For the third special edition, Jackson added a hefty 50 minutes, for a total of almost four hours of Hobbit action. There’s more fighting, more dwarf jokes, and more speeches about friendship and hope, all of which I can take or leave. What works are the more fleshed-out bits about the Paths of the Dead (which now has a much-needed bump in the dramatic arc), the Houses of Healing, and various odds and ends that slow the rush toward the finale in the last hour. Saruman gets a final scene (you remember Christopher Lee went public with his anger at being cut out), the Mouth of Sauron makes a great appearance, and Gandalf faces the King of the Nazgul. As always, the extended edition makes for a more filling experience.
Now I’ve got six hours of documentary footage and sixteen hours worth of commentary tracks to watch….