Lord of the Rings Trilogy, revisited


My defense of the LotR movies is not fanboyish. For someone so quick to label someone a hack, you're not very good at using the right words to describe things. And I shouldn't have to qualify it to an actual thinking individual, but my description of LotR as "unreadable" has nothing to do with the "difficulty" of the text and everything to do with Tolkien being a dogshit terrible writer.

So a Hollywood studio gave $300+ million to a director who's then-track record consisted of low-budget, low-quality films with no involvement at all, eh? That's not very plausible. And those movies reek of low-brow Hollywood decision making.

The studio had very little control over what happened in the films, as Jackson was on the other side of the planet and they couldn't really do much about it when he'd already shot things. I have no idea what you mean by "low-brow Hollywood decision making" in this situation, as Jackson was one of the most non-Hollywood directors in the business at the time. He had open contempt for the Hollywood studio types at the time. I don't know if he still does, although that may just be my residual irritation at how godawful The Lovely Bones was.

About as foolish as this scene: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p1Vyhve9gtg The freshman film student hack quality starts a little before the 2:30 mark. Enjoy the artistic vision from the great director who sheperded this project alone on his shoulders from start to finish. And please don't pull out the canard that this scene is an anomaly. . .the three movies are chock-full of such dreck.

Awww, were you sad there weren't any fireball spells cast?

Wow, only four times, eh? Why not spread the love around to those other fantasy films that were competing at the time? Or the decade before, or the decade after?

If anyone had made any good ones, I would have been glad to. But they didn't.

Cutting the Scouring was one of the best decisions Jackson made. Talk about anti-climactic. The point without the Scouring (other than being a much better ending) is to wrap up each character's story. Epics do that, although audiences aren't used to it. What part of the ending should have been cut? Yes, the bouncing gay hobbits slow-mo scene is too long, but I fail to see what in the 30 minute denouement could be removed without doing harm to the "here's what happened to everyone" purpose of the end. As it stands we never find out what happens to Gimli and Legolas, although "they built a boat and were totes besties forever" is probably not the ending most people are looking for there.

If any movie should have won best picture/director it should have been Fellowship. As others have mentioned, the cuts from it made sense, and the changes were ultimately pretty slight. If nothing else, that version of Boromir had so much more depth and personality than the one ini the book.

100% agreed, but the Academy was never going to give Best Picture to the first film. It was only after all three films made a billion dollars that the Academy grudgingly handed over some accolades that were clearly meant to be considered awarded for the trilogy as a whole. Now that is low-brow Hollywood decision making.


In 500 words or less, explain what's "wrong" with that scene from a directorial perspective.


I have to agree here. It seemed everyone except Gimli was reluctant to ever go there, which seems kind of silly that the only dwarf in the party would be the last to suspect anything had gone amiss in Moria.

Chipping in with the Boromir love. I think my favorite scene is just after they exit Moria and Aragorn is pushing for them to make haste and Boromir reacts in defense of the hobbits.

"For pity's sake!"

Aw man now I got to go watch them again.


Little moments like this were what convinced me I was going to love the trilogy and always hold them above the books. I never felt like the books were interested in letting the characters experience all that much as characters. Jackson actually gave them time to emotionally respond.


In the books, Gimli wanted to go there to find out what happened to the dwarven expedition, and was horrified to confirm that the worst had happened. The movie can be viewed with that motivation in mind, although I agree that he comes off as more clueless than he should.

Still, I thought his enthusiasm worked pretty well to help you feel Moria's lost majesty, so it did serve some good purpose.


"You have chosen the way... of PAIN!"

Was that in the book? It's almost as awful as "Let's hunt some orc!"


That doesn't answer Orangist's question, what's wrong with the scene from a directorial perspective. "It's not in the book" isn't a valid answer.


He allowed those lines to be written, read, and included in the final edit.

My "was it in the book?" was a question as to whether the awfulness was new or forgotten by me.


It's been some months since I last read the book passage about Gandalf's arrival at Isengard. The written version is slow, plodding, and boring. Directly transferring it to screen would've been a disaster. I'm not surprised if you've forgotten it.

By contrast, the film scene is far more interesting. The harshness in Saruman's tone, choice of words, and subtle movements which show the viewers that Saruman is a different type of person than Gandalf. The way Gandalf doesn't protest against Saruman's criticisms, showing us they both know his rank. The subtle expressions on Gandalf's face as he starts to suspect and later realizes Saruman is lost. The final desperate act of trying to defeat Saruman even though he knew Saruman was more powerful.

