Lord of the Rings Trilogy, revisited

Picky, picky, picky.

I thought the trilogy was just fabulous. I didn’t really like the Arwen scenes, but thats a minor quibble. Other than that; no nits to pick with me. Then again, I never read the books prior to viewing the trilogy.

Highlights for me;

Boromir’s death was just perfect.
The battle at Helm’s Deep.
The mines of Moria, and Boromir’s 'they brought a cave troll". The whole combination of OMG, despair and resignation was great. Running from the balrog and seeing orange in the distance without even yet seeing it, I just new something epic was going to happen.
Minas Tirith, first time I laid eyes on that city just reminded me of why I love fantasy.
Rivendell. Rohan. Even the Shire. The Kings of Old on either side of the gorge they were paddling through. I could go on and on.

Everything was so lush and fantastical, and lovingly realized. It was a fantastic story and a visual feast.

I regularly watch the entire trilogy every couple of years, and a bunch when I started playing LOTRO a couple of years ago. I don’t think that the vast majority of movie-goers can even conceive what an enormous challenge it was back in 1997 or whenever Jackson sat down and convinced people to give him $285 million dollars to make 3 movies. Bringing these movies to the screen is an unparalleled achievement in that respect.

I have two quibbles with the movies, both involving sound. First is the Horn of Gondor at Amon Hen was incredibly underwhelming; it sounds far weaker than I would have preferred. I mean, sure it sounds like a real horn but I remember it differently from the book. The second is a mistake that a lot of movies make, that when the actors are supposed to be making speeches (The start of Bilbo’s party and Aragon’s Speech in front of the Black Gate are partial exceptions) and are just talking rather than speaking like they are addressing an audience.

Re-reading the thread after taking a several hours long detour reading about various Middle Earth topics between starting and finishing my post reminds me of something else I didn’t like: the Orc/Goblin spider-climbing down into the main hall of Moria. Still bugs the hell out of me to this day.

I think he means arrival of the Rohirrim at The Battle of Pelennor Fields, with Theoden giving the speech that Eomer gives in the book after he thinks his sister and Theoden have died in the fight with the Witch-King.

That is one of my favorite scenes of all time.

I think he means The Battle of Pelennor Fields, with Theoden giving the speech that Eomer gives in the book after he thinks his sister and Theoden have died in the fight with the Witch-King.

That is one of my favorite scenes of all time.

That’s pretty much my view. It’s easy to talk about what wasn’t incuded or what they could have done differently, but with the amount of money the studio was putting down to make this, the committment to doing three movies as state of the art, and so on, it’s just amazing that Jackson was allowed to go as far as he was. This could have been (and almost was) a total travesty interpretation. The quibbles are all very minor IMHO. But if someone wants to argue A+ versus A versus A-, then go ahead. In the end the GPA is the same. ;-)

What makes you say that? Nowhere in the books did the Nazgul manifest the kind of power like falling thousands of feet wreathed in the flames of a balrog, fighting that creature for days on end, and then after chasing it thousands and thousands of steps back up to a mountaintop hurling the damn thing down the side of a mountain. And that’s just Gandalf the Grey, Gandalf the White they repeatedly fled from the presence of.

The Witch-king was a fool at the gates of Minas Tirith if he thought he could slay the White. And foolish man is a pretty common theme throughout Tolkien’s writings.

I always felt like the first extended edition film was the best of the bunch. Sure not every addition was extremely important, but it was the only one where the extensions could be used for setting flavor. I felt like the sequels needed the extensions just to plug plot holes.

One scene that always got to me was when Aragorn, just crowned king, tells the hobbits that they don’t have to bow to anyone and then they all bow to the hobbits.

This is not technically true anymore…

In any case, I’m glad to see so many people on Quarter to Three favor Fellowship. I go back & forth myself, but it’s certainly the most book-ish, and most days I prefer it just for that.

Yeah, that is really good. All the stuff with Eowyn defending Theoden against the Witch King is also amazing, but I think one of the best moments is when Eomer finds his sister, seemingly dead, on the field of battle. Karl Urban absolute kills it in that scene with that abject display of shock and anguish.

Favourite line delivery - ‘They have a cave troll’. Resigned, excited, scared, just beautiful.

Absolutely. His tone reminds me just enough of “Now why didn’t WE think of that,” but with just the right amount of sarcasm…I love Sean Bean for that one line alone.

One scene that always got to me was when Aragorn, just crowned king, tells the hobbits that they don’t have to bow to anyone and then they all bow to the hobbits.

I’m not a “cry at movies” kinda guy, but I get all emotional every time I see that scene. The reverence in his voice gives that scene such weight.

