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Review: Lord of the Rings, The Two Towers

By onyxruby in Media
Wed Dec 18, 2002 at 08:26:29 PM EST
Tags: Movies (all tags)

Lord of the Rings, The Two Towers, the long awaited sequel to Lord of the Rings, Fellowship of the Ring, has been released for an eager publics' consumption. My local theater had to add two additional screens in two days just to keep up with pre-release sales demand for the opening days' midnight showing, and still sold out of tickets. I actually saw someone scalping tickets at $20 a pop and make several sales. Now that the anticipation may be placated, read on for the review of the movie itself. This review is spoiler free.

An effort is made for continuity, and the movie picks up right where the Fellowship of the Ring left off. The directors make the assumption that the audience has already seen the first movie, and it pays off. At a runtime of 2 hours and 59 minutes, there simply isn't time or need for a preamble.

The cinematography and scenery tell their own tale in their own right. There is a distinct change of pace from the breathtaking scenery in the Fellowship of the Ring that reflected the hope of a world still not yet fully come to grips with it's pending destruction. By contrast, in The Two Towers, hope and despair reign supreme, and much of the scenery reflects this. The vistas are still just as grand, but the scenes mirror the darkness of the plot. Sweeping imagery of Mount Doom, far reaching captures of the Dead Swamp and the Black Gates of Mordor permeate the audience with a sense of dread and despair.

The computer animation is at times both spellbinding and painful. The fight between Gandalf and the Balrog is a visionary delight. The army of Uruk-hai are rendered believable, making an excellent showing of the Massive software developed just for this movie. The army depicted flows naturally, without the jarring and replication that is often seen with mass copied scenes of films past. Gollum makes an extensive appearance, with rich emotional detail. Movements appear natural, helped by using an actor as a model. The one disappointment here was that the Ents were almost painful in appearance.

The sound is used as a tool to enhance, and carefully does not overwhelm the movie itself. It never becomes overbearing, too soft or too loud. The musical track borrows from the Fellowship of the Ring in places, but continues on with new and original pieces. It carefully supplements the mood instead of trying to dictate it to the audience.

The plot itself moves along fairly nicely, without stagnating on any particular point. The acting is well enough done, especially when you consider that many individual characters did not actually have that much screen time to work with. The cardboard feel that is all too familiar with many fantasy movies is thankfully absent. When the characters feel despair, pain, hope or triumph, the audience is there in the proverbial trenches with them.

All in all, I would say that this movie certainly does not disappoint. For a sequel that has to live up to Fellowship of the Ring, the bar might be just a bit too high in some viewers minds. It was well worth the wait, and will only cast the demands and expectations of The Return of the King higher than that originally expected of The Phantom Menace before it hit theaters.


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Review: Lord of the Rings, The Two Towers | 180 comments (136 topical, 44 editorial, 1 hidden)
Music (3.00 / 2) (#3)
by Cant Say on Wed Dec 18, 2002 at 07:00:01 AM EST

The music in this film was excellent, and made several scenes which might have otherwise failed (the appearance of Gandalf, and a couple of others that aren't coming to mind).

My one dissapointment: I saw it at "Big Newport" in Newport Beach, and their sub had a loose cone. So many otherwise impressive soundes were rendered meaningless.

Spoilers, reviews (4.50 / 4) (#4)
by wiredog on Wed Dec 18, 2002 at 07:17:02 AM EST

The spoiler obsession, born of the Internet's fan-geek culture, is the enemy of real criticism, real discussion and maybe even real thought.
Andrew O'Hehir, Salon.com

That said...
From The Washington Post, a mostly positive review.

Certainly of the fantasy film series currently in American theaters - I include "Harry Potter and the Secret Toity" and "Star Trek: Halitosis" - "The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers" is the best, and not by just a little.

It alone among them transcends.

The greatest contribution of the internet to society is that it makes it possible for anyone of any age to become a grumpy old fart.
Spoiler obsession (4.00 / 1) (#36)
by GGardner on Wed Dec 18, 2002 at 11:56:04 AM EST

The spoiler obsession, born of the Internet's fan-geek culture, is the enemy of real criticism, real discussion and maybe even real thought.
Andrew O'Hehir, Salon.com
I've seen this quote several times, but I would like some evidence to back it up. The longest running play in history, The Mousetrap has been urging patrons not to give away the ending for something like 50 years.

In journalism class in high school, which I can assure you, was well before the internet, movie (and other) critics were counselled not to give away endings.

For the movie, The Crying Game many people were urged not to give away the movie's big secret. Until the Simpsons gave it away, much later.

[ Parent ]

There's a difference (4.00 / 1) (#40)
by wiredog on Wed Dec 18, 2002 at 12:17:53 PM EST

between giving away the ending, and discussing plot points.

The greatest contribution of the internet to society is that it makes it possible for anyone of any age to become a grumpy old fart.
Parent ]
Spoilers (none / 0) (#65)
by GGardner on Wed Dec 18, 2002 at 05:20:25 PM EST

There's a difference between giving away the ending, and discussing plot points.

Absolutely. Which is why I question the validity of the quote. The desire to not give away an ending (e.g. a spoiler) still allows for interesting discussion. And it has pre-dated the internet.

If anything is the real enemy of criticism and discussion, it is the speed at which the media generates new releases. And the speed at which the internet operates. For example, this discussion which you and I are having. We each make a couple of pithy remarks, then switch to the next conversation.

[ Parent ]

Exactly (4.00 / 1) (#66)
by Hektor on Wed Dec 18, 2002 at 05:24:21 PM EST

Like this:
The ending in Memento has Guy Pierce shooting Joe Pantoliano!

Big spoiler that one :-)

I was actually physically assulted by one of my friends for telling him that.

[ Parent ]

I thought (none / 0) (#71)
by Subtillus on Wed Dec 18, 2002 at 06:34:46 PM EST

that the longest running play in history was oklahoma, which, since its debut has not gone a single day without being played in at least on place throughout the world.

[ Parent ]
Longest running play (none / 0) (#73)
by GGardner on Wed Dec 18, 2002 at 07:23:26 PM EST

The Mousetrap is the longest continous production, still in production in the West End 50 years after its debut. This strikes me as a matter of semantics, as it's had many different casts, several venues, different sets, etc. Not that any of that makes it a terribly good play, though....

[ Parent ]
Bah! (4.66 / 3) (#45)
by KittyFishnets on Wed Dec 18, 2002 at 01:59:40 PM EST

I can recall only once feeling like a fan review spoiled a movie. I can't even count how many times a movie has been spoiled by it's own marketing. There's the real "enemy".


[ Parent ]

Odd complaint (4.00 / 2) (#52)
by Happy Monkey on Wed Dec 18, 2002 at 03:04:04 PM EST

In the Post review, Stephen Hunter complains that the characters aren't shampooing their hair. What a weird complaint.
Length 17, Width 3
[ Parent ]
Secret Toity? (5.00 / 1) (#91)
by jabber on Wed Dec 18, 2002 at 11:03:43 PM EST

Man, now you've gone and ruined it! Why should I even BOTHER going to see the movie, when I know about the toity?? Bastard!

[TINK5C] |"Is K5 my kapusta intellectual teddy bear?"| "Yes"
[ Parent ]

Evil site (4.00 / 1) (#142)
by PurpleBob on Fri Dec 20, 2002 at 02:54:54 AM EST

Egad. I never thought a big news site like washingtonpost.com would stoop to using audio ads. That's what I get for the trouble of going through their registration screen. Not that I care if they want to believe I'm a 47-year-old woman living in Beverly Hills, Albania.

[ Parent ]
Why don't you... (none / 0) (#147)
by tekue on Fri Dec 20, 2002 at 07:20:30 AM EST

...use a browser that allows you to select if you want to hear sounds or not. For me, it's Opera.
Humanity has advanced, when it has advanced, not because it has been sober, responsible, and cautious, but because it has been playful, rebellious, and immature. --Tom Robbins
[ Parent ]
How people watch movies (4.83 / 6) (#5)
by kholmes on Wed Dec 18, 2002 at 07:39:09 AM EST

The most interesting thing about movie reviews, for me if not for other people, is to see how other people watch movies. I've learned not to take anyone's word on the quality of the movie. But it seems a lot of people aren't interested at all in the same kinds of things I am in a movie.

So the things I would have surely written about isn't included in this movie, while things I would have ignored are put to the forefront. Maybe you are trying to avoid spoilers...but I doubt it. For instance, you never mention a theme or message to the movie. Your addressing the plot in one sentence and consider it "moving along rather nicely" -- as if you're impatient with most films. Yet you dedicate a paragraph to cinemetography, a paragraph to special effects, and a paragraph just for the sound and music.

There is nothing wrong with that so don't mistake me for trying to criticize you. I just realize that that is the way you watch movies. To you a good film has more to do with the kinds of things you talk about, while for other people other things are taken to the forefront. Like with a Star Trek movie, you'll find completely different reviews from outside and within the "trekker" community. In fact, being a "Trekker" has some things to say on what you enjoy about television and movies in general.

And I think the same thing happened with the first Lord of the Rings movie. A lot of people have read the books and were enthralled with seeing the images on the big screen. But while watching the movie I am like "Hobbit...halfling...okay, elf...elf...um". So I had to watch the movie a couple of times for it to come together yet I still don't see any deeper meaning to the movie...maybe the unusual setting and characters is making me dumb.

It would make a good "Ask Kuro5hin" I suppose to ask What makes a good movie? And I think we will find many many different answers and perhaps some upset people: "You are the reason I have to watch so many dumb movies!!"

Anyway...something to think about.

If you treat people as most people treat things and treat things as most people treat people, you might be a Randian.

a theme or message (4.60 / 5) (#6)
by wiredog on Wed Dec 18, 2002 at 07:59:56 AM EST

Tolkein himself said that there were no deeper themes or messages. No allegorical references to events in modern times. It's a tale about the battle between Good and Evil. No more, but no less.

The greatest contribution of the internet to society is that it makes it possible for anyone of any age to become a grumpy old fart.
Parent ]
A message? (4.66 / 3) (#8)
by bil on Wed Dec 18, 2002 at 08:39:29 AM EST

If I remember he said this as a response to people who saw it as a allegory for the second world war (which was going on/newly finished at the time of writing) or as an escapist response to the horror of the first world war (Tolkein fought on the Western front).

Is it possible for a peice of work to have a message without the author being aware of it? Probably, and its certainly possible for a work to have a message and the author to deny it.

As to wether there is a more subtle message hidden within it, well David Brin seems to think there is (as discussed on slashdot).


