentally deleted his account!  All posts that now show as "Guest" in this thread are his.  Hopefully he re-registers.


Apologies again, Goldeneye!

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I was deleting spam accounts and in the new board version, you have to delete them one at a time instead of all at once like you could on the old version. So I deleted one then didn't realize when the page refreshed, it brought me to a list of all users, rather than just all accounts that had been flagged as spam accounts.  So I then ended up deleting the most recent user instead of the most recent spam account. Stupid. 

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So my fan edit, JRR Tolkien's The Hobbit, was voted "Favorite Edit of the Month" on Fanedit.org! For those of you unfamiliar with the site, fanedit.org is a great resource and database for all types of alternate versions of your favorite movies and TV shows. They don't host any files or download links to the edits themselves, but they do make it easier to track them down. I highly recommend you check out their site (and my fan edit of course!) if you have the time.

 

https://www.fanedit.org/eldusto84s-the-hobbit-wins-august-2016-feotm/

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The more I see fan edits, the more I realize they aren't viable; the way the films were shot, the tone and the locked segments of score, and most importantly a lack of editorial and directorial skill and refinement that comes from the huge filmmaking process.

 

I get people will be unhappy with how the films turned out and I would never discourage people from producing fan edits, I just see it as an uphill battle that you can't ever hope to win.

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Indeed. 

 

Really, in terms of cutting the films down, the only things I will have changed are:

 

  1. Cut out a few shots out of the Dwarves' partying. I don't mind that they're a bit vulgar, but I would have toned it down slightly and maybe cut out a few of the shots where they're drinking and spilling ale.
  2. Cut the troll sequence out of the theatrical cut of An Unexpected Journey. That stage of the quest, where Erebor is still far away and the chase isn’t on, should have been as concise as possible for the theatrical release, and it would have made for an overall more concise and enrapturing "establishing film" for new audiences watching this series. This of course would have required pick-up shoots to differently plot the arrival at the troll hoard and the finding of Orcrist and Sting.
  3. Try to make the Radagast scenes and the White Council a bit more concise. The introduction of Radagast stalls the first part of the second act, because it comes right off of the heels of the flashback to the battle of Moria. I will have also removed the Old Toby scene. Those beats aside, the character of Radagast really isn’t that silly: his dialogue is for the most part very serious and grave.
  4. Edit down the Bombur barrel extravaganza so that he is catapulted out of the water and instantly lands and kills the Orcs. All the bouncing around makes you wonder how the character escapes unscathed.
  5. Cut the final Tauriel scene from The Desolation of Smaug and push Legolas’ brawl with Bolg into its spot. That scene is the point where the Tauriel/Kili thing becomes cheesy. I also think that, given the film's very impressively-agressive cutting, that moving from Legolas chasing Bolg to the stilness of Erebor will have been a stronger transition.
  6. Make one or two of the Dwarves get hurt more seriously in the finale of the second film. I’m thinking Gloin, who is thrown from the cart he is in down to the ground.
  7. Cut down some of Legolas’ stunts. I don’t mind his gravity-defying stunts, but what I like about it in The Lord of the Rings is that it’s gradual: first he walks on snow and climbs on a chain and over a troll's head; than he leaps on a horse and slides down a shield in the next film. Here, he’s living up to the Mumakil sequence from the moment that we meet him. Just tone it down a bit, is all I'm saying.
  8. Tone down the Alfrid on The Battle of the Five Armies. Thankfully, he isn’t in it for a lot of time as it is, so just a tiny bit less will have made him far more tolerable.
  9. Redo Kili's death: tone down the slow motion and move Tauriel's grieving for him earlier down the line and shorten it. Azog should have at least been present in the scene, as well, so Kili can try to attack him before Bolg  intervenes.
  10. Obviously another pass for the special effects and maybe touch up the color grading in the third film.
  11. Remove some of the musical edits, and add the company themes into the second and/or third film.

