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I saw a comment GB made on the blog on the main site, and it made me start thinking. I wanted to respond to it in a format more conducive to discussion, though.

[quote="Gandalfs Beard":swwzgoo6]Letís hope this turns out to be true. I donít care what a few Purist Naysayers say (you know who you are <img src='/images/smileys/wink.gif' border='0' alt='Wink Smilie' /> ), Jackson did a brilliant job on LotR and his involvement in The Hobbit is absolutely necessary to maintain continuity. Iíll miss Del Toro, but Jackson is the one this whole project revolves around.[/quote:swwzgoo6]

I'm pretty sure I'm one of those Purist Naysayers (TM) that GB was thinking of, but I'd like to actually try to keep that out of this thread. In my opinion a film can be a faithful adaptation but bad cinema, and also an unfaithful adaptation but good cinema. So whatever your opinions about PJ's faithfulness, I'd like to consider the more-neglected question: [b:swwzgoo6]how good of a job did PJ and Co. do in making the films as good cinema?[/b:swwzgoo6]

I suspect that most everyone here thinks they were good films (petty perhaps excluded <img src='/images/smileys/wink.gif' border='0' alt='Wink Smilie' /> ), but I doubt anyone thinks they were [i:swwzgoo6]perfect[/i:swwzgoo6]. I'm interested to know what everyone thinks the various strengths and flaws of the films when considered independently of the book. I'll post my own thoughts shortly.
My thoughts:

[b:2lxh97u1]The Good[/b:2lxh97u1]
[list:2lxh97u1][*:2lxh97u1]The Soundtrack: simply put, this is one of my favourite movie soundtracks of all time. I love the music in it.[/*:m:2lxh97u1]
[*:2lxh97u1]The locations: Visually stunning, a gorgeous and effective backdrop to the story. The location scouts did a great job in finding these places, and PJ did well to choose them.[/*:m:2lxh97u1]
[*:2lxh97u1]Gollum: Much has been said about the technical process of bringing Gollum to the screen, but it deserves to be mentioned again, especially in light of the time at which it was done. Andy Serkis' performance was also very good.[/*:m:2lxh97u1]
[*:2lxh97u1]The visual effects: There was definitely a lot of digital effects, and they were quite good, but PJ wanted to use real sets and miniatures as much as possible. I think this was a wise move as it allowed the more fantastic elements to be visualized well while not forcing the actors to wander around aimlessly in front of endless blue screens (Star Wars prequels, anyone?).[/*:m:2lxh97u1]
[*:2lxh97u1]Worldbuilding: one of the most well-known parts of the book is the highly detailed world that Tolkien created, and PJ and his team did an amazing job of bringing a similar level of detail to the films. I've seen very few films that devoted as much effort to making the fictional world seem just as developed, layered, and historied as our own.[/*:m:2lxh97u1]
[*:2lxh97u1]The acting (most of it): I loved the performances of Viggo Mortensen, Sean Bean, Sean Astin, Ian Holm, and Ian McKellen (though mainly in the first film). Even Orlando Bloom wasn't bad if you look past the showboating. I didn't like all the actors, but most of them (in particular the ones I mentioned) did excellent.[/*:m:2lxh97u1][/list:u:2lxh97u1]

[b:2lxh97u1]The Bad[/b:2lxh97u1]
[list:2lxh97u1][*:2lxh97u1]The acting (some of it): There were a few performances I didn't like. I had a hard time connecting with Elijah Wood's Frodo or Hugo Weaving's Elrond since they were presented as good guys and I felt a few of the actors (the guy who played Celeborn, for example) were too wooden.[/*:m:2lxh97u1]
[*:2lxh97u1]The writing: This is probably my biggest complaint: I don't think the writing was very good. Some of the lines were clearly inspired by Tolkien, but a lot of it was cheesy (i.e., "Let's hunt some orc"Wink Smilie, anachronistic, or otherwise out of place. I also cringe every time I hear Theoden channel Darth Vader as he is dying, even though it's an emotional scene for me.[/*:m:2lxh97u1]
[*:2lxh97u1]Fighting: I actually really enjoyed a lot of the battle scenes, but I think the proportion of the film devoted to them was extremely lopsided. The War of the Ring features heavily in the story, yes, but in the second two films the more peaceful moments are lost. This criticism doesn't apply to FOTR, though.[/*:m:2lxh97u1]
[*:2lxh97u1]Realism, or the lack thereof: for the most part the film-makers embraced the idea that Middle-earth should be realistic (once you get past a few obvious fantastical elements), but they lost sight of that goal in some of their decisions. Examples include the largely grass-less plains of Rohan, the impossibly large mace of the Witch-king, and the [i:2lxh97u1]hollow head[/i:2lxh97u1] on the battering ram Grond. While all these elements are cool in their own way, they make it harder to enter the secondary world without question.[/*:m:2lxh97u1]
[*:2lxh97u1]Inconsistencies: how did the Elves get to Helm's Deep so fast? How did Faramir's Rangers get instant updates on the war in Rohan? Why does the geography of the films not match the maps we are shown? As with realism issues, these points break immersion in the story. The EEs helped a lot with this, though.[/*:m:2lxh97u1][/list:u:2lxh97u1]

