Jump to content
Guest

The Lord of the Rings Trilogy

Which Lord of the Rings film is best?  

79 members have voted

You do not have permission to vote in this poll, or see the poll results. Please sign in or register to vote in this poll.

Recommended Posts

I realize I was excessively melodramatic myself in acting like no one ever questions these films. I think a lot of people have been doing so, with the passage of time and gaining more perspective.

On the popular level, though, I don't think their star has fallen much if at all. They seem to be untouchable classics in many circles of the geek/nerd crowd, which has gained quite a lot of cultural power in the last couple decades. (Perhaps these films played a part in that, come to think of it.)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Rushmore wrote:
: It's strange to me that Peter Jackson's Hobbit movies are so widely derided and mocked while The Lord of the Rings is lauded to the skies, even though all the elements that made The Hobbit: Gilding the Dragon so ridiculous are present in Lord of the Rings too - to a lesser degree, usually, but very clearly present.

I dunno, I've rewatched the LotR trilogy twice in recent years, both times with my kids, and I've been pleasantly surprised that it all holds together (with The Two Towers being the weakest link in the chain, due to the changes that were made to three significant supporting characters) after the debacle that was the Hobbit trilogy (which I am *not* showing to my kids).

I certainly agree that the *seeds* of what made the Hobbit movies so bad are there in the LotR trilogy -- and indeed, the fact that the extended version of The Return of the King is the first extended version that makes the movie *worse* indicates the trajectory that the franchise as a whole was on -- but I still find a lot to like in the trilogy.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On 8/24/2018 at 2:27 PM, Rushmore said:

It's strange to me that Peter Jackson's Hobbit movies are so widely derided and mocked while The Lord of the Rings is lauded to the skies, even though all the elements that made The Hobbit: Gilding the Dragon so ridiculous are present in Lord of the Rings too - to a lesser degree, usually, but very clearly present. The same excessive melodrama, which tries to heighten the tension of every scene so much that the dramatic arc is more like a dramatic flat line at the shrillest possible level. The same drunken camera movement. The same outrageous stunts with no regard for their emotional appropriateness. The same corny, overdone action and fight scenes in places where there's no good reason for an action scene at all. The same general bad taste.

These. Are. Not. Good. Movies.

Yes, there is much that is silly and distracting in these films that I wish had been left out. But I still think that the films hold up overall. They just do so much so well—the action, the charm, the detail, as mentioned. I rewatched the LotR trilogy around the years that The Hobbit: An Unconscionable Jumble, The Desolation of Special Effects, The Battle of Five Hours Too Long films came out, and my reaction was more so that Jackson had showed restraint (!) with the original trilogy by reigning in the excesses of his filmmaking style, which he used well in service of the stories. The reverse was more true in the Hobbit films, which along with the decision to present them as prequels turned the films into bloated fan fic drek.

I was a devotee of the LotR books (call me a nerd if you like) in high school when the original trilogy came out. I had many, many criticisms of the film when they came out, but I’ve always been able to compartmentalize them. It boils down, for me, to the fact that they are still pretty good adaptations of books that I love. The same cannot be said of the Hobbit films. I thought that Return was the weakest, in part because it’s the worst adaptation, and Fellowship the best on its own merits, and it makes by far the fewest blunders in character development and story plotting, but also because it’s easily the best adaptation (also the easiest to adapt).

On 8/29/2018 at 6:02 AM, Peter T Chattaway said:

with The Two Towers being the weakest link in the chain, due to the changes that were made to three significant supporting characters

Treebeard, check, whose wisdom and patience is traded for some phony feel-good Hobbit heroics.

Faramir, check, whose understanding, goodness, gentleness, and self-control are traded for thinner, inferior characterization and a pointless diversion that eats up screen time.

These indeed are hard to forgive.

The third?