 

None of these changes would have shortened the series too much (with the exception of a change to the theatrical cut of An Unexpected Journey) nor justified a restructuring of the series into something other than a trilogy.

 

I will have added stuff, too: namely, a couple of more small character moments for the individual Dwarves, especially Fili, Bifur and Nori; even a scene with Thranduil that explains the significance of the white gems a bit more clearly. But all of these touches needed to have been done in the editor’s bay and in pick-up photography: they can’t be made satisfactorily after-the-fact in a fan edit.

 

Really, the films just will have benefited another pass for the edit. But even as it is, it doesn’t bother me too much. If I could, I would have edited stuff differently for The Two Towers and even The Fellowship of the Ring. But since I like the movies overall, I don’t really see the need to bother with either trying to make or trying to find such a fan cut.

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I resolved to teach myself how to use Adobe Premiere Pro over the last six months or so, and today finally completed my edit of Battle of the Five Armies. As I've said before I like these films a good deal so my trims aren't as brutal as most. It's down to about 2hrs 17mins, though much of that is because I've moved Smaug's attack on Laketown to the end of the second film (the film now starts with Dol Guldur, which I find works better, and the title card appears as the four stragglers are traveling to Erebor). The rest of the cuts largely involved Alfried, Tauriel and Legolas. I was able to re-edit Fili and Kili's death as part of the same scene (based on what that chap did previously), and had the Durin theme from 'In the Shadow of the Mountain' play over it, which has somehow made their deaths much more moving (I didn't think this possible).

 

But what I'm most happy about is the amount of music I was able to change/add. There's so much dead space in this film, and thanks to Audio Channel 4 being blank (for me at least) you can have a field day. I've restored as much as I could, and inevitably used music from elsewhere in a few places. I used the Ringwraith theme from 'Wraiths on Wings' for Saruman and Elrond battling the Nazgul (it deserved to go somewhere), brought in Bilbo's themes in various places, there's a few Misty Mountains uses in there, and I re-did the music for the respective charges of the Iron Hills Dwarves and Thorin, so that it's much louder (and better). I also murdered Bard's family theme in most places, not least since I've brought in the new Bard theme instead. It's not perfect by any means (some edits aren't always smooth, particularly in regard to audio), but it'll do for me. I checked it on my TV earlier and was delighted, I figured the quality would drop but it looks about the same as the Blu. At least now I can watch it without having to reach for the fast-forward button at any point. I liked much of the film already but now it's infinitely more enjoyable.

 

Anyway I'll proceed to Desolation now. I've actually started with this already, adding the music for Bombur's bouncing and some Smaug stuff, but there's a lot to do. AUJ will be a much easier affair, probably more a case of changing some bits and pieces there (Thorin's walk from the tree being the obvious one).

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I've been contemplating making a fan-edit of An Unexpected Journey - not to supplant the extended cut but as an alternate "theatrical" cut, i.e. one with which to introduce new audiences to the series. Once you get them hooked with a concise, action-packed, accessible establishing film (which is what the theatrical cut of An Unexpected Journey should have been) and the follow-up, they can proceed to watch the unabridged films.

 

I think the main issue with the theatrical cut is the first leg of the journey where the mountain is still too distant as are the threats of the Necromancer or Azog, so Trollshaws has to go or at least get significantly cut down; that, and cutting down more on the framing device (after the "James Bond" opening), Radagast and the White Council and you've got a two-hour-ish film.

 

The other two I have issues with, but not so much as to bother with edits.

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I'll just thrown in another pitch for Maple Film's "JRR Tolkien's The Hobbit" a one film, four-hour fan edit by Dustin Lee, which I enjoy verily.  Dustin's a professional editor, and think he did an outstanding job, and it's the only version of The Hobbit I can really watch.  The only thing I would have done differently is eliminate the barrel battle w/the orcs and elves altogether (Dustin just trims it).  Though that's a tough call...I prefer the escape the way Tolkien wrote it, but watching Jackson's film, the beat there clearly calls for an action scene. Dustin also keeps too much of the Smaug/Dwarves cat & mouse game, whereas again I would have eliminated it completely.