[b:2lxh97u1]Conclusion[/b:2lxh97u1]
[list:2lxh97u1][*:2lxh97u1]Most of the criticisms apply only partially, as the filmmaker's performance in various fields varied over three very long films.[/*:m:2lxh97u1]
[*:2lxh97u1]The problems I find with the films are far outweighed by the good I find in them, so while I dislike them, they don't ruin the overall experience for me.[/*:m:2lxh97u1]
[*:2lxh97u1]These are some of my favourite films.[/*:m:2lxh97u1]
[*:2lxh97u1]I've probably forgotten things, so I'll mention them later as they come to me.[/*:m:2lxh97u1][/list:u:2lxh97u1]
I found the film to be completely spot on, except for one thing that [i:22brvidv]always[/i:22brvidv] comes back and bugs me. The portrayal of the Elves. I do believe I have made my opinions on this topic quite clear in other threads, so I'll refrain from explaining my view on that unless asked for specifically. <img src='/images/smileys/wink.gif' border='0' alt='Wink Smilie' /> Also... how Gimli was merely used for a comedic relief, I did not specifically like. :roll:

[quote:22brvidv]

* The acting (some of it): There were a few performances I didn't like. I had a hard time connecting with Elijah Wood's Frodo or Hugo Weaving's Elrond since they were presented as good guys and I felt a few of the actors (the guy who played Celeborn, for example) were too wooden.[/quote:22brvidv]

I think Frodo was done just fine, and I'm a personal fan of Elijah Wood, so I suppose I can't exactly "argue" that with you, since it's all preference. Elrond falls under the category of not being portrayed correctly as an Elf, as does Celeborn. I don't think that's the actors' faults, in any case, it's the writers' fault.

[quote:22brvidv]
* The writing: This is probably my biggest complaint: I don't think the writing was very good. Some of the lines were clearly inspired by Tolkien, but a lot of it was cheesy (i.e., "Let's hunt some orc"Wink Smilie, anachronistic, or otherwise out of place. I also cringe every time I hear Theoden channel Darth Vader as he is dying, even though it's an emotional scene for me. [/quote:22brvidv]

I would say the Tolkien inspired lines would out-weigh the "cheesy" ones, and so the writing would not necessarily be a [i:22brvidv]bad[/i:22brvidv] thing, in the big picture.


[quote:22brvidv]
* Fighting: I actually really enjoyed a lot of the battle scenes, but I think the proportion of the film devoted to them was extremely lopsided. The War of the Ring features heavily in the story, yes, but in the second two films the more peaceful moments are lost. This criticism doesn't apply to FOTR, though. [/quote:22brvidv]

I think PJ wanted to convey as much as he could the absolute horror and turmoil that was going on in Middle Earth at the time, therefore the portrayal of the Elves (which was not necessary) and such. I some-what agree here, but I also disagree. He kept the first movie for the peaceful times. However, something to remember, is the time of "peace" and conversation that Gandalf and Pippin share in Minas Tirith, gazing at the Mordor, which is one of my favorite scenes.

[quote:22brvidv]
* Realism, or the lack thereof: for the most part the film-makers embraced the idea that Middle-earth should be realistic (once you get past a few obvious fantastical elements), but they lost sight of that goal in some of their decisions. Examples include the largely grass-less plains of Rohan, the impossibly large mace of the Witch-king, and the hollow head on the battering ram Grond. While all these elements are cool in their own way, they make it harder to enter the secondary world without question. [/quote:22brvidv]

I don't see how they tried to make it realistic at all. Frodo must've been wearing some [b:22brvidv]HEAVY DUTY[/b:22brvidv] chain-mail to with-stand the blow of something ten or more times larger and stronger than him stabbing him directly in the chest. That's just plain crazy! Dragon-shaped fireworks? A sword that glows blue, or glows at all? There are tons of fantastical elements in Lord of the Rings, and I don't see a place where the crew actually tried to dumb it down to realism, it only looks like they tried to enhance the fantasty of it.

