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When I first saw the trilogy I liked it and thought that the movies were pretty good, but as time has gone on and I’ve seen them more often, I started to realize just how many problems the movies had. The problem wasn’t the added subplots and characters per-say, it was just that the films were extremely bloated and overly long. Each movie is nearly three hours long, but unlike the LOTR Trilogy, none of the movies are good enough to make me want to invest the time it takes to watch them when I could be doing something else instead. There have been many excellent edits of the trilogy over the years, but I’ve never liked how the trilogy resolved in the final scenes and almost none of the edits I’ve seen have made or attempted any changes to the final 2 scenes.
So I decided a while back to edit the movies for my own enjoyment. These edits have been finished for a few years, and I never really intended to release them, but after lurking on here for a few years I’ve decided to start posting and creating my own edits. Even though these have been finished for a while, I finished them in 2020, I’m not opposed to going back and making another round of changes to this edit depending on the feedback I get, so feel free to give any feedback you have on the edits.
The intent behind this edit of the trilogy isn’t to remove the characters and subplots that Jackson added in and make a book purist edit, so if you’re wanting Azog, Radagast, the White Council subplot, Legolas, and Tauriel to be removed this might not be the edit for you. The main point of this edit is to remove all the bloat, tone down the silliness of the fight scenes, and make each movie a manageable length of two hours or less. My design philosophy for this edit is to keep the plot moving forward, and not to let the audience get too bored and all of the changes I make are in service of this goal. I’m also keeping the 3 film structure intact rather than making 1 or 2 movies because I don’t think there’s a good break point for 2 movies. Also, all of my changes were edited from the Extended Editions because those versions had some really excellent moments I wanted to utilize throughout. The edits are in a completed state, so feel free to PM me for a link to the edit and while I don’t have a cut list with all of the changes I’ve made, I’ve detailed the biggest changes below.
An Unexpected Journey This is the edit I have the most confidence in as it’s the one I’ve worked on the most, I think this is either my 6th or 7th draft. The easiest stuff to cut out was the prologue because it’s not necessary at all, and doing so automatically shaves around half an hour off of the film. I try to cut out as much of the slapstick humor of the dwarves as possible, but keep enough of the dwarves in the movies to get a sense of their personalities. I’ve also removed all the songs except for Misty Mountains Cold and part of the Goblin King’s song, not because I dislike the other ones, but because they’re not consistently placed throughout all the movies, just the first one. I kept the two that I did because the first one is the best of the songs and does a lot of good setup for the film and I kept some of the Goblin King’s songs because I couldn’t edit around them. Above all I try to remove elements that halt the movie in its tracks and don’t add much to the film, such as Thorin’s distrust of all elves, he only distrusts the Mirkwoods ones now.
The dwarves now leave the shire with Bilbo around 15-20 minutes into the film. Radagasts introduction is removed, and I edited the goblin chase scene to mostly just be Radagast and the rabbits which I liked even though it seemed a lot of others didn’t. The rock giant scene is completely removed, and the chase through the goblin tunnels is also taken out. I’ve shortened the final fight to remove the idiotic Thorin is dead emotional manipulation. I do however keep the Azog backstory that Balin tells, but remove all scenes of Azog hunting the dwarves until the Goblin King sends for him. In my opinion, Azog cannot be removed or his backstory taken out because of the way the trilogy is filmed, and unless you’re doing a super short 3-hour version, it’s impossible to remove him without damaging the plot of the film. The film is now 1h 53m with credits as opposed to 3h 2m (Extended) Without credits it’s 1 hour and 43 minutes
The Desolation of Smaug Like the first movie I’ve also cut the prologue out of this movie as well as the entire Dol Guldor subplot. I’ve kept in Tauriel and Legolas but removed the stupid love triangle because it adds nothing, and was quite obviously shoehorned in after the decision was made to extend the film from 2 movies to 3. Tauriel now leaves Mirkwood solely because she disagrees with the King’s policy of ignoring the world around them. The river fight scene has been shortened to remove Bombur’s barrel roll on land, and Legolas jumping on the dwarf’s heads. I’ve heavily reduced the Master of Laketown and Alfrid, they still exist but don’t hijack the film. Kili and several dwarves still stay behind in Laketown, but I cut out all references to the Morgul poison. Now the implication is just that the wound got infected because he was stuck in the river for too long before the wound was bandaged. Bard doesn’t get arrested, and the dwarves don’t give up after the sun sets the moon immediately rises and reveals the keyhole. I cut out Tauriel healing Kili but kept in a part of the Laketown fight. The dwarves don’t enter the mountain and the horrible forges fight is cut I added the opening to the next film so the movie ends with Smaug’s death like it should have ended. The film is now 1h 50m as opposed to 3h 6m (Extended) That’s 1h 40m without credits