 

Otherwise, I agree that fan edits are best ignored. The only other one I'll watch are the Star Wars & Empire Strikes Back "Revisited" versions. My God what an incredible amount of work went into those...a true labour of love. 

 

Oh, and I have a simple fan edit I made myself (more of a trim)...I deleted the Hadley's Hope sequence from the Aliens Director's Cut, because while I think the DC is the superior version, the early Colony scenes are awful and kill the momentum. 

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On 6/4/2018 at 5:19 PM, Nick1066 said:

Oh, and I have a simple fan edit I made myself (more of a trim)...I deleted the Hadley's Hope sequence from the Aliens Director's Cut, because while I think the DC is the superior version, the early Colony scenes are awful and kill the momentum. 

 

Can't you just pop in the blu ray for maximum video and audio quality, and just click the chapter skip button when the scene starts?

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How much worse better can it be?

 

Topher Grace is the latest Hobbit fan to recut the bloated Peter Jackson movies

 

Quote

“I think that maybe ‘The Hobbit’ should’ve been one movie, and many people would agree,” he says. “Money drives a lot of those franchises. It’s better when the art leads.” 

 

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Finally finished (I think) my edits of all 3 films, took me long enough.As I said before, not perfect by any means (I certainly don't claim to be adept at such things) but given I've never done anything like this before I'm happy with it. Most of the unused music is restored - most of it in the right place, some of it elsewhere (for various reasons). Sometimes it's a little louder than I'd like if I'm having to replace existing music, but there's not much I at least can do in that regard. Some music (mainly of the Woodland and Tauriel variety) is gone, never to return. As Bob Ross would say, "it's your world".

 

I also restored original intentions Shore never actually knew he had, such as this (password is 'barnald'):

 

 

And yes, it pained me not to put back the Company theme from Edge of the Wild, a real Sophie's choice moment. I was however able to get this in - I know it was meant to come before, but I saw my chance and took it (same password):

 

 

 

 

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I simply use a portion of Edge of the Wild (including the company material) as Intermission music.

 

1 hour ago, Barnald said:

I also restored original intentions Shore never actually knew he had

 

Oh no. There's a reason Shore doesn't quote Dangerous Passes in The Hobbit: its a theme specifically for the Quest of the Ring, and is therefore only applied to situations where the ring is being carried across treacherous landscapes. Its not simply a "high places" theme.

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I was joking btw... In any case, it's small fry compared to where other existing themes would eventually be appropriated. Plus unused ROTK music! I squeezed in some of the other unused ROTK one during the High Fells sequence. The Ring be damned!

 

Edge of the Wild is on the AUJ end credits now, but I'd have liked to squeeze it in the film somewhere.

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Interestingly, many of the references and sources come from the production diaries/bts featurettes and it does present a good argument against the cash-grab crowd. Battle of the Five Armies is still the weakest of the three, and I will still argue the trilogy could've been condensed into a duology with the sacrifice of extraneous subplots and characters. 

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Nice write-up @Chen G. :) 

 

To me the big problems these films had, were:

1. weak antagonists, from grunts to leaders. Troll King is a smug roadkill, goblins are less menacing than in LOTR, Azog is a crippled, purely physical menace, and has no depth, Bolg has visibly 50 IQ and fights the unkillable Legolas

2. The inclusion of even more wacky, goofy things than Tolkien wrote, while not adapting the original heartbreaking moments (Bombur losing his mind, Fili and Kili dying trying to protect Thorin) 

3. Cartoony tactical retardation in fight/battle sequences with each consequent PJ film (writing), breaking the otherwise very grounded Tolkienian universe.

