Lord of the Rings Trilogy, revisited


What Gimli is doing in that scene is known as “bullshitting.” Nothing was “gotten exactly backwards.”


How about when Gimli falls off his horse and then says “That was deliberate, it was deliberate!” Har, har, those Dwarves. Always good for a laugh.


You mean like in The Hobbit where they sing a whole song about washing dishes carefully so as not to annoy Bilbo?

Tolkien is not Serious Business all the time.


But that’s the Hobbit. With a couple of wry exceptions like Bilbo’s birthday speech, I can hardly think of any humor in LoTR at all offhand.


Unfortunately, wasn’t the kill competition between Gimli and Legolas in the books? I thought it was pretty weak in both mediums as an attempt at lightheartedness.


Certainly for me the first film is the best for much the same reason as I believe I enjoyed the first part of the book the most: it’s an adventure. After that it all becomes very grand and large scale, but the first part is a genuinely intimate adventure in the vein of The Hobbit, but so much darker.

Peter Jackson did a great job of bringing Middle-Earth to life, I think he nailed almost every setting. I’m not so sure about his understanding of some of the points in the book though as the way he changes scenes or swaps dialogue between characters is often odd, and most of the content that he adds is unnecessary. Can’t argue with the stuff he never filmed though. Did we really need Tom Bombadil? No.

However, it’s always good to get the niggles off the chest so here’s my top three:

  1. The Army of the Dead. This is supposed to be a slow moving horror, just unstoppable dread in undead form. In the film it’s some green goo that zooms around and I really couldn’t understand what they were thinking. It’s about the only time in the entire trilogy where I think he got it completely wrong.

  2. Gandalf and Theoden. After the banishment of Worm Tongue, Theoden is made out to be an idiot by Gandaulf who can’t believe he’s retreating to Helm’s Deep. Yet in the book this is exactly what he should do, and I’m not entirely sure what Gandalf thought would be a better plan. And Theoden seems to be a broken man for the entirety of the trilogy until his death, I never get the feeling his fire has ever returned.

  3. Boromir’s death. Urgh, God I hated this even the first time I saw the film. We’re told the Urikai are the ultimate fighting force, but then we’re treated to them slow motion running onto the sword of Boromir while he’s on his knees. This wasn’t “badass” it was embarrassing. Considering how low magic everything that happens “on-screen” in the books is, when Tolkien said Boromir was pierced with many arrows I imagined him standing before the hobbits, the Urikai pulling up, firing a volley, then snatching them. These characters may have destinys but none of them are supposed to be super-heroes, and when I see a scene like this it turns the Urikai until that ridiculous baddie who poses no threat but exists only to be cut down.

Special mention goes to retreats where everyone disappears once we get indoors. Specifically the retreat into the Helm’s Deep keep (two guys hold the door) and Minas Tirith (two guys holding the interior gate).

Also, the slowest bit in the books surely must be that hundred something pages in the dead marshes Lordy did I struggle. Jackson paced this far, FAR better in the films.


Yeah, this bothered me enough when I rewatched parts of The Two Towers that I took a look at the book. Theoden is made out to be horribly fatalistic in the movies. In the book, the cavalry charge out of Helm’s Deep is his idea. He essentially says, “We don’t stand a chance. Screw it, let’s kill some orcs while we’re still alive.” Aragorn gets the credit for that in the movie.


I know this is all personal opinion, so it’s all good. I thought about this when the movie came out because it didn’t look right to me. But how do you convey “dread” (they’re not slow moving) to the audience and make it convincing to them that they could defeat a battlefield of orcs? After giving it some thought, I couldn’t figure out a way and the green ghosts seemed a reasonable compromise.

Funny, I like Theoden better in the movies than his portrayal in the book. There’s no doubt he grows more kingly throughout the movies, until his heroic charge in the face of long odds on Pelennor Fields. Plus, his dying comment, “I go to my fathers, in whose mighty company I shall not now feel ashamed” was the perfect ending to the “lesser son of greater sires”. Theoden remains my favorite character of the movie trilogy.

