So who saw LOTR?
December 20, 2001 1:26 AM   Subscribe

So who saw LOTR? What did you think of it? Were you thrilled like Harry Knowles? Or did you feel closer to Roger Ebert's 3 stars out of 4 review? I just saw it and was more disappointed than I thought I'd be...
posted by adrober (136 comments total)
One request: Print spoilers in font color="#006699" or don't say them at all. (I won't be seeing it until next week.)
posted by waxpancake at 1:39 AM on December 20, 2001

Peter Jackson's over-use of extreme closeups and wide angle lenses (that are so wide angle they are practically fisheye) really annoyed me, as did the Enya music. Other than that, I enjoyed it quite a bit.
posted by Potsy at 3:08 AM on December 20, 2001

I just did. Although I've never read the books and was familiar with story only through what I like to call "cultural osmosis", I thought the movie was visually stunning and the acting and amount of detail amazing. However, I thought the ending was a tad abupt and I think that reading the books would probably make for a much richer experience.

Now, when is someone going to make Clive Barker's "Imajica" into a movie? That would be wrad!
posted by black8 at 3:09 AM on December 20, 2001

Won't be able to see it before this week-end. And even then, I'm not even sure if I'll feel like rushing for a place... It would be available for probably more than three weeks, so I've got plenty of time to focus on presents and new-year's eve.
But that's only me. My gf wants to see it right away (she read the whole thing for the third time when she was 13 or something. I didn't even read it. All I know about fantsay is what lies in Terry Pratchett's books...).
So, we'll see.

But I'd agree with waxpancake, and would even go a bit further : please leave spoilers to LOTR fansites. Pleasepleasepleasepleaseplease.

On a side note, isn't it weird how many many many people who didn't read any LOTR book (like me), or even hardly knew anything about it before the movie announcement (the list goes on and on), are as eager as any Tolkien-fan to see it ? Hollywood hype, shall we say ?
I just hope the hype is justified.
posted by XiBe at 3:12 AM on December 20, 2001

I saw it last night and have absolutely no regrets. So often was I in awe at the film that little minor complaints that could be made seem trivial. The casting was superb, too. Did anyone else know who Sam was before he was introduced?
posted by revbrian at 3:17 AM on December 20, 2001

i had originally just went thinking it might be cool (i've never read the books.), not expecting the movie would be that good. "dude, it frickin' blew me away."

what was there not to like? crazy fools running like there's no tomorrow and every now and then stopping to kill a hojillion orcs, that elven archer guy being a complete bad-ass, some dude running around with three arrows in his chest and still fighting, and a host of a lot more ridiculous happenings.

it kicked willow's ass, to say the least.
posted by lotsofno at 3:58 AM on December 20, 2001

black8, I'd love to see the director who could pull that off without turning it into the fantasy version of 'Lexx'.
posted by darukaru at 4:04 AM on December 20, 2001

From Roger Ebert's review: If the books are about brave little creatures who enlist powerful men and wizards to help them in a dangerous crusade, the movie is about powerful men and wizards who embark on a dangerous crusade, and take along the Hobbits.

Huh? I always got more of the second part from the book, myself. Less so in the second and third books, because the hobbits grow in stature throughout. I couldn't really credit the rest of his review after reading that. I'll form my own opinion after watching it though, as I always do.
posted by walrus at 5:07 AM on December 20, 2001

A complete geek for this stuff as a youngster, I went into the movie yesterday with some trepidation. The minute it started though, that all went away. It's really terrific and entertaining and faithful to the books. I suppose it helps to know the backstory pretty well, but when it ended, my first thought was "let's see the next one." I distinctly remember the first time I read the trilogy, putting down the Fellowship and picking up the Two Towers all in one motion. I loved it, but perhaps I'm not so far from 12 years old after all...
posted by coudal at 5:29 AM on December 20, 2001

Don't know if you care, but here in France it broke France's all time First Day record thinggy (Yahoo France link), with 11750 people on its first day (yeah, we're a small country).
Incidentally, the previous winner was Harry Potter, two weeks before. There goes French cinema...
posted by XiBe at 5:29 AM on December 20, 2001

Just had to post this review... (no spoilers) ;-)
posted by bifter at 5:32 AM on December 20, 2001

Was it just me, or was there a half-hour between the appearance of Boromir and the revelation of his name?
posted by NortonDC at 5:47 AM on December 20, 2001

Thank you bifter for the laugh.
posted by revbrian at 5:49 AM on December 20, 2001

11,750 people on its first day (yeah, we're a small country)

Small country, indeed. My high school had just over 5,000 people when I graduated in '86.
posted by warhol at 5:51 AM on December 20, 2001

Would 5 out of 6 people really rate LOTR a 10? I think we may have just a wee bit of vote stuffing occurring.
posted by mischief at 6:05 AM on December 20, 2001

I really liked it for all the same reasons we all keep hearing about. My only complaints were that it was a bit long -- I could've done with maybe one less battle sequence just to move things along faster. Oh, and I got tired of all the extreme close-ups of Frodo's over-emoting face.... but there was a whole row of 13 year old girls in front of me that couldn't get enough, so I guess someone knows what they're doing.
posted by spilon at 6:08 AM on December 20, 2001

I think the best article that I read about the movie is from the NY Times. My favorite quote:

"Mr. Jackson apparently feels that the way to keep each of the fighting groups separate in the audience's minds is to provide them with hairstyles reminiscent of 1970's bands. The hobbits all have heads of tossled curls — they're like members of Peter Frampton's group. Aragorn and Boromir have the long, unwashed bushes of Aerosmith, and the flaxen-maned Legolas has the fallen-angel look of one of the Allman Brothers. (The tubby, bilious and bearded Gimli could be a roadie for any of them.) "Fellowship" plays like a sword-and-sorcery epic produced by VH-1. Together, they rock against the forces of Sauron — the evil wizard who created the Ring that Frodo holds. They have to pass through a cavernous passageway to fight through the assortment of nightmare creatures that Sauron sends to stop them."
posted by warhol at 6:08 AM on December 20, 2001

It was a 10 for me. I took the day off yesterday to catch the first matinee with my dad. I've loved the books since I was a wee little kid and went into the movie with a fair bit of trepidation, mainly based on what I'd read of Jackson's changes, but also the basic fear that nobody could possibly touch the world that exists in my imagination.

I shouldn't have worried... when it was over, I walked out speechless and teary-eyed and couldn't be more impressed. Can't wait to see it again and again.
posted by kittyb at 6:18 AM on December 20, 2001

I saw it on a whim in the village's theater (all of the college students have gone home for break, so it wasn't full). Enjoyed it quite a bit, far more than the books--I'm one of the "can't get through the blasted things" contingent--although I suspect that Jackson did reduce things down to an action-movie denominator. Most of the visuals were quite stunning, although a couple of beasties were too obviously computer-generated. The actors were all quite fine, given what they had, especially Ian McKellen as an alternately twinkly and authoritative Gandalf.
posted by thomas j wise at 6:20 AM on December 20, 2001

I saw it and loved it. I was delighted. The changes made to translate the story from print to the screen were understandable, and the overall experience was very true to the books. As far as I'm concerned, the movie was *that* good.

I've read the books significantly in excess of 100 times, and I must confess that I was a bit apprehensive that the film would change too much. I love the books not because they are about Elves and Wizards and Hobbits, but because Tolkien's love for the English language shines from every page. His choice and arrangement of words make the book a work of art in the highest degree--rather like perfection and beauty of a Japanese garden. It's true that some of my favorite lines from the book didn't make it into the film, but enough of them did to make the film nearly as good an experience as the book. My only regret is that they cut the vast majority of the poems and songs. I would have loved to hear Legolas' voice choke with emotion as he sang of Nimrodel and Amroth when the fellowship crossed into Lorien.
posted by CalvinTheBold at 6:36 AM on December 20, 2001

Would 5 out of 6 people really rate LOTR a 10? I think we may have just a wee bit of vote stuffing occurring.

