My Special Cut of The Hobbit

Bilbo and GollumThe Hobbit trilogy was a mess but I proved to myself that it didn’t have to be. With computer software I re-cut the trilogy and removed all the grievous offenses, especially in the second and third films. The result isn’t a masterpiece like The Lord of the Rings, but it’s surprisingly decent.

There are great moments in these films: Bilbo out-riddling Gollum, the hobbit bearding Smaug in his hoard, the fight on the ice between Thorin and Azog, the Council of the White confronting Sauron at Dol Guldur, to name my favorites. The problem is that the good parts are hard to savor in a sea of surrounding sewage. Here’s what I came up with after that sewage is removed. I’m pleased to say that The Hobbit is now enjoyable to watch.

An Unexpected Adventure

Original cut: 3 hrs 2 min
My edit: 32 minutes removed (20% of the film)
New cut: 2 hrs 30 min

The Desolation of Smaug

Original cut: 3 hrs 6 min
My edit: 103 minutes removed (55% of the film)
New cut: 1 hr 23 min

The Battle of Five Armies

Original cut: 2 hrs 24 min
My edit: 56 minutes removed (40% of the film)
New cut: 1 hr 28 min

So my edited trilogy adds up to 5 hours 21 minutes (down from Jackson’s bloated 8 hours 32 minutes).

Bilbo and SmaugSpecifically, this is what I got rid of.

An Unexpected Adventure

Radagast. I actually love Radagast. He’s a half-baked lunatic who lets birds nest in his hair and shit down his beard; he drives a rabbit-pulled sleigh. This all gratifies me immensely. The problem is how he is used in the first film. His rescue of Gandalf, Bilbo and the dwarves from a warg attack is horribly contrived, and a massive geographic failure; Radagast stays in Mirkwood — he wouldn’t be zipping around west of the Misty Mountains, far less know where to find Gandalf on the road. So while I keep Radagast in films two and three (obviously, for the Dol Guldur crisis), I leave him out here.

The stone giants and rock avalanche. An unimpressive scene, and unnecessary, given the action to follow in Goblin-Town.

The escape from Goblin-Town. After Gandalf’s rescue, the next time we see him and the dwarves is through Bilbo’s eyes, exiting the mountain. I completely removed the underground sequence of the dwarves leaping over crumbling bridges like olympic athletes, and falling down chasms with hardly a scratch.

The Desolation of Smaug

Prologue. The flashback to Gandalf and Thorin’s first meeting each other is superfluous.

Legolas. Aside from his first appearance (leading the capture of the dwarves), he doesn’t appear in my cut. He’s completely gone. No ninja acrobatics. No miracle stunts. All gone.

Tauriel. Ditto. Not a single trace of her survives. The romance between her and Kili, her later appearance in Laketown — all gone.

The river barrel battle. Not only did Legolas and Tauriel dominate this sequence, but even the dwarves were pulling off insane acrobatics. All of it is gone. After Bilbo engineers the barrel escape, there is no battle.

Laketown. Gone. The Kili soap opera and other tedious side stories. Aside from a few brief wide shots of the town, Laketown doesn’t appear until the third film.

Unlocking the hidden door. I telescoped this incident so the door is unlocked right away. The whole business of being fooled by the setting sun instead of waiting for moonlight is tedious.

Smaug chasing the dwarves through Erebor. A horrible videogame sequence. After Bilbo beards Smaug in his den, I cut directly to the end, with Smaug flying toward Laketown.

Battle Of Five Armies_00002The Battle of Five Armies

Legolas and Tauriel. As above. All traces of them are gone. Their trip to Angmar, and their prolonged battle scenes at the end — none of this survives.

Alfred. I don’t know what Jackson was thinking by creating this comical buffoon, but he poisoned the film even more than Legolas and Tauriel. I eradicated every last frame of this weasel. Which means most of the Laketown drama is gone.

Portions of the Battle of Five Armies. A few chunks where it looks less a battle and more a videogame.

(See also: My Special Cut of The Lord of the Rings.)

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