 

My takeaway from my most recent rewatch was simply how long they are! Since becoming a parent, I hardly have the time/energy for a 2 hour film in one sitting. And the camera movements felt kind of dated. My film tastes have matured even since then though, so on next rewatch, who knows? Probably won’t be for a long time.

The Filmspotting podcast recently did a good and, yes, largely positive retrospective of the LotR trilogy, including a Top 5 scenes. https://www.filmspotting.net/episodes-archive/2018/5/17/681-lord-of-the-rings

 

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Rob Z wrote:
: Treebeard, check, whose wisdom and patience is traded for some phony feel-good Hobbit heroics.
: Faramir, check, whose understanding, goodness, gentleness, and self-control are traded for thinner, inferior characterization and a pointless diversion that eats up screen time.
: These indeed are hard to forgive.
: The third? 

Theoden, who I gather was not as defeatist in the novel as he is in the film.

I believe it was Darren H who pointed out, back when The Two Towers first came out, that all three of the parallel storylines in that film had been modified to produce a "last-minute change of heart", or some such thing. Thus, the Entmoot decides *against* getting involved in the war,  rather than *in favour* of it, so that Treebeard can have a sudden (and hasty!) change of heart when he sees all the tree stumps. And thus, Faramir decides to *take* Frodo and the Ring, rather than let them go, so that he can have a sudden change of heart and let them go after all. And thus, Theoden is all defeatist doom-and-gloom until finally he decides to ride out into battle at the end, just before Eomer arrives with Gandalf.

Some fans were upset simply because the characters had been changed, period. For me, the changes make The Two Towers the weakest film in the trilogy (on a narrative level; the film does have some of the best images, moments, etc. in the whole trilogy) because they don't make any *narrative* sense. And the expanded version of the film -- which tells us that the trees talk to each other -- makes even *less* sense. Why would Treebeard not know about the devastation of the forest, if the trees have been communicating with each other and Treebeard himself is in constant touch with the trees? And when he sends out his call to war, suddenly all these Ents start walking out of the forest, and... we're supposed to believe they were all walking or standing right by the edge of the devastation, but none of them had *noticed* the devastation yet? And the Faramir thing is just... weird. Faramir actually sees Frodo *almost* surrender the Ring to a Ringwraith, and then he *lets Frodo go*, knowing that Frodo is going deeper into Ringwraith territory, because "we understand one another", or something? The decision makes no sense without the novel's characterization of Faramir as a man of principle, etc. -- characterization that the films omit pretty much entirely.

And those diversions are typical of narrative changes that appear *elsewhere* in the trilogy, too; there is a constant tendency to throw the characters off-course only to put them back on-course again, whether it's Frodo sending Sam away (after Gollum tricks Frodo into thinking Sam ate all the food) or Arwen being sent to the ships until she has her vision of Older Aragorn with Child. Instead of a story that is always pointing forwards, albeit sometimes at different angles, we have a story that is constantly looping back in on itself -- the linear path was obvious from the start (as it was in the books), then for some reason the characters go off that path, and then the characters retrace their steps and go *back* to the path (because the filmmakers didn't want to change the story *too* much).

: My takeaway from my most recent rewatch was simply how long they are! Since becoming a parent, I hardly have the time/energy for a 2 hour film in one sitting.

One day you may be grateful for a film that will keep your kids busy for three hours rather than only two. :)

Edited by Peter T Chattaway

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Peter, you articulate my mind on these decisions in the films better than I could. That's a great insight about the shape/movement of the narrative as it moves forward, too.

15 hours ago, Peter T Chattaway said:

One day you may be grateful for a film that will keep your kids busy for three hours rather than only two. :)

Haha! Good point! My daughter is two, so Mister Rogers episodes are all we've given her so far!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I'm due for a rewatch, since my last viewing was in 2011. But I still have a major fondness these films and think they are a more significant achievement in sf/fantasy filmmaking than they are given credit for these days. However, Peter well-articulates the few reservations I have about them which are issues of characterization and agency that I see in a lot of fantasy/sf/comic book cinema.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now

×