Tirdun Fri Dec 20 09:31:24 2002|
LoTR-TT 9.999 [long]
As no one is around and I'm very far behind on catching up with the discussions I've missed, I'll take the soapbox and rattle on about Two Towers having just seen it with my oldest son (10).
As a background: I'm a longstanding Tolkien fanatic. I've read the books dozens of times, including the Hobbit and Silmarillion. I wore out my paperback LoTR copies, and now have a leatherbound, slipcover version that I treasure.
Hated the first adaptation (Bashki cartoon, circa 70s) and the follow-on Return of the king (early 80s? WB-really, really awful). The LoTR by Bashki suffered from 3 things: Not enough time, not enough money, and not enough understanding of the story (or storytelling in general). Gandalf carries all the exposition of the movie and the whole first half hour is dedicated to long, tedious monologues to catch us up with all this ring business. Then everything rushes headlong in a confused and jarring attempt to get it all over with. The rotoscoped animation and cheezy effects were distracting and annoying. The characters were 2D interchangeable bores and Bashki couldn't seem to decide if this was a children's move (a la Little Mermaid: cut all the bad stuff and put music around what's left) or grown-up cartoon (a la Princess Mononoke) and collapses under the sheer weight of it all. The WB attempt to finish the story in Return of the King was abysmal, so bad that it gives me shivers remembering. Taking a purely KIDDIE approach, they sum-up the entire 600 pages of the first two books in a SONG (and an awful one) that lasts 10 minutes and is destined to lose and confuse any children who aren't genuises at interpreting bad musical lyrics. Add to that even worse animation (very Smurfish looking) and you end up with a mess.
Ah.. on to better things.
Not being a "purist" in terms of converting Tolkien to the screen, I'll give Peter Jackson credit for (1) appreciating the story as it is written (2) understanding that a BOOK and a MOVIE are two vastly different mediums with strengths and weaknesses to navigate (3) Attempting to produce the core tale in LoTR in a format that defies easy translation.
That said, I loved Fellowship. I found it breathtaking, stirring, and fiercely loyal to the source material. Yes, he cut out Bombadil, I would have to. If he hadn't taken a brutal scalpel to the book there'd be 16 movies and we wouldn't meet any of the non-hobbit Fellowship until the 5th one. Moria alone would have been a movie. (Lord of the Rings: Moria... mmmm, nah). I felt that the changes (I'm still hesitant on Liv Tyler, not the actress, the role) were mostly good and met the need to flesh out the movie in terms of story beyond "Lets go destroy this here ring". Tolken used a lot of characterization, but putting all of the characters and their backstories on the screen would have required handing out playbooks at the door. Fellowship gets a solid 10 for suceeding as the few faults I had were so overshadowed by the goodies that I had fogotten them by the end.
So, on to TT.
TT suffers from "second act" issues, as any middle part of a story might. The characterization needs to build on the established personalities, new characters who are integral to the plot should be kept to a minimum, and the story should progress toward the conclusion. The conflicts should be progressively complex and foreshadows of the possible final climax should be introduced. It manages all of this to some degree or another. TT manages some climactic scenes with Helm's Deep and Isengard, but suffers in that they are mostly build up with the climax rushed past in a hurry. I wanted to savor the victories! If you can linger over the armies BEFORE the battle, give us some AFTER the battle lingering! The whole Aragorn Love Triangle annoys me, probably because it took time away from the battles! I'm sure it'll all come together at the end (I've read the book, after all) in something that will add some character empathy, but my testosterone craves orc-beheading.
The CGI and FX in TT is far and away better than anything I've seen, including Star Wars. Gollum is 95% real, you'll only rarely think "it's a computer generated thing" and those were generally at times when he was physically interacting with other characters. In the environment, he's just shy of flesh and bone. Plus his dual nature (bad guy-worse guy) was fun to watch and came off really well. The oliphants were freakin cool, the miniature sets are awesome. I was only really aware of the FX being FX during the flooding scene (it looked like a miniature at times) the wargs (looked a bit less real when running, much better standing around growling) and the hobbits sitting on Treebeard (background was off... don't know why). Otherwise the FX were like icing on the cake. Star Wars seems to me to suffer from a lack of cake, and eating pure icing is ok for about 30 seconds.
That said, the core story is intact (minus some detours) and the parties are headed where they're supposed to for the big third act. I had really hoped to see Shelob in this one, but I'm guessing that she'll be the big CG critter for RoTK and that Minus Tirith will be the set piece with the big battle scene. Looking forward to the big scene in the volcano and final resolution.