4. general lack of stakes (3 Trolls - compare: Nazguls, weird stone giants - compare: Saruman causing a storm, Goblin escape - compare: Moria, barrel chase - compare: Uruk Hai attack) (adaptation, execution) Not to mention the whole fight against the Necromancer, which reminded me of prequelesque George Lucas "kewl" type of thinking and was obviously going to be won by the characters who we know all survived these films. What is worse, is the fact that Saruman was supposed to do something about Sauron for 50 years, which makes the FOTR Gandalf Anakin Skywalker-level gullible.

5. Threads going nowhere or derailing the plot: the ambiguous romance between Gandalf and Galadriel which was really confusing since it neither informed our understanding of LOTR, nor really had anything to do with the story at hand, Tauriel was pointless, Alfred was pointless, Azog and his sidekick were distracting and pointless(!)

 

Tolkien's story was actually more serious and elegant than what we have gotten in the films.

 

No amount of editing can really help it.

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9 hours ago, Arpy said:

Interestingly, many of the references and sources come from the production diaries/bts featurettes and it does present a good argument against the cash-grab crowd. Battle of the Five Armies is still the weakest of the three, and I will still argue the trilogy could've been condensed into a duology with the sacrifice of extraneous subplots and characters. 

 

It also proves that the piece had more forethought than its given credit for and that the material shot in pickups wasn’t the spawn of satan.

 

I think An Unexpected Journey is the weakest of the three: it was the most poorly-paced for the theater. The Battle of the Five Armies is uneven, but positively powerful.

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My own belief is that Jackson was ultimately compelled to go with three films (and I'm not saying this was his only reason, just perhaps the most pressing) because he had grave concerns over the projected film one (of two) being completed on time. If you think that by around June 2012 they decided to re-do Azog entirely (I think Manu Bennett was posting about mo-capping stuff as late as July/early August), and yet probably still had to animate massive CGI sequences - Beorn, Mirkwood/Spiders, the barrel chase, Gandalf/Necromancer - I just don't see how they could have done it in time. The production hadn't exactly been smooth given the delay caused by Jackson's ulcer, and I'm not wholly convinced that they'd filmed enough in that first block to cover three films (if anything, they needed far more time here, given a good chunk of BOFA hadn't been shot, plus they were probably thinking of two three-hour films plus 45-minute or more EE's). But moving to three films probably made sense to Jackson, because it would - at least in the short term - ease the pressure on his crew, and I'm sure he thought Warner Bros would lap up the idea if he could sell it to them. And obviously, I doubt he was going to stress to them that they were behind schedule, so he probably felt it best to come up with the editorial/footage argument.

 

I should add that I'm ultimately happy with the decision, because I love AUJ, and the climax is one of the reasons why. The climax of the two-film version always struck me as sounding a bit iffy, not least since I'm not a big fan of sudden cliffhanger endings (which we would eventually get with DoS). But then ending AUJ there, there was always going to be too much left for one sequel, and I get the idea of leaving Smaug's fate up in the air for film three, even if that's something I did change for my own edit.

 

I think the antagonists argument is a little unfair, given that Smaug aside, the book barely has one. And if you take Azog as the book's Bolg - which he essentially is for the purposes of being the non-Smaug antagonist - well, he's an Orc, how much depth can he have? Physical menace who is hellbent on destruction, sounds about right to me. I guess they tried to give him a little depth with the direct revenge and pact with the Necromancer arc, as well as showing him to be a decent tactician of sorts, but there's only so much you can do with an Orc.

 

That said, I grant that I'd have liked the Great Goblin to be a bit more menacing, per some of the original designs, yet for that to work you'd almost certainly have to omit the songs and not use Barry Humphries.

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I don’t know that Jackson wouldn’t have been able to finish the two-film version, but the extra year sure did help.

 

As for Azog, yeah he doesn’t need depth. Villains don’t really necessarily need nuance as characters: they need menace; which Azog, by virtue of killing Thror as his introduction, does have.

 

The Goblin King works for the lighter sensibility of the first film.