Doubtless some stuffing going on, but its a 10 for me too, and the reviews across the board are incredibly positive, Eberts an exception with this lukewarm positive, he's certainly one of the only ones that thought Harry Potter was better.

That Elvis Mitchell Times review is right about the haircuts, though. :)

The only problems with the movie were problems with the books, and Jackson even fixed some of those.
posted by malphigian at 6:40 AM on December 20, 2001

Is it true that that all 3 parts of the LOTR were shot simultaneously? I've been hearing that for quite a bit now. Is that why the budget for the film is that high (close to $200 mil. the last I heard).

I hope to get a chance to see it this weekend.
posted by Rastafari at 6:41 AM on December 20, 2001

. I would have loved to hear Legolas' voice choke with emotion as he sang of Nimrodel and Amroth when the fellowship crossed into Lorien.

Oh wow. You're probably a part of an EXTREME minority who miss the unending poetry and song from the book.
posted by glenwood at 6:43 AM on December 20, 2001

Mediocre. For people who read the book - there were significant and annoying "happy" plot changes at the end of the film that were not in the book. For people who have NOT read the book - it was not too compelling and 3 hours is rather long for what was essentially bits of dialogue between repetitious fighting scenes.
posted by fleener at 6:45 AM on December 20, 2001

Is it true that that all 3 parts of the LOTR were shot simultaneously? I've been hearing that for quite a bit now. Is that why the budget for the film is that high (close to $200 mil. the last I heard).

Yes, I believe all three parts were filmed at once with the intention of releasing parts two & three around Christmas 2002 & 2003, respectively. Now that the movie's doing well it seems like a great plan, but can you imagine the flak they'd be getting if the first movie had tanked?
posted by zempf at 6:48 AM on December 20, 2001

For people who read the book - there were significant and annoying "happy" plot changes at the end of the film that were not in the book.

Having read the book dozens of times, and seen the movie, I have to say I have no clue what you are talking about, the only plot change towards the end wasn't happy at all, and I think added depth to Aragorn's character.
posted by malphigian at 6:54 AM on December 20, 2001

Huh. When Frodo decides to leave, he doesn't tell anyone. He just goes. The Fellowship figures out he has left by noticing all of his gear is gone, e.g., he wasn't killed. This impacts why the fellowship doesn't follow him and changes character motivations.

There are a number of other plot tweaks that change character motivations or are introduced for sappy/happy reasons (the conversation between the two humans before one dies never took place, for example).

I understand and appreciate that movies must be told differently than books. But changing character motivation is unforgiveable. I'd much rather an aspect of a character's motives go unexplained, rather than fabricating a more convenient reason... as was done so much in this movie.

The film needed much more character development beyond Frodo and Gandalf. After they leave the shire the development virtually stops and is replaced by endearing fill-the-screen face shots. Too bad this Frodo only has one facial expression.
posted by fleener at 7:21 AM on December 20, 2001

Would 5 out of 6 people really rate LOTR a 10? I think we may have just a wee bit of vote stuffing occurring.

Proof. (in the form of attributed critical reviews as opposed to an internet poll.)
posted by eyeballkid at 7:23 AM on December 20, 2001

Of course Ebert wanted more prominence for the hobbits. He is a hobbit.
posted by prodigal at 7:23 AM on December 20, 2001

The landscape visuals were of course stunning. But too often they used multiple sweaping helicopter fly-bys which lacked any sort of substance. OK, we get that this is a magical and beautiful place. But that's not what supports a film. Let's get back to seeing the characters interact amid the landscape.
posted by fleener at 7:24 AM on December 20, 2001

(damn, it must be early. sorry for the repost)
posted by eyeballkid at 7:25 AM on December 20, 2001

The computer graphics were annoying at times... especially in scenes containing full-body shots of hobbits and humans. Too often the humans (especially Gandalf in the early part of the film) are looking down, but not directly at, the hobbits while talking to them. In one scene Frodo's body lighting is completely different from his CG surroundings. I love computer generated worlds, but if you make me notice them, it's like sticking me in the eye. I don't want to be reminded that it's all fake because of sloppy editing or camera angles.
posted by fleener at 7:27 AM on December 20, 2001

Hey fleener - why don't you just form your disapproval of the film into one long post that I can ignore, rather than sprinkling short quips here and there throughout the thread.

We get that you didn't like the film. You don't have to remind us every third post.
posted by dogmatic at 7:32 AM on December 20, 2001

As for me, I liked it.
posted by dogmatic at 7:32 AM on December 20, 2001

dogmatic, get over it. Each post addresses a different issue. I'm not whining. Just because you're ga ga over the film doesn't make my posts inappropriate. If you can't take criticism, don't discuss movies with people.
posted by fleener at 7:40 AM on December 20, 2001

Warhol : Small country, indeed. My high school had just over 5,000 people when I graduated in '86.

What ?
One of us did not understand what the other said =)
posted by XiBe at 7:42 AM on December 20, 2001

dogmatic: He's telling us why he didn't like the film. It's not like he's saying "FotR sucks!" every third post. If you don't want to read any criticism, this probably isn't the place.

As for me, I thought it was overall a really good film. I had a couple problems with it though. The major one being the battle scenes. Almost all of them were cut way too quickly. I found it extremely disorienting. It would've been nice to be able to tell exactly what was going on.
posted by ODiV at 7:43 AM on December 20, 2001

I loved it, although a good editor was sorely needed. I would have cut the time in rivendale to about a third of what it was.
posted by Mick at 7:44 AM on December 20, 2001

[...part of an EXTREME minority who miss the unending poetry and song from the book.]

I don't think anyone wanted as much poetry and singing as the books but it would have been nice to at least put "All that is gold does not glitter..." in there considering how important Aragorn becomes. It's short, simple and easily rhymes don't think it would have added but a minute either.

Alot of times I noticed the characters singing the songs from the book as a scene changes away from them. For example Bilbo is singing his traveling song as he leaves BagEnd.

Definitely going to see this again this weekend as I spent too much time thinking about the minor changes to really get sucked into the movie for the first hour.

Just a question though -- At what age would you think this would be an appropriate movie? My seven year old would like to go but I'm not sure the ringwraiths won't keep him up nights. Maybe I'm being overprotective?
posted by revbrian at 7:48 AM on December 20, 2001

fleener -

Your thoughts could all be summarized in one long post. As far as I can tell, you're not responding to anyone else's posts or arguing against anyone (except obviously me), but yet you feel the need to be every third post with a different reason why you didn't like it.

I just don't understand why you think it's somehow more effective to separate your thoughts into non sequitors that are responding to little but thin air. If you have a beef and need to respond to other specific posters, please quote them so you know what you're responding to. But please don't use five different posts to make five different points when only one post is needed. No reason to flood the thread.
posted by dogmatic at 7:50 AM on December 20, 2001

...please quote them so we know who you're responding to...
posted by dogmatic at 7:52 AM on December 20, 2001

revbrian: The ringwraiths and the troll are pretty frightening. I think the fact that it's 3 hours long would also pose a problem. I've noticed people are a lot less forgiving in the theatre when it comes to this movie (not that I really mind). Can your kid stay quiet throughout? If not, you're bound to get some stares and angry comments.
posted by ODiV at 7:53 AM on December 20, 2001

I haven't seen it yet, but I'm surprised at how positively it's being received. I practically know the trilogy by heart, and while I doubt any movie could do it justice, now I'm intrigued enough to check it out, though after the disaster that was made out of Dune I thought a film version of LOTR could be even worse.
posted by StOne at 7:58 AM on December 20, 2001

"If the books are about brave little creatures who enlist powerful men and wizards to help them in a dangerous crusade, the movie is about powerful men and wizards who embark on a dangerous crusade, and take along the Hobbits." - Ebert

Errr... Roger... The Book IS about powerful men and wizards who embark on a dangerous crusade, and take along the Hobbits, None of which especially wanted to go. Lay off the fatty foods, and try reading something before reffing it. ~Sheesh~
posted by Perigee at 8:04 AM on December 20, 2001

revbrian: . . . but I'm not sure the ringwraiths won't keep him up nights.