The way the film shows Gandalf experiencing the transformation of Saruman as his long time ally and best hope to his new adversary is striking and far better than the same scenes from the book.


Considering it's just Gandalf recounting the events during the Council and lasts for all of two whopping pages and consists of better dialogue that what's in the film. Not to mention that Jackson's version relegates Saruman to a mere puppet status, whining to Gandalf that they might as well serve Sauron when in the text he was coveting the power of the One Ring for himself and would've opposed Sauron. He wanted Gandalf to see his 'wisdom' and side with him, while in the film he was just a servant. The 2nd book is titled the Two Towers for a reason, not the One Tower and its Outpost. But I really don't expect any film translation to hew 100% to text, so while I don't enjoy that simplification of Saruman's character and role in the films, it's the silliness of the fighting between the two that has always annoyed me. And, no, I didn't expect or desire to see some flashy wizard's duel either.

By contrast, the film scene is far more interesting.

LOL By interesting I think you mean simplification of character motivation.

The way the film shows Gandalf experiencing the transformation of Saruman as his long time ally and best hope to his new adversary is striking and far better than the same scenes from the book.

Jackson might've as well done a New Kids in the Hall "I crush your head" contest. . .it would've captured the power and dignity of these angels clothed in mortal flesh better than the films. Instead we got a silly invisible pushing match, which ends with Gandalf-the-spinning-top. Love watching Maia doing invisible leg sweeps and clotheslines on each other.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZpwsKRpKS_M Another brilliant directorial choice from Mr. Jackson, the Man from Snowy River cavalry charge at Helm's Deep. Looks good on a purely visual level, once you stop using your brain, sort of like a Michael Bay movie.

Shall I continue? Because I can keep pulling out these scenes all day long. I really don't care that other people enjoy these movies. People liked disco in the 70s, and macarena dancing in the 90s. But please don't pull out the logically empty argument of box office success or Oscar awards (Crash, motherfuckers, Crash. . .if that piece of shit movie can win Best Picture. . . .) on me. That just makes me want to continue poking fun at some of you.

Edit: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t-LSmxRPIVo&feature=related :)


It's a lost battle, John. When people start calling the books poorly written, and saying the films are better because they have better character development, they clearly don't get what makes the books great.


I love it. Despite the fact that he produced a 9-12+ hour fantasy epic that is almost unrivalled in respect of scope, vision and critical and commercial success, someone is contending that Jackson is a hack because of a handful of duff lines, one or two superfluous scenes and some narrative changes that are arguably necessary to ease the transition from medium to medium.

The only thing that's more hilarious is corsair's hubris:

I won't say it couldn't have been done better, because I think it could have - heck, I could re-edit what he shot and improve the movie. At the same time, the bulk of Tolkien is there and considering the difficulty of accomplishing that, I'll give it some slack.



I believe a 6-part movie series, done like the novel's own 6 book structure, would do the trilogy justice. Give us back the missing 1oo pages from FOTR, add the real ending and cut all the BS that people have noted earlier ('looks like meat is back on ther menu!') and you'd have a real winner.

In another 10 years.


Not a bad idea, Chuck. And please hand it over to a director with some talent.


Ok, this narrows down and makes specific your disagreements with the Gandalf and Saruman scene. To summarize (and correct me if I'm wrong): you're willing to give a pass to changing Saruman from schemer against Sauron to completely dominated by him, and I assume the other items in the scene are ok as well, but the fight is your breaking point.

I can understand that view since what I like best about the scene is the points leading up to the fight. But it begs the question: what should have been done instead?

In the book Gandalf fumes and mutters about being hard to control but he meekly surrenders because he knows he's out maneuvered. In the film, Gandalf also knows Saruman is more powerful but he resists because Frodo's life is in danger (danger which results from Gandalf sending him on a task).

Should the film have followed the book's lead and made Gandalf a meek mutterer? Or should it display him resisting even when chance of success is low? And if he resists, how should've that resistance been displayed instead?

As an aside, regarding the dignity of the Maiar, in the books Gandalf goes into a number of battles. Did he pontificate about the Valar and his opponents would fall over dead when they contemplated the majesty? Or did he whip out Glamdring and slice and dice orcs (with dignity, of course ;)?


