Today’s IMDB Top 250 Guest Review comes from James of Slate The Silver Screen. Thanks for the review, James! 🙂 Now let’s see what he has to say about The Entire Lord Of The Rings Trilogy, IMDB ranks 9, 13 & 21 out of 250…
There are still some movies up for grabs if anyone wants to do a guest IMDB Top 250 review. You can find the list of remaining films HERE. See the full list & links to all the reviews that have already been done HERE. Also, if you’d like to add a link to your IMDB review(s) on your own blogs, feel free to use any of the logos I’ve used at the top of any of these guest reviews.
Peter Jackson’s critically acclaimed Lord of the Rings (LOTR) trilogy is adapted from J.R.R. Tolkein’s incredible books. These films take you on an epic journey through the detailed and beautiful cinematic universe of Middle Earth and the arduous battle between good and evil., The films are widely regarded as one of the most critically and financially successful franchises of all time, spawning a highly divisive prequel trilogy (The Hobbit) that could never live up to the success of the original.
Wait…this is an exact description of Star Wars…You sure?…alright fine. Anyway!
So without further a do, here is a trailer for the LOTR trilogy:
FUN FACT: The word Frodo is said 116 times in the trilogy. This is a rate of 0.208 Frodo’s per minute.
BEFORE I START THIS, TRILOGY IS A DEFINITE MUST SEE!
The LOTR franchise is split into The Fellowship Of The Ring, The Towers and Return Of The King. I will not go into too much plot detail, as this is a review, not a PhD thesis.
Frodo (Elijah Wood), a young, inquisitive hobbit, comes into possession of a mysterious ring following the disappearance of his uncle, Bilbo (Tom Holms). Gandalf (Ian McKellan), an aging, powerful wizard discovers this is ‘’The One Ring’’ of power that belonged to the Dark Lord Sauron. Thus begins a chain reaction which sees Frodo on a quest to destroy the one true ring and save middle Earth…COME ON…THIS IS JUST STAR WARS SET IN THE MIDDLE AGES…THERE IS DEFINITELY SOME COPYRIGHT INFRINGEMENT GOING ON HERE…FINE…I’LL DROP IT
Frodo, accompanied by Sam, his closest friend and gardener, sets off to meet Gandalf in the village of Bree so that he can get the ring somewhere safe. En route they bump into Merry and Pippin, while they’re stealing crops, who join them on their journey. Incidentally, Merry and Pip are the least qualified saviours in the history of everything…during the course of the trilogy they make blunders of such utter stupidity that I wonder how they made it this far in life. When they reach Bree Gandalf is not there and instead they find Stryder, a mysterious ranger, who helps them evade Sauron’s Black riders. Something they only had to do because Pip blew Frodo’s cover.
The group reach the Elven stronghold of Rivendell where they are reunited with Gandalf. Here a Fellowship is formed to aide Frodo in his quest. The Hobbits, Gandalf, Stryder (now called Aragorn), a bitter man called Boromir. And finally Legolas and Gimli, an elf and dwarf who are constantly bickering.
Plot wise that is about all you need to know. What follows in a 558-minute epic that takes you through highs, lows, battles, betrayal, love, immortality, obsession, mental illness and emotional connection. (By the way there is a 683 minute extended cut, which is also worth a watch).
The first instalment, The Fellowship, serves as an introduction to Middle Earth, its inhabitants, its history, the horrors of the previous war and the malevolence that once again threatens Middle Earth. At its core is the journey of our Hobbits and the bonds of the fellowship. The violence and hardships are personal, the losses are intimate and the battle is for the life of you and your friends. The film never drags and is a great first entry and, although not small by any stretch of the imagination, it is on a smaller scale than its sequels.