The ringwraiths, the troll, and even the Balrog weren't nearly as scary as the Eye of Sauron: definitely some terrifying moments there, made me jump in my seat. And this is the least intense volume of the trilogy!

dogmatic: . . . but yet you feel the need to be every third post with a different reason why you didn't like it.

fleener may be getting negative responses to his posting style because it might lead to the impression that more people had problems with the film, rather than just one person posting on multiple themes. Nothing inherently wrong with the posting style, just that it can rub people the wrong way, as in, you've had your say, now what?

ODiV: Can your kid stay quiet throughout? If not, you're bound to get some stares and angry comments.

I was surrounded in the (sold-out) theatre by teenagers who wouldn't STFU, and a trio of geekish (RPG, comic) people who decided to have a domestic argument as the movie was starting. Small children have no monoply there.

Mick: I would have cut the time in rivendale to about a third of what it was.

I wanted more Lothlórien, myself, but felt the time spent in Rivendell was appropriate.

I'm still trying to piece it all together in my head, so I may post later on this. All I can say for the moment that it's different from the books and in some ways improves upon them (especially in re character development: characters more emotional, motivations clearer), is visually astonishing, and just generally knocked my brain over and prevents me from being coherent about it. Loved it.
posted by mcwetboy at 8:06 AM on December 20, 2001

I saw a special 'midnight showing' of it on Tuesday night/Wednesday morning.

The timeline was a bit skewed, you get the impression that everything happens within a matter of days, even though it took, what, 9 years between the time Bilbo left and Frodo decided to leave?

I did enjoy the movie, however, it was very visually appealing.

On a side note (don't think anyone's mentioned this yet), the leader dude of Elron is played by the guy who was the leader agent in the Matrix.

"You must protect the ring, Mr. Anderson..."
posted by schlaager at 8:07 AM on December 20, 2001

[Can your kid stay quiet throughout? If not, you're bound to get some stares and angry comments.]

No problems there. I would be the person with the least amount of patience for that anyway.
posted by revbrian at 8:17 AM on December 20, 2001

i am presently re-reading the trilogy, so that i can make these kind of observations at my leisure.
one thing that strikes me about the book, is that singing is GOOD. a person who sings to you is a good-person, a situation where you don't feel like singing is a very bad situation.
i imagine that this does not translate well into the film.
posted by asok at 8:19 AM on December 20, 2001

The film was terrific. It had its minor flaws (I felt Jackson's elvish stuff was rather soft-lighting sappy), but on the whole: a sweeping, moving, intense story, with vivid characters - well casted/depicted - and tremendous production quality.

It wasn't superior to the book, but who expected it to be? It certainly did the book proud, and is among the best film adaptations of a novel that I've viewed.

Overall, The Fellowship of the Ring is the best adventure movie I've ever seen.

(...and it kicks Star Wars' ass!)
posted by Marquis at 8:24 AM on December 20, 2001

lol schlaager - that Mr. Anderson thing nailed me too.

I saw the movie Tuesday at 12:01, and i did enjoy it :) I knew it was going to be a lot different from the books, and tried to just engage it as "some fantasy movie that was released"... and while that was hard to do once the familiarity of all the characters came on the screen, i didnt let the differences between book and movie to ruin it for me.

To be nitpicky, some scenes seemed a tad over dramatic to me, and i am not talking about the ones that needed to be, (i.e. boromir's last stand, gandalf vs balrog, etc) just some other random parts that seemed a little too drippy. The matrix guy seemed believable to me only in his flashback scenes, the other times he was just too familiar and i couldnt see Elron there... I also thought that the pace of the movie felt rushed a bit, but i really dont know how one could get around it aside from making a 12 hour show...

The actors were great i felt - that guy who played Legolas was amazing - and the sets and scenery was just jaw-dropping. was a fun show - i liked how they added the little bits of humor to the characters a lot. would definitely recommend it and definitely see it again :)
posted by skinjob at 8:30 AM on December 20, 2001

At what age would you think this would be an appropriate movie?

10 to 12, depending on the kid's tolerance for scary stuff. The troll is mostly jump-out-at-you scary (made me jump), but the ringwraiths and the eye are actually the stuff of nightmares.

The movie, BTW, was very, very good. I'm still not sure what I actually think about it, but the fact that my friends and I are still arguing over scenes and characterizations a day later makes me suspect that it's a keeper.
posted by feckless at 8:39 AM on December 20, 2001

I agree that the changes actually improved the book (I abhor spoilers, so I won't go into detail). Since film is a different medium, there can be no such thing as a "faithful" adaptation in the first place -- you're always dealing with an interpretation, and Peter Jackson's is a very, very good one. His LotR makes for a thrilling movie, and it lets me see a old childhood favorite in new ways. He adds to the Middle-Earth of my imagination rather than take away. Can't wait to go again.
posted by muckster at 8:40 AM on December 20, 2001

Marquis is right that it kicks Star Wars's ass, and it positively beats the shit out of Harry Potter. That said, I still have to make it clear that I liked FOTR, because (as is clear if you search my previous comments) I've already made a point of saying how disappointed I was in HP and, despite my own love for it, I can see that SW is really a pretty weak movie.

But to FOTR, very solid, engrossing, a couple good gotcha moments, internally consistent, mostly very good effects (with just a few that are distracting).

Now, I still want to know if my recollection that the movie takes half an hour to tell us Boromir's name after we meet him is accurate. Anybody?

(Ocean's 11 was a lot of fun, too, but with that one it's all line delivery and the subtle touches.)
posted by NortonDC at 8:44 AM on December 20, 2001

revbrian: My boyfriend took his kindergarten-aged daughter after carefully prepping her with the Rankin-Bass and Bakshi Tolkien stuff, and showing her the online trailers and pictures and even playing "Arwen Being Chased By Ringwraiths" with her on the walks back from the bus stop over the past week. He saw the movie at a midnight showing before he took her yesterday afternoon, and so was able to lean over and tell her when something spooky was coming. She's an odd child (her father's child, indeed) who loves the thrill of being scared at movies, and she loved Fellowship. She was also quietly enthralled for most of the movie, except when she yelped along with the rest of the audience during a couple of "boo!" spots.

On the other hand, I have a friend who wouldn't dream of exposing her 10-year-old Tolkien-aware daughter to something rated PG-13.

So I guess it depends on the kid. I'd sure try to bring him if he's interested. It's too nifty to miss on the big screen. IMHO, of course.
posted by kittyb at 8:45 AM on December 20, 2001

I fricking loved it. I reread FotR over the summer in anticipation of the movie (I'm not a huge Tolkien fan, but I made my way through about half of the trilogy when I was ten, so I wanted to see the movie) and thought the movie did a good job of adapting the book. Then I came home and reread the ending of FotR and thought "Wow, the movie is a lot different." But still, really good.

The ONLY part I didn't like, that I wasn't quite forgiving about, was the CGI effects with Galadriel. They weren't necessary and made me feel like I was suddenly jerked out of being a part of the movie to just watching something on the screen.

As for a lag between Boromir showing up and them announcing his name, I didn't notice one. They said his name as soon as he had dialogue in the counsel of Elrond.

At any rate, this is easily the most beautiful movie I've ever seen.
posted by annathea at 8:46 AM on December 20, 2001

dogmatic, some people prefer that subjects be separated, instead of being thrown into one long, rambling post.

At what age would you think this would be an appropriate movie?

Depends on how much violence you've already exposed your child to. I would wait until around 12 or 13 years of age. Also, a younger child could be easily bored or scared and isn't mentally developed enough to absorb most of the subtext/meaning.

fleener may be getting negative responses to his posting style because

Sometimes when people love a film, they overreact to criticism of it.
posted by fleener at 8:49 AM on December 20, 2001

This is definitely not a film for small kiddies. I did have a minor-league nightmare after watching it, and I'm thirty. (Worth it, though.) I found some of the creepy smaller effects scarier than the big CGI creatures, actually. The Ringwraiths are pretty spooky.

