Lord of the Rings

I guess it’s partly my fault: I made a bet

with Stefan just after Lord of the Rings came out, and as part

of that bet I promised him that if the film got nominated for either

Best Director or Best Picture at the Oscars, then I would go see it.

So it got nominated, so I went to see it. I mean, how bad can it be?

It’s now at #2 on the IMDB top

250, in some extremely exalted company.

How bad can it be? It was dreadful. If we’re talking IMDB top 250

here, you need to go down to #65 and Braveheart before you

even start getting close to a movie as bad as this one. Actually,

it was a lot worse than Braveheart. It felt like the bastard

offspring of Phantom Menace and Conan the Barbarian,

only stretched out to 178 of the longest minutes I’ve ever had the

misfortune to spend in a cinema. If I wasn’t with two friends, and

if I hadn’t been in the middle of a row, I’d've got up and walked

out less than halfway through. I would happily give up my bottle of

1990 Pol Roger never to have seen the thing.

The film opens with an epic battle scene (natch), but rather than

start us off with a bang likeGladiator did, Peter Jackson decides

to treat us to the sort of dreadful computer-generated animation which

we’ve all grown to hate through seeing the likes of The Mummy Returns

or the Phantom Menace. Immediately, we’re in the mindset of

watching a video game, rather than an Oscar-worthy film. Not coincidentally,

the only other film of 2001 which I can think of which is as bad as

this one was Tomb Raider.

The weird thing is that the nauseating overreliance on CGI continues

well past the tens-of-thousands-of-orcs scene and well into the innocent-hobbits-frolicking-in-bucolic-bliss

act which takes up most of the next half hour. The Shire looks like

nothing so much as the set of Teletubbies, with acid-green

rolling hills and cute wide-eyed little people.

Into the Shire rides Dumbledore, I mean Obi-wan Kenobi, I mean Gandalf,

a wizard (you can tell by the pointy hat) played by some Grand Old

British Actor or other. And Ian McKellen (for it is he) turns out

to be the best thing in the film: quite up to Alec Guinness’s hammy-but-not-too-hammy

standards. The way in which Peter Jackson sends him on his way after

a fight to the death with the incarnation of the Forces of Darkness,

faced off against him on a slender bridge over a bottomless pit, is

a little bit much, however. And Darth Vader is an infinitely more

convincing baddy than the Balrog. (In fact, rather than try and come

up with something original, Jackson simply nicks the Balrog straight

from the Night on Bare Mountain part of Fantasia.)

Come to think of it, was there any scene in the whole film which

didn’t feel as though we’ve seen it a hundred times before? The dark

riders galloping out of the fortress gate, the collpasing staircase,

the swordfights in the woods, the helicopter shot of our plucky heroes

dwarfed by nature as they paddle down the river… it was cliché

after cliché after cliché. The genius of a film like

Raiders of the Lost Ark is that it takes a tired genre and

revitalises it; this film looks as though it was cobbled together

out of offcuts from Hollywood’s recycling bin.

The rest of the cast generally looks like it’s been chosen solely

on the basis of how blue their eyes are, although Jackson makes sure

that Frodo, the purest of them all, also has the bluest eyes. The

Fellowship, note, is 100% white, while most of their opponents are

shades of brown. It’s frankly racist, the way in which the Aryan Fellowship

happily hacks its way through hordes of sub-humans at every available

opportunity, and completely defeats the whole purpose of comprising

the Fellowship of various different races. That dwarf is tokenism,

although he does get the only (deliberate) laugh line in the whole

film.

It reached the point where I could feel the whole audience sighing

in exasperation every time we had to endure another close-up of Frodo’s

large blue eyes. It’s a bit like Zoolander: he has the same

expression throughout the film, whether he’s impaled by a monster’s

weapon or whether he’s just seen Queen Galadriel Nerwendë Artanis

Alatáriel of the Galadhrim for the first time. And when we’re

not subjected to Elijah Wood’s face, we’re subjected to his hand,

outstretched, with the ring sitting in the palm, over and over again.

I could moan about the plot, too, I suppose, but there’s little point:

this type of film never has any plot to speak of. But I think it is

reasonable to point out that there’s no structure to the film either:

it’s plucky Frodo and his gang versus yet another threat and… repeat,

with no indication that they’re actually getting anywhere, or that

this latest obstacle is particularly dangerous compared to all the

others. I mean, thousands of orcs in the caves scarper when they see

the Balrog, and we managed to cope with the Balrog alright, but then

a couple of hundred orcs later on in the film manage to capture a

pair of hobbits and kill one of our blue-eyed heroes.

A lot of the weakness of the film can certainly be laid squarely

at the door of JRR Tolkien and his ridiculously over-written epic.

Jackson wanted to be reasonably faithful to the book, so that explains

the hilariously archaic dialogue and the directionless episodic nature

of the screenplay. All the same, it makes for very bad cinema. And

the dreadful mattes, especially elf-land, which looks like it was

nicked straight from Thomas Kinkade, Painter of Light, are unforgivable.

Is there really appetite for another six hours of this? Why is it

that it seems to have any chance at all of winning multiple Oscars?

