Review Detail

9.8 74 10
FanFix November 06, 2021 18556
Overall rating
Audio/Video Quality
Audio Editing
Visual Editing

So, my wife and I, (both being casual fans of Lord of the Rings) have tried twice to watch the Hobbit. The first time was when An Unexpected Journey was released at home and we rented it, and the second was when we bought the blu-ray set with all six films in it. Both times, after about 30-60 minutes into the first one, we both said "this sucks" and turned it off.

Something was wrong. It looked weird. The tone was off, and it was supremely boring. I think it was best described by that skit SNL did where one reviewer says "after about an hour I fell asleep and when I woke up, the dwarves were building an Ikea bookshelf."

I haven't checked out any of the many edits of this movie series over the years because I couldn't really bring myself to return to it. I didn't believe there was hope for any discernible, accessible story to be pulled out of the muck. But, after reading some of the buzz about "The Battle of the Five Edits", I was intrigued by the idea of taking the five best edits of this disaster, re-working them into the TV episode-style format and turning them into The One Edit To Rule Them All!

Fast-forward to last weekend. I put on the first episode of this edit, fully intending to only watch the first one and then move on to other things I needed to do. After the first five minutes, my wife walked in the living room and said "Lord of the Rings?" I said, "no, it's an edit of The Hobbit." She groaned, but sat there with me and watched it while we drank our coffee.

Five hours later, we had binge-watched the whole damn thing! I got absolutely nothing done that day, but now I finally know how the entire Hobbit trilogy plays out! That should tell you how good the editing was.

Stromboli Bones cut the "episodes" so that tension builds before the cut to credits in a way that really makes you want to watch the next one to find out what happens (like Game of Thrones, et al.), and that approach was so effective we literally couldn't stop watching!

-First of all, that synopsis Stromboli wrote on IFDB that rewrites Galadriel's voiceover. That made me smile.

-The frame rate. It must have been taken down to 30fps, because it actually looks cinematic, and like it belongs next to Lord of the Rings. The soap opera effect is no longer there. The 48-frames-per-second "Peter Jackson Shit-vision" as one reviewer called it, is no more.

-The titles of the episodes are great references to LotR. He acknowledges they were borrowed from another editor, but they were really well chosen.

-I was engaged with the story from the very beginning and it held my attention the entire time. Stromboli took a solid story that was encased in hours of unneeded material and managed to chisel out the things we really cared about, recraft them, and place them at center stage.

-The use of Legolas. I know from reading reviews his presence and love triangle subplot was one of the major complaints about the original versions. He's my wife's favorite character, and I don't think she even realized he was in the Hobbit movies, so she actually cheered when he showed up. When the "That's my wee lad, Gimli" moment happened, we both looked at each other and shouted "Gimli!" There was just enough Legolas to delight us. That was perfect. Give him his cameo at Mirkwood, the fun barrel chase action scene, and then he shows up at the final battle. Fan-service, sure...but good fan-service. We loved it.

-The choice to not show Bilbo delivering the Arkenstone. I think it created a palpable tension in that part of the story that you want at that moment. We want to wonder what happened. Who has it? I wasn't sure if Bilbo took it or the old Dwarf. It created a "need to know" feeling that carried us through to Bard's revelation, followed by Thorin's emotional explosion. It was really excellent, and as far as I know, was a story choice unique to this edit. Sometimes, the information you choose to withhold is more dramatic than the information you give. This sequence is a perfect example of that.

-As a first-time viewer, unfamiliar with how the original versions of the film played out, I thought the story Stromboli crafted worked incredibly well. It didn't feel like a fanedit at all. And when I looked at his changelist after I watched, I was blown away by how much major surgery he had to do on this.

There were a few minor things that, had I gone to see this at the theater, I may have questioned. In no way, however, did they impact my enjoyment of this edit.

-The weakest edit in this whole series was the transition between the eagle rescue and Bilbo hiding from the wargs and seeing the Bear-shifter guy (Beorn?). It builds a cliffhanger for the next episode, but I wonder if it would have worked better to leave them dangling from the cliff as the literal cliffhanger, only to be rescued by the eagles at the start of the next episode.

-And would this movie be better with the Bear-Shifter guy completely cut? He didn't really add much to the resolution of the story. He feels like the same kind of Peter Jackson indulgence that I felt should have been cut in certain parts of The Lord of the Rings. But, I do see him as a whimsical character and it was fun to have him in there for fans of the book, I'm sure. I admit, we both laughed when he popped up later. So, that moment alone probably made it worth it to keep him.