I agree that the editing in the battle scenes was too choppy (no pun intended), although there is less gore than I was led to expect from the reviews--the heads fly so fast that you almost miss them :)
posted by thomas j wise at 8:49 AM on December 20, 2001

Was I the only one who saw this movie in a theater that was only 10% full? I completely expected it to be packed, so I arrived a half hour early. Where were all the geeks?

But my favorite line from the movie was "I know it was you, Frodo. You broke my heart. You broke my heart."
posted by iracane at 8:51 AM on December 20, 2001

it took, what, 9 years between the time Bilbo left and Frodo decided to leave?

It more like 17 years.
posted by iceberg273 at 8:56 AM on December 20, 2001

My wife & I have been waiting anxiously for the last year. We were not disappointed. I think it was plenty nice that they paid physical attention to the scenes that they had to skip over (the elven cloaks, and pins). I had been wondering how the Hobbit backstory would be handled, and was pleased with the solution. I will probably see it again after the winter holidays.
posted by thirteen at 8:56 AM on December 20, 2001

The ONLY part I didn't like, that I wasn't quite forgiving about, was the CGI effects with Galadriel.
There was a similar scene with Bilbo. I really liked both, and thought they gave the ring a greater power over those it came into contact with than the book was able to convey. I can see why you did not ike it, but I don't think it was a completely useless effect.
posted by thirteen at 9:01 AM on December 20, 2001

Weren't Merry & Pippin's characters a bit better-developed in the book? Or am I just thinking ahead to The Two Towers and the Return of the King? I thought the Nazgul scenes were chilling -- extremely well-done, sending me straight back to the time I was 11 years old and couldn't put the books down. I'd forgotten, however, that Frodo was such a damsel-in-distress type throughout. And what, no Tom Bombadil? Fine by me, but my dad will be so disappointed when he sees it. All the heroes were very easy on the eyes. Flawless casting. I'm going to see it again and I'm very much looking forward to the next installment.
posted by Vacaloca at 9:09 AM on December 20, 2001

thirteen, I thought those effects were excellent. There's a similar moment early on with Gandalf. They're risky, and that's why I like them. It's Jackson showing off, and for me it worked. It sets the rules for the movie -- that things can go wild at any moment. It heightens the sense of magic and wonderment, I suppose. It's the kind of thing that sets this movie apart from the literal-minded, flat, and meek "Harry Potter."
posted by muckster at 9:12 AM on December 20, 2001

I thought the movie was great. It followed through on its considerable ambitions.

I have a question about it, though: What was that super-orc thing they dug out of the ground? The one that you-knowed the guy when the you-know-what happened.
posted by kingjeff at 10:11 AM on December 20, 2001

vacaloca - I was fairly glad Tom Bombadil wasn't in the movie. It's been a long time since I've read the books, but what does he do, sing and skip in his green leotards and yellow shoes, rescue hobbits, skip back out?
posted by Tacodog at 10:24 AM on December 20, 2001

A friend of mine sent me his crit of LOTR via email and I got a good laugh out of it. A few of my favorite quotes from said email:

+ it made me want to shave. too much hair everywhere. even had a dream about shaving last night.
+ how does middle earth survive, when apparently 95% of the population is male?
+ several times i kept thinking, damn they are so lucky. they must have rolled a 1 on a 10d10 to make a saving throw like that.

posted by mosspink at 10:30 AM on December 20, 2001

I heard a guy in front of me yesterday say, after the credits began rolling... "I want to play an elf!" (i'll admit to the same feeling.)

really, really enjoyed it. I avoided re-reading the book beforehand so I wouldn't feel too picky, which I think helped.

didn't realize that Elron was the guy from the Matrix until the middle of the big council scene - I thought he was great, despite that weird mental echo. a friend reminded me last night that he was also the protagonist in Priscilla, Queen of the Desert.

ian m. was wonderful/perfect. that's some range he's got. frodo was just adorable, which I'm sure will be heart-breaking as the series goes on.

the music, on the other hand, yipes! way, way too manipulative.

still, I'm glad I saw it (at the seattle cinerama, not the crazy midnight show, but the noon show), and I imagine I'll see it again, and I'm sort of thinking of digging out my father's copy of the series and re-reading it. (I really, really, really wish he'd been alive for this. he would have loved it.)

oh, and I'm going to be counting down to the next one. :)
posted by epersonae at 10:43 AM on December 20, 2001

pardon me, that would be Elrond.
posted by epersonae at 10:46 AM on December 20, 2001

Elron, the OTIII elf, here to clear you and write hideous Sci-Fi novels for Travolta to make even worse movies out of. Now that would have been scary!
posted by NortonDC at 10:51 AM on December 20, 2001

The ONLY part I didn't like, that I wasn't quite forgiving about, was the CGI effects with Galadriel.

Agreed. Up to that point I thought they had done a clever job of portraying how fricking scary Galadriel is despite her being one of the Good Guys. You know who wears the pants in that royal family. But then they smashed subtlety with the hammer of CGI.

I just hope that people who haven't read the books can appreciate it as much as a Tolkien geek -- despite the fact that I'd give it a 10 out of 10, and that I didn't miss Tom Bombadil, the endless mushroom-eating, beer and hot bath scenes, or the singing and bad poetry one little bit -- I couldn't help but feel that the story was dumbed down for the cinema.
posted by Foosnark at 10:58 AM on December 20, 2001

Tacodog: Although I mentioned this in another MeFi LotR thread, Tom Bombadil I find to be one of the most interesting characters. Why? Well, if you remember he put the One Ring on and it did *nothing* to him. A ring that Gandalf the Grey won't even touch and severely tempts the Queen of the Elves. Later at the Council, when they're assembling the Fellowship, someone asks why they don't just give the ring to Tom Bombadil. They reply with words to the effect of, "He wouldn't care about it." That's a pretty powerful character (one who was "there before the mountains") and probably precisely why they left him out. It would have diluted the power of the Ring early on and left audiences confused about just how much power it had.
posted by robbie01 at 11:07 AM on December 20, 2001

robbie01, hmm, I don't recall that one bit. Then again, the last time I read the books I was still in short pants. Gonna head to the library and check out a copy, if available. Thanks dood, now I gotta start reeding and book learnin'.
posted by Tacodog at 11:18 AM on December 20, 2001

one thing i was concerned about seeing was the death of boromir--his momentary fall for the ring and his redemption--and i thought those scenes were Great. Piles of orcs surrounding him...if you watched that scene closely, the whole forest around him is covered with bodies.

The spooky bilbo, spooky galadriel, spooky gandolf moments were great. Shows the power of the ring...same with all the frodo close-ups, jackson is just trying to show that frodo feels the pull of the ring constantly, it is always on the verge of overpowering him. Frankly, for the non-LOTR readers...i think it was needed. One part -no spoilers- made my fiance jump. That was priceless.

need to go see it again.
posted by th3ph17 at 11:21 AM on December 20, 2001

I just now returned from seing the film. I found it rich, appealing, engrossing and evocative. It was frightening where it should have been, comic in appropriate doses, well-acted, beautifully set and modified enough to keep my interest ("Oh, so that's how they're going to explain that.") My quibbles with the film, as others have said, are minimal and not worth discussing here. We will see what kind of staying power it has, but it's the best story I've seen in film in years.
posted by Mo Nickels at 11:27 AM on December 20, 2001

You know that old cliche, "the movie on the screen can never be as good as the images conjured in the reader's head"? I used to believe it myself, but after seeing LotR last night, I'm going to have to insist on a Peter Jackson exception to that rule.
posted by whuppy at 11:27 AM on December 20, 2001

Also, after you're done re-reading the trilogy, be sure to check out Bad Taste, Meet the Feebles, Heavenly Creatures, and The Frighteners.
posted by whuppy at 11:31 AM on December 20, 2001

And Dead/Alive!! (How could I forget that?!?)
posted by whuppy at 11:33 AM on December 20, 2001

I alsos like the movie very much, even though I entered it with a bit of trepidation. One thing that really didn't sit well with me (and hasn't been mentioned here yet) is that Elrond came off as a bit bitter rather than world-weary and wise. Maybe it's just me.
posted by trox at 11:36 AM on December 20, 2001

Another 10 from me. Absolutely loved it. The Isuldur scenes blew me away and the big eye scared the milk duds right out of me. Sir Ian lived up where I thought he might let down (as he did with Magneto).

