Most of you are aware of LOTR’s story by Tolkien and Peter Jackson’s film adaptation of it so I will not waste your time and mine with some half-assed retelling of it. Apart from Tolkien’s popular with nerds the reason these films got so popular is the CGI (Computer Generated Imagery) which back then was great but now sometimes looks pretty fake because my eyes have gotten used to better special effects in newer films.
The battle at Helm’s Deep in the second film “The Two Towers” was good. Gandalf’s stand in the first film “The Fellowship of the Ring” in the mines of Moria was also good but other than that all the battles were bad. The last film in the trilogy, “The Return of the King” was particularly bad.
The unnecessary romance and girl power nonsense was cringe but thankfully there wasn’t enough of either to ruin the whole thing. The humour involving the dwarf Gimli and Legolas did get a few chuckles out of me but it was nothing special.
It would have been better if Gandalf had remained dead in the mines. The fact that he returned kind of ruined his sacrifice and in turn his character. Gandalf also became too powerful to be interesting as anything more than a cool looking powerful battle-mage wielding a sword in one hand and his white staff in the other.
For the character with the coolest character design look no further than the Mouth of Sauron. Honestly, he was only there for a few minutes but he told off the good guys for all the good reasons so badly that he had to be killed at once.
The scenes of Frodo, Sam and Gollum were just too boring. I had no choice but to skip them. I didn’t really care about the ring and whatever it signified. I was more interested in the battles. The last battle was really bad. I remember it as just a montage of the characters cutting through enemies until the ground under the enemies conveniently gave in (but not where the good guys stood). Bad as it was, it was also mercifully short.
The worst, most underwhelming battle came before that, at the city of Minas Tirith. It highlighted everything good about the siege combat at the previous battle of Helm’s Deep. The CGI (Computer Generated Imagery) has a tendency of looking worse when it is shown where there is a lot of light. Those giant elephants in particular looked pretty bad.
The ghosts of the mountain men were just too ridiculously strong. The sideshow about the Steward of Gondor going insane and trying to kill his son was just a distraction which took away from the battle and added nothing to it. The Nazgul’s death at the hands of Merry was underwhelming and Eowyn’s line in the extended version (“I am no man”) was pure cringe and sign of cancer to come.
In fact, I wonder if LOTR could have even been made today because it would have been too “raycist” or something. I can almost imagine some idiotic complaints about how the orcs look like black people and the non-white characters are on Sauron’s side. Maybe even taking Aragorn’s “Men of the West” positive comment as a sign of some hidden, invisible but very real racismus and sexismus.
What made it worse was the Theoden King’s subsequent death which somehow I am supposed to take seriously after that total tonal shift. It wasn’t even clear that it was actually Merry’s weapon which weakened the Nazgul. The theatrical version thankfully doesn’t have that bad line though.
The absence of Eowyn’s character from the battle of Helm’s Deep is yet another reason why it was better. Seriously I disliked her character from the first moment she was introduced as some sort of victim, implying that being a victim made her virtuous in any way somehow. I cannot see what Grima saw in her. Props on Aragorn for not falling for her. Aragorn’s other love interest was also a waste of screen time.
Apart from the exclusion of the ungrateful, sentimental, masturbatory fantasy of the Ents (talking trees) rising up against industry, I can’t think of many ways that the Battle of Helm’s could have been improved. The scenes in the mines of Moria gave me some Dungeons and Dragons vibes which I did quite like.
The most memorable scene in The Return of the King had nothing to do with King Aragorn at all but rather with Frodo and Sam on Mount Doom. Lying down in the dark dirt talking surrounded by fire that is almost certain to kill them it is touching to see Sam tell Frodo about how he would have married had they returned to the Shire. They could have been two injured soldiers in a trench or taking cover in a hole in the ground as all hell broke loose above them.
There are many pacifist tracts about World War I soldiers which make you wonder how the tragic lives of men would have panned out had it not being for the cruelty of war. I recommend Covenant With Death by John Harris. And yet when the fantasy does turn true and Frodo gets married it has to be glossed over because it is not interesting at all.
The boring montage of them returning to the shire is boring no matter how happy they look. The problem with all these pacifistic narratives which seek to show that war is cruel is that they also invariably reveal that war is glorious whereas peace is not which is why the happy ending has to be some sped-up montage.
One of the best things about the lord of the rings films is that the races all act according to their stereotypes. They actually have to work together to overcome and complement each other’s limitations and strengths.