Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Face Off: Lord of the Rings Trilogy

FACE OFF: Lord of the Rings Trilogy

Directed by: Peter Jackson
Distributed by: New Line Cinema
Starring: Viggo Mortensen, Liv Tyler, Elijah Wood. Full cast list at IMDB.
Official movie website | Trailer 

Critic: Jason

Nine hours I will never get back: Lord of the Rings.

I will start out by saying by stating two things. I liked "Fellowship of the Ring," and I have not read the books.

There is a reason people say “Ohhh you watched that movie? The book was SO MUCH BETTER!” A writer isn't charged every time they use the word “The”, But every minute on the silver screen cost money. This means that the nine hours we got was majorly cut down.

Well that caused a lot of problems for us illiterates out there, I watched Gandalf die just to come back as Gandalf the White with NO EXPLANATION. Worst part was no one was weirded out. “Oh HAI, WERENTZ YOU DEAD LIKE A MOVE AGO?” “Why yes I was indeed dead, that is why I am now Gandalf the White."  “OTAY THATZ LIKE COOL!” “One more death and I'll be Gandalf the “Egg Shell Cream on a cloudy day."

Then we have Gollum. I thought Frodo was losing his mind because for the most part in the movie Frodo is only one who interacts with Gollum and never asks for help. “Umm hey, there is this creepy guy following us. He with you?” No nothing of the sort. I actually just learned in a trailer for “The Hobbit” that Gollumn wasn't a hallucination over a decade later.

Money Problems.There was only so much budget for the movie. "Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers" split the party up, and they would cut back and forth at bad times. We would get twenty five minutes of Hobbits riding a tree and then they finally get to a battle they would cut to the other party. Then when Aragorn's party would come up on something interesting, they would cut back to Frodo and Sam after the battle. I actually had a hard time staying awake.

Then there is "Return of the King."  “We need like a thousand more warriors to have a chance.” Just so happens that these dead people owe the king a favor? Really. Dead people owe the king a favor and now they just happen to have enough soldiers to defeat the evil force. You know where we have seen that plot arc before? Beach movies with Frankie Avalon. “Oh no, we need $503.27 to pay the taxes on the beach house and there is a surf contest is $503.27!” "Return of the King" doesn't have the camp value to make that work.

Then we have all twenty endings. I kept on getting up thinking, “Oh good the movie is over....nope still more.” After the third or fourth ending I told my ex-gf that I am leaving after the next ending.

Now let's talk about the last ending. Frodo sails off to heaven. Lets think about this for one second, Gods usually hang out in heaven and can over power the strongest mortal. So it stands to reason that if Frodo made a bee line for the afterlife and took the ring then Sauron couldn't get to it. No he has to take it to the ONE volcano in the entire world. Not to Mount “No one lives here” or “Mt. Kitten Whiskers."  No. Mt. Freaking Doom.

So to sum it up, they were horrid movies and people like them because they cost a lot to make. They didn't even have the most important character in the books in them. A Narrator to describe every blade of grass on the screen for us. That would have made the movie better. I know more about Duran Duran's“Rio” because of Pop Up Videos. Maybe Jackson can try that with the hobbit trilogy.   

Defender: Tara 

The entire "Lord of the Rings" trilogy is amazing. We'll just put aside the fact that I'm kind of obsessed with Elves and that Aragorn and Arwen are a serious OTP for me. (That kind of happens every time there is a spark between a mortal and an immortal, kind of like Buffy/Angel and Jane/Thor. But I digress.) I'm going to take this point by point, addressing each bolded section in Jason's case against the trilogy.

I actually saw the movies before I read the books, except for "Return of the King," and I was/am still a huge fan of the movies.

Being an English major, I understood Gandalf's transformation rather easily. Gandalf clearly serves as the guide archetype in LOTR. From the very beginning, he knows that the journey will change Frodo. He sees Frodo (as he had seen Bilbo) as a young and enthusiastic Hobbit. Gandalf will do whatever it takes to ensure the success of the mission, and in fighting the Balrog, he sacrificed as any mentor would do. Following his sacrifice, Gandalf is reborn to the next level; if you notice, there are changes when he returns as Gandalf the White. He truly wears the ultimate responsibilities of an Istar, now.

Gollum's interactions are confusing at first - that's true. But watch the way he skulks about after Frodo. Why is it that Frodo really fears him? Because Gollum is less important as a present character and more important as Frodo's living fear. Frodo isn't as afraid of the creature attacking him as he is of what Gollum represents. Hold on to this ring too long, and this is what will happen to me. Be without it; this is what I may become. And we do see in the end of the movies that Frodo has changed - he has lost so much of his innocence that he has trouble acclimating to life in the Shire once more.

I thought the second movie was a bit slow, and I feel this way about the second movie in many trilogies. The original "Star Wars" trilogy is a fine example, and it's one reason I'm nervous about all of the Marvel Phase 2 movies that are coming out soon. Changing POV (point of view) between different groups helped break the movie up. And while I'm not the biggest fan of the Ents (tree people), they serve a very important element in the story and I'm glad they're in it. The Ents represent:

The side of nature in machine vs. nature - Saruman, meanwhile, destroys the land to build Sauron's army.
Wisdom; and in interacting with the Hobbits, we are less hesitant to write them off as silly little creatures.
Strength and tradition worth fighting for. Tolkien's trilogy is an epic. His country didn't really have one in the same sense as others (like the Greeks), and trees are an integral symbol in mythology, including that of Europe. This theme is reinforced by Gondor's emblem, the white tree. (See: Crann Bethadh;  Yggdrasil)

So Aragorn calls in a favor from some dead people. Big deal. Since he's part Elf, he's a bit older than the average human, and he's acquired some favors by heritage and through the years. The idea is that Aragorn considers this option heavily before taking it: it's a risk. Aragorn is ready to be a king. He does not make rash decisions. Also, you've seen him, right? He's hot. So he gets a pass.

Take a look at this worthy king:

Multiple endings serve the audience. Nine plus hours of your life is a big commitment. Peter Jackson gets that. The multiple endings are really rewarding the fans; they were a pleasant surprise in the theater and very much consistent with the book. General rule: when you actually like the movie, you'll probably like the extra ending.

I'll leave you with one such example:

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