Although I hated Braveheart or Forrest Gump or Titanic

with a passion, at least I could see where the Academy was coming

from. But if they give this thing multiple gongs after having ignored

all the great films in its genre for the past 20 years, I will be

mute with incomprehension. Is Peter Jackson really a better director

here than Steven Spielberg was in any of the Indiana Jones films?

Is Lord of the Rings better than Crouching Tiger, Hidden

Dragon? This film has achieved the impossible: it’s made me actually

want a Ron Howard film to clean up at the Oscars. That takes some

doing.

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25 Responses to Lord of the Rings

  1. george fryer says:

    lord of the rings rules, dude. it’s better than citizen kane, withnail and i, and star wars rolled into one.

    gf

  2. Emmie says:

    Lord Of The Rings Is The Best Film!! cus:

    -they have the sexiest actors/actresses in all 3!!

    -the director is going as much to the film as would it would be boring if it was the whole thing.

    -elijah wood is pretty darn fine

    -orlando bloom *drools*

    -etc etc

    YOU GOTTA LOVE DEM BLUE EYES MAN!!

  3. Mike says:

    Did you bother reading the book? If you did, it may have had more meaning and maybe some more enjoyment. Braveheart too???? You have zero taste in movies, none at all! You suck!

  4. ^Above: A load o' sh*t. /Dozza/Script/Diasti/Tolkienite says:

    Somethings i hate about this -

    - You probably never read the book.

    - You probably didn’t watch the film properly coz you needed to piss alot, from drinking to much (you’d HAVE to be drunk to say LotR was sh*t)

    - You have no taste in movies. This film is liked by more people than those who dislike it. What is the point in writing all that for it. Look at the comments!

    - Teletubby land my F*CKIN’ ass.

  5. ^Above: A load o' sh*t. /Dozza/Script/Diasti/Tolkienite says:

    Somethings i hate about this -

    - You probably never read the book.

    - You probably didn’t watch the film properly coz you needed to piss alot, from drinking to much (you’d HAVE to be drunk to say LotR was sh*t)

    - You have no taste in movies. This film is liked by more people than those who dislike it. What is the point in writing all that for it. Look at the comments!

    - Teletubby land my F*CKIN’ ass.

  6. ^Above: A load o' sh*t. /Dozza/Script/Diasti/Tolkienite says:

    Somethings i hate about this -

    - You probably never read the book.

    - You probably didn’t watch the film properly coz you needed to piss alot, from drinking to much (you’d HAVE to be drunk to say LotR was sh*t)

    - You have no taste in movies. This film is liked by more people than those who dislike it. What is the point in writing all that for it. Look at the comments!

    - Teletubby land my F*CKIN’ ass.

  7. laura says:

    u must be totally gone in the head or have zero taste…over a million fans cannot be wrong, students learning about tolkeins work cannot be wrong, becoming one of the best selling books and movies cannot be wrong, hundreds of people willing to commit their lives to the film cannot be wrong…so dude…u fink crouching tiger is better than lord of the rings, get a life and get a clue!

  8. Stefan Geens says:

    Yeah, Felix. If Orlando Bloom *drools*, how bad can it be?

  9. Jennifer says:

    The whole cast deserves an oscar, but especially Mr Aston for a supporting actor role! Great Job!

  10. hobbit says:

    I think Lord of the Rings III is the geatest movie. it doesn’t happen very often when a screen version of a book is as powerful as the book itself… It’s more than words can say, and it deserves the best of awards.

  11. Evan deCatanzaro says:

    You are absolutely correct when you say that LOTR sucks. These films are ugly, boring, bloated, and uninvolving. The Tolkien fans who cried out against you, cannot even spell, let alone know what makes a decent movie. Cheers!

  12. Ryan Hohl says:

    In defence of those of us who can’t spell I’d like to say that you apparently fail to realize that this movie is based on a book that founded all of your “cliches”. This novel spawned the fantasy genre, including your dark riders and your little white hobbits with blue eyes. Tolkien was a British man who undeniably was a biggot. Unfortunately for you though your just happy pawning off your little bickerings about a fantastic movie that you fail to realize what most of the world thinks not to mention the people who rate these movies. But you are entitled to your own opinion as short-sighted as it may be

  13. LOTR says:

    “A lot of the weakness of the film can certainly be laid squarely at the door of JRR Tolkien and his ridiculously over-written epic. ” – please don’t be so cruel!!! I think the Lord of the Rings is one of the greatest works in the history of literature and cinema, and I think it deserves some degree of respect.

  14. CJ says:

    I am Glad you are not a payed critic!! Don’t give up your day job!! LOTR trilogy is fantastic! And no. I did not read the book(s). But I DO know good cinema. My question to you is what to you rate a good movie in your book?

  15. GG says:

    Sigh. Two things:

    1.Get a brain, d**khead.

    2.Get some TASTE.

    The Lord of the Rings is THE GREATEST FILM TRILOGY EVER MADE! Miles ahead of what Stealburg or Mucus will ever achieve. When did they ever make a 12-Oscar movie? Then again, I don’t think this sort of quality filmmaking would make much sense to a porn lover like you. Go watch “A Night in Paris”. That’s YOUR kind of Oscar-worthy movie.

