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Comments on Thursday 19 December 2002:
This is a long one; I title it "why Lord of the Rings part 2 is really awful". I don't think it contains spoilers. Even if it did, I don't think you could actually spoil such a movie.

I should start by mentioning that I began from a somewhat biased position of unexpectedly having to wait an hour and a half, in a noisy tight-packed crowd of smelly annoying people, with all the waves of stifling body heat and rebreathed air which that implies. I had hence decided I would probably hate the movie before it even started.

That said, the movie certainly didn't go out of its way to disappoint me in that respect. It had all the lengthy musical shots of 'epic' scenery that the first had, and more. It had clichés piled atop clichés. The dwarf had apparently been turned into comic relief, though the humour was rather on the level of "hee hee, look, he's short, and he has a funny voice". That didn't stop the audience from laughing at every single shot in which he appeared. Even ones in which nothing was said.

Why do American audiences applaud at movies? Is there a secret hidden "applause" sign to which I am not privy? Do they think the actors/writers/director will somehow be able to pick up on their approval if they bang their meaty paws together enough? It makes no sense. I fully intend to never go to the cinema again. If you ever see me blogging (or saying to you in some other way) "I'm going to see (movie X) tonight", please comment swiftly and say "don't do it, you'll hate it - remember Lord of the Rings".

Don't think I hated it because of the wait or the audience, though. I hated it because it was really really boring. It must have been less than two thirds of the way through that I was hoping for each fade to be the fade to end-credits. Less than half way through that I was wishing I had been the driver, so I could leave, or that I was watching it at home so I could turn it off and do something else. I was tempted, even, to leave the screen-room and go and sleep in the corridor until it was over.

I suspect the movie was true to the book, but I'm not sure - did the book really make so little sense? Defending a castle without using boiling oil or any sort of fire, or any sort of dropping-things at all? Holding your fire from the battlements when you know your arrows can reach the enemy? Building a tower beneath a dam, at the very bottom of a drained pond that was deeper than the tower is high? Attacking a castle that's situated at the base of a cliff by exploding its lower wall, rather than by exploding the cliff onto the top of it? Defending a castle by going outside to fight the enemy? Sending a crapload of your troops to attack a castle that's in a dead-end at all, rather than sending them to attack non-fortified positions around the rest of the world?

The one redeeming feature of the movie came at the end. I mean really, at the end. With the walking out, and going home. The feeling of relief. At last, one of the fades really was to the end-credits. And about fucking time.

"What can we do against evil this strong?" "I know, let's stand around and have a conversation. Ooh, and we could blow a horn!" Feh.
[03:11]

Digi
(In my humble opinion, blah, blah - if you don't like what I'm saying don't agree with it).

The book made a good use of creating a magical world. I usually hate the "That doesn't work!" "Shut-up, it's magic" method of covering up plot holes, but when Tolkien did it, it worked. On top of this he gave the characters a certain code of honour, so the stuff they did may seem strange, but hey, it's magic, and they are bound by a code. Haven’t seen the film yet, but as far as the book goes, it's pretty plot-hole ‘less.

This could all be to do with actually seeing the stuff that shouldn't make sense, rather than reading it, and having your brain format it in a realistic way. But like I say, I’ve yet to see the film. In the first film, for example, during the opening battle scene, I was a little miffed at their battle tactics of “Just stand here until one side runs out of troops", but what the hell, it looked pretty, and they used cg in the right way. But god damn the cg in the bridge collapse scene.

On another note, I'm noticing mouseovers are no longer working for me. I doubt very much that Raven has let his mouseovers fail, and it's probably because my only internet access is from my place of work, where I can make no modifications to machines. But, just in case everyone is thinking "It's probably just me", and the mouseovers are broken, thought I'd better mention it.

bv728
Book 2 is EVEN MORE NONSENSICAL than the movie; Jackson did quite a bit of work on it such that you don't have as many "Here's a character, hope you don't like them, because they're going to be in three paragraphs, get an enormous amount of expoistion about them for no apparent reason, then vanish and become extremely important in the third book" moments.

