Saturday, November 5, 2011

Comment: "The Lord of the Rings" movie trilogy

For the last several weeks I re-watched "The Lord of the Rings" trilogy with my girlfriend. We have been both busy, so we couldn't connect enough time to watch whole episode in one sitting (and these movies ARE long), so the whole thing dragged for some time. Because of this I won't make a usual review, but will just write some comments.

First, I really like LOTR. I have read those books over dozen times: while I was a member of library, I used to read them one a year at least. I read and liked "The Hobbit", "The Silmarillion", etc. I also watched the movies at least four times completely and lots of times in fragments (when they were played on TV). My firm opinion is that a person cannot be a serious epic-fantasy fan without liking Tolkien. Sure, there are better books, longer, more complex, more realistic, etc. Sure, Tolkien had flaws, like with female characters or black-and-white morality. Nevertheless, "The Lord of the Rings" is still one of best things epic fantasy can offer: rich and complex setting, numerous and detailed characters, excellent writing, and what is most important, feel of epic that can be used to describe and define this whole genre.

After all this said, I have to admit that I didn't like the movies this time. I don't know is that because of my growing up (last time I read these books I was in second or third year of colleague, some 5-6 years ago; now I have a job and steady relationship, although reading is still one of my priorities) or because all those excellent books I read in the meantime. Except LOTR, library had first four volumes of ASoIaF, "Memory, Sorrow, and Thorn" trilogy and first two R. Scott Bakker's volumes to show from epic fantasy genre (there were tons of low-fantasy books, like different Forgotten Realms series) and since then I have read a lot of best-selling epic fantasy series (WoT, Feist, Eddings, Erikson...). Nevertheless, I still have fond memories of LOTR and I don't think I would find the books less valuable now. But this time I couldn't enjoy in good sides of the movies; instead I was constantly nagged by flaws.

I know that they couldn't fit the whole book in this short time and that some compromises had to be made. It is normal to dismiss details of settings and less important characters and I think that right choices were done in this department. What I seriously dislike are the simplifications and alterations that were made to draw a wider audience (what they call a Hollywoodization).

First movie is very decently done and I don't think I have anything to complain here. There is one of my favorite scenes ("You shall not pass!"), which was done superbly. They dropped many things from introductory parts (run from Shire, Tom Bombadil), but that understandable and it's more important the movie kept the feeling of the book (except the wizard fight). Second movie is more questionable. I really liked how they captured the anger of the Ents, but lots of things get mauled. They concentrated on the battle of Helm's Deep, which is far from the central point of book; also, fight was overly-dramatized. Saruman is second big complaint: he is shown as evil characters, corrupted and weak; while he is all this, he is far more complex. Third movie was the worst. There were too many changes and I didn't like any scene with Aragorn. They made the same mistake with Denethor as with Saruman. The siege of Minas Tirith looks to easy... List of complaints is long.

I was always proud to talk with non-reader about LOTR books, how complex and good they are. With movies, this wasn't the case; I often felt obligated to defend the books because of someone's bad opinion of movies. I will be watching "Game of Thrones" soon, so I did they do an excellent job with it, or just decent.

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