Saw this in the theater last night. Sooooo nice to see it on the big screen again! All those details I got to see again. Nothing on DVD will ever touch the awesomeness of favorite movies on the big screen. Size does matter.
Anyway, the extended edition... or as my sister and I are calling it, the alternate version. Because it doesn't just add stuff in, in changes around some stuff that went a different way in the theatrical release. Some of the additions are very worthy. Some are not. I liked most of the scenes that just fleshed out what was there but didn't alter the story. I didn't like the changed stuff so much. One addition made me and my sister quite mad (but will, in fact, probably delight most viewers, maybe even be the highlight of what was added. Our audience clapped and cheered most loudly at that part, while my sister and I glowered and crossed our arms and muttered how not okay we were with that. I suspect we're just backwards to the popular view on this one thing.) But honestly, the theatrical release was perfect. Tight, focused, no dead weight, so it will continue to be the version I watch at home, though I will have to put the extended on occasionally for a few of the cool scenes that were added (my two favorite additions both involved Bilbo).
I am quite amused (and oddly pleased) by this, because it makes it weirdly symmetrical for me with the Lord of the Rings trilogy. In that, Fellowship was my favorite of the three films, the one I saw the most in the theater, and I almost only watch the theatrical version of Fellowship on DVD. For the most part, I don't like or need what was added to that one. But the extended Two Towers and The Return of the King are fine and add some great stuff. They're better movies for the extended footage.
With the Hobbit trilogy, Battle was my favorite, the one I saw the most in the theater and I will, once again, be sticking with the theatrical for my watching pleasure, for the same reasons. However, the extended versions of An Unexpected Journey and Desolation of Smaug remain better than the theatrical, and my go-tos for those movies.
I am also amused that the extended Fellowship DVD cut out one of our favorite moments from the theatrical version. And so did Battle! Favorite moment -- gone. Symmetry again! I dig it. You would think I'd be mad or disappointed, but I'm not. I really really loved seeing the extended on the big screen, simply hanging with those beloved characters again, and I will like having (most of) that long version in my head when I watch the short version. (Almost no one but me and my sister would probably even notice those two respective missing moments from Fellowship and Battle, so don't think something major has been cut. But for us, it's often the little things we love best of all.)
I've been under the weather, so I'm not sure any of this is making any sense.
Regardless, it was a fabulous evening with a movie I love dearly, shared with an audience that loved it just as much, who cheered and clapped freely throughout. It was great, and I've been floating around in a deliriously happy Hobbit haze ever since.