...and I think fleener is entitled to participate in this thread, dogmatic. As are we all.
posted by scarabic at 11:39 AM on December 20, 2001

kingjeff: the orc-thing that came out of the ground was one of the Uruk-Hai. In the books, it was suggested that Saruman may have crossed Men and Orcs to make them. One thing was consistent between the books and the film: the Uruks were much bigger and meaner than Orcs, and they did not fear the sun.

Robbie01: I'm certain that Tom Bombadil was left out due to time and story reasons. You can't have the encounter with Old Man Willow or the wight on the downs very well without him, and to add all those things would add at least another hour to the film. You are also right to say that, because of his great power, it would be difficult to explain him in the film. You may already know this, but if you check the descriptions of Aule and Yavanna in the Silmarillion against Tom Bombadil and Goldberry, there are many similarities. I think that connection makes for a good explanation of the ring's inability to affect Tom.

I've made up my mind to see this movie again tonight.
posted by CalvinTheBold at 11:56 AM on December 20, 2001

I saw it at midnight on Tuesday, and I couldn't stop grinning the next day. I saw it last night with a boatload of my buddies. We all turned on our Burger King goblets, filled with Lynchberg Lemonade (all smuggled in) and cheered a whole lot. And it wasn't the Jack talking.

And today, my team from work is taking a very long lunch to see it at The Bridge.

The people in my two previous groups who hadn't read the books liked it, though they were confused about characters and plot points (NortonDC was right about Boromir not being introduced until well after he'd shown up), but those were minor points. I had a few nitpickings, but I'm a 4th Level Tolkien Geek. I loved it.

And the DVD is gonna rock the free world. Deleted scenes ho!
posted by RakDaddy at 12:05 PM on December 20, 2001

I love computer generated worlds, but if you make me notice them, it's like sticking me in the eye. I don't want to be reminded that it's all fake because of sloppy editing or camera angles.
posted by holloway at 12:06 PM on December 20, 2001

I don't think it could have been done any better. Different, yes, but not better.

I too could have had a little more time in Lothlorien, mostly because I had imagined a place of mystery and wonder in the books and it seemed forced to me.

I find that, having not read the books in several years, I remember less than I should have. I'm gonna try reading it again before I go see it again. Was the confrontation between Gandalf and Saruman that way?

The wearing of the ring effect was a little over the top, but maybe to clarify the power and evil of the ring to the movie-goers that haven't read the book.

The thing with Galadriel was a bit too much also, I think would have been better had it been a little more understated.
posted by mutagen at 12:07 PM on December 20, 2001

I feel that Ebert's major criticism of the film, downplaying of the travel aspect, was misplaced. The old saying goes that a picture is worth a thousand words, and Jackson has used a thousand pictures to bring to life the thousands and thousands of words that Tolkien used to describe these wonderful places that the Hobbits visit. The depiction of the Shire was flawless, as were Bree and Weathertop and Moria. Each of these places had an amazingly distinct flavour to them both in the books and in the film. That's some masterful photography.

And as for the fight scenes and the horrible things that the hobbits run into... I reread the books over the summer, as many, I'm sure, did, and was absolutely struck by the almost Lovecraftian way that Tolkien describes the awful things that stalk the MiddleEarth nights. Though more noticeable in the later books, in particular in Shelob's lair or at the Road of the Dead, we can see such an idea of the horrible in the descriptions of Moria and the Balrog and the Ringwraiths.
posted by kaibutsu at 12:14 PM on December 20, 2001

Friggin loved it also. Only nit-pick was the score: I wish that instead of rousing Enya-strings and muddy opera chanting, there had been some sort of unifying musical theme. Not that the score was awful, and I thought Peter Jackson used it quite subtly; it was never overpowering. But stuff like the ET theme thrills me every time I hear it, and I feel like LOTR deserved a score as magical and instantly classic and recognizable.


- The cast. Excellent, every last one. Even Liv Tyler, as Arwen.
- The elves' language. Soooo beautiful. Does anyone know if they engineered it specifically for the movie, or if they just had linguists develop and verbalize Tolkien's written language? The language in general was great. Even things like "Sauron" were wonderful; I always thought it would be sore-on, but sour-on sounds so much better.

One question: what is up with Peter Jackson and blue eyes? Everyone had blue eyes. The blue-eye extreme closeup was probably the most repeated shot in the film.

Add me to the list of people happy they didn't include the songs. It may read just fine, but on screen? I don't think so.

Stephanie Zacharek's review on pretty much goes along with my feelings on the film. Go see it now, if you haven't!
posted by grrarrgh00 at 12:47 PM on December 20, 2001

Does anyone know if they engineered it specifically for the movie, or if they just had linguists develop and verbalize Tolkien's written language? The language in general was great. Even things like "Sauron" were wonderful; I always thought it would be sore-on, but sour-on sounds so much better.

The pronunciations are Tolkien's; there's an appendix in The Silmarillion that lays them all out. A few examples, by necessity off the top of my head since I don't have the book handy:

- au is always pronounced "ow", thus "Sour-on", not "Sore-on" (Sauron);
- c is always a hard c, thus "Keleborn", not "Seleborn" (Celeborn);
- dh is pronounced as a soft "th" as in "that" — they pronounced "Caradhras" correctly in the film;
- double consonants are pronounced — at the Doors of Durin, Gandalf pronounced the Elvish word for friend, mellon, as "mel-lon", which is correct.

Which is a pedantic way of saying that they really did their homework on this one!
posted by mcwetboy at 1:09 PM on December 20, 2001

I saw LOTR yesterday in Montreal. I was certainly prepared not to like it, but I can't imagine a film being much better, especially when one considers the challenge of adapting such a difficult book. There was so much that worked so well, not the least of which was the pacing and the performances. The Lord of the Rings is a grand success, and easily the best film I have seen this year.
posted by tranquileye at 1:55 PM on December 20, 2001

What gives with all the "I expected to hate it" posts from people that obviously coughed up their $8 for a ticket?
posted by NortonDC at 2:04 PM on December 20, 2001

Interesting that some critics blasted the Harry Potter film for being too faithful to the novel -- sort of a book-on-tape with pictures -- while the fiercest criticism of LOTR seems to be that, dammit, it's not absolutely, scene for scene and word for word, faithful to its source.
posted by nathanstack at 3:02 PM on December 20, 2001

Lord of The Rings ?

Two words - Different Gravy.

(that means good btw)
posted by Frasermoo at 3:06 PM on December 20, 2001

Small & arrogant fucker, seeking fish, for LOTR.

no really. I was quite confused.
posted by fishfucker at 4:16 PM on December 20, 2001

I just saw it - eh. Out of 10 I would give it a 3 or 4. Went on too long, the story just wasn't very interesting for that amount of screen. Special effects were top notch, but for the folks who aren't Tolkien/fantasy fans I feel it was sort of run of the mill. I'm just not seeing the same movie you guys are.
posted by owillis at 6:41 PM on December 20, 2001

By the way, was it any doubt that Knowles would love the movie - based on the amount of advertising (and I believe a trip to New Zealand) they've lavished on him? I would give it 12/10 if I got a bit of the payola as well...
posted by owillis at 6:48 PM on December 20, 2001

Wow, I just read all your comments and a few things:

1) I think ANYONE is crazy who thought those Galadriel/Bilbo moments of lust for the ring were good. They were as subtle as the Large Marge scene in Pee-Wee's Big Adventure.