Where you stand depends on where you sit...
[ Parent ]

It's all about car factories (4.00 / 1) (#21)
by Homburg on Wed Dec 18, 2002 at 10:08:27 AM EST

As to wether there is a more subtle message hidden within it, well  David Brin seems to think there is.
Brin's article is interesting (although he's maybe a bit simplistic about the romantics - Tolkein was a political reactionary, more like some of the Arts and Crafts movement than the romantics).

It surprises me that Brin opens his article by describing his article as 'heretical' and controversial, though. I thought everyone knew LOTRs was about industrialization and (more generally) modernity.

Actually, I think LOTR is an allegory about the building of the Morris factories in Oxford. Just look at the geography: Mordor is the home of industrialization and the proletariat (Orks), i.e. London. Isengard is perverted by sacrificing wisdom to scientific knowledge (Saruman of many colours is surely a reference to Newton's work on optics), and so represents Cambridge. Rivandell is the last bastion of genuine wisdom, just like Oxford, with the Shire the countryside east of Oxford, which is finally despoiled by the construction of factories.

[ Parent ]

Oxford (none / 0) (#41)
by bil on Wed Dec 18, 2002 at 12:28:16 PM EST

I thought everyone knew LOTRs was about industrialization and (more generally) modernity.

Actually I dont think I've ever heard that before, although it dosn't particularly suprise me, and it certainly isn't heretical to claim its looking back to a mythical golden age as Tolkein was heavily influenced by the anglo-saxon myths (which always take place in a mythical lost golden age)

Oh and the Arts and craft movement was sparked off by William Morris, revolutionary socialist and writer of News From Nowhere which looks forward to a future socialist Utopia. Not particularly reactionary either :)

As for Oxford, we dont need to include London and Cambridge. It is divided into two parts, west Oxford is the university quarter full of dreaming spires and wise old men, and east Oxford (across the river Isis(?) is the industrialised quarter full of the proletariat and wisdom bent to the will of the dark satanic mills built on what was once a rural idil.

BTW The Morris works are now BMW and produce the new Mini.


Where you stand depends on where you sit...
[ Parent ]

William Morris is undoubtably tremendous (none / 0) (#59)
by Homburg on Wed Dec 18, 2002 at 04:09:37 PM EST

Oh and the Arts and craft movement was sparked off by William Morris, revolutionary socialist and writer of News From Nowhere which looks forward to a future socialist Utopia. Not particularly reactionary either :)
Very true, which is why I said 'some of'. A bit of poking around on Google suggests that 'some of' was a bit of an exaggeration, mind you. I don't think most of the Arts & Crafts-men were as radical as Morris, but I'm not sure they were the straight-forward reactionaries I suggested. Possibly the appropriation of later German romanticism by early twentieth-century conservative revolutionaries is a better place to look for some of Tolkien's political views.

[ Parent ]
Not Exactly (5.00 / 1) (#46)
by Cant Say on Wed Dec 18, 2002 at 02:09:58 PM EST

"I thought everyone knew [LOTR] was about industrialization and (more generally) modernity."

LOTR is about creating a realm in which Tolkien's created languages can come alive. Without this primary hermenutical assumption, one is likely to commit gross exegetical errors. Furthermore, in "On Fairy Stories", Tolkien argues the primary role of faerie is to create what he calls a "secondary world" where the rules and physics and metaphysics are different than our own

Furthermore, Tolkien, as I'm sure you've heard time and time again, was directly opposed to the idea of allegory. In fact, he hated the most famous series of his best friend C.S. Lewis because it was allegorical.

Might I suggest that if one is trying to discern a lesson that Tolkien intended for us to learn, it is that those who have power, and choose to use it, are doomed.

[ Parent ]

Meaning without allegory (4.50 / 2) (#58)
by Homburg on Wed Dec 18, 2002 at 03:59:38 PM EST

I don't disagree that Tolkein created  Middle Earth in order to have a background for his linguistic inventions. But Lord of the rings is a novel, and as such has meanings and relevances quite separate from the author's purpose in producing the work. After all, LOTR would have been just as good a demonstration of Elvish etc. without the One Ring, but it would have been a quite different work.

LOTR certainly isn't allegorical, as it doesn't function by positing a correspondence between elements in the story and actually existing objects or concepts; suggesting that Morder 'is' Nazi germany, for example, is no more or less absurd than suggesting it 'is' industrial London (and has considerably less textual warrant, I would claim). But that doesn't mean it has no meaning beyond the literal. The whole point of 'On Fairy Stories' is to demonstrate that the value of the genre does not lie in escapism, in telling an entertaining falsehood, but rather in communicating important truths, not didactically, as with Narnia, but by allowing us to feel (Tolkien explicitly mentions our visceral reaction to good fairy stories) the truth of the worldview being communicated.

The world of LOTR includes as an intrinsic feature decline from a heroic and magical age. We see the first in the corruption both of the wise (Saruman, Denethor) and of the masses (the Orks, Sandyman). The second is emphasised, of course, by the status of the elves throughout the book (perhaps the most interesting example is Arwen). These themes of democratisation and disenchantment are precisely the criticisms of modernity made by conservative post-romantics. The physics and metaphysics of Middle Earth function as an argument for this political position; when the story moves us, it moves (in part) because we engage with the structure of this argument.

This is separate from whether Tolkien himself consciously intended to impart a message with the book. He saw the world a certain way, and when creating a fiction he couldn't but impart this world view to the reader. Because of this, the book has a real-world relevance which goes beyond allegory.

[ Parent ]

I think we're mostly agreed (none / 0) (#76)
by Cant Say on Wed Dec 18, 2002 at 08:48:17 PM EST

But if there is no allegory, it would be wrong to say Tolkien is "about" factoires, just as it would be wrong to say Tolkien is "about" war.

"After all, LOTR would have been just as good a demonstration of Elvish etc. without the One Ring, but it would have been a quite different work."

Thus it would cease to be LOTR, and become something else altogether. Now, if all you're saying is that Tolkien could have chosen a different story to highlight his creations, I suppose we are agreed.

"The whole point of 'On Fairy Stories' is to demonstrate that the value of the genre does not lie in escapism, in telling an entertaining falsehood, but rather in communicating important truths..."

Again, we are agreed. However, one of the important truths is not the evil of technology, but the decline of human history. Tolkien's Christian worldview and its eschatological implications brought him to the opinion that mankind was falling untill the coming of God. That he thought a sign of this was the destruction of nature is merely accidental.

[ Parent ]

Woh that's wack (none / 0) (#87)
by Shovas on Wed Dec 18, 2002 at 10:52:18 PM EST

Again, we are agreed. However, one of the important truths is not the evil of technology, but the decline of human history.
You sure about that assertion? I'm no expert on the study of Tolkien's material, but it seems to me one of the major themes of Lord of the Rings is exactly the mechanized world vs. the so-called "arts and crafts movement" world. It seems to me this is related yet far from a theme on the decline of humanity throughout history(rephrasing what you said, as I assume that's what you really meant). From what I understand, Tolkien wasn't too religious or into Christianity and the way his world works and the myths implanted in that world have little semblance, I think, to religion here(no worshiping at all anywhere throughout the myths, is there?). Now, it may not even be the "evil of technology," but rather the evil of continued industrialization and moving away from self-sustenance and self-actuation.
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[ Parent ]
Nature (none / 0) (#92)
by Cant Say on Thu Dec 19, 2002 at 12:40:31 AM EST

From a letter to Christopher Tolkien, 9 August 1945:

"The news today about 'Atomic bombs' is so horrifying one is stunned. The utter folly of these lunatic physicists to consent to do such work for war-purposes: calmly plotting the destruction of the world! Such explosives in men's hands, while their moral and intellectual status is declining, is about as useful as giving out firearms to all inmates of a gaol and then saying that you hope 'this will ensure peace'. But one good thing may arise out of it, I ksuppose, if the write-ups are not overheated: Japan ought to cave in. Well we're in God's hands. But He does not look kindly on Babel-builders."

I chose this selection because I think it convienietnly deals with both of your attacks. First, it shows Tolkien's deep and abiding Christianity. He is the one that brought C.S. Lewis to Christianity, after all.

Second, it shows that Tolkien's deep problem is not technology qua technology, but the moral emptiness of the people with control over it. If Tolkien could save a human life by cutting down a tree, he'd be the first to do so. If someone were cutting down a tree wontonly, he would obviously be upset.

[ Parent ]

That's odd, (none / 0) (#121)
by Shovas on Thu Dec 19, 2002 at 01:14:18 PM EST

And to think I've read his biography! Oh well. I completely had the perception that while Tolkien might have been "Christian," it was in the manner that everybody calls themselves Christian or Catholic, yet they don't live like it or they dont' go to church ever. Kind of like saying you're British with Scottish roots, or Canadian with Deustch[sic] roots. It's like it's where you cam from. Nothing personal, either, but that quote you say doesn't tell me much about his religious life. Anyone can, and many do, say "we're in God's hands now." It's just a colloquialism these days.

I don't recall Tolkien bringing C.S. Lewis to Christ, either, but I may be wrong. I haven't read on that topic in a long while.
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[ Parent ]
Wow I'm wrong (none / 0) (#123)
by Shovas on Thu Dec 19, 2002 at 01:18:38 PM EST

Been Googling for info on Tolkien and Lewis and their religious lives. Looks like you're right. That's interesting. I wonder if Tolkien ever wrote anything serious on religious topics.
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[ Parent ]
Can you give a source? (4.00 / 2) (#20)
by Homburg on Wed Dec 18, 2002 at 09:55:22 AM EST

My memory of Tolkein's claim is that LOTR isn't allegorical. I don't remember him ever saying that it didn't have a message; that would  be a much stronger (and untrue) claim. Still, I can't remember where I read this, so it's possible I've forgotton.

[ Parent ]
Foreword to FoTR (4.00 / 1) (#22)
by wiredog on Wed Dec 18, 2002 at 10:10:11 AM EST

The greatest contribution of the internet to society is that it makes it possible for anyone of any age to become a grumpy old fart.
Parent ]
heh he was probably just sick... (4.00 / 1) (#44)
by Shovas on Wed Dec 18, 2002 at 01:06:37 PM EST

Of everyone asking what the "real" meaning of the Lord of the Rings was. Sick of all the idiots not being able to read the books and think for themselves what symbolism, imagery and allegories were woven together in such an intricate yet grand toure de force, as it were.

I've heard / read him saying that he just wanted to write a story about some Hobbit characters he made up. I don't buy it. Read the books for yourself. They're absolutely riddled with themes and morals and opinions on human nature. The best theme I picked up on was one directly out of Joseph Conrad's Heart of Darkness, that of stepping of to the proverbial edge, peering into the abyss and following who succumbs and who steps back while they can. And that's just one of the grand themes, and it was the most obvious to me because it's the climax of the series(the fate of the Ring).
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[ Parent ]
As I understand it (4.50 / 2) (#49)
by krek on Wed Dec 18, 2002 at 02:38:38 PM EST

He wrote almost exclusively for his children, and thus his writing was more for entertainment puposes rather than any altruistic motivation.