The second film, Two Towers, shifts away from Frodo and Sam and more towards the realms of men and Saruman’s fall from grace, the white wizard who Gandalf initially considered a friend. This film is really about redemption; the bonds of the fellowship following their breakdown, the waning strength of men and of those lost to evil. There are a myriad of new characters, however, the standout is Gollum, played by Andy Serkis using motion capture CGI. Gollum was once a hobbit who was corrupted by the ring and is obsessed with it. His ‘’precious’’ fills his every waking thought since he lost it to Bilbo Baggins (see prequel trilogy for clarification). He exhibits serious symptoms of a nearly dozen mental illnesses and disorders that I would not wish on my worst enemy. But grudgingly he develops a fragile relationship with Frodo and agrees to help him find his way into Mordor. Serkis is exceptional in every scene, he is nuanced, he is over the top and he is captivating. It truly is a remarkable performance!
Everything is bigger this time around. The battles, the castles, the enemies, the stakes. Sauron grows more powerful each day, and as such the second film should feel more charged and deadly. It all serves to increase the tension and completely draw you in.
The final instalment, Return Of The King, is the big finish. Everything is stepped up to another level. This time we are not fighting for our home or friends. This could be the end of everything and you can feel it through every second of the final confrontation with Sauron’s army.
You cannot discuss LOTR without discussing the visuals, it is basically a giant tourism piece for New Zealand, where it was filmed. The beautiful landscapes are combined with CGI and set pieces and in doing so become the most important character in the trilogy. The Shire is green and tranquil and captures the innocent, simple life of Hobbits. The grandiose pomposity of the Elves is captured by Rivendell. The realms of men are impressive and foreboding but have been neglected and miss repaired, much like the fading strength of men maligned at the beginning of the series. Then there is Mordor, explored deeply in the final film, a putrid landscape so foul and toxic that it could only breed pure evil. These backdrops are all encompassing, detailed and beautiful and draw you in. You become part of Middle Earth, this is a fight for your home and your people! Without this the series would have not been the success it is!
Furthermore, they provide the huge scale that makes the series so impressive. Even the first film, with its much smaller set pieces and action, takes you on a journey across half a world: the Shire, Bree, Weathertop, Rivendell, mines of Moria, Woods of Lothlorien, the woods of Parth Galen (the final action sequence is here)… This is a complete world of such magnitude and detail that it paved the way for modern cinematic franchises. Before this film no one even attempted something of this scale. The Marvel cinematic universe wouldn’t have been possible without LOTR blazing a trail.
But a series of pretty pictures do not a film make. The film needs heart, you need to care about the characters and believe their relationships. And you are not let down. Elijah Wood and Sean Astin, Frodo and Sam, provide the emotional core of the film as they go through hell and back. Their relationship is heart-warming and it is difficult to watch their burdens way heavy on it. Interestingly they haven’t delivered performances anywhere near this level since. Ian McKellan’s Gandalf is fantastic, his stage background was perfect to produce the gravitas and presence needed. He received the trilogy’s only acting Oscar nomination. Viggo Mortensen delivers a strong turn as Aragorn. And I’ve already mentioned Gollum.
However it is not all sunshine and rainbows; the rest of the cast do a great job but for the most part they are replaceable and not memorable of their own accord. The screenwriting and dialogue is generally great, but there are some scenes that come across as quite cliché. There also seems to be an undercurrent of sexual tension between Sam and Frodo, although I could be reading too much into this. There are lots of longing glances, intimate dialogue and a slow-mo scene towards the end where Frodo’s laughing turns into a deep, sensual stare as Sam enters the room.
Alas, with praise also comes criticism:
- The female characters are strong, powerful and interesting but underused. Most of the time the women serve to propel their male counterparts forward in the plot. And they do not once interact with each other, although with this being a book adaptation maybe this wasn’t possible within the confines of the story. The exception maybe Eowyn but even she falls for Aragorn who cannot return her love.
- The entire cast is white. I know this is a fictional place so we don’t have anything to base racial proportions on but that’s sort of my point. Would it have really mattered if some of the characters were played by non-white actors? No. This is less of a problem with the film itself than the industry as a whole but it is still worth mentioning.