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It's interesting that the scenes of Legolas hopping on the Dwarves' heads was filmed in early June 2012. Is it safe then to say that Jackson hadn't yet decided to move to 3 films? Then again, I guess it made sense to film as much as possible in any case. I recall the news coming out just before or after SDCC I think, so presumably he must have been giving it serious thought by late June.

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I don’t know when the filmmakers started talking about going to three films, but I would assume it started during the stops between either block 1 and 2 or, more likely, between 2 and 3. Took them some time to “work out a structure”, too.

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You make a lot of great points in your write up, Chen. I think you're absolutely right that a two-film structure could have turned out worse than what we got. At the same time, I think Jackson and co. could definitely have made three better films than the ones we got. They could have even been great! I've said it before and I'll say it again, the biggest problem with this series is not that they turned such a short book into a trilogy. The biggest problems were time constraints and the lack of a finished, internally consistent vision for the series. The filmmakers just needed to pick a tone and stick with it, whether that was lighthearted faithful adaptation, gritty fantasy prequel, or even goofy video gamey actioner.

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But clearly there was a vision: almost the entire plot was preconcieved, as was the scope of the project. Tonally, it seems films one would have been relativelly lighthearted, and film two far less so, so the change of tone was also planned all along.

 

Its essentially what happens in the trilogy: everything up the Laketown is reasonably lighthearted. However, once Thorin convinces the people of Laketown to aid the quest (which will tragically result in Bard's warnings coming true) the story turns on itself, tonally. As Thorin is being ferried to the foot of his homeland, closer than ever to recovering everything he's lost, he has lost himself. That's very dark, tragic irony.

 

That's where Act I of the second film would have ended. In The Desolation of Smaug it works as the midpoint of the movie, or the point where a 60s epic would cut off for an intermission.

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I'm not advocating for the two film cut-off, you could've ended film one on the Carrock, like it did. I am, however, frustrated that they couldn't have excised a great deal of extraneous material from all three to focus on the real story. It was a muddled vision and I'm pretty sure it all went south after Guillermo del Toro left and PJ and Co. had to rewrite almost everything. Having an extra year for BotFA helped to finish the film, certainly, but it didn't help to allow PJ more time to conclude and polish every other aspect of the story and production as it could've been. I love many aspects of the films, don't get me wrong, and I was with the films all the way from their announcement, however looking back on them I can't help but feel slightly disappointed. 

 

 

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If I have issues with The Battle of the Five Armies as a concluding piece, they don't have to do with the main storylines: I love the resolution for Thorin, for Bibo, for the company. While some of the lines are cheesy as hell, I do like where Tauriel and her little romance ends: its a classic aspect of all tragic romances that the death of one of the lovers leaves the romance unconsummated. I don't mind the prequel stuff with Legolas, and I like where Bard and the people of Laketown end up.

 

I feel two things are missing:

  1. a stronger resolution for Thranduil. I like that he stops being the isolationist (a central theme of the trilogy), but I would have liked it had he managed to patch things up with Thorin just a little bit. I would have had him climbing up Ravenhill just in time to see Thorin's final sacrifice.
  2. Establishing more clearly that Erebor is to be restored and repopulated by Thorin's folk. I would put a scene into the denoument where, on their way back, Gandalf and Bilbo encounter Dwarves from the Blue Mountains goint east and asking about Erebor's reclamation and their king.

 

But otherwise? Damn fine filmmaking, in my mind.

 

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I don't have an issue with those important story beats (Thorin's death, the journey back etc.) I like Thorin's Dragon Sickness sequences especially, as a nice parallel to the corruption of the One Ring in LotR. 

