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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The Hobbit: The Desolation Of Smaug (2013) Review

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The Hobbit: The Desolation Of Smaug (2013)

Directed by Peter Jackson

Based on The Hobbit by JRR Tolkien (duh. just read the book instead of watching this.)

Starring:
Ian McKellen
Martin Freeman
Richard Armitage
Benedict Cumberbatch
Evangeline Lilly
Lee Pace
Luke Evans
Ken Stott
James Nesbitt
Orlando Bloom

Running time: 11161 minutes. Oops – 161 minutes. Typo.

Plot Synopsis:
The second unnecessarily long movie of three unnecessarily long movies. Based on an awesome short book, The Desolation Of Smaug is not awesome and not short.

But this is what Wikipedia has to say about it:

The Desolation of Smaug is set in Middle-earth sixty years before the events of The Lord of the Rings, and portions of the film are adapted from the appendices to Tolkien’s The Return of the King. The wizard Gandalf the Grey (Ian McKellen) investigates a growing evil at Dol Guldur, while Bilbo Baggins (Martin Freeman) continues his quest with thirteen Dwarves, led by Thorin Oakenshield (Richard Armitage), to reclaim the Lonely Mountain from the dragon Smaug (Benedict Cumberbatch).

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My Opinion:

What on (middle) Earth did I just watch? I’ve never looked at my watch so many times during a film. This was one of the most unpleasant movie-going experiences I’ve had in a long time. What I’m trying to say is this: I really didn’t enjoy The Hobbit: The Desolation Of Smaug (that’s the last time I’m typing that entire title).

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A brief history on my Hobbit/Lord Of The Rings knowledge: I loved the books. A lot. Then I loved The Lord Of The Rings movies. A lot. Then The Hobbit movies started and the first one was… Meh. A bit better than some of the critics were saying but it was certainly no Lord Of The Rings film (those were fantastic). Although I loved the books, I only read them all once & don’t obsess over them or have the greatest memory of every detail. I don’t get too bothered about adaptations being 100% faithful as long as they’re at least… Respectful? I don’t remember The Hobbit book well enough to go into discussing how faithful these two films have been so far. I don’t care anyway. I disliked this film not because of the story or the acting (that was all “good enough”). I HATED how it looked and how that look made it feel!

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I’m not going to spend too long on this review. I was just very disappointed. The things I care about when it comes to a movie are a good story & great characters. It’s great when a film looks good too but I’m not someone who cares too much about things like 3D and I hate dodgy looking CGI. I choose to watch films in 2D (the only film to get 3D right so far is Gravity). Unfortunately, I watched this one in 3D (it was the only time I could go to it). Awful! The blurriness I can’t stand with 3D when it comes to things in the background was worse than ever & all the layers in scenes like when Bilbo is in the leaves at the top of the trees were just distracting & weird. Although I don’t think it was just the 3D – I think it’s the way it was filmed overall and my 2D experience probably wouldn’t have been much better (my hubby spent ages trying to explain things like high frame rate to me when we spent almost this entire movie just discussing how awful it looked). I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again – I know NOTHING about filmmaking. I just love watching movies. All I know is that this film didn’t look right to the point that I was SO distracted for at least the first half of the movie that I couldn’t concentrate on the things I care about (story and characters) and actually couldn’t wait for the film to finish.

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Now before everyone tells me that this film looks amazing I should explain what I mean by the film looking “awful” and I know that not everyone will agree. It’s also very hard to put into words. It looks too REAL. The daylight scenes were the worst – it felt like I was actually watching a play (with a very high budget) and that the actors were standing on a stage in front of me. It had the look & feel of a National Geographic documentary or a BBC drama (which are things that are fine if that’s the sort of thing you want to watch). The Hobbit is an epic fantasy – I don’t want it to feel REAL. I want to lose myself in this magical world – I go to movies as an escape from the real world, especially when it comes to an actual fantasy film. It took the fantasy element away by being filmed in this way. It wasn’t as bad during darker scenes – I found myself cringing every time there was another scene in bright daylight. Luckily, the last half of the film is dark and I finally started to get into the story a bit more when they go to Lake-town. But this is over halfway into the film – I was too annoyed by this point to really care.

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Summary:

I’ve spent no time discussing what should really matter in a movie – the story & the characters. The film picks up once they reach Lake-town and was a lot more enjoyable than the first half, I think Freeman is very good, I adore Ian McKellen but he’s very underused in this one, I liked Bard, I thought Smaug looked really good and liked the scene where he starts moving underneath all that gold. Hell, I even didn’t mind that romance they threw in there which most people probably hate. But, unfortunately, none of this really mattered as the look of the film was so distracting that it ruined the entire experience for me. So for the first time EVER, my rating is largely influenced by this instead of just being based on the story & characters. I’m very very disappointed and am considering skipping the last one in order to not end up having it lessen my love for The Lord Of The Rings films.

My Rating: 5.5/10

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** And to think I was waiting until I’d seen this to do my 2013 Top Ten Movies list. I’ll probably post that tomorrow. Spoiler: This movie doesn’t even come close to making it. 😉