I once had a very loud argument with my grade 10 english teacher, I was reading some fantasy stories for my book reports, TSR books if I recall correctly, and he simply would not accept that not all writing had deep philosophical meaning written into it, that some authors where just out to entertain, or even just to pay some bills. My argument was that you could find meaning in a pile of dung if you tried hard enough, but that that still does not imply that the cow had any higher purpose in producing the pile of poop. My english teacher, on the other hand, kept raving about F. Scott Fitzgerald and 'Heart of Darkness' (two official readings of grade 10). I ended up in the principals office for my trouble.

[ Parent ]
Having just argued this in the morning... (4.00 / 1) (#84)
by Shovas on Wed Dec 18, 2002 at 10:37:19 PM EST

While there's a possibility of "stories" not having a central theme, I think all stories necessarily have themes(if they are actual stories and are not just simply restating simple facts). Now, Tolkien wrote The Hobbit for children, I believe, and had Christopher "proofread" it for him to ensure it was good for kids, but I don't think his other books(especially the Lord of the Rings and the Silmarillion) were meant especially for kids. Or, possibly Tolkien was aiming at an entertaining read for kids and a deeper read for adults.

Regardless, the themes are completely obvious in the Lord of the Rings. They are many and varied. it's arguable if there is one central theme of the story, but there are certainly many, many themes woven throughout the plot. And one should note, it's not all about "deep philosophical meaning." Rather, I'm sure your teacher was implying the use of certain literary devices which provide correlation and emotion through indirect methods rather than point-blank saying "Frodo was uncomfortable and the situation was dire." It really would've said, "Rain whipped against his skin, striking and blinding his eyes, while boots sucked in the mud forcing every movement of walking to become a tedious, burdenful chore."

So, while I agree a story doesn't always have one central theme, every story(except for bare facts) has at least one theme. It has to. There's no point to a story without a something that effectively creates a theme(read challenge of A vs. B).
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[ Parent ]
LOTR message (4.33 / 3) (#12)
by bil on Wed Dec 18, 2002 at 09:01:44 AM EST

still don't see any deeper meaning to the movie...

I dont think it really has a messages such although you could create one to fit if you want (I like the idea that the message is that small inconsequential things can have very large and unforseen consequences, the Hobbits, the ring itself, and a few other bits that might be spoilers, but that probably has about as much basis in reality as LOTR itself)

In reality (?!) LOTR is a reworking of the same set of ancient legends that Wagner based The Ring Cycle on written by a professor of history that let his imagination carry him away. It has the same message as Beowulf and probably needs no other.


Where you stand depends on where you sit...
[ Parent ]

The Message I Drew (From the Books) (4.00 / 1) (#43)
by Juppon Gatana on Wed Dec 18, 2002 at 01:03:14 PM EST

Is that, as you said, small things can be just as important as the mightiest forces, but also that we as people do not need anything more than each other to do good. The ending of Return of the King (spoiler warning) proves that the Hobbits' success was not contingent upon Gandalf's magic or the armies of Gondor. They deal with the ruffians of the Shire on their own and set things right without any foreign aid.

- Juppon Gatana
(Nou aru taka wa tsume wo kakusu.)
[ Parent ]
NOOOooo (5.00 / 3) (#48)
by Cant Say on Wed Dec 18, 2002 at 02:31:24 PM EST

From a letter to Miss J. Burn, 26 July 1956:

"If you re-read all the passages dealing with Frodo and the Ring, I think you will see that not only was it quite impossible for him to surrender the Ring, in act or will, especially at its point of maximum power, but that this failure was adumbrated from far back. He was honored because he had accepted the burden voluntarily, and had then done all that was within his utmost physical and mental strength to do. He (and the Cause) were saved - by Mercy: by the supreme value and efficacy of Pity and forgiveness of injury.

Corinthians I x. 12-13 may not at first sight seem to fit - unless 'bearing temptation' is taken to mean resisting it while still a free agent in normal command of the will. I think rather of the mysterious last petitions of the Lord's Prayer: Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. A petition against something that cannot happen is unmeaning. There exists the possibility of being placed in positions beyond one's power. In which case (as I believe) salvation from ruin will depend on something apparently unconnected: the general sanctity (and humility and mercy) of the sacrificial person. I did not 'arrange' the deliverance in this case: it again follows the logic of the story. (Gollum had had his chance of repentance, and of returning generosity with love, and had fallen off the knife-edge.)...

No, Frodo 'failed'. It is possible that once the ring was destroyed he had little recollection of the last scene. But one must face the fact: the power of Evil in the world is not finally resistible by incarnate creatures, however 'good'; and the Writer of the Story is not one of us."

From a letter to Amy Ronald, 27 July 1956

"By chance, I have just had another letter regarding the failure of Frodo. Very few seem even to have observed it. But following the logic of the plot, it was clearly inevitable, as an event. And surely it is a more significant and real event than a mere 'fairy-story' ending in which the hero is indomitable? It is possible for the good, even the saintly, to be subjected to a power of evil which is too great for them to overcome - in themselves. In this case the cause (not the 'hero') was triumphant, because by the exercise of pity, mercy, and forgiveness of injury, a situation was produced in which all was redressed and disaster was averted. Gandalf certainly foresaw this. See Vol. I p. 68-69. Of course, he did not mean to say that one must be merciful, for it may prove to be useful later - it would not then be mercy or pity, which are only truly present when contrary to prudence. Not ours to plan!"

No, my friend. It is not the triumph of the weak which Tolkien writes, but the triumph of the virtuous.

From The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien, emphasis in the original.

[ Parent ]

I got something different (SPOILER) (none / 0) (#108)
by glothar on Thu Dec 19, 2002 at 09:46:47 AM EST

s that, as you said, small things can be just as important as the mightiest forces, but also that we as people do not need anything more than each other to do good.

Actually, if you read the book, Frodo's desire to do good means nothing, since he failed, and could not resist the Ring. The message was more grim than many people realize. No matter how good, pure, loyal or innocent Frodo was, he was doomed to fail from the outset. He (and the world) was saved by providence in the disguise of fate. It doesn't make him less of a hero, but he had no hope of ever completing the task which he undertook.

[ Parent ]

Possibly because (none / 0) (#138)
by squinky on Thu Dec 19, 2002 at 06:33:03 PM EST

Tolkein was quite the christian, and saw that as being how things worked.

Funny how many christians (my mom was anyway) are opposed to his works as being fantastic pagan garbage.

[ Parent ]

Saved by... (none / 0) (#172)
by TheOnlyCoolTim on Mon Dec 23, 2002 at 10:10:50 PM EST

Frodo was saved by his compassion, mercy, and forgiveness in not killing Smeagol...

It's interesting to ponder Smeagol's true motivations in (SPOILER) throwing himself into the fire with the ring at the end. Did he only want to get the ring for himself and put it on, only falling into the fire by accident, did he purposely throw himself and the ring into the fire to destroy it, or is it a combination of the two?

"We are trapped in the belly of this horrible machine, and the machine is bleeding to death."
[ Parent ]

Heh...I had a thought though (1.00 / 3) (#75)
by kholmes on Wed Dec 18, 2002 at 08:11:42 PM EST

About the theme. I thought the whole movie was about sex. The main hobbit guy...Frito I think...keeps having the urge to put on the ring, but he doesn't want to kill his innocents. Eventually, events force him to put on the ring and what does he see? a big flaming pussy.

If you treat people as most people treat things and treat things as most people treat people, you might be a Randian.
[ Parent ]
that's plausible (none / 0) (#136)
by squinky on Thu Dec 19, 2002 at 06:30:03 PM EST

I re-read, a couple of years ago, a poem which I had written in high school and laughed out loud at the glaring sexual imagery in it. Imagery that I had not seen until that re-reading.

[ Parent ]
Post the Porno Poem Please? (none / 0) (#154)
by threed on Fri Dec 20, 2002 at 05:04:37 PM EST

C'mon... I even used aliteration...

--Threed - Looking out for Numero Uno since 1976!

[ Parent ]
I would hazard a guess (4.50 / 2) (#51)
by krek on Wed Dec 18, 2002 at 02:45:22 PM EST

That there were two reasons that he did not discuss the plot. The first being that he did not want to spoil anything (the fact that he failed at this is kind of beside the point), the second being that he, like most people that have read 'The Lord Of The Ring', simply assumes that everyone, everyone literate anyway, has already read the books. To this day I, myself, am shocked and amazed when I encounter someone who has never read these books. I almost fell over dead of surprise the day I met a girl who had never even heard of 'The Lord Of The Ring' nor J.R.R. Tolkein before.

[ Parent ]
I know many people who have not read them. (none / 0) (#54)
by joshsisk on Wed Dec 18, 2002 at 03:37:02 PM EST

I read quite a bit, but have not read the whole series. I didn't like the first one, so I didn't read the others. I have many friends (who are well-read) who have not read them.

I'm sure this will invoke some wrath, but many people (like myself) simply aren't interested in "fantasy" (or whatever you want to call it).
logjamming.com : web hosting for weblogs, NOT gay lumberjack porn
[ Parent ]

It is called (none / 0) (#57)
by krek on Wed Dec 18, 2002 at 03:55:20 PM EST

Truly Excellent Fiction!

It is an educational travesty that it is not required reading in school. It would probably go over better than 'Heart of Darkness' with the students, but the school boards are intent on discouraging people from reading by forcing them to read obscure crap like 'Heart of Darkness'.

'Heart of Darkness', by the way, was the only book that I read as part of a curriculum that I did not enjoy, but, I was also one of those kids who enjoyed reading, and I attribute that to the fact that one of my uncles gave me some fantasy, Raymond E. Feist's 'Magician:Apprentice', for Christmas in grade two... it changed my world. But, I am aware that other books like 'Fahrenheit 451', 'The Chrysalids' and the various Shakespeare plays did not go over so well with my classmates. I enjoyed them thoroughly, however, all due to Fantasy/Sci-Fi.

[ Parent ]
For the record (none / 0) (#83)
by labradore on Wed Dec 18, 2002 at 10:12:12 PM EST

I absolutely loved Conrad's "Heart of Darkness" and didn't like much else in my literature classes.

[ Parent ]
I really do need to read it again (none / 0) (#115)
by krek on Thu Dec 19, 2002 at 11:20:58 AM EST

I have to assume that I simply missed something, everyone that I talk to says they loved this book, and people who's literary opinion means something to me too. But, as it stands, it is the only book that I have read and not enjoyed to some degree. I have read lots of classics, lots of pulp, plays, prose and poetry, and still the only book that I did not like at all was that Joseph Conrad book. I don't know, maybe it was just the teacher that made me read it... but I enjoyed 'The Great Gatsby' and 'Hamlet' under the same teacher.

