The Lord Of The Rings (Full Trilogy) IMDB Top 250 Guest Review

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.

WARNING: SPOILERS

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:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cnf4h5HT4dc

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

[SIGH]

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!

VERDICT:

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!

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V For Vendetta (2005) IMDB Top 250 Guest Review

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Today’s IMDB Top 250 Guest Review comes from Mike of Screenkicker!. Thanks for joining in on this, Mike! 🙂 Now let’s see what he has to say about V For Vendetta, IMDB rank 164 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.

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Ever since Blade was released in 1998 we’ve seen a huge resurgence in the number and quality of comic book movie adaptations.  Despite all the great attempts at bringing the world of comics to life one respected author’s creations seemed destined to be mishandled completely.  Alan Moore is the mastermind behind classic graphic novels like Watchmen and The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen however the transition from page to screen of his work had been mediocre at best.  The film version of League is almost a lesson in how not to adapt the medium and From Hell isn’t much better.  So does V for Vendetta break the curse?  Yes and no.

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V tells the story of Evie played by Natalie Portman a young woman living in a near future fascist Britain who through a series of events comes to be associated with a masked anarchist named V whose goal is to overthrow the government.  With V’s help Evie finds the strength to confront almost impossible odds.  Fans of the source material won’t find much to grumble about apart from some changes to the main character.  He’s less of a straight-up terrorist and more of a righteous revolutionary.  One of the best things about Moore’s comic was the vision of the UK he created.  It was written in the 1980s and was massively influenced by Britain governed by Margaret Thatcher, making its near future version of London believable and not too far from our own world.  V director James McTeigue’s adaptation on the other hand portrays a very strange city which never feels real, its recreation of London looks old fashioned and seems more quaint than dystopic.

The movie starts by setting the scene and at first is jarring when we first meet V.  This is one of those common situations where comic book dialogue sounds silly when spoken aloud with V’s introduction eliciting childish sniggers from me the first time I saw it.  He’s seems far from the dangerous, determined force of nature from the book and later when he has emotional scenes it can pull you out of the action.  Basically the first half of the film jerks along at an uneven pace leaving you ambivalent to what’s actually happening.

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I know what you’re thinking – this armchair critic hated the film.  Well you’re wrong!  There is a lot to like about it and it really is greater than the sum of its parts. There’s a good performance from John Hurt and despite a slightly dodgy English accent, Natalie Portman gives it her all.  And once the plot kicks into gear properly the film finds its feet. Stephen Rea plays a policeman investigating V’s attacks and how his snooping unfolds is expertly told with a brilliant montage towards the end showing all the parts of V’s plans falling into place.  The crowning moment though is the entire section where Evie is captured, imprisoned, and finds a letter from a previous inmate.  Acting, editing, music, and visuals all come together to produce an extremely emotionally affecting and memorable scene which will stay with you and is worth watching the movie for.  From this part to the end of the film it’s worthy of the title and you forget about the slightly dull first half.

Intriguingly V is the first Alan Moore adaptation that he wouldn’t let producers put his name on and it turned out to be the best at least until Watchmen was released.  It’s a good story, well told with good acting, action and a couple of absolutely brilliant sections so it’s definitely worth a watch if you’ve always dreamt of sticking it to the man.  It really is V good.

7/10

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The Matrix (1999) IMDB Top 250 Guest Review

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Today’s IMDB Top 250 Guest Review comes from Chris of Terry Malloy’s Pigeon Coop. Thanks for the review, Chris! 🙂 Now let’s see what he has to say about The Matrix, IMDB rank 18 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 HERE. See the full list & links to all the films that have been reviewed HERE.

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Few films over the past 20 years or so have had as big an impact as The Matrix. In fact, I’d go as far as to say it’s one of the most important films of all time.

Yeah, I went there.

Some people might not like it, but I don’t think anyone can argue over its cultural significance. It’s a bit like me and The Beatles. I get why they were so big and so important but I actually think much of their music is pretty crap.

I went there again.

The premise of film is that everything we know and see around us is a lie, an artificial reality known as the Matrix created by machines who use our bodies as fuel. Only some people are aware of this and have been freed to live in the ‘real world’, although they are in a constant war against the machines. Morpheus (Laurence Fishburne) and Trinity (Carrie-Anne Moss) are freedom fighters of sorts and have recognised Neo (Keanu Reeves) as someone who could fulfil a prophecy and bring peace between the humans and machines.

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It’s a pretty crazy-ass plot and can take a quite a while to get your head around, but what an absolutely phenomenal concept; the kind of idea that only comes along every so often. Think Metropolis, 1984, Blade Runner; an idea so revolutionary that it inspires people to think differently. Not many films do that.

When we first see the ‘real world’ with the scary Giger-esque machines farming thousands upon thousands of humans all sealed away in little pods, it’s simply awe-inspiring and it just gets better and better from there on in.

Just think about it. There are so many standout, memorable and groundbreaking scenes and lines that it’s almost inconceivable they’re all from the same film. The first time we see bullet time; the lobby shootout; the subway fight; the meeting with the Oracle; even the notion that deja-vu is a glitch in the Matrix; all of these are scenes that have since become engrained in cinema’s pop culture, and there are many more besides. You only have to look at how many other films have taken clear inspiration from or have parodied The Matrix to see the effect it’s had.

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It even made Keanu Reeves look like a good actor. That might be slightly unfair but there’s no denying that Reeves was absolutely perfect for the role of Neo, and there have been few cooler moments in cinema seeing Neo kicking ass.

Unfortunately, The Matrix’s legacy has been tainted somewhat by two tremendously disappointing sequels. Both The Matrix Reloaded and The Matrix Revolutions were totally unnecessary and whilst they had some fun moments were just far too complicated and self-indulgent. Despite the sequels, The Matrix remains one of the most original, groundbreaking and influential films of all time.