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PostPosted: Mon Apr 09, 2012 3:17 am 
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Lali Beag Bídeach
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:) I enjoy reading about all of your experiences.

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PostPosted: Mon Apr 09, 2012 3:41 am 
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CosmicBob wrote:

As an aside, the spell check on Chrome lets the word "Bilbo" pass without any red underline, but not "Gandalf". I'm pretty sure that Bilbo has no other meaning in the English language, so it's weird that spell check would let it through but balk at Gandalf.

Anyway.


A bilbo is a type of sword. Just so you know :)

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bilbo_(sword)

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PostPosted: Mon Apr 09, 2012 5:39 am 
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Thanks, hal. That's awesome! :hug:

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― J.R.R. Tolkien, The Return of the King


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 Post subject: Re: Ten years
PostPosted: Fri Dec 19, 2014 4:30 pm 
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I'll bet if I'd told you I was going to review a Tolkien film today, you wouldn't have guessed it would be this one.
Dave_LF wrote:
I'm afraid for me these films haven't aged all that well. I watched RotK recently after not seeing any of the films for several years. I remembered it being almost sublime with a couple moments where PJ was allowed off his leash and promptly went over the top. This time, everything just struck me as ham-fisted, over-acted, and over-FXed. I'm afraid this has rather diminished my excitement for The Hobbit. :|

Not getting younger, I suppose.

It's funny how things change. I had an opportunity to watch The Fellowship of the Ring (extended) a week or two ago after not having seen it in I don't even remember how many years. I was braced for re-disappointment, but was instead blown away by how good it was. All three of these films are substantially above average, but in my opinion, Fellowship actually warrants a spot on the short list of the best films of all time. Allow me to explain...

There are many things that are good about this film, but what's most striking to me is the almost symphonic way it manages the audience's mood. "Pacing" is the word that comes up over and over in the commentaries, but it's much more than just that. The film can be divided pretty neatly into a few different "mood segments", each of which has its own defining moment that colors everything else that occurs within it. And the writers are very careful to maintain that mood while still offering the occasional reminder that things can and will change.

We start with the prologue. The commentaries reveal this to have been all but an afterthought, but the end product is a real coup (the first of several the film achieves). The spectacle and the action draw you right in, which is good enough, but it's the narration from Galadriel in full Voluspa mode--thick with a sense of grief and loss and the implication that what you're about to see is not just tragedy but history--that is the real masterstroke (Tolkien borrowed more than a little from the Eddas himself. That the adapters seemingly knew this and chose to follow him by borrowing a bit more shows real savviness).

And then fresh from the grief of the prologue, we find ourselves dropped smack into the middle of the Shire, and it's gorgeous. But we remain just a tad unsettled, because we know a thing or two now about what kind of world this is. Then Gandalf shows up and the joy that he, Frodo, and Bilbo feel at their reunion is enough to make you think he's your own long-lost friend (and if you read the books in your childhood, in a way he is). Bilbo's party kicks off and everyone's having such a believably good time that you wish you were there. And then we come to Bilbo's last conversation with Gandalf as he departs Bag End. We've been having fun in the Shire for just long enough now that maybe we've started to hope the darkness and otherworldliness of the prologue were a bit of a fluke, but then Bilbo's psyche starts to crack, and we catch a glimpse of that same darkness on the other side. We also catch a glimpse of Gandalf the Grey uncloaked, and are perhaps a bit surprised to learn that the whole Wizard thing wasn't just a ceremonial title. Regardless, we're reminded that even though everything we've seen in the last few minutes has been pretty familiar (aside from a few cosmetic details), this really is a very different world we've found ourselves in. But what this scene is really about is the deep friendship between Bilbo and Gandalf; genuine enough to be rough when it needs to be, and strong enough to bounce right back afterwards. This, I think, is where we first know for sure that the film has real heart and that we're going to be in for more than just thrills by the time it's done. And it should go without saying that both Ians are in top form here. We don't see much more of Holm after this, and the film is poorer for it. It's almost enough to make me wish the writers had thrown caution to the wind and included Bilbo in the fellowship instead of Frodo (not really).