2) I had JUST finished reading the book, and so I was really psyched for the movie and I went into it with a huge open mind and honestly I just felt like Peter Jackson got so much more wrong than he got right. Sure, you can get all the visuals right, the casting right...but the only thing that's important, the only thing you MUST get right for it to be great is the FEEL of the book. And though I don't agree with Ebert completely, I must say that the focus in the film was on the wrong spot. It completely didn't earn everyone's feeling of loss after they lose Gandalf; I completely agree with someone above who said that they changed the character motivations at the end. They did and for no good reason!! I think the way book one ends is perfect and "if it ain't broke, don't fix it."

3) I'm sorry, but both trolls--the Harry Potter troll and the LOTR trolls looked ridiculous. It's funny, back before all this computer technology I think they made more convincing movie creatures---particularly the Star Wars ones; Jabba the Hut is the best example---than they do now on computers. In fact, think of the rerelease of Star Wars: how ridiculous did the walking talking Jabba look compared to the static, non-computer one from years back? What they gain in control and ease in movement they lose in realism: as my friend Lisa said, in Star wars you know Jabba's in the same realm of existence; with CGI, you don't get that feeling at all.

4) I completely agree about the score: it lacked the strength that can elevate good movies to great movies.

5) And just, I'm sorry...but some of Jackson's decisions; like actually showing Sauron in his metal garb right off the bat were ill-conceived. That's such a huge part of the dramatic tension of the book---not really knowing what the Dark Lord is---that it's pretty upsetting he got that wrong. Plus, Saruman's creation of Orcs came across as contrived, like there might have been a title card: "MEANWHILE, BACK IN THE LAIR OF SARUMAN..."

For all the beautiful images in the movie, I'm grateful...but this is clearly not a great film. Thanks everyone though for posting.
posted by adrober at 7:19 PM on December 20, 2001

Adrober, I agree about the CGI. Go-motion models were so much more fun. I don't agree about your other points. Of course scary Galadriel wasn't subtle but I sure thought it was effective. Like I that, it was risky, and I appreciated that. You take a risk like that, a lot of people aren't going to love it--oh well. Jackson's changes smoothed out parts I had always thought of as bumpy in the book. Tolkien's main talent was the construction of an immense world; his plotting and pacing wasn't always quite as skilled. I haven't read the novels in years but I found the changes in the end especially worked very well.

At any rate, I thought the film was tremendous -- I was nodding along with the Salon rave all the way. Since I saw it yesterday I've had a hard time thinking about anything else, and that's a great accomplishment. I feel like I'm 14 again. Yay!

As for the nay sayers -- my cynical New York friends seem to have a hard time getting into a film that's so heroic and straightfaced. They can't handle the lack of irony. They also never read the books, and had I not grown up with this, I would probably be watching a different movie, too. Impossible to say.
posted by muckster at 7:46 PM on December 20, 2001

On the score:
It's definitely different, but I'm not at all unhappy with it. I'm not really an Enya fan, though, so it's probably just as well that it kept rather subtle. The one place where I did really notice the score was in Lorien. the female chanting/ singing reminded me greatly of Sequentia's treatments of the music of Saint Hildegard von Bingen. (I highly recommend the Canticles of Ecstasy, but have unfortunately been unable to find any online samples from the disc.)

In any case, I felt that this shout-out to 12th century classical music was kind of interesting, as the poetry/ songs in the books are actually shout-outs to the epic poems that Tolkien loved (e.g. beowolf, sir gawain and the greene knight). I kind of regret that only one of the songs was carried over to the film ("the road goes ever on and on,/ down from the door where it began..."), and felt that some kind of great masked tribute to the oral tradition would have been nice. But who knows? Maybe I'll notice one on the second viewing.

While I'm blathering, i might as well note that I really loved the emphasis given to the adivce of Gandalf to Frodo on adventuring. It gives me hope that my favourite part of the Two Towers will be translated to film. It's where Sam and Frodo are sitting on the steps to Shelob's lair, and discussing the nature of adventure. I read it while on the Appalachian Trail over the summer, and it gave me a lot of resolve at a ratehr bleak moment.
posted by kaibutsu at 9:02 PM on December 20, 2001

Wonderful movie, for all the reasons people have already cited here. McKellen and Mortenson were perfect, Liv Tyler was actually good, and of all people, Gimli the Dwarf has the best line that's not from the book (he utters it in Moria, for those who don't know which line I mean).

Bilbo's CGI meanie-face was appropriate, since the book refers to a similar transformation. Same with Galadriel's, although her effects were a bit much. With or without CGI, Cate Blanchett was excellent as a very scary elf. In fact, the whole movie was more frightening and violent than I expected. That's a compliment.

I think Ebert has it wrong. In the "Fellowship" book, the action heroes are clearly from every race but the hobbits, who were for the most part followers. The movie gets that right (in fact, in the book's world Frodo the Inexperienced would never have been the one to choose the passage through Moria), although I hope to see Merry and Pippin's roles grow in the next two movies, as they did in the books.

Like a lot of reviewers, I thought the darker bits were the best -- the Nazgul, Orcs, Isengard and Moria were absolutely spectacular, while the Elves, Rivendell and Lorien were beautiful but not awe-inspiring. I wasn't crazy about some of the changes they made in the story (Merry and Pippin just let Frodo go off on his own? I don't think so. And Aragorn's relationships with Elrond and Boromir are altered for the worse), but those are niggles. I loved this movie.

The biggest problem? Waiting a year for "The Two Towers."
posted by diddlegnome at 9:30 PM on December 20, 2001

And as for the lack of songs, maybe in "The Return of the King" they'll bring back "Where There's a Whip, There's a Way." Heh.
posted by diddlegnome at 9:34 PM on December 20, 2001

(not sure this posts merits a warning, but better to be safe)

When Merry and Pippin decide to let Frodo go, they are not being disloyal: they are friends who accept his decision -- even at great risk to themselves. I think this works because it makes them more endearing characters, and because it sets Sam apart. The final scene between him and Frodo gains much poignancy because of it: Sam has made a promise, and he will not be deterred.

And now I'll try to think about something else. This is growing back into an unhealthy obsession.
posted by muckster at 10:08 PM on December 20, 2001

Good point, muckster, both about Merry & Pippin's courage and about Sam's devotion.

And good luck occupying your mind with something else. I haven't had much luck today.
posted by diddlegnome at 10:24 PM on December 20, 2001

When Merry and Pippin decide to let Frodo go, they are not being disloyal: they are friends who accept his decision -- even at great risk to themselves. I think this works because it makes them more endearing characters, and because it sets Sam apart. The final scene between him and Frodo gains much poignancy because of it: Sam has made a promise, and he will not be deterred.

Not so much a spoiler to anyone who's read the book. But the extra scenes for anyone who's ONLY read the first is a bit of a spoiler, no?
posted by Ufez Jones at 11:23 PM on December 20, 2001

i suppose it is not suprising that the harry potter film and LOTR are so different in the amount of liberties taken with the story. Rowling is still alive, and very much aware that a bad film conversion would not be something she wanted her name associated with. HP is as much her film as the books were her books.

This is not the case with LOTR.

I would speculate that had Tolkien been alive, and involved in the production, that we would be seeing some very different emphasis in the film.
posted by asok at 3:21 AM on December 21, 2001

fraud of the rings cartoon strip
posted by asok at 4:33 AM on December 21, 2001

my sweetie coined this phrase for our current emotional state: "post-tolkein depression"
posted by epersonae at 8:51 AM on December 21, 2001

muckster: As for the nay sayers -- my cynical New York friends seem to have a hard time getting into a film that's so heroic and straightfaced. They can't handle the lack of irony.

I just may be in this category, even though I'm from Kansas, and did read the book, once, many years ago.

The effusive joy the characters radiated at the beginning at their friendships with each other (Gandalf, Frodo, Bilbo, Sam, etc.) was just overbearingly sweet. In fact, I could have done without the "The Hobbit-in-five-minutes" prelude at the beginning.

