A group of merry men bring along a naive hobbit and travel for long spans of time in a quest for treasure. Whether we're speaking broadly about The Hobbit or cynically about Peter Jackson's The Hobbit film trilogy is intentionally open for interpretation. In either case, one superfan did the time-crunched world a favor by condensing the three films (An Unexpected Journey, The Desolation of Smaug, and The Battle of Five Armies) into one four-and-a-half-hour supercut.
So what did the (currently anonymous) editor nix? In addition to excising small "filler scenes" and trimming action sequences, a lot of the Lord of the Rings callbacks — by which I mean extraneous side stories involving Saruman and Galadriel — are gone. Old Bilbo doesn't appear at the beginning so the story plays out linearly (vs. one long flashback). And the Tauriel / Legolas / Kili love triangle is gone completely, with Legolas demoted to a brief cameo. As the editor notes, that made the barrel ride particularly hard to recut since Legolas / Tauriel were a big presence in the original version. Here's the recut scene:
"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 editor writes in the accompanying post, which outlines even more tweaks.
I have a soft spot for fan recuts. Seeing people care enough to spend the time and energy to put their own spin on a narrative is proof just how artistically important the editing process can be. Sometimes it's putting the Marvel movies in chronological order. Sometimes it's Steven Soderbergh having downtime on a weekend. Sometime it's Star Wars. Actually, more often than not, it's Star Wars.
But anyway, back to The Hobbit recut. This "good parts" (re)creation has been uploaded the world wide web via torrents (which we're not linking). Dear anonymous Tolkien editor: kudos and thank you.