[quote:22brvidv]
* Inconsistencies: how did the Elves get to Helm's Deep so fast? How did Faramir's Rangers get instant updates on the war in Rohan? Why does the geography of the films not match the maps we are shown? As with realism issues, these points break immersion in the story. The EEs helped a lot with this, though. [/quote:22brvidv]

I can't tell you how or why here, but perhaps that's just the fantastical elements at work again? <img src='/images/smileys/bigsmile.gif' border='0' alt='Big Smile Smilie' />
The geography of the films does not match the maps we are shown by Tolkien, because, well, this is the real world, not Middle Earth.
Eldo, your post deserves an in-depth response. I don't have time right now, but I will definitely come back to this. (By the way, I was thinking more of Petty and perhaps Odo when I posted in the comment section of Ady's blog. Compared to them you're almost as "liberal" as me <img src='/images/smileys/wink.gif' border='0' alt='Wink Smilie' /> :mrgreen: ).

[b:316oqdyz]GB[/b:316oqdyz]
My view on them as films, taken impartially and with my love of Tolkien put aside, is based on the opinions and reactions of people I know who have seen them, but who have never read the books. A good comparison is with Harry Potter, as most of those I have asked about LoTR have also seen at least one of those. In comparison I would have to conclude that Harry Potter makes better films. Many people found LoTR boring films and indeed I know of more people saying they fell asleep whilst watching LoTR than any other films I can think of. Even I found myself looking at my watch in the cinema hoping they would end when I should have been wanting more. So on that basis I would say they are not good cinema in and of themselves. I do not think in 40 years time they will be considered classic cinema or be remembered with too much fondness.
This is my first post here so just a little about my perspective. I did not read the books until I saw the first movie (which I didn't see until it hit cable)..ANd I have read the 4 books (including The Hobbit) a few times since.

As far as the first movie was concerned, I was blown away. I thought it near perfect. I don't mean in whether or not it stayed true to the book, (I had not read it yet) just as a science fiction movie itself. I thought the action scenes were wonderful, I didn't notice any poor acting or dialogue. It kept me fully engaged and interested. I like the movies, ironically, in the order in which they were released. Fellowship first, Twin Towers second, Return of the King last. By the time I saw Two Towers, I think I had read the books and am not sure if that facts clouds my view a little. The Helms Deep scene is incredible, although I wish the Orcs stomping up and down just before the attack would have been held a little longer. Also the cheesey factor was ramped up quite a bit in my opinion. Specifically Legolas sliding down the stairs on the shield firing arrows as he went. And does he ever run out of arrows???? Concerning the ROTK, I think that could have been cut by 1/2 hour at least. (unless you wanted to add the scouring of the Shire in there somewhere) The movie became a little painful to watch after the ring was destroyed. My personal preference would have been to end the movies as they started. Have Galadriel narrate Aragorn becoming King, the Hobbit return to the Shire, and the Ring Bearers moving on to the Undying Lands.

I have different issues with what was and wasn't left out of the movies, but I think it was an incredibly tough job turning those books into commercially successful movies. Overall, I think Jackson did a wonderful job. I also think the movies turned many non LOTR people, like myself, into big fans of Tolkien. Just on that point, I think you can consider the movies a success.

Also, I think a seperate movie could be made of the Hobbits travels through the Old Forest and the interactions with Tom Bombadil. <img src='/images/smileys/smile.gif' border='0' alt='Smile Smilie' />
As I've said previously, I heard of LOTR by watching the movies. I had no clue they were books at all until about 5 years ago! :lol:
I learned alot from simply watching the movies over and over again. And still! a majority of my knowledge comes from that!
But there are DEFINITELY parts that I dislike now that I've read the books. Like Boromir seeming like such an arse most of the movie, He wasn't THAT rude! (was he?) And Frodo coming off as such a WHIMP! It made my head explode everytime he did something stupid or got in trouble or (at times,) looked constipated! :lol: Also, why in the world would Frodo send Sam away? HE NEVER TRUSTED GOLLUM [b:ehj3dkc0]THAT[/b:ehj3dkc0] MUCH! And some of the made up Arwen/Aragorn scenes made me sick (Never knew why, but ever since I was 6 I have despised Arwen *liv Tyler). I feel they were pointless to the story except to add some un-needed drama.
But I LOVE THE MUSIC! I listen to it all the time! And I thought Hobbiton was dead on! And I love all of the fight scenes! Though, I wish they had the "Aragorn being kingly" part at Helms Deep in the movie, instead of the random "Legolas despairs" bit.
O well, I still love the movies, but I look at them now with a critics eye. I think if you're watching just out of pleasure though, you will be blown away <img src='/images/smileys/wink.gif' border='0' alt='Wink Smilie' />
I am all for more people finding Tolkiens writing through the films- but think how many more might have done so had the films actually been good instead of just commercial.
For a film to be good it has to be internally consistent with itself- the LoTR films are not. I am still waiting on someone to offer a reasonable explanation for why when Faramir decides to drag Frodo all the way to Osgiliath he doesn't then seize the Ring, and why the deciding factor in not seizing it is seeing Frodo trying to give it to the Enemy, thus destroying everything Faramir loves- why would he let Frodo go after that? It can't be a good film with poorly thought out nonsense like that in it.