-Thorin Oakenshield's friendship with Bilbo. Not sure about the original, but in this edit, Thorin comes off as unstable and mostly unlikeable. I didn't really feel anything for him when he died. In fact, we were both glad to see him go, as it seemed like the whole war of the five armies was his fault to begin with. Not much redemption. Not really sure why Bilbo was upset about it, since the guy antagonized him through most of the movie. Bilbo calling him his friend at the end rang hollow and just didn't feel earned, imo. I don't recall a scene where they really bonded or reconciled after Thorin wanted to kill him. But, it's a minor quibble and maybe it's something that's better understood after multiple viewings.

-The Dwarves singing at the beginning always struck me as weird and I was hoping it would be gone, but I'm sure that's a matter of personal taste.

-I was looking forward to seeing Christopher Lee's Saruman as a good guy in this story, but it seems as though those White Council scenes are something everyone edits out, so they must have been bad.

-The Orc General (Azog?), when he shows up at the final battle with his army, it didn't have as much emotional significance as it probably could have if there was an introductory scene of him earlier in the story. The reaction was more like, "Oh no! An Orc army too?" Which works fine. But, because he has a one-on-one battle with probably could have felt more interesting if Azog had some sort of personal motivation to kill the heroes (other than being an orc). But, I completely agree with your comparison to Gothmog. It probably works just as well as he did. It's just one of those things that felt like maybe there was meant to be a little more.

There were a few sound and picture glitches I caught, but they were immediately fixed and replaced with new files by the faneditor, so I didn't deduct any stars for technical problems. After the corrections, everything looks and sounds as smooth as an official release.

In any case, BRAVO! There were many truly fun moments that existed in this trilogy, like the barrel chase and the ram sled on ice that were on par with any of the memorable action sequences in LotR. The greatness was always there, it just had to be dug out, dusted off and polished up by a skilled editor.

I never thought it was possible, but Stromboli Bones was able to change two people's perception of the Hobbit with this edit. From weird, bloated trash to "Wow, The Hobbit was actually an amazing companion piece to LotR!" This easily ranks as one of my top three favorite and most transformative fanedits of all time! This project represents what fanediting is all about, to take something you hate and somehow make it a classic!

If this had been the version shown in theaters, I feel The Hobbit would have been as successful and beloved as its predecessor.

The faneditor acknowledges this edit stands on the shoulders of others that have come before it. But, if he stole anything, he stole it like an artist! He took the best ideas and made them his own, and that's what every good artist does.

Thank you, Stromboli, for sharing all of your hard work with us and with the world! Thank you for rescuing a franchise for me. Thank you for helping me appreciate a series of films I'd written off as garbage, and for turning it into a classic that I will watch over and over again alongside LotR.

Don't stop now. I'll be looking forward to your next project!
Owner's reply November 19, 2021

The Goods

- I didn't change anything about the framerate, they showed these films in theaters at 48 fps but the blu-rays were knocked down to the standard 24fps. It's funny that you thought mine looked better though lol
- The titles are actually the titles of chapters straight out of the Hobbit! (DonKamillo's idea, and if it ain't broke...)
- I'm glad you appreciated the Arkenstone delivery removal, I've always been worried about that change causing controversy

The Bads
- I'd never thought about doing a literal cliffhanger, I suppose it could work, but the carrock scene is such a definitive end to SOMETHING that I feel it'd be really weird if it occured 10 minutes into an episode, you know? I'd probably just be better off cutting the eagles entirely.
- Beorn's gotta stay, he's a huge part of why the battle was even won, and it'd create a bunch of narrative problems if he was cut (riding horses to mirkwood that came out of nowhere)
- I'm definitely with you on the Thorin-Bilbo relationship. The scene at the end of Episode 2 (first movie) was about as far as they got when considering how to build their friendship. Everything after is just kind of....meh. I did what I could but this is one of those rare instances where there's not ENOUGH source material.
- If you're talking about the Misty Mountains song that you think is weird, I feel personally attacked. As for Blunt the Knives....I get it. But I love it lol.
- Maybe an episode 4.5 will give you the Christopher Lee you want ;)
- Azog is definitely the hardest variable to deal with in the entire trilogy, in my opinion. He can be handled a ton of different ways, and they each have their flaws. I'm not sure there really is a "best" way to do it. I'm glad you understood my plight when you made your judgements XD

- Thank you for being so swift with the feedback! I shudder to think about all the people out there who have the unpolished copies downloaded....

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November 17, 2021
I must say...if I didn't already love this edit, I would be clamoring after it after reading g that review!
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