 

 

 

Here are a few things I'd like to see changed or introduced across the trilogy:

 

  • Cut Tauriel/Legolas: Reduce Legolas to cameo only or in the background and completely remove Tauriel. My guess is that PJ/GDT etc. wanted an elf to connect and interact with the Dwarves' plight. Make Bolg the Dungeon Master of Dol Guldur and not some CGI abomination. 
  • Introduce Bard earlier in the plot: I love most of Bard's involvement in Desolation of Smaug and would've liked to have seen him have a more prominent role. It could've been an interesting framing device had we experienced the companies' journey concurrent to Bard's. They hear stories of the Erebor and Bard begins to uncover his ancestry.
  • Reinstate the cut Palantir Vision Scene: Make a stronger connection with Sauron and Smaug's possible alliance. Desolation of Smaug has one or two scenes to suggest this alliance, probably most prominent following the High Fells sequence.
  • BILBO, BILBO, BILBO!: I understand it's difficult for a film to capture the same perspectives the book is written from, after all, the battle sequences would've been skipped entirely had we only seen the film from Bilbo's perspective. However, I do think more emphasis should've been placed on making Bilbo a central figure all the way through. The films do try to make him the focal point in several of the plot threads, but I would've liked to have seen him play a more active role to ground these fantastical things like the book did. Can we see the battles from Bilbo's perspective as he tries to make his way through the day? 
  • Gandalf's Story: Gandalf returns to the camp at Dale to warn Thranduil in the film, but he doesn't convey the nature of what had transpired whilst being captured at Dol Guldur and Thranduil doesn't really seem to care. We know in the book that Gandalf regales the company and Bilbo on his whereabouts, but I feel as if the film ought to have given an explanation to Bilbo, acting as a hint of what's to come later like the ending of Phantom Menace alludes to Palpatine's victory.
  • Cut back on the Mirkwood scenes: It's tough, because I do like this portion of Desolation of Smaug, but I feel as if time could be given elsewhere in the film

There's a lot of smaller things to nitpick but I can't be bothered going into further detail. 

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Hmm, interesting.

 

I think we have just enough of Bard, Gandalf and Bilbo. I like this trilogy as a Thorin-centric narrative. For all the callbacks and returning characters, focusing on Thorin keeps the narrative unique and distinct from The Lord of the Rings. Bilbo is just yet another character on a Hero's Journey. Thorin is a tragic hero and those tended to be quite fleeting in The Lord of the Rings.

 

I don't mind Legolas in these films. These are prequels and they needn't be apologetic about being prequels. The way I look at it, Legolas' inclusion is more engaging in The Desolation of Smaug than in The Battle of the Five Armies. In the former, he achieves several purposes: one, he infuses the film with action: without Legolas there'd be nary an action sequence in the whole movie; and two, he keeps Thranduil in the loop of the plot. Both fuctions are no longer necessary in the Battle of the Five Armies, and of course I think his stunts needed to be pull back just a little bit.

 

Tauriel is a more complex case, but again I think a case can be made that she's more compelling in the second film. Besides adding a female presence, she also reflects on one of the main themes of the story: commentary on isolationism. She has a curiosity of the outside world, and she is a foil to Thranduil's belief in upholding the wellfare of his people over that of Middle Earth. That's why it is significant that she engages romantically with a member of another race,  just like its signifcant that Thorin - also an isolationist - engages in a friendship with Bilbo, also the member of another race. They just needed to keep the romance a bit more vague and less cheesy: another couple of passes on those portions of the script would have done the trick.

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I don't see the need for Tauriel or a female presence for the sake of inclusiveness, nor did I feel she had any impact on the story. It's like they were walking on eggshells knowing they couldn't have Tauriel interfere too much, but felt, as did we all, perhaps we needed to see a side of the elves which is divergent from the Woodland kind - who were assholes.

 

The whole situation from which a lot of problems I have with these films, seems to stem from the challenge of adapting the Hobbit into a film in the first place - it simply isn't as explicit in detail and story as LotR. In PJ's case, you add too much of this or not enough of that.

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I don't think the importance of having a female character in the film is something to be under-estimated too much.

 

And like I said, I like how she reflects on the theme of the film: "Are we not part of this world?"

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