Finally got a chance to watch this…I enjoyed it immensely. In fact it’s safe to say it will become my go-to version of The Hobbit. Perfect for watching before a LOTR marathon.
The only thing I’d say I miss is the longer introduction of Beorn from the EE. The way they ended up in his house never made a lot of sense to me in the theatrical, it was bit jarring and given that you have limited options in transitioning from film 1 to 2, I think not including the extended intro makes it even more jarring than it needs to be. IMO the film flows, and works much better with the extended intro. Moreover, since Beorn plays a larger part in the books than the films, and since you’re trying to follow the book closer, I’m a bit surprised you did’t include this bit. It also makes the “pay off” of seeing him in the final battle a bit more satisfying. If you ever revist this it’s the one thing I’d love to see put back in.
I noted you also cut out the enchanted river in Mirkwood, which was also in the book. But I agree with your choice here. The scene is bizarre, bogs the story down, and photographed in such a way that it’s inconsistent with the rest of the films. So good call there.
The only thing you’ve included that I would have liked to have seen gone is Alfrid’s sucking up to Bard on the lake after Laketown is destroyed. Since you’ve cut most of Alfrid out anyway, this seems unnecessary.
That said, these are small complaints in what is a amazing fan edit. Well, more than that, a complete reimagining of the films that’s has increased my enjoyment of The Hobbit almost as much as the EE’s increased my enjoyment of LOTR. In fact other than Adywan’s work it’s the only fan edit I’ve bothered with, so well done.