Please, tell me, what is it that you people find so marvelous about 'Heart of Darkness'?

[ Parent ]
I think it was a pile of shit. (none / 0) (#173)
by TheOnlyCoolTim on Mon Dec 23, 2002 at 10:12:41 PM EST

The only redeeming feature of that book was the interesting device he uses in only giving Kurtz  a proper name, and it doesn't redeem it much.

"We are trapped in the belly of this horrible machine, and the machine is bleeding to death."
[ Parent ]

in other words (none / 0) (#85)
by adequate nathan on Wed Dec 18, 2002 at 10:37:37 PM EST

"How do I know it's good? Because I like it!"

I'd suggest that you read Plato's Gorgias, but I don't expect you'd like it either. No elves (although book II of Republic does have a cool magic ring in it.)

"For me -- ugghhh, arrgghh."
-Canadian Prime Minister Jean Chrétien, in Frank magazine, Jan. 20th 2003

Join the petition: Rusty! Make dumped stories & discussion public!
[ Parent ]

Screw you! (none / 0) (#113)
by krek on Thu Dec 19, 2002 at 11:13:02 AM EST

Why would you assume that I would not like this 'Gorgias' (which I have, indeed, not read)? Simply because I said that I did not like 'Heart of Darkness' (not Hearts you morons)? Unless there is some underlying similarity between the books, I am offended by your assumtion that I would not enjoy it.

'Heart of Darkness' is the only book that I have ever read which held absolutely no redeaming qualities for me, I simply did not like anything about it.... but so many people seem enthralled by this book that I am considering reading it again to see if I missed anything.

And, for the record, there are only two books that I have never finished, 'I, Robot', because I lost it on a bus, and 'Don Quixote', because after 200 pages it felt like I had been reading the same five pages over and over again. An entertaining five pages, but still.

[ Parent ]
Heart of Darkness. (none / 0) (#127)
by joshsisk on Thu Dec 19, 2002 at 04:23:31 PM EST

I thought that was a high point of my freshman year (I believe) reading list...
logjamming.com : web hosting for weblogs, NOT gay lumberjack porn
[ Parent ]
There's no wrath (3.00 / 2) (#78)
by Spendocrat on Wed Dec 18, 2002 at 08:51:19 PM EST

Interested in "fantasy?" I'd assume that you don't mean that no good books are written in the fantasy genre. Are you simply not interested in books where things that Can Not Be exist?

What I'm trying to understand is dismissing a volume of books based on vague genre alone.

[ Parent ]

fantasy. (4.50 / 2) (#128)
by joshsisk on Thu Dec 19, 2002 at 04:27:17 PM EST

In my young adult to adult life, I've never read a book that I have seen classified as "fantasy" that I have liked. As a side-note, I've only read a few books that I would call "science fiction" that I have liked.

Of course, I mostly like to read non-fiction, so this might have something to do with it.
logjamming.com : web hosting for weblogs, NOT gay lumberjack porn
[ Parent ]

Well, I certainly wouldn't disagree that (3.00 / 3) (#139)
by Spendocrat on Thu Dec 19, 2002 at 06:59:25 PM EST

There is a lot of junk published in both genres. Your point regarding relative tastes is of course correct.

[ Parent ]
oh... (4.00 / 1) (#130)
by joshsisk on Thu Dec 19, 2002 at 04:30:02 PM EST

And, yes, I didn't mean to say that no good books exist that are labeled "fantasy"... Just that many people (such as myself) aren't that interested in them.

Anyway, I think good is a relative term when you are dealing with books, movies and the like. What is "good" to me might be "garbage" to you.
logjamming.com : web hosting for weblogs, NOT gay lumberjack porn
[ Parent ]

Not Fantasy (none / 0) (#110)
by glothar on Thu Dec 19, 2002 at 09:58:27 AM EST

I find that I'm generally bored by fantasy, but I loved the books. To call them fantasy is simply a way of trying to describe them in a way that people can understand. Truly, they are better described as mythological fiction. Something more entertaining than the Illyad, but just as serious. Fantasy seldom achieves that.

As for reading "the first one", if you mean The Hobbit, then you might want to skip it and try The Fellowship of the Ring. I generally dislike The Hobbit due to its fairy-tailish nature. The Fellowship of the Ring starts out in a similar style, but changes quickly as the tone of the book gets darker.

[ Parent ]

Yep. (none / 0) (#157)
by DeadBaby on Sat Dec 21, 2002 at 08:56:44 AM EST

I tried reading the entire series but I just didn't care for them. Countless times I'd put the book down and just not pick it up again for a week or two. I simply am not a big fan of fantasy books. Fantasy movies however, I can enjoy.

I think a lot of people feel this way and die-hard fans of the books may have to come to terms with the fact that, in the end, quite a large percentage of people are going to prefer the films to the books.
"Our planet is a lonely speck in the great enveloping cosmic dark. In our obscurity -- in all this vastness -- there is no hint that help will come from elsewhere to save us from ourselves. It is up to us." - Carl Sagan
[ Parent ]

Yes, very much so (none / 0) (#86)
by jabber on Wed Dec 18, 2002 at 10:44:04 PM EST

LOTR is so significant in today's "Geek Culture" that most people are familiar with it implicitly, even if they've not read it. If they know anything about the core of D&D, they know Middle Earth enough for the plot to be easily spoiled. LOTR hits so many archetypes that if anything is brought up, the mind can't help but set up a cascade of expectations.

So, the "Geek Review" will invariably talk about how the fantastic aspects of the story are brought to life. Are the Uruk Hai, and more importantly, is Gollum, convincing. The visualization may not be as we've imagined, but the "sense" of the characters and creatures is I think common, and a geeky review will point out whether or not this "sense" came across convincingly.

I held off on getting into the Trilogy. I started reading it a few months before the first film came out. I wanted my own visualizations against which to compare the movies. I read The Hobbit and Fellowship, just in time to see the first film. I've since finished the series, and am looking forward to the Silmarillion. I read slowly, and frankly, I was a bit intimidated by the suggested complexity of the plot, the unpronounceability of the names in the books and so forth.

Not reading LOTR much earlier was a mistake. It deprived me of a wealth of staples of geek culture. As a teen, I played AD&D with Santa's Helpers as my point of reference for Elves, for God's sake!!! So yes, LOTR should be required reading in a High School Freshman English Lit class. And a review of the movie, when written by a geek, will not entail the plot or theme in the least, because these aspects of the movie are simply part of the culture and sacrosanct.

The movie's fidelity to them is presumed, and the only way we'd hear anything about them is if Jackson suddenly decided to put sexual tension between Gimli and Legolas, instead of between Sam and Frodo. ;)

[TINK5C] |"Is K5 my kapusta intellectual teddy bear?"| "Yes"
[ Parent ]

Reasons (5.00 / 1) (#129)
by Happy Monkey on Thu Dec 19, 2002 at 04:29:46 PM EST

As a teen, I played AD&D with Santa's Helpers as my point of reference for Elves, for God's sake!!! So yes, LOTR should be required reading in a High School Freshman English Lit class.

Not that I disagree with the conclusion too much, but you might want to come up with a better reason if you make the suggestion to your local school board. :)
Length 17, Width 3
[ Parent ]
High School Reading (none / 0) (#179)
by axxeman on Sun Dec 29, 2002 at 09:52:08 PM EST

Whatever you are required to read in high school tends to get offputting for life, and for that reason, I wouldn't recommand it, as it's too good to be spoilt that way...

On the "for" side, the advanced English yr12 curriculum in New South Wales, Australia, already includes the original Star Wars trilogy, so I don't see why LOTR should be excluded, being far superior.

Being or not being married isn't going to stop bestiality or incest. --- FlightTest
[ Parent ]

Is this a review? (3.83 / 6) (#7)
by linca on Wed Dec 18, 2002 at 08:28:17 AM EST

You spend a paragraph talking about the cinematography. Another talking about the CGI. Another about the sound. Another about the plot & acting.

And finally, you sum up by talking about the movie. A film supposedly isn't just the sum of its part, but something more, else you could just listen to the soundtrack one day, watch the actors another day...

What makes this movie more interesting than listening to some classical music and watching a couple of Alan Lee paintings? Where is the added value of the movie?

You make it sound like you're reviewing a car or a washing machine.. good suspension, the seats aren't that comfortable, and etc... I still think movies can be, and sometimes are, a bit more than an industrial product.

He has the spoiler obsession (5.00 / 1) (#10)
by wiredog on Wed Dec 18, 2002 at 08:54:25 AM EST

It's hard to properly review anything if you have an unreasoning fear of revealing any plot points.

The greatest contribution of the internet to society is that it makes it possible for anyone of any age to become a grumpy old fart.
Parent ]
and he did reveal a plot point anyway (4.00 / 1) (#11)
by aphrael on Wed Dec 18, 2002 at 08:58:27 AM EST

although it's one anyone who's read anything about the movie knows: gandalf fights the balrog in _two towers_?

[ Parent ]
In a way (none / 0) (#14)
by Happy Monkey on Wed Dec 18, 2002 at 09:13:27 AM EST

Well, he recounts the battle to Aragorn, Legolas, and Gimli in The Two Towers at any rate.
Length 17, Width 3
[ Parent ]
er .... (none / 0) (#15)
by aphrael on Wed Dec 18, 2002 at 09:23:47 AM EST

sure. and if you hadn't read the books, had avoided the trailers, and missed all news reporting on the new movie, you wouldn't know that. thus, it is a spoiler. :P

[ Parent ]
really, they should have left him off the posters (none / 0) (#124)
by ethereal on Thu Dec 19, 2002 at 01:20:41 PM EST

I mean, come on - the biggest "spoiler" of the whole second volume is that he comes back at all, and that surprise is pretty much out now. The movie posters and trailers should have only shown a vague, slightly menacing figure in white, the same way he was described in the book when he is first seen again.


Stand up for your right to not believe: Americans United for Separation of Church and State
[ Parent ]

If you want spoilers... (none / 0) (#24)
by p3d0 on Wed Dec 18, 2002 at 10:15:55 AM EST

I liked this review. He said about as much as he could with zero spoilers, and that's just what I want.

I'm sure there are plenty of spoiler-ridden reviews out there if you want to see them.
Patrick Doyle
My comments do not reflect the opinions of my employer.
[ Parent ]

"spoilers" (3.00 / 2) (#26)
by linca on Wed Dec 18, 2002 at 10:28:01 AM EST

You can say a lot more than that without plot spoilers. You can talk about what cinema is really about, and none of which is talked in this review, like editing style, more importantly, how well it fits together. This doesn't need any spoiler.