The relationship between Legolas and Gimli is interesting as they overcome, generations of tension and animosity between their races to become close friends. This obviously has some current relevancy as we have a long way to go with racial equality. But again they are both white…so see above.
- Even Nazgul, Sauron’s minions, whose only drive is their primal need to find the ring still fall victim to, ‘’Bad Guy Monologue-ing’’. We’ve all seen it. The good guy is done for all the bad guy has to do now is just get on with it. Instead he wastes just enough time explaining his plans that the good guy can escape. And while the Nazgul do not monologue they do waste time and get distracted. Or, more frustratingly, just aren’t very good at finding things. This happens at least 7 times during the trilogy.
- Multiple endings! This has been the films biggest criticism. The final film takes about 40 minutes to end including: eagles, two weddings, book writing, narration, a whitewash reunion and a boat trip. There are at least five different places where the film could have feasibly ended without causing any problems.
There is no denying Tolkein’s genius but here are some of my issues!
- THE FUCKING EAGLES. Whenever Tolkein ran out of ideas on how to solve a problem he just called in the eagles. Gandalf’s trapped. Eagles. Outnumbered in battle. Eagles. Frodo’s trapped. Eagles. The entire prequel Hobbit trilogy. Eagles. Why not just give them the bloody ring and let them fly to Mordor? It’d certainly be much quicker.
- This one is more of a niggle. Dwarfes and Elves hate each other. SO why, in the name of all that is holy, is the password to get into Moria an Elvish word?
- This series is black and white. Good vs Evil. The characters are either one or the other. I suppose it makes sense in this story but it does leave some of the characters a bit flat. I suppose everyone has the same enemy so maybe they put all other duplicitous plans on the back burner for now? I mean if you exclude Sauron the biggest dicks in the series are men. But even then that’s only because there are two evil men and the rest are good. The only character with any level of grey is Boromir, but his grey is negated by the fact that his actions are part of a misguided plan to do the right thing for his people by fighting the enemy with his own weapon.
All that being said, this series is not just an exceptional cinematic achievement but is an all-encompassing, engrossing and enjoyable watch. Do yourself a favour, set aside 9 hours and watch it!
PS/ If you want to make a good movie, cast Sean Bean and then kill him. It just works…Patriot Games, Golden Eye, The Field, Game Of Thrones. It’s not worth the risk of letting him live, just ask Jupiter Ascending or The Silent Hill franchise! Although he does still die in some bad movies…trust Michael Bay to ruin a good thing!
PPS/ As a reward for reading all that here are some fun facts.
Number of times Legolas stands and stares at something : 7
Number of moments of intense sexual tension between Frodo and Sam: 9
Number of times you hear the ‘’Shire’’ music: 32 fucking times!
I actually love the shire music 🙂
Excellent review. This is one of my favorite franchises and I love watching the extended versions of it because they are so amazing.
U pointed out some great things that I never thought about; the eagles, sean bean and of course the pure black vs. white of good and evil.
Makes me wanna find the nearly 12 hours to watch the trilogy again!
Thanks for the review, James! 🙂 I’m a big fan of these films (and books). Of course, the themes go back much much further than Star Wars & the works of Joseph Campbell helped crystallize the whole “hero’s journey” story – particularly “The Hero with a Thousand Faces”. Lucas has cited this as one of his biggest influences. It may be “black & white, good vs evil”, but it’s awesome. That’s why these stories are always so popular. 🙂
Not a problem, thanks for posting it 🙂 I didnt know that, very interesting.
Good review. Love these films and read the books at least a dozen times. Love the simple good versus evil aspect of them. Probably why they work so well.
That went on forever! I managed 44 seconds.
Then you missed some of the best Frodos.
Damn! I’m more of a Bilbo fan anyway. Greatest little Hobbit of them all!
Hi, James, I loved your little facts. Didn’t know them. 😀 And that shire music is great.