In the Battle of the Five Armies, I’ve cut out Smaug’s attack on Laketown, since that ended the last movie now, and opened the movie on the dwarves left behind in Laketown arriving at the mountain. I cut Alfrid completely out of the movie, although you might be able to see him in a scene or two if you look hard enough. The first half of the movie is largely unchanged from the extended editions as most of the cuts are solely for pacing. I cut out the fight between Dain and the Dwarves vs Thranduil and the elves. I’ve cut the battle down so that it’s only around 35 Minutes and I continued with my design philosophy in the previous edits with regard to the fight scenes. I also removed the confrontation between Tauriel and Thranduil, as the conflict feels forced. I tried to keep the plot moving and have the battle focused on named characters. I added Gandalf’s speech from the special features back into the film. I also decided to change the ending slightly. I absolutely despised the original ending to this as it feels very abrupt, and wasn’t emotionally satisfying. It felt too much like a setup to the Lord of the Rings films, and not enough like the ending to a trilogy, so I edited it to end shortly after the talk with Gandalf. It killed me to remove the auction scene because it’s my favorite scene in the entire trilogy but I had to in order to make the ending feel more complete. I might reinsert it as a post, or mid-credit scene. The film is now 1h 53m as opposed to 2h 44m (Extended) or 1h 40m without credits
Thanks for reading through this long post and again feel free to PM me for a link. I’ve never posted an edit before so let me know if the link doesn’t work and I’ll try to fix that.
I’ve created a second edit where I’ve cut an extra 1 hour 20 minutes and I’ve removed the following. Azog’s backstory is gone, I removed Radaghast and the orc fight scene and therefore had to cut a line out from Gandalf’s conversation with Elrond referring to it. I cut out the White Council scene and now Gandalf meets only with Galadriel, and I cut out some of the Goblin Kings dialogue about Azog. The ending of movie 1 and the opening of movie 2 are now deleted. The way the edit flows now is that after Bilbo’s speech when they make it out of the mountain, Azog attacks them and they start running to Beorn’s house immediately. I cut out the scene of Gandalf and Beorn talking in the forest about the Necromancer, and Taurel’s introduction is now slightly different instead of saving Kili from the spiders she answers a question from Legolas. I further edited the barrel fight scene to remove the dwarves getting trapped behind the gate and Kili leaving the barrel to open it. I cut out the Kili being wounded subplot. I cut out Thranduril ordering his kingdom’s gate closed, and Bolg finding out the dwarves found a way to cross the lake. I also cut out Legolas and Tauriel deciding to follow the dwarves as well as Kili and some of the other Dwarves staying behind in Laketown. Therefore there is no fight in lake town between the elves and Orcs and all shots of the Dwarves and Tauriel during Smaug’s attack are removed as well.
The scene of the Dwarves arriving at the mountain and Tauriel getting banished are deleted and I removed the Necromancer fight. I also cut a bunch of setup for Tauriel, Legolas, and the Orcs keeping the focus on the conflict with Thorin until the battle begins. I cut out some more fighting from the final battle, too many cuts to mention, but the main thing I removed was Tauriel and Legolas fighting on Raven Hill, Kili and Fili now die at the same time, and most of the fighting after Bilbo gets knocked unconscious. I cut out Tauriel and Legolas because due to the aforementioned cuts they disappear for around 90 minutes, and it doesn’t make sense to have such minor characters who disappear for so long have such a big impact on the ending. That also necessitated having Kili die at the same time as FIli, or cut his death out because that sequence is pretty much impossible to untangle from the Tauriel stuff. Now the way the edit works when we get to Ravenhill is that Fili and Kili go to scout, Bilbo arrives to warn them of the army, Kili and Fili die, the orcs attack, Bilbo gets knocked unconscious, and then we cut to the Eagles arriving and Thorin’s death.
The new complete runtime is without credits 3h 43m 20s or 223 minutes
The edits are complete so PM me and I’ll send you a link to both versions of the edit.