What is the style of the movie? The books are purposefully written is semi archaic english. Has the movie tried to render any of it? or is it just standard, bland Holywood-like in its making?

[ Parent ]

the editing is probably choppy. (none / 0) (#31)
by aphrael on Wed Dec 18, 2002 at 11:07:34 AM EST

the editing in FOTR was, and the story makes for choppy editing in this one. as for the style, i'll have to see it first, but i know this: a lot of the poetry in the book has been woven into the score.

[ Parent ]
Then do it (none / 0) (#107)
by p3d0 on Thu Dec 19, 2002 at 09:28:22 AM EST

Have you seen it? Then you review it. If you do a better job, I'll concede the point.
Patrick Doyle
My comments do not reflect the opinions of my employer.
[ Parent ]
Okay... (3.00 / 1) (#13)
by WWWWolf on Wed Dec 18, 2002 at 09:07:09 AM EST

I'm going to see the movie in... 2 hours 15 minutes or something. Anyway, to recycle old jokes forever and ever, I have to say this: +1, because this isn't about those other two towers. =) Okay, now I've got to duck and run...

-- Weyfour WWWWolf, a lupine technomancer from the cold north...

I saw it at midnight... (3.00 / 1) (#23)
by atreides on Wed Dec 18, 2002 at 10:12:45 AM EST

...and I'm about to see it again.

Life is good.

"...heroic hearts, made weak by time and fate, but strong in will, to strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield."
[ Parent ]

The Ents (4.50 / 2) (#28)
by dj2 on Wed Dec 18, 2002 at 10:43:56 AM EST

I thought the lumbering appearance of the Ents fit perfectly in with their personalities. They are old and slow, and their movement seemed to reflect this fact.

But thats just me.

They seemed a little skinny to me (4.00 / 1) (#47)
by Lord of the Wasteland on Wed Dec 18, 2002 at 02:17:46 PM EST

That's really my only gripe with them. I though Treebeard's face was amazing.

[ Parent ]
true (none / 0) (#81)
by gps on Wed Dec 18, 2002 at 09:12:09 PM EST

skinny is a good description.  in my mind part of thinking of them as trees with mobility was that they would have huge wide trunks and a large tree top similar to the other trees in the forest.

treebeards face was great.  (some of the other ents were a little odd, like the one they tried to give a beard of twigs; come on, they're not supposed to be humanoids...)

[ Parent ]

ents not quite what i had envisioned (none / 0) (#80)
by gps on Wed Dec 18, 2002 at 09:10:09 PM EST

i had always thought of the Ents as being exactly the same as trees except that they could move and talk if they chose (due to the treebeard describing some of the ents as "going a bit treeish" and not moving much if at all these days in the book). these ents were distinctly smaller than the trees and a bit less impressive than i had hoped for. i agree with the reviewer, the ents were the weak spot. i can understand, they have no parallel and would be difficult to bring to life. i also felt it didn't capture the slowness of the ents. i hope the extended edition dvd will fix some of that.

[ Parent ]
Ents (5.00 / 1) (#89)
by jabber on Wed Dec 18, 2002 at 10:59:44 PM EST

(IIRC) In the book, Treebeard explains "Trolls are only counterfeits, made by the Enemy in the
Great Darkness, in mockery of Ents, as Orcs were of
Elves." Of course, this just leads to much discussion by Tolkien fans, that rivals that of Trekkies (ahem, Trekkers) about the origins of this or that species, or some obscure design characteristic of a once mentioned device.

In any case, that gave my mind a sense of scale and appearance for Ents, relative the descriptions of Trolls from The Hobbit and LOTR. The Troll shown in Moria was right on, size-wise, though I'd imagined it more humanoid in form. Relative that, I thought of Ents as being more "noble" in appearance, with a bark-like skin.

I'm really curious to see the movie this weekend, to see what Jackson's image was.

[TINK5C] |"Is K5 my kapusta intellectual teddy bear?"| "Yes"
[ Parent ]

Not Jackson... (5.00 / 1) (#105)
by glothar on Thu Dec 19, 2002 at 09:23:19 AM EST

I'm really curious to see the movie this weekend, to see what Jackson's image was.

More likely you're seeing Alan Lee and John Howe's vision, not Jackson. Sure, he signed off on it, but Lee and Howe have made a grand majority of all of the decisions about how things look.

[ Parent ]

leads to much discussion (none / 0) (#135)
by squinky on Thu Dec 19, 2002 at 06:16:31 PM EST

not really. That's well explained in the Silmarillion, and it's just like Treebeard says.

Probably the only mysteries in Middle Earth are "Where do Men go when they die?", "Who was Tom Bombidil?", and "What happened to the Blue Wizards?".

[ Parent ]

Trolls (none / 0) (#164)
by Relayer on Sun Dec 22, 2002 at 10:55:49 AM EST

Trolls weren't as they were depicted in Moria. In fact, as I remember, trolls were made of acrid dirt and vines, for the most part. They were quite literally the mockery of the good ents. This is also why they turned to stone when they saw the light, being that they were dark earth imbued by the darkness.

As for your mysteries, the answers are simple:

The men, as I remember, rejion Iluvitar on the higher plane, their mortality being not a curse, but a blessing (Not to say that the maia were cursed, but they were servants of Iluvitar, the men were something else, I don't quite remember what.)

Tom Bombadil was Tolkien's own mystery intentionally placed in Middle Earth. Originally, he was a character in a set of poems and rhymes told to his children, but he was placed nicely in Middle Earth, as a beacon of goodness.

The blue wizards, whose names escape me right now, didn't come into any other storyline. You can speculate all you want, but I don't see any real room for dicussion. We all know they returned to the hall of Manwe after long enough. Beyond that, Arda isn't real, so it doesn't matter?

It tastes sweet.

[ Parent ]

Envisioning Ents (none / 0) (#106)
by glothar on Thu Dec 19, 2002 at 09:25:55 AM EST

Everyone is free to envision them the way they want to, but the book is pretty clear on describing them as tall, men-shaped creatures with tree characteristics, not walking, talking trees. When I first read the books, that was my first impression also. But later I realized that it was not intended to be as such.

[ Parent ]

All comes down to personal preference (none / 0) (#109)
by dj2 on Thu Dec 19, 2002 at 09:49:46 AM EST

I guess this can be argued all day without a resolution because each person has an image in their mind of how the characters from the books appear.

That always seemed to me to be the hardest part about translating a book into a movie. Everyone thats read the book has pre-conceved notions about what everything looks like, the movie is just one representation.

[ Parent ]
exactly.. and can the love interest (none / 0) (#132)
by gps on Thu Dec 19, 2002 at 05:20:42 PM EST

now i'm all ready for the extended edition dvd to come out to see if they fill in the missing gaps appropriately.

(and what's up with this aragorn love triangle with elrond's daughter?  gimme a break.  can that crap, we don't need a love interest to make the movie mr "have to put a bit of hollywood formula in it" director).

[for that matter, how do elves reproduce?  wouldn't that be a population problem as they don't die from natural causes?]

[ Parent ]

Elven reproduction (none / 0) (#144)
by TuringTest2002 on Fri Dec 20, 2002 at 05:27:39 AM EST

No risk of a population boom, as they seem to have one or two offsprings every 3.000 years.

[ Parent ]
That's not so bad (none / 0) (#146)
by houser2112 on Fri Dec 20, 2002 at 07:01:03 AM EST

Most humans reproduce about that often. :)

[ Parent ]
*shepherds* of the trees, weren't they? (none / 0) (#122)
by ethereal on Thu Dec 19, 2002 at 01:18:02 PM EST

I seem to recall that from the book - they were shepherds of the trees, who if they got old and slow enough would become trees.

I haven't seen it yet - do they get less cumbersome when they get a bit, hroom, hasty? I had always imagined them as very deliberate and perhaps not too nimble, but that their metamorphosis at Isengard would take ones breath away. Here's hoping that it's something like that :)


Stand up for your right to not believe: Americans United for Separation of Church and State
[ Parent ]

The Ents were fine. (none / 0) (#112)
by ryptide on Thu Dec 19, 2002 at 11:08:48 AM EST

I thought they looked great. I envisioned them much bigger, but I was satisfied with how they turned out. What I didn't like was the parts where Treebeard was carrying Merry and Pippin through the forest, and they were looking out over the trees, even though Treebeard wasn't that tall. It just looked hokey during those sequences. Like the toonces the driving cat skectches on SNL. I was still happy with the film. Can't wait for the next one :)

[ Parent ]
teh 3ntz (none / 0) (#163)
by Relayer on Sun Dec 22, 2002 at 10:44:13 AM EST

The ideas for the ents were taken from many places. Among these are the treefolk from Magic: The Gathering, which in fact had one almost perfect steal from a card, I think Rowan Treefolk. Also, the dendriods in Heroes of Might and Magic III looked a lot like Treebeard himself. You have to remember though, that this is fantasy. The Hildebrante brothers had an entirely different approach to ents, where Treebeard resembled an evergreen tree. Personally, they looked remarkibly like trees, which was what they were meant to look like.

I liked them. It would have been nice to watch them tear apart Isengrad though.

It tastes sweet.

[ Parent ]

Some information on how it was made. (5.00 / 2) (#35)
by mold on Wed Dec 18, 2002 at 11:41:55 AM EST

If you're interested in how a lot of the movie was made, you might want to check out this site:

New Zealand Herald Newspaper

One thing that relates to the way the Ents look, is that they were large mechanical puppets, with some CG mixed in later. A lot of the scenes were done that way, such as with Gollum, an actor with CG added to him.

Beware of peanuts! There's a 0.00001% peanut fatality rate in the USA alone! You could be next!

Really? (3.00 / 4) (#62)
by Rogerborg on Wed Dec 18, 2002 at 04:37:34 PM EST

Because the Two Towers that I saw was an over long, dull and erratically animated snoozefest that had all the same flaws as the theatrical version of FotR: blaring score, "move-fight-move-fight" plot, cardboard characters, and token acting.

They have both been superb adaptations of the books.  But they just do not work as motion pictures.  The technology isn't quite there, but the basic problem is that Lord of the Rings just doesn't make a decent story when layed out as a series of images.

Poke me with sticks for being a heretic, but the Hobbit, or a brutally edited version of the Silmarillion (basically the Beren and Luthien story) would make a better film.