OK, gone all next week probably. Happy Holidays. .-Brian-.
mouse Fri Dec 20 17:39:55 2002|
Re: LoTR-TT 9.999 [long]
hey tirdun! good to hear from you!
i'm hoping to catch 'two towers' over christmas - keep hearing good reviews, so i'm getting more and more eager. i had forgotten about the oliphants! - i've mostly been eager to see ents. shelob should have been in this one, since the ending to the book is with sam taking the ring and going on, thinking that frodo was dead - but maybe they were afraid that would be too much of a downer for people not familiar with the book.
in the mean time, i'm off too - so happy holidays all!
tirdun Tue Dec 24 06:37:02 2002|
Re: LoTR-TT 9.999 [long]
> hey tirdun! good to hear from you! I'd taken to checking the forums less and less often as the main comic hadn't updated...
> i'm hoping to catch 'two towers' over christmas - keep hearing good
> reviews, so i'm getting more and more eager. i had forgotten about the
Brief scene, but they were barely mentioned in the book anyway... IMHO, TT continues in the exact same framework that tFoTR set up, same mood, same characters, same feel, everything. I'm anticipating (in December 04!!) having all three special edition disk sets and watching them in a row as one continuous movie.
> i've mostly been eager to see ents. shelob should have been
> in this one, since the ending to the book is with sam taking the ring and
> going on, thinking that frodo was dead - but maybe they were afraid that
> would be too much of a downer for people not familiar with the book.
I think that the last book is also much shorter than the other 2, as it's filled with appendices and notes and maps and such. Plus now we can (hopefully) linger over the final battle at Minus Tirith, the march to the Black Gate, Shelob and the cracks of doom. Another year... this is WORSE THAN LAST TIME.
> in the mean time, i'm off too - so happy holidays all! This will likely be my last bit until after the New Year as well.
Michael Wed Jan 1 15:07:41 2003|
Re: LoTR-TT 9.999 - concur!
I loved it. I didn't love it as much as Stephen Notley (Bob the Angry Flower) loved it, but it was a good solid rendition of the middle part of a nine-hour movie. And I agree it's horrible that we have to wait another year.
I was convinced by this movie, for the first time since Jurassic Park, that CGI is a worthwhile human endeavor. The Ents still walk wrong, it's true, but face-wise they were great -- but GOLLUM. Oh, my God. Gollum was GREAT.
But I just want to note here that even MORE HORRIBLE than having to wait another year for the Return of the King is that I will almost certainly only get to see it in HUNGARIAN. Remember the Hungarian Apes? Huh? Remember how much that sucked? For me, anyway? No, you don't remember, none of you does, you're all horrible and I deserve better. Horrible fansses, they is, yes, preciousss. Nasty little fannsses are dirty thievess, they is. Yesss, precious, we hates them. We wants to kill them, dirty little fannnsses. But it's too risky! SHE can kill them for us, eh precious? YEESS! SHE'll kill them, nasty little thieving fannsses!
mouse Thu Jan 2 19:12:51 2003|
Re: LoTR-TT 9.999 - concur!
> I was convinced by this movie, for the first time since Jurassic Park,
> that CGI is a worthwhile human endeavor. The Ents still walk wrong, it's
> true, but face-wise they were great -- but GOLLUM. Oh, my God. Gollum was
i liked the ents. i reread the books last year, so now i don't remember exactly how he describes ents walking (striding, wasn't it? they seemed to stride nicely, although their feet come down a little oddly - but then they are sort of odd-shaped feet). still, i am satisfied with the ents. and gollum _was_ excellent. that one scene where he was arguing with himself (stinker vs. slinker, as sam would say) - quite an interesting take on it.
> But I just want to note here that even MORE HORRIBLE than having to wait
> another year for the Return of the King is that I will almost certainly
> only get to see it in HUNGARIAN.
so wait - does this mean you are off to hungary? when? what? you could always get the dvd's in english. then you just have to work on being fabulously wealthy so you can afford a wall-size flat screen monitor to watch it on.
> Remember the Hungarian Apes? Huh?
> Remember how much that sucked? For me, anyway? No, you don't remember,
> none of you does, you're all horrible and I deserve better. Horrible
> fansses, they is, yes, preciousss. Nasty little fannsses are dirty
> thievess, they is. Yesss, precious, we hates them. We wants to kill them,
> dirty little fannnsses. But it's too risky! SHE can kill them for us, eh
> precious? YEESS! SHE'll kill them, nasty little thieving fannsses!
well, now i'm not even going to bother starting a collection to get you the dvd....and get your nasty little teeth away from my fingers! it's _my_ remote, i tell you! mine!