Aw, heck, I could have done without the whole movie. It's hard for me to find scenery breathtaking that was so obviously created by a computer. And there were so many characters presented with such emphasis, and then not really developed. And basically, it seemed to me that it was just a movie about this group of guys that travels and gets attacked, travels and gets attacked, over and over. That's fine as the basic frame for a movie, but despite all the magic and sentimantality, I really wanted the story to get less episodic and the characters to get more interesting. When they were in (minor spoiler) the mine that used to be the dwarf city, my lack of sympathy/emotion was palpable. And that fiery thing Frodo saw whenever he put on the ring looked like a big vagina. I thought it was funny.

I will admit to being somewhat annoyed/bored with the "straightfaced" aspect of it, as mentioned above. That scene near the beginning where Frodo and Gandalf were just looking at each other, trying not to laugh, made me want to throw up with its super-earnestness. I could tell right then that I wasn't going to like the rest of the movie. An hour and a half into it, I was already very bored. Then I was looking at my watch about once every twenty minutes. If I hadn't felt that I should see the whole thing, just because it's such an automatically talked-about movie, I probably would have walked out.
posted by bingo at 10:03 AM on December 21, 2001

It's hard for me to find scenery breathtaking that was so obviously created by a computer.

You do realize that the majority of the outdoor scenery was filmed in New Zealand, and does actually look that way?
posted by elfgirl at 10:47 AM on December 21, 2001

I was talking mainly about the underground/sinister scenery. But yeah, the outdoor stuff looked fake, too, and that's problematic, even if the locations are real. Which is to say, pictures are made, not found, etc. There are different ways to film something beautiful, and I guess the way he went about it just didn't work for me.
posted by bingo at 11:26 AM on December 21, 2001

Some bits from Dark Horizons (contains small spoilers for the second movie):
The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers: During press conferences and interviews yesterday, Peter Jackson revealed some great stuff about the current status of the second chapter. First off a rough cut of all three films is done (the third one is still just loosely assembled but the second one is pretty much complete). He also confirmed each film in the series includes 500-600 FX shots and will be between 2.5-3 hours long each. "The Two Towers" will definitely see the Ents and Treebeard, and increasd roles for the king's son character. The actors are scheduled to head back to NZ in May & June for any reshoots/touch ups required but as of now there's no exact words on what'll be changed/added.

The Lord of The Rings: The Fellowship of The Ring: Various other answers to questions emerged during the aforementioned interviews. Producer Barry Osborne indicates the final budget for the trilogy stands at $270 million. The first film's original rough cut running time stands in at a little over 3.5 hours so expect that 30-40 mins of extra footage to show up on DVD - though Jackson confirms there's no "Director's Cut" as such on the drawing boards. Amongst these deleted scenes include more characterisation in regards to how the supporting characters feel about being in the fellowship, whilst another sequence where Gimli falls for Galadriel. Meantime the film scored a $18.2 million opening day take, a record opening day for any film in December.
posted by NortonDC at 12:41 PM on December 21, 2001

"Fellowship of the Ring" has now bumped "The Godfather" off the #1 spot for Best. Movie. Ever.

The Wall Streeet Journal also liked it.
posted by muckster at 2:44 PM on December 21, 2001

Man, I sure feel like I'm swimming against some oddball cultural tide.

Emperor's got no clothes, man. :)
posted by owillis at 3:14 PM on December 21, 2001

Now that's interesting, owillis. The bulk of LOTR was written during WWII -- maybe our present cultural moment is once again very much susceptible to the same escapist fantasies?
posted by muckster at 3:29 PM on December 21, 2001

Oliver, I'm curious if you shared an observation of mine: the crowd at the Lee Highway Multiplex was the whitest I had seen there in a long time.
posted by NortonDC at 4:07 PM on December 21, 2001

muckster: I think it's more of whether you read the books or are into the whole fantasy/elf/D+D thing. My geek genre of choice is superheroes, so I must admit to enjoying the Spider-Man trailer more than LOTR.

NortonDC: Not really, but I got there late. What's your thesis?
posted by owillis at 4:24 PM on December 21, 2001

bingo: Your screen name was Tolkien's original name for the character who's now Frodo. I'm very glad he changed it (nothing personal, it's just a silly name even among people named Bilbo and Farmer Maggot), and I'm guessing you are too.

Interesting note on the scenery: Once the locations were set, Peter Jackson (or some of his minions) started planting appropriate vegetation a year before shooting began, so things would look just right in the film. Now *that's* attention to detail.

I have to admit some of the outdoor scenes look unnaturally green, but what the hell. It's a fantasy movie, after all.
posted by diddlegnome at 4:31 PM on December 21, 2001

The more I think about it, the less I consider LOTR fantasy. Since the book single-handedly spawned that genre, I like to think that "fantasy" is what the imitators do. Tolkien just did "Lord of the Rings." It's sort of like I once accused the Grateful Dead's lyricist of cliche when he wrote "What a long strange trip it's been" and he responded that it wasn't his fault every lazy music journalist has been quoting that line for 30 years. You can't quite blame 20-sided dice on Tolkien.
posted by muckster at 4:34 PM on December 21, 2001

The original book, maybe not. But the movie has been made in a post-D&D world so I think it is fair game to lump it in with that whole lot. At least that's where I'm coming from. I think it's impossible to seperate LOTR from other fantasy incarnations.
posted by owillis at 4:46 PM on December 21, 2001

Muckster- Uh, ever heard of Arthur? Beowolf? Pegasus?

Owillis - No theory, just a naked observation. Anecdotal, apparently.
posted by NortonDC at 4:54 PM on December 21, 2001

NortonDC, you're talking about Malory's Morte d'Arthur, Beowulf, and the flying horse from, what, Arabian Nights? Sure, those are all sagas and myths (along with Icelandic traditions, Finnish epics, the Edda etc) that Tolkien synthesized into LOTR. But they're not fantasy novels. Those came later.
posted by muckster at 9:46 PM on December 21, 2001

Actually, I think Edgar Rice Burroughs is usually credited with being one of the progenitors of modern fantasy fiction, which isn't always about elves and dwarves and orcs. In fact the Arthurian legends [...] when considered now, we must classify them as fantasy.
posted by walrus at 2:44 AM on December 22, 2001

Muckster: It's possible that Tolkien's books were the first fantasy novels, but what you said is that he single-handedly spawned the entire fantasy genre. Morte D'Artur, The Faerie Queene, and even A Midsummer Night's Dream, while not being written in prose form, were, by my definition, fantasies. Just read the prologue to Don Quixote to see that Cervantes is making fun of cliches in the genre that had already been just wasn't in vogue then to put such stories into prose form.

Of course, some of this is semantics...if you say "fantasy" is defined as what came after Tolkien, then what can I say, except that my definition is different. And he did have a huge influence. But if we're going to call it a genre, then to say that he "spawned" that genre, but that he merely "synthesized" works like Morte D'Artur is playing a bit of a word game, isn't it?

And a lot has changed in fantasy fiction since Tolkien. There is a big difference between Stephen Donaldson writing the Chronicles of Thomas Covenant, and some music journalist writing "what a long strange trip it's been" in an article.
posted by bingo at 9:54 AM on December 22, 2001

Well all right, I oversimplified, and I got busted. "Fantasies" are not quite the same as "fantasy," or perhaps "swords and sorcery" is a better name for the genre I'm thinking of. At any rate, this argument is better suited for a paper/thesis/dissertation than the bottom end of a long thread, so I concede. Let's just agree that LOTR is a milestone at the very least.