"Exterminate all rational thought." - W.S. Burroughs

You're right! (5.00 / 5) (#63)
by Shren on Wed Dec 18, 2002 at 04:51:30 PM EST

Moving and fighting stuff sucks. They should have taken the bit in the Fellowship of the Ring where they are arguing about the future of the ring and expanded it into three 3 hour long movies where the actors debate the future of the ring. It'd be packed with exciting philosophy about human nature.

[ Parent ]
where are you comming from (5.00 / 2) (#77)
by grahamtastic42 on Wed Dec 18, 2002 at 08:49:57 PM EST

i would be interested to find out what films you like. i for one enjoy very much art films and foriegn films and just plain strange films but i aslo appreciate a film for what it is: moving pictures with or with out music meant to entertain me for a given amount of time. if you go to a movie with expectations way too high or just go to find holes and weaknesses then why even go at all. you are just wasting your money. like those people that go to see movies about aliens and claim that they weren't realistic enogh. if you go with the attitude "i dare you to entertain me." then it will be a rare movie indeed that succeeds. is there so much wrong with just letting yourself be entertained. sorry if i have ranted too much i just really enjoy movies and find it hard to understand when people are so blah about them.

[ Parent ]
and indeed it is (none / 0) (#134)
by squinky on Thu Dec 19, 2002 at 06:10:04 PM EST

the rare movie that does.

[ Parent ]
Good question! (none / 0) (#155)
by Rogerborg on Fri Dec 20, 2002 at 05:41:23 PM EST

And answered in depth in this diary entry

My biggest gripe with both LotR films so far is that I just can't bring myself to care about any of the characters.  I had a brief spark when Sean Bean bordered on acting with the line "And they have a cave troll", but it was quickly lost in the tiresome "blah-blah-LOOK AT THE CGI!-blah-blah" theme of the rest of it.

"Exterminate all rational thought." - W.S. Burroughs
[ Parent ]

The story I hear... (4.00 / 1) (#70)
by the on Wed Dec 18, 2002 at 06:22:15 PM EST

making an excellent showing of the Massive software developed just for this movie
from some of the people who actually used it is that the battle scenes were good despite the fact that they were hampered by using a system as constrained as Massive. And they descriptions they give of how Massive is used in practice sound pretty damn convincing to me.

The Definite Article
do tell.. (none / 0) (#79)
by gps on Wed Dec 18, 2002 at 09:04:57 PM EST

this would be good to hear more about. i can guarantee you that there will be nothing but praise and hype about Massive and the software on the dvd extra features. (ever notice how -no- dvd ever includes anything seriously negative that's not laughed off about the production of the movie?)

[ Parent ]
OK (5.00 / 3) (#82)
by the on Wed Dec 18, 2002 at 09:19:47 PM EST

Basically each individual participant in a Massive simulation is an alife simulation. It gets a little view of the world around it and is programmed by a 'brain' that is a fuzzy logic network. It's essentially building and tuning a neural network by hand. If you have any experience of neural networks you'll have a pretty good idea of what kind of task this is to dump on animators. It's like doing digital electronics where the gates are a bit 'leaky' and so have an analog component. Imagine coordinating an entire battle with brains like this.

And the author of Massive flatly refused to implement many features that users wanted because they would break his nice little alife model. For example there is no mechanism (or at least very little) for global communication. In real life an army of Orcs wouldn't have global communication, however implementing a good 'brain' is extremely diffcult so one way to overcome the shortcomings is to make up for them by global communication. And the brains don't really have a concept of state so one of the most popular mechanisms used in games programming was unavailable for Massive users.

There are many interesting and complex systems out there that people program. Very few people have found hand tweaked neural nets to be useful. I see no reason why animating Orcs should be different.

I get the impression that Massive exists as an alife project and getting a movie out of it was secondary as far as the author was concerned.

The Definite Article
[ Parent ]

URL? (none / 0) (#103)
by PrettyBoyTim on Thu Dec 19, 2002 at 08:08:35 AM EST

Do you have any web references for that?

[ Parent ]
No (none / 0) (#114)
by the on Thu Dec 19, 2002 at 11:16:15 AM EST

I bump into people who work with it from time to time. It was being promoted heavily at SIGGRAPH this year and there were many people there who had used it.

The Definite Article
[ Parent ]
Spoilers? (3.50 / 4) (#72)
by christian on Wed Dec 18, 2002 at 07:11:36 PM EST

"This review is spoiler free." Yeah because it's not like the book is out there with almost the same plot...

Some people don't want spoilers! (5.00 / 1) (#100)
by MugginsM on Thu Dec 19, 2002 at 06:27:47 AM EST

> "This review is spoiler free." Yeah because it's not like the book is out there with almost the same plot...

I know many people who haven't read the book, and probably won't until after the three movies.

Even myself, having read the books many times, am rusty enough on the details to be enjoying the plot twists and surprises in the movies.

Please, don't assume everyone has read and is up with the exact details of the story.

- Muggins the Mad

[ Parent ]

Horse kebab (5.00 / 2) (#98)
by dark on Thu Dec 19, 2002 at 05:23:29 AM EST

The movie had a curious reluctance to show what really happens when cavalry charges a closed formation of pikeorcs. Apparently horse-lords have a magical ability to evade pikes, which made me wonder why the orcs even bothered.

P.S. Did the repeated "womenandchildren" business get one anyone else's nerves? It wouldn't have bothered me so much if the point about shieldmaidens hadn't been made earlier.

Cavalry charges (none / 0) (#99)
by Ranieri on Thu Dec 19, 2002 at 05:46:46 AM EST

The movie had a curious reluctance to show what really happens when cavalry charges a closed formation of pikeorcs.

As opposed to say, Braveheart. Oh wait! Those we scots, not orcs. I always get the two mixed up!
Taste cold steel, feeble cannon restraint rope!
[ Parent ]

scots are apparently short people (none / 0) (#153)
by gps on Fri Dec 20, 2002 at 05:00:02 PM EST

at least the movie speach accents seem to suggest that of hobbits and dwarves.

ahhh, the things hollywood teaches us.

[ Parent ]

Quick response (5.00 / 1) (#101)
by X-Nc on Thu Dec 19, 2002 at 07:52:22 AM EST

> Apparently horse-lords have a magical ability to evade pikes

You mean the charge down the hill to engage the hosts laying siege? The horsemen who had Gandalf blind the pikemen with a magnificent light that caused them to draw back their pikes?

> Did the repeated "womenandchildren" business get one anyone else's nerves?
> It wouldn't have bothered me so much if the point about shieldmaidens
> hadn't been made earlier.

You mean the peasant woman and child? The ones from outside the palace? You know, the palace where the noblemen lived? The nobles who would be able to train their women to be shieldmaidens? As opposed to the farmers who train their kin to be farmers?

How much of the movie did you sleep through?

Aaahhhh!!!! My K5 subscription expired. Now I can't spell anymore.
[ Parent ]

Attention? (none / 0) (#104)
by glothar on Thu Dec 19, 2002 at 09:16:51 AM EST

...And here I thought it was pretty obvious that most pikes were either dropped, or raised by orcs cringing from the onslaught. Did you perhaps notice that several pikes still did actually hit people, and that several of the riders deflected the few remaining pikes before the main body of horses actually reached the line?

Really. Everyone I saw it with noticed this. We were more impressed that the movie (ie: Alan Lee/John Howe) chose to arm the orcs with pikes at all, which is exactly what one should bring to a battle against expert horsemen.

[ Parent ]

this isn't braveheart (none / 0) (#152)
by gps on Fri Dec 20, 2002 at 04:58:31 PM EST

i think he was hoping for a mel gibson result...

[ Parent ]
It was, of course, silly (5.00 / 1) (#111)
by gibichung on Thu Dec 19, 2002 at 10:20:50 AM EST

Because real "horse barbarians" don't have forts; they hop on their horses and take their women and children in tow. Pastoral people whose livelihood (herds and the like) was mobile could stay ahead of any army which couldn't live off the land like they could. See Darius and the Scythians.

"No man is above the law and no man is below it; nor do we ask any man's permission when we require him to obey it." -- Theodore Roosevelt
[ Parent ]
Ayup. (none / 0) (#158)
by NFW on Sun Dec 22, 2002 at 03:37:20 AM EST

That bugged me, too. Every time the horses charged the pikes, I cringed in anticipation of an awful skewering... but instead, nothing much happened and my suspended disbelief came crashing to the floor.

...made me wonder why the orcs even bothered.

Maybe the producers figured nobody knew what pikes were for? Except that they showed them fully deployed, and it doesn't take much imagination... and wasn't it Braveheart the spelled it out for the moviegoing public a couple years ago just in case?

Heck, maybe they weren't really pikes after all, but just taunting sticks? Decorative poles originally intended for waving orc flags? Pfft.

That issue aside, I still liked the movie - liked it a lot. I haven't seen a movie twice in the theater since Star Wars came out (saw that seven times, bless my parents), but I will probably go see this one again before it leaves theaters. It kicked ass in so many ways, I can let the pike thing slide.

Oh wait... Maybe the pike-vs-horse action was deemed to graphic. I wonder if the DVD release will feature realistic pikery.

Got birds?

[ Parent ]

Cavalry (none / 0) (#162)
by Relayer on Sun Dec 22, 2002 at 10:36:28 AM EST

Did you not notice the brilliant light of Gandalf's staff, and how all the orcs dropped thair pikes and turned away just before the Rohirrim were on them?

Yeah, well, unless you blinked during that minute and a half, I can see why it wouldn't make sense. Then again, I've never been blinded by a magic staff. Maybe it doesn't make you turn away, being a simple-minded orc in the face of an awesome power.


It tastes sweet.

[ Parent ]

cavalry vs pikes (none / 0) (#178)
by legionary on Sun Dec 29, 2002 at 04:50:47 AM EST

Yes, I'm glad other people were bothered by this too (I had a couple of other gripes about the size of Helms Deep and the Rohan forces but thats another story).

Pikes in good order are death traps for committed heavy cavalry charges.  I agree that Peter Jackson's use of Gandalf's light trick might explain why the first couple of ranks of orcs did not keep their spears braced and hence allowed the Rohirrim to crash into them in finest Hollywood fashion.

But even given this, there are a couple of major inconsistencies. I agree with the person who said that the long pikes were probably just for show.  Notice that a lot of them had little halberd blades on the end of them (really stupid idea if your goal is present a wall of steel to opposing cavalry, it would just make the pointy end of the weapon unnessecarily heavy).

Second, pikes would only be a good idea against horse if your infantry has the training. By packing the orcs together, Jackson implies that they did have this training but then does not have them act as if they did.  Any phalangist worth their salt would know that the rear ranks would also have their spears presented so that even if the front ranks flinched, the rear ranks of spears would still be levelled and the horseys would still get skewered.