Very much so.

Similarly, there are people who felt the films were a perfectly suitable adaptation of the books which are excellent in terms of the world they created and the events recounted, but have aged to the point that reading them is a somewhat stilted and ponderous affair and the films make for a nice alternative.

It is possible to enjoy both versions. I certainly do.


I really, really liked how he did the wizard battle, except for that horrible line about "path of pain". Huge cgi magic battles have been done to death, and I found the "invisible pushing match" to be much more engaging. And the denouement when Saruman disarmed & then punished Gandalf seemed really well done. (except for that fucking "pain" line.) It conveyed that Gandalf had lost, and was completely in the grip of Saruman's magic. I guess the same thing could have been accomplished with a CGI cage or somesuch, but I liked the physicality of how it was done.

People liked disco in the 70s, and macarena dancing in the 90s.

Yes, and? Disco was the predecessor of some of the best music on the planet, and macarena was... um...

Let's forget about the Macarena, shall we? Disco, at least, wasn't half bad.


Let us look at fantasy movies since 1980 (ratings from Rotten Tomatoes)....

Dragonslayer (83%)
Excalibur (no rating)
The Beastmaster (50%)
Conan the Barbarian (76%)
The Dark Crystal (71%)
The Sword and the Sorcerer (80%)
Krull (35%)
Conan the Destroyer (29%)
The Warrior and the Sorceress (no rating)
The Dungeonmaster (no rating)
Legend (50%)
Red Sonja (20%)
Highlander (67%)
Labyrinth (61%)
The Neverending Story (85%)
The Princess Bride (96%)
Willow (46%)
Beastmaster 2: Through the Portal of Time (17%)
Highlander 2: The Quickening (0%)
The Neverending Story 2: The Next Chapter (0%)
Army of Darkness (71%)
DragonHeart (50%)
Kull the conqueror (26%)
The 13th Warrior (33%)
Dungeon and Dragons (10%)

Then came LOTRO (92%)....

After looking at that list, there were 9 movies over 23 years that rated above 60%. I really don't know why anybody would bitch about the trilogy. Count your blessings you got a series of movies that was showed some love and respect (albeit didn't follow the book exactly). For gods sake people.


I don't know, off the top of my head, I would've presented it as Gandalf walking into a trap, surrounded by enemies. Possibly orcs emerging from hidden doors, the first indication of Saruman's breeding of uruk-hai. Gandalf, knowing it's futile to fight both Saruman and his minions, hands over his rod as a physical/visual indication of his surrender and imprisonment. Certainly a classier way of handling his entrapment than the geriatric wrestling match.

As an aside, regarding the dignity of the Maiar, in the books Gandalf goes into a number of battles. Did he pontificate about the Valar and his opponents would fall over dead when they contemplated the majesty? Or did he whip out Glamdring and slice and dice orcs (with dignity, of course ;)?

Gandalf the Grey, yes, though still with more veiled power than what Jackson gave him. And don't get me started on the White, how he was handled in the Minas Tirith gates scene, or other moments such as Merry saving him from a mere orc during the siege. The movies are just one bad choice after another, from the interminably long lighting of bonfires to a gay hobbit bed scene, to one apparent ending after another. Not to mention skipping the Scouring altogether, but having time for lots of other bullshit. The scene between Merry and Denethor was terribly edited, horribly truncated. The Dead looked like something out of a Disney movie. Ad nauseum. I could go on and on with criticisms, especially if I took the time to rewatch the movies. For a director who liked to appeal to Tolkien fanboys during production interviews by saying things like how he would read the relevant passage right before shooting each scene, he sure liked to fuck with the text right 'n left. And in my opinion, his deviations very very rarely were improvements and almost always weakened the character or the scene.

Anyways, I've spent enough time on this thread. I really don't care if other people enjoy the films, certainly don't lose any sleep with others holding differing opinions on any book or movie or game. Just don't tell me Jackson is some visionary, talented director with expecting pushback. And don't tempt me into mini-troll mode with more Youtube videos by citing box office receipts or Oscars won. Those of you who post in the politics forum wouldn't abide by someone citing Fox News' ratings as indications of the outlet's journalistic quality.



I must have missed that part.

Perhaps your adjective was chosen poorly?