Frodo inherits the ring, Gandalf takes a quick trip to the library, works out what's going on, and the mood shifts. We learn that this Hobbit, a naïve provincial whose status relative to the principalities and powers is reflected literally in his stature, has found himself in possession of the world's most deadly weapon and right at the top of the Dark Lord's most wanted list. The mood from here to Rivendell is one of helpless, hunted terror, augmented when Gandalf, the only power on our side, is rendered helpless himself (and sullied somewhat when Aragorn defeats the hunters in a direct confrontation while barely breaking a sweat). But in the midst of this hunt, there are a number of noteworthy moments that go against the mood and have us briefly look beyond all shadows: Frodo and Sam sighting the Havens-bound elves in the woods, simultaneously reminding us of the doom that surrounds their quest no matter what outcome is achieved, and of the fact that even the worst doom cannot reach everything. Aragorn's song by the campfire, where the (excellent) score shuts down for a moment to make way for crickets, crackling flames, and myth. The arrival of the moth during the long, technically impressive sequence of Gandalf held captive on the pinnacle of Isengard while things rather literally go to hell below.

We get some downtime in Rivendell, and optimism is kindled as the mood shifts from "hunted" to "quest." The whole thing is still a long shot, but we have a plan now, along with a bunch of competent allies. And defeat, if it does come for us, at least feels a long way off. Like Pippin in the book, despite everything we know, it seems impossible to feel gloomy or depressed in this place. But also as in the book, Gandalf knows better, and his foreboding casts a vague shadow over our new hope. He knows what could happen in Moria, and between a Saruman voiceover and an awkwardly scripted but nevertheless tonally effective moment with Frodo outside the gates, we're made to understand he believes something will happen; to him at the very least.

Moria is the film's next big coup. So much is right here, it's hard to know where to start. Gandalf's quiet conversation with Frodo about decisions is one of the highlights of the entire trilogy, all the more meaningful because of what's about to happen. This moment occurs elsewhere in the book--that the writers had the sense to (a) retain it, and (b) locate it here is one of several pieces of evidence that they know how to adapt.

This is followed by Marzabul, where the buildup of tension is managed just right. First, creeping dread as Gandalf reads the record of the colony and its grim end at the hands of the orcs. And after that, sick, immediate terror as the drums begin to boom and it dawns on us that the same thing that happened to them is about to happen to us. Shrieks echo through the tunnels and arrows fly, but we don't actually see what's coming. Boromir says "cave troll" when he shuts the door, but we don't know what that means yet. We don't need to--the look on his face is enough. Finally, once Jackson has our nerves good and taut, he lets the monsters break though. The music stops and things turn brutal. No one gets to hide behind the warriors for this one--even domestic Sam has to learn to fight. Legolas in particular has some suitably badass moments here and later in the tunnels. Two and especially five films out he will have become a caricature of what we see now, but for the moment, they play him just right.

Things turn a bit corny as we run down the great hall, but the moment doesn't last long, and what follows causes us to quickly forget it. Balrogs have a way of doing that. Safe in their chairs at home, fans are given to debating whether Melkor's darkest servants had wings and how many could dance on the head of a pin, but when you've got a demon of the underworld chasing you through its home turf, it's difficult to concern yourself with such academic matters. If you were already suffering from adrenaline fatigue, I'm afraid I have some bad news for you--the cave troll fight probably could have served as the action climax for an average film, but Jackson and Weta decided they could top it. The ensuing chase is long and tense and involves some questionable physics, but it produces the desired effect on the audience's nerves. When we finally arrive at the iconic confrontation on the bridge, we feel almost as exhausted as Gandalf. Our guardian and councilor is frightened but resolute. His hidden power is once again on display, and his cryptic lines from the book are thankfully intact--obscure proper nouns and all--reminding us that there's much more to him than we know. The outcome is no less shocking for its inevitability, and in a moment all the optimism goes out of the quest. From here on out, the mood will be bleak and melancholy. We no longer really believe we can succeed, and even if we do, we've paid a terrible price. But we have to keep trying.

Lórien is a refuge in the book, but here it's another threat, though a muted and psychological one this time. Like Boromir, the audience can find no rest here, and the loss of Gandalf hangs over everything like a pall. And speaking of Boromir, his brief conversation with Aragorn about his home and his hopes is another one of this film's gems, all the more remarkable for being wholly invented by the adapters (who did wonderful things with this character in general). "The Lords of Gondor have returned!" Of course, readers and repeat viewers know that only one of them will return, and the scene becomes all the more poignant for the knowledge.

The Mirror of Galadriel initially seems to confirm our worst fears about this place and this person, first when the Eye shows up uninvited, and then again when the Dark Lady does the same thing. But Galadriel passes the test, a moment of hopeless hope punctuates the melancholy as Frodo resolves to continue the quest, and at last we can relax a little (longer in the extended cut).