In a similar vein, why didnt the Riders get stopped short by the press of bodies?  If the orcs really were in close formation 100s of files deep, the bodies alone would have brought the Rohirrim to a dead stop. They could then have been pulled, bashed, speared and shot from their saddles and finished off in detail.  Cavalry that run out of steam in the middle of an infantry formation in good order are usually dead meat too.

The problem is that Jackson armed the orcs with pikes (departing from the book where they were armed with thrusting spears plus sidearms), and deployed them in phalanx like formations as if to suggest pike blocks but then didnt have the orcs behave as if they knew what they were doing.  If he had, the orcs would have won, which of course was not the desired outcome.

I'd like to add another point which is that pikes make really bad weapons to use in an assault on walled cities.  They get tangled up, pike blocks cant charge at full speed (surely something you want if you are trying to avoid getting killed by archery from the walls), no one can carry an 18 foot pike up a ladder and they can't reach the people at the top of the wall.  Why would Saruman have his forces attack a city wall armed with pikes?  Very silly.  The only use the pikes could have served would have been as forward reserve forces to guard against cavalry counter-attacks.  

Mostly I reckon the whole pike thing was done to make the orc army look scary.  If Jackson had stuck with the original armaments and tactics of the orcs (which were in turn based on non pike-using Anglo-Danish armies of the Dark Ages) that Tolkien laid out in the book, none of this would have been a problem.

[ Parent ]

My take on the film (none / 0) (#102)
by X-Nc on Thu Dec 19, 2002 at 07:58:23 AM EST

This was originally posted elsewhere but I thought I'd post it here as there's more chance of intelligent life reading it here.

-=Begin Quote=-
I've seen and heard a number of varied reviews of this movie. It seems that there are many people who didn't like it for a lot of reasons. I went to the noon showing here in the DC area and this is simply my opinion of the movie I saw.

It was better than I could have hoped for. At the end of the movie I was completely drained. It was as if I had been at Helms Deep. I heard some movie critic on the radio bemoaning the fact that this was only an action flick and not like the first movie. My response? No shit. This movie was the middle chapters of a grand story. It was the weaving of a tail brought to life from the heart & soul of a once-in-a-eon book(s). These movies are not "movie adaptations of the books" nor are they "based on a story by". They are the telling of a tail; a story both grand and large yet small and balanced on the head of a pin. Don't look at these movies from the perspective of the books nor of the myth. They are what they are. And in that, they are greater than I have known in many years.
-=End Quote=-

Aaahhhh!!!! My K5 subscription expired. Now I can't spell anymore.

I hated it (4.75 / 4) (#116)
by blamario on Thu Dec 19, 2002 at 11:25:35 AM EST

But then again, I've read the books at least ten times so don't take my opinion too seriously. I'm probably wired to dislike any departure from the original story. And I must admit that the CGI was done well.

But two things I just can't forgive:

  • The abundance of tired Hollywood cliches. I can understand when they depart from the original in order to simplify and shorten the story. But there are a number of places where they actually extend the original with some new subplot and it's not an improvement. All of the additions are utter cliches. Like, the hero falling from the cliff, but (who would hope?) surviving.
  • The Rohirrims' bitching and complaining about the odds of the battle. Tolkien had modelled the people of Rohan by the Old English (i.e. Germanic) tribes, and they were mean sons of bitches. The Rohirrim from the LOTR books are warriors at heart. Yes, even if they're old and especially when they're teen. If the battle is to be fought, the odds are irelevant. And yet the movie represents them as chickens that need to be encouraged by Aragorn.

Absolutely right! (3.00 / 1) (#156)
by Spork on Fri Dec 20, 2002 at 08:20:56 PM EST

I and the geeks I go drinking with came to exactly this conclusion after watching the movie. Every single point you mention is something I also thought right after the movie (plus several more).

That pleases me because I thought there was an outside chance that I had been misreading the books, or just overly critical because of some personal quirk. No, I'm finding that everybody who takes the books seriously has exactly this reaction. It really makes me wonder, because surely, Jackson was aware of this criticism before it was too late to make TTT right. Why in the world did he ignore it?

The funny thing is that my girlfriend (who never read TTT--yeah, yeah, she has other virtues...), when she named the things that she thought were done badly, mentioned exactly the deviations from Tolkien's original. The parts where the movie followed the book--she thought those were awesome! That makes me wonder even more about the deviations. I'm pretty mad at Jackson for the bastardization, and he's lucky he's got good setmakers, costume makers and FX people. Otherwise, the screen would have been egged.

[ Parent ]

Seriously? (none / 0) (#176)
by bloat on Tue Dec 24, 2002 at 06:12:17 AM EST

I wasn't aware anyone took those books particularly seriously. Not once they learn that novels don't have to come in sets of 3, anyway...

Anyway I saw the movie last night and I thought it was great. I enjoyed the battle at the end obviously, and the trailer for Charlie's Angels at the start. Nice arse!

There are no PanAsian supermarkets down in Hell, so you can't buy Golden Boy peanuts there.
[ Parent ]
Mostly good, with annoying bits. (3.66 / 3) (#120)
by Phil Gregory on Thu Dec 19, 2002 at 12:48:08 PM EST

I went and saw a 12:01 showing of the movie. Overall, I though the thing was very good. On the other hand, there were a lot more bits that annoyed me, as a fan of the books, than in the first movie. A friend of mine who has not read the books thought the movie was completely, utterly good, so my unrest likely stems from book/movie conflicts.

Anyway, I've written up my impressions of the movie so as not to repeat myself endlessly. There are spoilers in my comments, and the page isn't really fleshed-out enough to be an actual review.

--Phil (Self-acknowledged Tolkien geek.)
355/113 -- Not the famous irrational number PI, but an incredible simulation!
I agree and disagree. <spoilers> (4.00 / 1) (#131)
by aphrael on Thu Dec 19, 2002 at 05:15:44 PM EST

Having them trick Treebeard into attacking Isengard sucked pretty badly. In some ways it provides character development for Merry and Pippin, but the way it changed the ents was questionable.

Legolas stairboarding was cool.

I think having arwen live forever if she stays makes her choice more dramatic; even if she chooses to live with aragorn, she only gets to be happy for a short period of time. It creates more tragic tension, which might be good.

I really disliked the aragorn-off-the-cliff bit, tho.

[ Parent ]

Entmoot (none / 0) (#161)
by Relayer on Sun Dec 22, 2002 at 10:32:37 AM EST

If you haven't read the trilogy lately, I don't blame you, really, but picking up on some things in the movie that were obvious might help out a bit, such as
  • Treebeard didn't know about the destruction of the forest, and was exposed to it only after going towards Isengard with the two hobbits. This is different from the book, where much more time is spent on Treebeard's interaction with Merry and Pippin. Some reasons for this are obviously that the regular drole of moviegoers wouldn't have wanted to sith through the rambling between ent and hobbit, as well as the fact that it would have meant a lot more CGI, where it would have been easier just to have Merry and Pippin "trick" treebeard.
  • A lot of people seem to have a problem with Legolas's "shield surfing." I think it was done well, not overdone like it could have been.
  • The whole Arwen situation really bothers me. I don't mind the love story, but in the scenes between Elrond and Arwen it's like watching a part of Romeo and Juliet. In the books, arwen was of much stronger spirit than that.
All in all, it was better than The Fellowship.

Favorite part:

The charge of the Rohirrim.

Least favorite part:


It tastes sweet.

[ Parent ]

frodo (spoilers) (4.00 / 1) (#137)
by calimehtar on Thu Dec 19, 2002 at 06:32:58 PM EST

It was the Frodo in Gondor part that really pissed me off in so many ways.

  1. Frodo didn't go to Gondor in the book
  2. Faramir in the book made such a nice contrast with Boromir -- a stalwart good guy who did the hard work, shunned the spotlight, and took little interest in the ring. The movie totally destroyed him
  3. Frodo standing up to offer the ring to the Nazgul. Not only was it gratuitous, it was also totally out of character. The ring doesn't inspire its bearers to hand it over to anyone as I recall, not even Sauron.
  4. To a great extent, the rest of the book depends on Sauron not suspecting that the ring is so close. This scene almost eliminates that possibility
  5. This Sam and Frodo plotline twist seemed, to me, to be obviously engineered to put a neat cliffhanger ending on the end of the movie. I felt this was unnecessary and trite. The books, and the first movie, did not have a neat resolution so why should this movie? Wasn't the triumph at Helm's deep and Orthanc in the other two plotlines enough?

This deviation in the plot aside, I thought The Two Towers came about as close as humanly possible to the perfect movie for the book.

[ Parent ]
cliffhanger? (2.00 / 1) (#140)
by dr k on Thu Dec 19, 2002 at 09:52:05 PM EST

More familiar, and much better, cliffhangers take forms like: "Luke, I am your father", or "Spock is dead," or "Mulder is dead." You don't usually repeat the same "cliffhanger" two movies in a row. LOTR: Sam and Frodo wander off into the rocks. TTT: Sam and Frodo and Gollum wander off into the blasted trees. A real cliffhanger would be the one presented in the book, where Sam thinks Frodo is dead and takes the ring.

Destroy all trusted users!
[ Parent ]

that too (3.00 / 1) (#141)
by calimehtar on Fri Dec 20, 2002 at 12:07:28 AM EST

But I meant cliff-hanger as in "faramir is going to take the ring, he's really going to take it... oh no, even worse, frodo is going to give the ring to the nazgul..." etc. You aren't lefting hanging over the cliff in any of the plotlines, but pulled back to safety at the last second.

I have nothing against cliff-hangers, it's the fact that there were so many of them in this movie and they all followed the same model.

Gandalf's dead... no he's not. Aragorn is dead ... no he's not. Denethor won't fight ... yes he will. The Ent's won't fight... yes they will. I could go on.

[ Parent ]
unnecessary tension (none / 0) (#143)
by dr k on Fri Dec 20, 2002 at 04:10:40 AM EST

I'm not sure why every plot line had to have such a clear moment of tension and resolution, or why such minor points had to be resolved within this film. I think they were worried it would become "the film in the middle" with no value on its own.

Destroy all trusted users!
[ Parent ]

another problem I had... (none / 0) (#180)
by Liet on Tue Jan 28, 2003 at 12:03:33 AM EST

was that Merry and Pippin didn't drink the Ent water which leads onto them becoming more powerful warriors and larger Hobits which leads to them properly joining the service of Gondor and the horsmen and then finally leads on to them going back to the Shire and taking it back from Sarumon (spelling) which has been omitted from the final film :( If only the whole Ent scene had played out as it had in the book and Faramir been who he was in the book and finally not sitting with my friends who hadn't already seen the film i would have been very happy!