The point I was trying to make, though, was another attempt at defending against the way LOTR is being conflated with the whole fanboy/comic book store/D&D/geek thing. I think it stands apart from everything else in that category. One of my friends called the movie "Xena with really good production values," and I found that awfully unfair. Tolkien's world is incomparably dense, rich in detail and history, and it is Peter Jackson's accomplishment to have successfully translated this density into film. The texture of the movie is what kills me. Xena, by comparison, is as flimsy as cardboard. I found this article an interesting source for some of things I missed.

still trying to figure out how come this movie is holding such fierce sway over my imagination...
posted by muckster at 7:15 PM on December 22, 2001

i think the film had to eliminate some of the complexities that were richly drawn out in a way only literature can accomplish. it was difficult to justify such "allegiance" as such that Saruman exibited less a lust for his own devices in regard to the ring. also difficult to see Strider be so altruistic in his exit speech with Frodo. so who was the film made for: those who have not read Tolkein's work or those who have. I have an entire portion of my library occupied by Tolkein and Hildebrant(s), my personal studies of his languages and calendric systems, and was anticipating less than I got out of the film. I feel blessed that I had images in my heart and mind to compare them to on film, some were not what imagined, others were stunning in the capture. Most of all, I will enjoy conversations with my son about the complexities of the relationships, the importance of myth and the value of loyalty and moral conviction. This may seem like more than anyone can draw from a film, but anyone with an 11 year old son will attest that conversation beyond "doin' okay" is in short order.
posted by jyoung at 8:54 AM on December 24, 2001

Tolkien's world is incomparably dense, rich in detail and history, and it is Peter Jackson's accomplishment to have successfully translated this density into film

I think for the non-Tolkien/fantasy fan he failed miserably at this. For me, the movie worked out to this (spoilers)

1. There's an evil ring
2. The old guy has it
3. He gives it to the young guy
4. Wizard says its evil, get party together to destroy it
5. Many people walking, several hundred things happen
6. Numerous shots of Big Evil Guy
7. Wizard dies (never saw much wizardry from him)
8. Little guy splits from group for some reason
9. Two little guys off to destroy ring, basically the same task they went off to 2 hours ago

I got no complex relationships or other Large Myths out of this.

"Xena with a big budget and no huge breasts" kind of sums it up for me as well.
posted by owillis at 9:31 AM on December 24, 2001

owillis - Many of life's joys are found in the process, the execution. Even though the story can be outlined in very simple terms, the telling of the story has brought great pleasure to many people. If you got no pleasure from the means of telling the story, that's fine, but it doesn't invalidate the pleasure that so many others did get.
posted by NortonDC at 10:03 AM on December 24, 2001

I'm not saying it invalidates anyone's pleasure, I'm just stating that I felt a similar sentiment that muckster's friend did.
posted by owillis at 10:32 AM on December 24, 2001

I actually find the list you made pretty impressive, owillis. Most movies are summed up much easier. ("Boy metts girl, boy loses girl, boy gets girl back.") I especially like #5, "several hundred things happen." Sounds like a great movie to me! But yeah, I guess if the film doesn't click for you, it doesn't click for you, and that's that. The old rhyme still stands:

The Lord of the Rings
is one of those things
If you like it you do
if you don't then you boo.

On the other hand, I saw said friend at a party last night, and all he could talk about was LOTR, and for all his snide comments, he sounded like he's going back to see it again....
posted by muckster at 12:56 PM on December 24, 2001

I think I can make it simpler. This is the movie I saw:

1. little guy gets evil ring
2. little guy goes on quest to destroy ring
3. he meets a bunch of good guys who tell him how important his quest is
4. he meets a bunch of bad guys who try to kill him
5. the movie ends

I think the density of the novel was implied in the film. I didn't feel like I got to know any of the characters very well, or the locations, or the nature of the whole universe the story takes place in.

Anyway, while Tolkien is a sacred cow in the D&D world (if that world still exists), I'm sure there were kids running around pretending to slay dragons for hundreds of years before Gygax.

If you got no pleasure from the means of telling the story, that's fine, but it doesn't invalidate the pleasure that so many others did get.

I'm powerless to invalidate the pleasure that anybody gets from anything, but some pieces of art are still better than others.
posted by bingo at 2:26 PM on December 24, 2001

...but some pieces of art are still better than others.

No, some pieces of art are more appreciated by you than other pieces of art.
posted by NortonDC at 2:57 PM on December 24, 2001

Bingo, I think you have a good point with the implied angle. There seemed to be characters, moments, etc. that scream "THIS IS IMPORTANT but wait until the next movie for us to explain why". To the Tolkien fan this is delicious fun, to me this is uninteresting.

Reminds me of what happened with Episode 1. The Star Wars fanatics were upset because it wasn't about this Big Giant Tapestry that they saw in the first films, never mind that most of that tapestry existed in the books and comics and not the movies. It's like "Yes, Star Wars fans I'm sure you'd love three hours on the history of the Jedi but we need to sell tickets. Here are wicked cool light sabers."
posted by owillis at 6:51 PM on December 24, 2001

Well, NortonDC, there's no end to that argument, but I do believe in an objective aesthetic standard that exists outside my personal preferences. Works of art in any medium that stand the test of time don't do so just because, by coincidence, they appealed to a lot of people's personal preferences, generation after generation. I can't prove it, but I know it's true. As a writer, I couldn't create if I didn't believe I was working toward such a standard.
posted by bingo at 7:53 PM on December 24, 2001

Whatever gets you through the day.
posted by NortonDC at 10:29 PM on December 24, 2001

I think I may be a little late to the party here, but just some comments to add.

Vocaloca: Tom Bombadil was Tolkien's mary-sue. The fact that he was snipped right out of the film was a godsend.

CalvinTheBold: The movie mentions orcs and goblins being crossed, not orcs and humans. It escapes me completely which the book actually stated.

I thoroughly enjoyed the movie despite my nitpicks, because what I saw as wrong with the movie seemed trivial enough to fade into the background. What annoyed me were things that broke me out of the mood of the story, like: The Hobbits are small, but not round. Their bodies seemed a bit thin. Yet in scenes where you see the fellowship walking in the distance, they use 'small people' stand-ins, and the body types did not match up. Then in the one scene in the dwarf mine kingdom, as the fellowship runs across the open space of the cavern, it looks like the entire scene [including all the actors] are done in enough cgi to make me think of Toy Story. But really, those are things that did not detract from my overall enjoyment.

One last thing, because it just struck me. There was a lot of Hobbit molesting -- hugging hobbits, ruffling hair, carrying, touching, etc. I do not remember thinking that as I read the book. *shrugs*

posted by FunkyHelix at 11:09 AM on December 25, 2001

The movie mentions orcs and goblins being crossed, not orcs and humans.

"Orc" is just another word for goblin. And I remember the orc/human cross too--as in the books.
posted by rodii at 1:58 PM on December 28, 2001

As for the transformations of Gandalf, Bilbo, and Galadriel -- those are in the books too:

"Bilbo put out his hand. But Frodo quickly drew back the Ring. To his distress and amazement he found that he was no longer looking at Bilbo; a shadow seemed to have fallen between them, and through it he found himself eyeing a little wrinkled creature with a hungry face and boy groping hands. He felt a desire to strike him."

(p280 in the Del Rey FOTR paperback).
posted by muckster at 7:53 AM on December 29, 2001

having now seen the film twice, i can add my observations:

hobbiton - very good
characterisation - comparable with book, i.e. a bit 2d
cgi - get's more obvious on repeat viewings, but still very convincing.
music - fine, as any attempt to have a 'theme song' or melody would difficult to appease tolkein society unless melody originated from tolkein.
changes to story/characters - annoying, but bareable.
female roles - let down by actresses possessed of little presence. it occurs to me that in trying to promote the female roles, in order to balance the contemporary approach of tolkein with a 'modern' approach to the roles of the sexes jackson has agreed to fall into the trap of using established names. this leaves the director and sfx departments to cope with presenting the beautiful, but vapid, actresses as great warrior princesses.
in tolkein's day, had his book included strong female characters, it would have been somewhat revolutionary, today jackson's use of established 'beauties' to portray (elf) women of great power is far from revolutionary.

all in all, a fine action adventure.

i wonder if jackson will be able to leave in sam's strength and frodo's weakness in the final jouney to mount doom, without upsetting frodo's hero status. after all, the book is about finding strength in friendship and good-husbandry of the environment. more about internal strengths than external shows of power.
posted by asok at 6:41 AM on January 2, 2002

rodii: Thanks for that tidbit. It's been driving me nuts that, when they get into Moria, Legolas warns of "goblins". I kept waiting for a new monster to show up.
posted by jpoulos at 3:06 PM on January 4, 2002

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