On a side note- and I hope this is merely a matter of awaiting moderation- but I replied on the main web page to the point GB made which inspired this thread- and whilst in a couple of lines I was critical of PJ as director I was in no way rude, offensive or abusive in any way- yet my comment seems to be missing. Surely those who run affairs here are not so 'petty' as to remove anything which is critical of PJ from the main page- it does seem suspicous that every comment there is a 'isn't PJ the most marvelous person on the planet' style comment.
[quote="Durin":1rnl23no]I think Frodo was done just fine, and I'm a personal fan of Elijah Wood, so I suppose I can't exactly "argue" that with you, since it's all preference. Elrond falls under the category of not being portrayed correctly as an Elf, as does Celeborn. I don't think that's the actors' faults, in any case, it's the writers' fault.[/quote:1rnl23no]

I find Elijah Wood to be a bit wooden, but that's probably a subjective measure. I agree that most of my complaints are with the writing, which is why I tried to leave the bit about the actors understated. For example, the presentation of Gimli annoys me a lot, but John Rhys-Davies did pretty good with what he had (though some of the things that bug me [i:1rnl23no]were[/i:1rnl23no] his ideas).

[quote:1rnl23no]I would say the Tolkien inspired lines would out-weigh the "cheesy" ones, and so the writing would not necessarily be a [i:1rnl23no]bad[/i:1rnl23no] thing, in the big picture.[/quote:1rnl23no]

I can't say how the balance plays out for me off the top of my head, but the writing was not all or even mostly bad, in my opinion. A lot of it was quite good, though not IMHO one of the trilogy's biggest strengths.

[quote:1rnl23no]I think PJ wanted to convey as much as he could the absolute horror and turmoil that was going on in Middle Earth at the time, therefore the portrayal of the Elves (which was not necessary) and such. I some-what agree here, but I also disagree. He kept the first movie for the peaceful times. However, something to remember, is the time of "peace" and conversation that Gandalf and Pippin share in Minas Tirith, gazing at the Mordor, which is one of my favorite scenes.[/quote:1rnl23no]

There are some moments of peace, though the scenes in Minas Tirith were far tenser than the peaceful moments like Imladris and Lothlorien (which showed up in the films, though quite abridged). Minas Tirith was, as the line goes, "the deep breath before the plunge" more than a peaceful respite.

[quote:1rnl23no]I don't see how they tried to make it realistic at all. Frodo must've been wearing some [b:1rnl23no]HEAVY DUTY[/b:1rnl23no] chain-mail to with-stand the blow of something ten or more times larger and stronger than him stabbing him directly in the chest. That's just plain crazy! Dragon-shaped fireworks? A sword that glows blue, or glows at all? There are tons of fantastical elements in Lord of the Rings, and I don't see a place where the crew actually tried to dumb it down to realism, it only looks like they tried to enhance the fantasty of it.[/quote:1rnl23no]

There were obviously fantastic elements, and mithril is one of them. So is magic, such as it is in Middle-earth. But the film-makers deliberately tried to have their props, especially weapons, be plausible and not goofy (in stark contrast to films such as [i:1rnl23no]Conan the Barbarian[/i:1rnl23no] where Ahnuld's sword is truly bizarre) and to work high levels of realism and believability into the costumes. They talk about this at some length in the bonus features and Brian Sibley's companion book ([i:1rnl23no]The Making of the Movie Trilogy[/i:1rnl23no]).

[quote:1rnl23no]I can't tell you how or why here, but perhaps that's just the fantastical elements at work again? <img src='/images/smileys/bigsmile.gif' border='0' alt='Big Smile Smilie' />
The geography of the films does not match the maps we are shown by Tolkien, because, well, this is the real world, not Middle Earth.[/quote:1rnl23no]

I was referring to the maps shown in the films, such as Faramir's in [i:1rnl23no]The Two Towers[/i:1rnl23no]. They follow Tolkien's maps quite closely, but since that geography was changed for the films an inconsistency is created.

