We always figured somebody would do it, but we didn’t think it would be so soon. And who knows who long this will last online before the mighty powers of Warner Bros. come swooping down to squash this out with all the fury of Smaug, but an anonymous Middle Earth fan, going by the name of TolkienEditor, has shaved down Peter Jackson‘s “The Hobbit” bloat-a-thon into a single, four-hour movie.
You can read about the many changes in detail here, but these are the ones we found to be most significant or interesting, and perhaps most notable to fans of the movies or novella:
The Tauriel-Legolas-Kili love triangle has also been removed. Indeed, Tauriel is no longer a character in the film, and Legolas only gets a brief cameo during the Mirkwood arrest. This was the next clear candidate for elimination, given how little plot value and personality these two woodland sprites added to the story. Dwarves are way more fun to hang out with anyway.
The prelude with old Bilbo is gone. As with the novel, I find the film works better if the scope starts out small (in a cosy hobbit hole), and then grows organically as Bilbo ventures out into the big, scary world. It is far more elegant to first learn about Smaug from the dwarves’ haunting ballad (rather than a bombastic CGI sequence). The prelude also undermines the real-and-present stakes of the story by framing it as one big flashback.
Several of the action scenes have been tightened up, such as the barrel-ride, the fight between Smaug and the dwarves (no molten gold in this version), and the Battle of the Five Armies. Though, it should be noted that Bilbo’s key scenes—the encounter with Gollum, the battle against the Mirkwood spiders, and the conversation with Smaug—have not been tampered with, since they proved to be excellent adaptions (in no small part due to Freeman’s performance), and serve to refocus the film on Bilbo’s arc.
In general, TolkienEditor aimed to correct what he or she found to be “narrative filibustering” in Jackson’s films, as well as Bilbo becoming a bit player in his own story. So watch below while you can.