They did use some droppy things during the siege; there's some shots of rocks being dropped, but by and large, the lack of oil has always puzzled me; apparently, they didn't have any or something like that, which is puzzling considering that this fortress doesn't exist EXCEPT to repel seiges.

maarak
Dropping oil wouldn't have done much good in this scenario - the bases of the large ladders they used were far enough back from the walls that any oil poured over the edge would only hit the orcs at the very top of the ladder, and for all the time/trouble/manpower it would take to reload the oil cauldrons, etc, you might as well just have troops stand at the top of the ladders and stab at them as they came.

Also, the basin the Isengaard tower was in was not deeper than the tower was high - it wasn't even deep enough to drown the Ent, who were able to wade around in the flooded basin waist deep.

I could say more, but I'd suggest you try seeing the movie again look for some of the details you may have missed the first time through, as a lot of the seeming discrepencies you pointed out are better explained on a second viewing (at least that's what I found, after seeing it a second time tonight and having read your thoughts here prior to that.) ;)

Seriously, though, if you trust the opinion of an anonymous stranger at all I'd highly recommend seeing it again when you're in a better mood, in my opinion it's a great movie (though I do admit at times there was a bit more cheesy dialogue than I could forgive), and in my experience even the greatest works of art can be percieved as complete rubbish if you've put yourself in that mindset ahead of time.

Tom
I think that your judgement was a little clouded by the bad mood you seem to have seen it in. It does have problems.

The worst bits IMHO, were the sections that deviated from the book. All the romantic guff with Arwen, for example. Broke up the rhythm of the film horribly. Pippin and Merry having to take Treebeard to see the devasted forest. In the book, all the Ents are very well aware of this damage, that's the point of being an Ent - you know when somebody chops a tree down in your forest (Actually, I think what it is to be an Ent was rushed over completely, didn't think the Ents were treated fairly. Where was the tale of the Entwives? The theme of 'nature' is missing from Peter Jackson's LOTR vision I think - no Tom Bombadil in the first film etc). The dwarf jokes were just wrong, went completely against the honour given to dwarves in the book for some cheap laughs (Interestingly, few people laughed at the dwarf jokes in my audience). The section where Frodo and Sam were captured by the men of Gondor was overly extended and missed the real reason Faramir didn't take the ring. Gollum's internal struggle came across as a 19th Century music hall act. I think this was largely because of the technique used of cutting between Gollum and Smeagol:

Gollum: I ssay, I ssay, I ssay.
Smeagol: What do you say?
Gollum: Kills the hobbitses!
Smeagol: Kill the hobbitses!?!? I can't kill the hobbitses!
Gollum: Oh yess you cans!
Smeagol: Oh no I can't!
Gollum: Oh yess you cans!
Smeagol: Oh no I can't!

And so on. People in my audience laughed more at this than the dwarf jokes. Which is a pity because it should be a struggle between Good and Evil. Would have been much better to do the whole sequence as a medium close up on Gollum, no cuts. Frodo's similar struggle was much better done. Gollum was animated brilliantly though.

Did anybody else think that the Ents moved remarkably like anime battle mecha of some sort?

The book's much better than the film. After all this, I did quite enjoy the film.

Tom
Feh to 2048 chars.

To answer your objections:

The fortifications in the gorge of Helm's Deep were built by the Men of Gondor in the first millennium of the Third Age. At this time the use of boiling oil or fire as a defensive weapon was unknown, and so the fortress of Hornburg was not designed to utilise such defenses. Rocks were thrown.

Holding fire makes a lot of sense in this situation, no matter the range. When the Uruk-hai were drawn up in ranks before Hornburg within range of the archers, one arrow would kill one Uruk-hai. This is a waste of ammunition. Once the Uruk-hai began to charge, one arrow would kill one Uruk-hai and probably at least cripple two or three more as they tripped over the corpse in front of them and were trampled. You need to wait until the charge has built up speed to make best use of this.

The movie got Isengard completely wrong. It wasn't in a hollow as depicted. It was positioned above the river controlling both river trade and the Gap of Rohan in the mountains. Originally built by Gondor, handed over to Saruman later. The Ents didn't break a dam - they actually created a dam to build up the river Isen and overflow Isengard.

There was no passable way for the Uruk-hai to manouver onto the top of the cliff and explode it down onto the defenders. (This is not shown in the film). The terrain that would have to be crossed to achieve this would kill half the Uruk-hai force, and give the defenders plenty of time to counter the attack.

Grarrh. Sleep.
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