By the time we say farewell to Lórien, we're well past the point where most films would have ended--both plotwise and timewise--and it's at Lórien that critics complained things started to drag. In a way they're right, but "dragging" is just the thing the audience should be feeling now, because it's what the characters are feeling. Lórien and the Anduin work the way they do precisely because they follow such a long stretch of relentless action, and because the disaster in Moria is still fresh in the audience's mind. If these scenes had occurred at the beginning of the next film or if this film had been shorter, we just wouldn't feel as "weary and full of grief" as the characters do, and the impact would be totally different.

In any case, the final moments in Lórien lifted our spirits briefly, but out on the Anduin, we're back in the real world. Melancholy again pervades. Faces are long, and music and colors are dreary. The way forward is unclear and the party's trust in its new leader is shaky. On top of this, we're surrounded by artifacts of an all-but-vanished civilization, and can't help but compare our ragged, homeless protagonists unfavorably with the larger-than-life heroes of the past and the remains of their edifices. And orcs are on the way.

And then, despite all the film's already achieved, the writers again decide they can top themselves, and again they succeed. I honestly believe the breaking of the fellowship is what made the trilogy. Without it, the first film might merely have registered as quite a bit better than average. With it, a place in cinematic history was assured. The scene is nothing great in the book--interesting for its effect on the plot, but otherwise unremarkable. But the film, through the addition of little moments like the one in Lórien, makes us care about Boromir--it upsets us to see him fall, and it grieves us to see him die. The tension between him and Aragorn has been evolving ever since Rivendell, and the payoff here satisfies as Boromir finally acknowledges Aragorn as his king, and Aragorn finally accepts.

Fresh from the departure of Boromir, we rejoin Frodo on the riverbank with no sound but the wind and the water. He contemplates giving up, but then a memory of Gandalf's last conversation with him in Moria breaks through the silence. Ever so gently, the score returns with a hymn. Frodo again demonstrates the courage of Hobbits by resolving to go on, and Sam drives it home by following him, walking straight into the river when he's given no other choice. The image of Frodo's hand extending toward him through the water and Sam's closing around it, along with the musical swell that accompanies it, is one of the more powerful moments in the trilogy. But it's not until you've seen them all and come back to watch again that it hits you that two films from now, it will be Frodo who is threatening to sink into the abyss, and Sam's hand that reaches down to save him. The writers played a long game, and it paid off.

And with little further ado, the film ends. Concluding on an powerfully emotional note ensures the experience will be cemented in the wrung-out audience's mind, and we are left both wanting more and assured of getting it. Bravo!


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 Post subject: Re: Ten years
PostPosted: Fri Dec 19, 2014 4:49 pm 
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Lali Beag Bídeach
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:clap: :clap: :clap: Bravo, Dave!

That is one of the best reviews I've read!

FotR is, by far, my favorite of all of the movies. I always thought it was because I saw it with virgin eyes, not having read the books and, thus, not concerned with purist thoughts. You've made me rethink that; perhaps I love this movie the most because it truly is the best.

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 Post subject: Re: Ten years
PostPosted: Fri Dec 19, 2014 5:37 pm 
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Excellent review!

While reading it, I wondered if the reason that FOTR is so much better than all the others is that the creators had so much to prove and to live up to, to even be allowed to continue.

Now that he's proved himself, even if AUJ had been really awful (which it wasn't) the next two movies would have sold out anyway, and made tons of money.

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 Post subject: Re: Ten years
PostPosted: Fri Dec 19, 2014 5:44 pm 
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Well done, Dave!

How I wish I felt the same way... I agree 100% about the absolute brilliance of the first hour or so (until Frodo and Sam bump into Merry and Pippin, really, at which point my suspension of disbelief collapses and doesn't recover until the Moria gate), and I agree that a big chunk of Moria is fantastic film-making, but I have difficulty watching any of the rest of it. I continue to have the same response you did a while back.

But your post has inspired me. I will give it another whirl in ten years or so. :)


Last edited by Passdagas the Brown on Fri Dec 19, 2014 5:50 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject: Re: Ten years
PostPosted: Fri Dec 19, 2014 5:49 pm 
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not something I would recommend
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Good review but everyone knows that TTT is really the best one even if almost all those everyones disagree with me. :blackeye:

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 Post subject: Re: Ten years
PostPosted: Fri Dec 19, 2014 5:51 pm 
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yovargas wrote:
Good review but everyone knows that TTT is really the best one even if almost all those everyones disagree with me. :blackeye:


I don't. :) As a whole, I think it's the best LOTR film (though I think FOTR and ROTK have some of the best scenes).


