Peter Jackson’s The Hobbit trilogy has been one of the most frustrating franchises in movie history. Many fans still love it, but Jackson’s need to overload the films with invented love triangles, back stories, needlessly long and laughable fight sequences, unnecessary winks to the original Lord of the Rings franchise, and countess acts of dwarves walking in straight lines have for this writer made all three films a boring, meandering mess.
And yet three films always felt like a lot for one book, and Jackson is a strong enough filmmaker that you can see a great movie in The Hobbit. Our own review of The Battle of the Five Armies said that “for those willing to overlook the sour for the sweet, there are great treasures to be found, as Jackson brings his trilogy to a suitably-epic conclusion.”
So perhaps mercifully, a fan by the name “tolkieneditor” has finally taken a dwarf’s axe to Jackson’s films and condensed The Hobbit into a single movie just over four hours in length. Here’s the editor’s thoughts on the project:
I felt that the story was spoiled by an interminable running time, unengaging plot tangents and constant narrative filibustering. What especially saddened me was how Bilbo (the supposed protagonist of the story) was rendered absent for large portions of the final two films… My main goals in undertaking this edit were to re-centre the story on Bilbo, and to have the narrative move at a much brisker pace (though not so fast that the audience lost grasp of what was going on).
The author also talked about what’s missing from this new version, including all of the Legolas-Tauriel-Kili love triangle, many scenes of backstory and exposition and lengthy battle sequences.
Take a look at the editor’s blog to get a full sense of the edits, as well as instructions to watch the film or download it on BitTorrent. But below, watch a sample of the edit, in which The Desolation of Smaug‘s barrel sequence has been reduced to remove Legolas and Tauriel from it entirely.
Surely this will not be the last of the edits to this film. Perhaps Steven Soderbergh will take a stab at it next.