The Uruk-Hai are built up in the book to be a comparable fighting force to human soldiers and they are portrayed as a bit weak throughout the movies. But considering the story is focused on the heroes and the damage that they do at Helm’s Deep, I’m ok with Boromir’s death. After all, he was considered a pretty elite soldier at the time. I think taking the arrows from all but one Uruk-Hai was a movie decision to make that battle more epic. If they had archers, it would have been too unrealistic to have the Fellowship in a pitched battle with the Uruks. And the movie needed one at that point, considering we’ve been watching the Fellowship fleeing from assorted evils even since Gandalf’s death.


Totally agree. I thought the actor did a lot to save things, but ultimately I think the character was written poorly. Not that I’m saying they had an easy job! Adapting a story where almost every main character is noble and heroic is hard, because a movie audience is used to only one major hero. But take this passage from ROTK:

You can’t read that and tell me Theoden isn’t awesome.


I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. The Army of the Dead was a copy-and-paste job of the scrubbing bubbles commercial for the toilet cleanser of the same name, right down to the effect of the Army of the Dead swirling around the streets of Minis Tirith wiping out orcs just like the animated bubbles in the commercial swirled around the toilet bowl wiping out grime.


I was genuinely disappointed in The Two Towers after seeing it.

Faramir - acts completely opposite the book Faramir
Ent Moot - or lack there of.
Aragorn falling off a cliff - why add scenes when you have plenty to cover already?
The Ring goes to Osgiliath - Stupid
No Voice of Saruman - my favorite chapter in the book BY FAR!


Sometimes I’m glad I completely missed the books.


Wow. When you read a particular passage like that the alliteration really runs off the page.


The Two Towers is my favorite movie of the 3.

Faramir - Tolkien built the ring up to be the epitome of evil and then he has Faramir entirely unaffected by its power. It’s not all that believable even as a reader. From a movie standpoint where you don’t have 1,000 pages of nuanced backstory trying to explain why he could resist it, it’d be an unmitigated disaster for the audience. Faramir captures Frodo, rejects the ring and then they have some tea and crumpets…doesn’t make for exciting stuff in a movie. I’m not a huge fan of the scene, but I like the intent here better than Tolkien’s original version.

Ent Moot - There was one. It was boring. Yeah, we need to watch the ents debate Merry and Pippin’s origins for 3 days. There’s more of that in the extended edition. And it’s even more boring.

Aragorn - The warg scene is my least favorite in all 3 movies. They admitted they ran out of time and didn’t properly plan the scene. So no disagreement here.

Ring Goes to Osgiliath - Jackson is trying to direct the movie back towards Minas Tirith (and the coming war) and at the same time trying to give Faramir something to overcome. It doesn’t follow the book exactly, but it does help bridge certain things for an uninitiated audience rather than have Frodo leave from Henneth Annun and then try to introduce the siege of Osgiliath later on. From a movie making standpoint, this is a very smart and important scene for the audience - even if they don’t realize it.

Voice of Saruman - It’s in the extended edition of the 3rd movie and it’s pretty damn good. Frankly, I wish they had used that scene to open the movie rather than the Golumn fishing scene.


It wasn’t an attempt at lightheartedness in the books.


Anything would have been better than that fishing scene. Looked like it was shot in an afternoon for two dollars. After the opening scene of The Two Towers, the fishing stuff felt so limp and cheesy.


Whether it was because they were so proud of what they’d achieved with the Gollum effects or whether it was the plan all along, I think it’s pretty clear that Jackson elevated the character in importance. That’s why the song at the end of the Two Towers is about Gollum and it’s why the third movie opens with a Gollum bit - it’s all designed to reinforce the importance of the character in the audience’s mind. It can be argue that by the time we get to RotK we (the audience) are supposed to view Frodo, Aragorn, and Gollum as the most important characters. Even Gandalf is somewhat pushed aside, as his primary invovlement in the last part of the story is the defense of Minas Tirith.


I’m not sure I agree with that. I enjoyed it, but it seemed very light-hearted in the books, too, though maybe not as much as in the movie.


I don’t think that’s an example of Jackson elevating the character’s importance; Gollum was that important in the books, too. Tolkien treated Gollum in a more opaque fashion, but Gollum’s struggle was front & center in the books just as it was in the movies.


I hope you mean that in a good way. To me it’s very poetic. It is what makes his writing hard to read at times I think, but it’s also what makes it so evocative.