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 Post subject: Re: Ten years
PostPosted: Fri Dec 19, 2014 5:54 pm 
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I do think that FOTR is the best movie of the five I've seen, and I'm pretty sure BOTFA won't top it. But I enjoyed TTT the most because Rohirrim.

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 Post subject: Re: Ten years
PostPosted: Fri Dec 19, 2014 6:34 pm 
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Oh, Dave, thanks for that recap! I enjoyed it (your recap) more than the last Hobbit film, which I saw last night. :D

I know the LOTR films had grievous flaws of various sorts, which I complained about and in some cases continue to complain about, BUT they touched my heart, made me care, and made me cry. The Hobbit films are, for the most part, long action scenes I don't care about, punctuated by moments I find pleasant or easy on the eyes or charming.

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 Post subject: Re: Ten years
PostPosted: Fri Dec 19, 2014 7:28 pm 
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How lovely Dave. You reminded me why FOTR is my favorite movie of all the... Four that I have seen.


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 Post subject: Re: Ten years
PostPosted: Fri Dec 19, 2014 7:29 pm 
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Inanna,

Have you refused to watch DOS? If so, I'd be curious as to why. There are some lovely, very Tolkien moments in it that I think rival some of the best moments in the LOTR films.

-PtB


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 Post subject: Re: Ten years
PostPosted: Sat Dec 20, 2014 1:14 am 
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And the sixth and final film has some that top them.

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 Post subject: Re: Ten years
PostPosted: Sat Dec 20, 2014 1:53 am 
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Agreed. Some!


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 Post subject: Re: Ten years
PostPosted: Sat Dec 20, 2014 2:49 am 
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Jude wrote:
Excellent review!

While reading it, I wondered if the reason that FOTR is so much better than all the others is that the creators had so much to prove and to live up to, to even be allowed to continue.


I actually think this is right on the money, and it applies to some other directors as well (eg. how Star Wars never eclipsed the first two films in the franchise). PJ couldn't let himself get too carried away with the sorts of stunts and Indiana Jones-style action sequences that (in my view) drag the later films down.

The other thing is that, having such a long and complex book to adapt really forced discipline on the writers and director. The comment Dave makes about good pacing is, I think, a reflection of this.

I had some criticisms of FotR when it came out, but seeing it was (and remains) a huge experience in my life. I was probably a bit disappointed by the falling stairs, absurd number of Orcs and bestial rather than devilish balrog in Moria, the Moria sequence being what really bought me into the book. But the fall of Boromir was incredibly powerful and really bought to life a sequence in the book I had not given much thought to. My disappointment with DoS was sharpest when I had to compare its last twenty minutes with the last twenty minutes of FotR.


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 Post subject: Re: Ten years
PostPosted: Wed Dec 31, 2014 7:19 pm 
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This thread sent me back to TORC thinking I might be able to find a review I posted of the first film. Looks like I never did post my thoughts (I found MOOBIES folks very intimidating!). More's the pity: I've forgotten so much of my first impressions of the film!

What I remember is I saw it with my husband in a local theatre. It was cheap seat Tuesday, and it had snowed heavily that day, which kept most sane people at home, even though the movie had very recently opened.

I thoroughly enjoyed it, and the beautiful song by Enya (May it Be) stopped me in my tracks as we were starting to leave the theatre. My husband reluctantly let me wait until it was over. When I got home, I looked it up on the net, listened to it again, and asked for a copy of the soundtrack as a birthday present!

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 Post subject: Re: Ten years
PostPosted: Thu Jan 01, 2015 8:12 am 
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Aww, you should have posted your review of FotR in Moobies, Sunny. :hug:

My first viewing of FotR was the most magical cinema experience of my life. :love: Having devoured each and every spoiler, I was prepared for the changes! Most of which I didn't find that bothersome. My biggest beef of all has always been Frodo's characterisation. Movie Frodo is not half the hobbit that Movie Bilbo is. :( ( By which I mean Freeman's unpretentious, heroic, very English younger Bilbo. Of course Holm's Bilbo is great too.)

None of the good moments in the Hobbit films have for me surpassed the greatest moments in the LotR films.

I do very, VERY, much like Bilbo, Thorin, Balin, Bard and Thranduil. And Tauriel! - just a crying shame she was saddled with such a lame storyline. ;)

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 Post subject: Re: Ten years
PostPosted: Fri Oct 02, 2015 3:13 pm 
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Even all these years later, I still get a lift listening to "The Riders of Rohan" in the fall.


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