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Lord of the Rings movie trilogy

I thought the first LOTR movie was over-rated. A lot of love went into the making of it, but the repetitious travelogue/fight scene/travelogue/fight scene structure bored me. With a couple of exceptions (notably Ian Holm who did a good job as always) I didn't know who any of these characters were and as such couldn't care if they lived or died. Some of the special effects were pretty bad too, for a $100 million movie.

The second one was a lot more fun, basically because of the battle for Helm's Deep set piece. The stakes, geography and choreography of that fight were very well articulated. Okay, it did go over the top once or twice, like when Legolas skakeboarded down the stairs firing his bow, but not enough to ruin it. It says something though that I base my so much of my opinion of the movie on one extended action sequence.

It was only the third one that evoked any emotional response, despite (or maybe because of!) the 17 endings. It helped that I saw ROTK as part of a nine hour marathon that included the extended editions of both FOTR and TTT.

Like Babylon 5, the installments are better when viewed as part of a package than standalone.

So I was looking forward to an eleven hour DVD marathon that included the EE of ROTK. Switched off the phone and everything to ensure no distractions!

I was ... not exactly disappointed, but not blown away either. The additional footage (that I could identify) did add to the tapestry - and again Miranda Otto is best served by the extended edition (never a bad thing!), but the strong feeling I had at the end of the saga the first time around didn't happen again. I was never emotionally engaged throughout the journey either - just impressed or annoyed by the film as a film.

I guess, like the first Spider-Man movie, LOTR doesn't stand up to repeat viewings that well. Technically it's a remarkable achievement (though some of the SFX still grated... especially the compositing in TTT when Pippin and Merry are being carried through the forest by Treebeard... horrible! horrible!); and I'm sure the discs will spend a lot of time in my DVD player (if only to make my way through the 50 hours of commentary and who-knows-how-many hours of featurettes)... but for me to really love a movie it has to hit me, hard, in the gut or in the heart. LOTR doesn't.

Random observations:

I think at some point in the trilogy the audience is led to believe that just about every major character is dead - sometimes for an hour (Gandalf), sometimes for only a few seconds (Sam). But eventually the device turns ridiculous... was it part of some grand thematic plan? If so, it didn't work.

Okay, third time around I cottoned on that Karl Urban was Miranda Otto's brother, and that it was he who came to the rescue in TTT (after being dismissed as being too far away earlier by King Theowhatsis). And I picked up the fact that David Wenham was Sean Bean's brother the second time I saw TTT (the EE flashback really helped). But how many viewings will it take for me to tell Pippin and Merry apart? Are they meant to be indistinguishable?

I was kidding about the 17 endings. It just felt like that many. This time I counted them. There are eight, plus or minus a couple depending on how you want to break up the beats.

I still cannot take Howard Shore's main "ring" theme seriously. Those dark double bass strings (or whatever they are) are meant to sound Wagnerian, but the melody has always reminded me of the mock-serious beginning to Bernstein's "Glitter and be Gay".

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This page contains a single entry from the blog posted on January 8, 2005 7:41 AM.

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