Thanks 🙂 Taking notes while I watched them made me feel like I was going to be tested on it
Reblogged this on slatethesilver screen and commented:
Recently I was fortunate enough to do a guest post for Cinema Parrot Disco. The subject? The entire Lord Of The Rings Trilogy. Please follow the link below to take a look. Hope you enjoy!
There are a lot of endings, maybe too many, but I still tear up at every one of them. Doesn’t get much better than the LOTR trilogy for me. Great write-up!
A great review, James, but sexual tension? I know times are changing, but there should still be room for good old-fashioned camaraderie and brotherly friendship. This trilogy is my personal favorite of all time so I didn’t mind the multiple endings either. One does not simply end a fantastic trilogy with anything less than full, satisfying closure.
I completely agree. I really love their bond but I think at times it was either over-acted or over written. It maybe because I’ve never had to go on a quest to save the world… but the only person who’s eyes I tend to stare into, with a hint of glistening tears is my girlfriend.
I probably did read too much into it though
Oh yeh I love this trilogy, the endings was something people have talked to me about before.
Great review 🙂 I am a tad high spirited when it comes to Lord of the Rings, so here are my thoughts on your (very well raised) comments:
1) agree with you about those plot lines sounding way similar. Lord of the Rings, written by JRR Tolkien, was released on the 29th of July 1954. The first Star Wars film was released on the 25th of May, 1977. So yeah, some copyright infringement might have occurred, but I know which one was released first 😀
2) “Dwarfes and Elves hate each other. SO why, in the name of all that is holy, is the password to get into Moria an Elvish word?” The answer to this that there was once great mutual respect between elves and dwarves but with time their relationship soured.
3) I love the strong female characters in the story – they are actually wonderfully portrayed on screen. I think that they could have had more show time but they aren’t that present in the books – those extra scenes with Aragorn and Arwen in the movies grated on my nerves because romance is never a deciding factor in the books. I do think that the lack of female power in the movie stems from the source material though.
4) I am South-African so race is a really touchy subject around here. I think that race is too often brought up when it shouldn’t be a factor. The books don’t describe skin color of the characters, so they probably could have brought in a few actors of color – I just don’t think that it detracts from the films in any way.
5) Another level of grey is Saruman – he was once leader of the Wizards and held in high regard. I also think Wormtongue did not start out evil – he once loved Theoden and Rohan and was slowly corrupted by Saruman’s lies.
6) Agree with you on the gazillion endings – it is forty minutes overdue!
7) Also, the Eagles – why didn’t they just drop the damn ring into Mordor flying over?
Thanks for the reply. Glad you enjoyed it!
You have no idea how happy the answer to that Elf/Dwarf thing makes me – its been bugging me for over a decade!
You are right about Saruman and co but by the time we see them in the films they are pretty damn evil so I thought Id keep it simple.
The race issue doesnt affect the film at all, just thought it interesting to note!
Oh the Eagles! Ill never fully understand the clearly very complex rules of intervening in the world till the day i die.
Haha! Loving the LOTR love here…. 🙂
I am so bad haha 😀
This post is great but I am going to put one thing out here… When I was a kid (I think 5th grade) (maybe 6th) (Before most of you were born) my friend and I were in a class that discussed imagery in movies and such. Most of it sounded like stupid shit but we made our own conversation about how Nori symbolized the need and lack of iron there was after WW2. We made that up long ago and I stand by it. That is all.
Whatchoo talkin’ bout, Willis?! 😉
Awesome review! Mr O and I watched all three on New Years Eve last year and it was AWESOME! I am totally with you on the eagles though.
Amazing review, these movies are epic in scope and design, everything comes together amazingly. I watch these movies in a marathon to get the full effect.
I keep wanting to watch the extended versions of all three at some point. 🙂 Never had the time!
You should do it in a marathon.
Hehe. Maybe when the kid is grown up. 😉