    In the meanwhile, we millions of fans will cntinue enjoying LOTR and whatever else comes in the franchise(Hobbit, anyone?).

  16. Euryclea says:

    I totally agree with Felix. I’m a huge fan of Tolkien’s body of work, but I found the adaption to be dreadful. It was full of hammy acting (save Sean Bean and Gollum), the ugliest CGI I have seen in a long time, and I can’t stress this enough. It looked as if the visuals were taken out of a bad video game. The pacing wasn’t good, the dialogue sounded stilted. Plus it was full of Heroic-Fantasy cliches, I’m still laughing at the depiction of Queen Galadriel’s lorien, straight from a cheesy 70′s poster, not to mention The Shire. To add insult to the injury, the soundtrack was just as bad and cheesy as the visuals. I’ll bet that this movie will be very dated in a decade or two. I know the filmmakers had good intentions, but the outcome is just bad.

    I know lots of fans are going to be offended, but I’m pretty sure that when most of you will look at this trilogy in a few years time, they’ll realise what a stinker this was, just like the new Star Wars Trilogy.

  17. a random guy says:

    No matter how many people like LOTR, it will never be a FACT that it’s a good movie (So please stop shouting it off as though it is). It’s still your opinion, and everyone is entitled to their own opinion. And just because someone doesn’t like LOTR that doesn’t mean you should insult that person. That just makes you look like an ass. Taste is all subjective, including the reasons for it and against it at that.

    The main point of all of this is, is please don’t let your love for something turn you into something that you (Hopefully) are not.

    Just trying to spread some common sense here that millions of people need to get.

  18. joe says:

    You sir, are an idiot.

  19. scott says:

    1. Felix is just wanting to be noticed. And 20 bucks says that for all the posts against LotR, is Felix himself, trying to make himself feel better.

    Go LotR!!! It’s 1 million to 1 Felix.

  20. a fantasy writer says:

    Everyone is entitled to their own opinion and at least this was amusing to read…

    However, one must remember that the reason that this series seems cliched to the modern reader is that Tolkien was one of the first to write a modern fantasy epic… Meaning, in essence, every work in fantasy written since then is a rip off of Tolkien. Therefore, everything is going to be snapped up by the not so great authors and made into horrible cliches…

    The reason that there is the cliche of the clean and white versus dark and dirty was because Tolkien used it before it was cliched, but it became cliched because so many after him tried to use it. It is fairly easy to become prejudiced against common works of modern authors and then read LOTR and scoff at it as another of the poorly written rip offs, when it is actually the original. I read LOTR when I was nine and loved it to death, wearing out my copies within a few years. Then I matured and am currently working on a trilogy of my own. I went back to reread the works of Tolkien, the idol of my youth and was frankly disappointed in what I had remembered as so great. But I still love them and reread them often, as they are still a compelling story, no matter how cliched the characters are by this time.

    I also was put off by the beginning sequence of the movies, as it looked more like a cheap Sci Fi channel movie than a multi million dollar epic. I did not like Elijah Wood or Orlando Bloom’s performances, being somewhat biased against them as man candy. However, the characters of Gandalf and Gollum were played to the hilt by their respective actors; the scene in which Gollum and Smeagol converse in the Two Towers being the best scene in the entire movie with minimal cast and an animated character.

    However, Felix is, again, entitled to his opinion. Peter Jackson remained true to the books, while the books were the original fantasy epic. Nearly every cliche he mentions came about because of repeats of Tolkien…

    When will books be based on originality instead of ripoffs and there will be decent reviews instead of bold letters screaming “THE NEXT TOLKIEN!!!” The originals cannot be topped…

  21. oli says:

    Felix sucks. LoTR is a great movie. Did you even bother to see the easter eggs in the DVDs before you wrote the article

  22. AliseLBlanc says:

    What a cheesy stupid bloated disgusting blog! You ought to be ashamed of yourself! Comment boiteux peut-il obtenir?

  23. Aditya says:

    Felix sucks! LOTR is the greatest trilogy ever made in the history of cinema. The trilogy is fully faithful to the work of Tolkien.

  24. masticore says:

    Dude. I totally agree with you. LOTR sucks big time..
    It’s just 9 hours of fucking CGI orcs armies bashing your senses.
    But everybody loves them for some reason. only characters that have a little identity is gandalv and saurmann. There’s no dialog.
    frodo is the worst character ever..

    and too you lotr worshipers. i recommend you watch it again. it’s hyped.
    If you don’t hate the last hour of movie 3, your retarded.
    it’s just crappy goodbyes/and tears..

    If your argument is 12 oscar = good movie. i have to reminde you
    Dances with wolves=7oscar
    Titanic=11Oscar.
    Crappy movies always win the Oscar.

  25. Lloyd says:

    If at least one person in the world found that LOTR sucked, then it means that LOTR sucked. As for me, LOTR really sucked. I am perplexed how such boring movie got Oscars. Must be that in 2003 there were no good movies.

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