Thanks for commenting, BTW. I really enjoy reading everyone's thoughts. <img src='/images/smileys/smile.gif' border='0' alt='Smile Smilie' />
I still haven't had time to do this topic justice. But I agree with Eldo regarding the realism (and a number of other things).

But I have to say, I thought the Casting and Acting was exceptional. I didn't have a problem with anyone; they were all perfect (this isn't necessarily regarding comparisons of the Film Characters to the Book Characters, which is a different subject altogether. Though I do think the Film Characters by and large captured the essentials of the Book Characters--but again, we've already discussed our disagreements on other threads).

[b:3bzr4naw]GB[/b:3bzr4naw]
With regards the casting I thought Frodo was miscast- comparing Elijah's performance to Ian Holm when he played the role is like night and day- the bottom line is Elijah is nowhere near as good.
Viggo I think is an excellent actor and is superb in FotR, a bit weak in TT and frankly awful in RoTK- his speech before the Black Gate makes me cringe every time, it doesn't even sound like pseudo Tolkien-faults Viggo himself put down to 'not staying closer to the books'- in particular the odd decision not to have a 'Kingly' Aragorn is strange- you'd think he'd have at least have found the time for a shave before his coronation but he looks just the same as he has since Bree!
I thought Serkis did a good job although he not my favourite Gollum 'voice' that goes to Woodthorpe who did the radio plays and the Bakshi version- but a lot of what I don't like is down to the dumbing down of his characters complex personality.
Sean Bean is an excellent Boromir but again the dumbing down affects his character badly.
I think Bloom could have been a good Legolas but the ludicrous things they do with that character mean I dislike his portrayal in the films intensely.
And one of favourite subsidiary characters, Denethor, is dumbed down to a point where he is almost unrecognisable as the same character.
Putting aside the source and taking them as films I like my films to make some sense, but PJ's love of spectacle to often takes precedent over any sort of sense- a good example of this is he shows Denethor taking Faramir to the Hallows across the bridge- a good half mile at least from the Court- yet when he is burnt he has Denethor apparently run that distance, on fire, in record time- just so he can jump off the top- there is no sense in this internally in the film save spectacle- symptomatic of all that's wrong with these films.
Good thread Eldo. Agreed with most of what you said. I think Elijah deserves a bit more credit though. Dont you just love lotr, could talk about it for ever (well, till the end of the week anyway) :lol:
I thought the lighting was well done in most outdoor scenes, there was lots of atmosphere. The only place that it was really bad was in Shelobs lair, where it should have been much darker and ominous.

The wardrobe was outstanding.

As to Liv Tyler, I felt she did a great job as Arwen, however, her part should have been much smaller, especially stealing Glorfindels role and the love triangle crap.

One of my best bits was Boromirs death scene, it was very close to Tolkien artist, Danforth.
[img:3qp504pb]http://i45.photobucket.com/albums/f97/HawkeyeTheNoo/boromir_dies.jpg[/img:3qp504pb]
I also liked visually how the ents were portrayed.

I hated the comic relief of Merry, Pippin and Gimli. It reduced these members of the fellowship.

I also hated the added stunt scenes for Legolas. They were very unnecessary.

The love triangle and the added stunts provide me with a gripe that I agree with petty on; without them the movies could have been shorter, also if they had to be that length, then I am sure we could all say what should have been used to fill that time. In short some film time could have been put to better use. ( my vote would have been to include the scouring.)
My vote would have been to get someone in to do the script who wanted to adapt LoTR and not make their own film up 'based' on what Tolkien wrote. But you all know that already! But I've just been 'nice' on another thread so got to make up for it somewhere.
I loved all the movies even though they may have had some flaws. I watched the extended version of all 3 films and I saw why some scenes were cut; some werent too good or necessary such as the part with Saruman being impaled at Isengard.
Can't say Istari that I was much a fan of the Saruman impalation scene either but it was (just) preferable to the bizarre choice to not reslove the Saruman issue at all in the theatrical version, especially after they 'enlarged' Sarumans role in Fellowship to make him the main on screen villian of the piece.
I actually liked quite a lot of what was reinstated in the EE versions, it seemed to me that when it came to deciding what would make the theatrical cuts they favoured special effects and long action scenes over character and plot development. Although there was a fair bit of unneccessary extension to some of the action scenes in the EE versions there was a lot of character stuff that the films are better for than without. In fact I would go as far as to say that if their had not been the EE versions I would rate the films even lower than I already do, which is saying something.