Yes this was the one I meant. Theoden riding the line making his speech and clanging the pikes of the riders and then the charge is just fantastic scene making and I get shivers every time

No. I mean Theoden’s amazing speech and then riding the line clanging the pikes of the riders and then they launch there suicidal charge into the orcs. I get chills every time watching this scene

Yes. Thank you for understanding. That’s my only real big gripe about the whole thing. In the book he’s all “gimme that shit!” and in the movie “well, I dunno…”

I love the series. But if this is the place where we chime in with our nitpicks, I’ll happily chime:

My Top 3 Least Favourite Things from the Series

  1. What they did with Arwen. Ok, look, I’m fine for them to completely change her character from the book to give her a more active roll. A modern audience would expect that. And in Fellowship, she did honestly seem active and capable. But for the subsequent two films, it was like they changed their mind and sent her back to the background. In comes Eowen who is beautiful and fiesty, and suddenly I don’t understand why Aragorn is in love with Arwen at all. The drama of Aragorn having to choose between the realm of men (mortal and chthonic) and the realm of elves (immortal and transcendent) was completely bungled, with the audience rooting for the wrong girl due to the incompetent portrayal of Arwen.

I actually would have been totally fine with Arwen and Eowen being merged into the same character, but this would have changed a lot of Aragorn’s drama and would have been too significant a departure from the book.

  1. The physical manifestation of the Eye of Sauron in ROTK. I know that Peter Jackson agonized over how to visualize the idea that the Hobbits could feel Sauron’s inner eye focused on them. But I don’t think what he went with worked. In Fellowship, when Frodo puts on the ring and we see the world as he sees it and the visualization was so, SO perfect. But in ROTK, the eye sitting on top of the tower like some sort of Spotlight Of Evil™ just looked silly, especially when the tower is collapsing and the eye is looking about in horror. THE EYE IS NOT SAURON! But most audiences walked out thinking it was. I think this could have done better.

  2. The way they nerfed certain characters in order to make others seem heroic by comparison. This was done to both Gimli and Theodan. I can think of at least two scenes where these characters say something like “Why should we care what happens to <X>?”, only to have Aragorn chime in to say something heroic like, “NO! We must help!”. Gimli and Theodan are heroic too, you know.

Runner Up: Galadriel. I thought she almost worked as a being who is so bright and powerful that she is terrifying, but not quite. The “I shall become a queen!” special effect was a little too literal for my taste - I wish they had sold this more with acting, because I think Cate Blanchette could have pulled it off, with better direction.

Let me ask a question. My 10 year old is an avid fantasy reader, but LOTR is probably at least a year or two away before I think he’ll enjoy it. He wants to see the movies, but I would much rather him read the books first. Does that make sense or should I just let him watch the movie?

Maybe make him read The Hobbit first? That should be doable for a 10-year-old, and it will at least get him excited about Middle Earth.

When I tried to read LOTR at twelve, I could never make it past the Council of Elrond. That’s a deathly boring chapter.

Tough one. Those books are very long winded at times, especially the first one, which might be a bit tough to plough through at times, knowing that there is the “low-hanging fruit” option of the movies available instead. It kinda depends on how serious he is with his fantasy tastes. The action orientated merchandise out there (games & movies) aren’t really all that representative of the original work and if that is what he is expecting, forcing him to read the book first might be the wrong approach. However, being an avid reader myself, I’d definitely encourage my kid to read it first too…

We’re very different people. I first read LOTR in 5th grade, when I was either 10 or 11 (could have been either depending on the time of year). I loved the Council chapter (and the Shadow of the Past, which resembles it) because it taught me so much about Tolkien’s world. Even then, I was a history buff, and the idea that a fictional world could have its own history blew me away.

Maybe go for the audiobook edition first? My 10 year old brother enjoyed that one immensely. I agree that 11-12 would be a better age to start reading the books.

I guess I could have been more clear with that statement.

I was of course referring to the actual encounter between Gandalf and the NINE at Weathertop. Gandalf fight them, complete with flashes of light and fire that could be seen for miles. But he ended up fleeing to Rivendale. This is also how the NINE become separated as 4 of them pursued Gandalf while the others remained behind.

I actually tried the hobbit when he was younger, but looking at it from a kid’s viewpoint (especially ones raised on Harry Potter and Percy Jackson books), it was horribly boring and fairly dense so I didn’t bother.

He’s a reader, so audiobooks are out. I think i’m going to stay the course on this one. He’s willing to be patient, so no point in pushing it. I’m also making him wait on the Hitchhikers books as well.