[ Parent ]
overall movie trilogy question (spoiler) (none / 0) (#125)
by ethereal on Thu Dec 19, 2002 at 01:23:54 PM EST

So, for those who have read the book:

Will the third movie include the paths of the dead that Aragorn must walk, or not? I'm looking forward to it, and would hope that it doesn't end up in the same place as Tom Bombadil. I really don't see how you could explain some of the third book without it, though.


Stand up for your right to not believe: Americans United for Separation of Church and State

Paths of the dead (none / 0) (#169)
by cmdrbean on Mon Dec 23, 2002 at 01:06:49 PM EST

The movie stops a bit short of the last pages of the second book, actually. I am hoping they don't manage to cut this from the beginning of Return.

[ Parent ]
Eowyn plot changes (4.00 / 1) (#177)
by svillee on Wed Dec 25, 2002 at 10:53:36 PM EST

In the book, Lady Eowyn was not present at the battle of Helm's Deep. The dialog, "I do not fear either pain or death", "What do you fear, lady?", "A cage" actually occurred in Return of the King, at Edoras, just before Aragorn and company set off on the Paths of the Dead.

So my guess is they will trim out the Paths of the Dead in the third movie. They have so much to cover, especially since the last part of Two Towers was omitted (e.g., Palantir, Shelob's Lair).

Overall, I enjoyed the movie, though I agree with the other poster who said the scene with Legolas skateboarding down the stairs was kind of cheap.

[ Parent ]

thank you for saving me (2.75 / 4) (#133)
by squinky on Thu Dec 19, 2002 at 05:59:16 PM EST

the comment below about "Legolas stairboarding" means I will wait for dvd.

But then, after the first movie, I wasn't too excited about it anyway.

The LotR should be nine movies at least. Tolkein used anticipation, suspense, and buildup of fear to such an extent that it was *boring* at times. But then something wonderful would happen that made all the waiting worth it.

I was never afraid of the Nazgul in the first movie because they were dealt with so quickly and in a car chase sort of way. I remember being terrified of them when I read it.

Trying to cross the Mountains made me stop reading the book several times-- it was that boring. It should be painful, arduous. As it was in the movie, "oop-- can't go this way, better turn around".

The Mines of Moria should have been scary, and should have taken a *long* time.

The Journey down the River-- another *long* time.

There should have been parts of the movie that made people walk out from the weight of the boredom-- because that's what the Fellowship was up against. A mind-numbing journey punctuated with terror.

As it was, it was a Hollywood action turd, with some tourist information about New Zealand. I expect no more from the remainder of the trilogy.

thank god you didn't make the movies (3.33 / 6) (#148)
by senjiro on Fri Dec 20, 2002 at 10:24:04 AM EST

You might as well say "LOTR should never be made into movies." Which I would give more respect to than these comments. If the movies were anything like you keep insisting, they would be horrible flops. I read books for all of the depth and detail they can bring. I watch movies for more light entertainment. Most people follow this same formula, and set their expectations appropriately. I applaud Peter Jackson for what is, IMHO, the best movie that could be made, and be succesful, blending details and art into action and adventure.

it is by will alone that i set my mind in motion
[ Parent ]
perhaps (5.00 / 1) (#149)
by squinky on Fri Dec 20, 2002 at 12:13:49 PM EST

I went overboard with stressing the boredom, or rather I failed to explain it enough. I meant to stress the heroic proportions and effort of the characters. The boredom of LotR is the like boredom you would experience if you were to sit in the woods for seven hours while waiting for a deer to pass close enough that you can touch it. While you wait, a lizard suns himself on your arm and a bird steals a strand of your hair, but the deer only stares at you from 50 feet away, then bolts.

I don't think you can fit a single one of those books into a single movie because you end up with what we've got now: some people claiming the movies are too long, and some people, like me, really disappointed with the stuff they cut out, and shaking our heads over the stuff they choose to add.

I'm fine with action movies, but when I already know the story intimately, it's rather annoying when the director decides to change the story so he can appeal to the lowest common denominator-- the 8 year olds that demand cartoon action heroes to surf . But *real* action movies have the barest whisper of a plot, because they're trying to put action into it. LotR is not about action. It's about drama, heroism, fear, failure, love, beauty, evil, lots of other stuff.

I do think that LotR should be made into movies, and some day someone will do it right-- as a miniseries, minimum of 27 hours.

[ Parent ]

a perfect translation to screen is not possible (5.00 / 1) (#166)
by doubleyou on Sun Dec 22, 2002 at 03:04:15 PM EST

I do think that LotR should be made into movies, and some day someone will do it right-- as a miniseries, minimum of 27 hours.

Which nobody will watch.

Such a miniseries will require high production values, which will cost a lot of money. It will be long, which will cost a lot of money. It will require great locations and special-effects work, which will cost a lot of money.

But if people will be bored by it, then it will not get the ratings it needs to justify its production.

Now paint this picture to a the decision-making board of a production company and try to justify them spending that much money on something that will get low ratings.

You need the right balance between faithful reproduction and catering to the masses to have a successful production. To do the whole thing verbatim would be a surefire recipe for a flop. If you want a perfectly faithful reproduction, then go back and read the books again.

On the other hand, maybe some people who see the movie would have their interest piqued enough by the movie to probe further and read the books. And if that is even just a small number of people, then the movies have done some good. The books and the movies compliment each-other well, I think.

And by the way, the Legolas "stairboarding" scene lasted for a whole second, maybe two! So I think it can be forgiven. Tolkien himself probably would've laughed, if he even noticed!

[ Parent ]
bad idea. (4.00 / 1) (#150)
by aphrael on Fri Dec 20, 2002 at 03:47:50 PM EST

if you're going to see it at all, you should see it in the theatre, maybe at a matinee; one of the really good things about it is the scale and the cinemetography, and you really need a big screen for them.

[ Parent ]
Stairboarding vs. Horsemounting (4.00 / 3) (#159)
by NFW on Sun Dec 22, 2002 at 03:46:39 AM EST

The stairboarding scene was totally contrived, gratuitous, and painful to watch, but... horrible as that was, it was perfectly balanced by a beautiful, mind-bending, awe-inspiring scene in which Legolas... well, he gets onto a horse.

You just have to see it.

Got birds?

[ Parent ]

seconded (none / 0) (#171)
by Hakamadare on Mon Dec 23, 2002 at 04:09:20 PM EST

wow.  yeah.  that was such a tiny little throwaway action moment, and it was one of the ones that made me gasp audibly.

things like that are what keep me firmly in the pro-Peter Jackson camp; he does such a nice job with small flourishes, as well as being solid on the big stuff.

Schopenhauer is not featuring heavily on the "Review Hidden Comments" page at the moment. - Herring
[ Parent ]

The Best and the Worse (4.00 / 4) (#145)
by TuringTest2002 on Fri Dec 20, 2002 at 05:46:35 AM EST

Besides all of changes in the story, to be expected in a Hollywood script, what I've liked the most and the worse are about atmosphere.

The only thing I really disliked in the movie is that they have ruined Tolkienish magic. All those wizards pushing one to other through the room or saying "From this spell I free you!" or glowing or having weird voices? One of the different things abbout Tolkien fantasy is that magic is a subtle thing, only understood by the very rare magicians and deliberately hidden. Even the Three rings are only exposed at the very end of the book!

And I would add to that the absence of music and poetry. Poetry is what makes difference in Tolkien books, and music IS magic within this story. In the movie, the only song is that of Gollum in the lake about nice fissshhh. Gosh.

On the possitive side, the artistic director has made a great job. The Rohirrim cities and objects are utterly beautiful, and the difference between cultures is perfectly achieved. Several locations, including the Black Gate of Mordor or the Helm's fortress, are exactly as I had envisioned them, and that is quite a praise!

absence of tolkienish magic (none / 0) (#160)
by paulg on Sun Dec 22, 2002 at 09:40:05 AM EST

I agree concerning the missing of the musical and lyrical magic. One should suppose that in a world somehow born of a great song the Magic of Lyric and is stronger than the show-offy-movieish kind of magic they have in the film. The magicians in the book were magical in the first place because of their wisdom. In the book, Gandalf did not really enchant Theoden, but just lighten up his halls and then tell him the truth.

The same for Saruman: In the book it's charadras who does not want the fellowship to cross the pass, while in the film it's suddenly saruman bewitching the weather.

And last but not least: Faramir was changed. In the book he is the wise counterpart of his struggeling brother Boromir, in the Film he suddenly suffers from the same weakness as his brother.


-- Honi soit qui mal y penses
[ Parent ]

Well, (3.00 / 1) (#165)
by Relayer on Sun Dec 22, 2002 at 11:01:43 AM EST

You have to make things bright and flashy to attract people who don't care to read the books.

As for the poetry and lyrical, it wasn't in the book, really? It was abstractly inserted, but not often sung, save for, I think, in Rivendell.

If you want to listen to the songs, there is a website somewhere in the nether that hosts a large amount of .mp3's of Tolkien singing a few of the hymns and reciting poetry. I also recommend downloading his talking of the plight of the Rohirrim. It's captivating, to say the least.

It tastes sweet.

[ Parent ]

Poems/songs (none / 0) (#168)
by zephc on Mon Dec 23, 2002 at 07:21:24 AM EST

singing out those poems and songs in their entirety would have slowed the film down BIG time.  If you want to hear the songs, sing them yourself (or get the MP3s of Tolkein speaking), but this is a movie for chrissake!  There are certain things that work in books that just do NOT work in movies without boring the audience to tears.

[ Parent ]
Singing. (3.00 / 1) (#170)
by gromm on Mon Dec 23, 2002 at 02:27:32 PM EST

And I would add to that the absence of music and poetry.

To add this to the movie would have meant making it into a musical.

No! Please god no!

I think it was fine without the music thank you very much. At least in the book, if you thought the songs were dumb, you could skip them. Not so in a movie. It was used where appropriate to a movie setting however, in the scene with gollum. But to have the songs as frequently as they were in the book would have made the movie into a travesty.

You have to remember that the medium that movies work in is totally different from the medium that books work in, and converting between the two is monumentally hard, especially in the case of long books. When you're reading, you can put the book away for a few days and not spoil the story. When you're watching a movie or a play, the story must be told in the span of about two hours because you can't keep people sitting still much longer than that. On its own, if you haven't read the book, the movie is fantastic, and if you have read the book, you must go into the theatre with the expectation that it will be fundamentally different. This expectation is essential to enjoying any film adaptation of any book.

Basically, you're saying that the movie wasn't good because it wasn't like the book. Try watching the movie as a movie and reading the book as a book, and you'll see that they are equally fantastic in the mediums that they are working in.

Deus ex frigerifero
[ Parent ]

Review: Lord of the Rings, The Two Towers | 180 comments (136 topical, 44 editorial, 1 hidden)
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