Wednesday, 21 November 2012

Lamest scenes in the Lord of the Rings movie?

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The Peter Jackson Lord of the Rings movies are just about my favourite movies - certainly judged by the number of times I've watched them, and by my tendency to blub during them; but on the eve of The Hobbit (which I await with some trepidation) - here is a round-up of the lamest scenes.

1. Everything to do with The Ents - their look, the voice of Treebeard, the dreadfully bad editing, the facetiousness - but worst is the scene when the Entmoot has decided not to attack Saruman (!) then Treebeard (the great tree herder) suddenly notices for the first time that S. has cut down half of his forest; instantly changes his mind, summons the other Ents -  and they are immediately just there and immediately go along with his new decision!

2. The whole utterly pointless and functionless plot loop of Aragorn-falls-off-a-cliff, they think he is dead and half-heartedly mourn him, he isn't dead and he wakes up, gets on his horse and rides back to rejoin the others.

3. When Gandalf rides out from Minas Tirith onto the Pellenor Fields to rescue the retreating Faramir from the Nazgul - he carries Pippin with him on Shadowfax!

(This one would get my wife's vote as number 1.)

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23 comments:

  1. All the scenes they invented for Arwen, no doubt to make the movies more appealing to females, are horrible and superfluous. Her love story with Aragorn and their child are utterly vapid. But the single most painfully unwatchable scene in the trilogy, for me, is when she confronts the Nazgul at the Ford of Bruinen. I can't even listen to this:

    "Give up the Halfling, she-elf!"
    "If you want him, come and get him!"

    Who wrote that dreadful exchange, some adolescent dungeons and dragons player?

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  2. 1. Any scene where Gimli is used as comic relief. Gimli was not comic relief in the books. Hollywood, of course, made the masculine dwarf the dull, cowardly character, with the effeminate elf Legolas both more capable and more daring. See also "dwarf tossing".

    2. Any scene without King Theoden. King Theoden was the star of the series, in my opinion. There are very few scenes in movies that give me chills... but in "The Return of the King," when the horn sounds and Theoden gives his speech of death as the sun rises - the orcs cowering before the cavalry charge - how could I feel otherwise?

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  3. And to think that there are some people to whom all this is mere burble.

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  4. A few of my pet peeves:
    1. Whenever the Hobbits meet up after having been apart. Jumping up and down and giggling like little schoolgirls. It's annoying, and i just don't think it's very Hobbitlike. They seem like sober enough creatures that they could reunite with their friends without acting like children.
    2. The amount of rousing speeches peppered throughout the 3rd film, especially by Sam. I mean, you're on the slopes of Mt. Doom! How much encouragement do you really need when you are feet away from completing an epic quest. I would imagine that to be the easiest part aof the journey, especially after everything they had gone through.
    3. The 17 different endings.
    4. Bilbo and Frodo being allowed to travel west. What did Bilbo do to deserve that? Also, didn't anyone else notice that Frodo failed? He had no intention of throwing the ring into the pit by the end.
    5. Gollum is sooooo annoying. When i saw it in the theater, people actually applauded every time they thought he died.

    I actually can't wait for the Hobbit. It was my favourite book as a child. I also can't wait for 16 Silmarillion films they will be making over the next few decades :)

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  5. @Professor- Could not agree more with both of your points, but especially with the second one. Theoden was the greatest character in the 3 films. And Eowyn is way prettier than Arwen.
    Also, about the effeminacy of Legolas: The Elves in general were portrayed as very fay beings. That is certainly not the impression you get in the books. Who could read about Feanor, Fingolfin, Gil-Galad, or Glorfindel, and think they were anything but the manliest of men( or elviest of Elves)

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  6. @dearieme:

    And to think that there are some people to whom all this is mere burble.

    Indeed! :p

    In fact, given that I believe, as our host does, that LotR is a very deeply spiritual book, containing profound truths on practically every other page; and that many, many Christian men have gotten a great sense of peace, hope and joy from the story, I have actually wondered at times whether NOT enjoying LotR might actually be a sign of spiritual deadness.

    Of course I don't want to force anyone into a box, as if everyone has to enjoy the same things, and clearly there *are* people who don't like LotR - I've met them! There may even be some on this blog! - but I always wonder what on earth is *wrong* with such a person.

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  7. The Continental Op21 November 2012 at 22:30

    BIGGEST THING--LAME BECAUSE IT ARE MISSING: the cleansing of the Shire. An absolute must. I still reel in shock to this day that it is not there.

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  8. Anyway...

    I may have mentioned somewhere else that I am re-reading LotR right now for the first time as an adult - unfortunately, in recent years I have been more familiar with the movies and less familiar with the book than I should be. Re-reading the real thing makes me realize, all over again, that in the book the characters have a depth, and the world has a spiritual overtone, that I just don't think modern Hollywood actors are capable of portraying.

    Agree with your three, plus Professor's (the Cartoonization of Gimli is almost unforgiveable).

    @AlexT:

    Whenever the Hobbits meet up after having been apart. Jumping up and down and giggling like little schoolgirls. It's annoying, and i just don't think it's very Hobbitlike.

    Agreed, and in fact Sam in general is one of my lamest "moments". The real, book, Sam is a true hero - maybe not that bright, but good-hearted, stout, someone you can admire. The fact is, unfortunately, Sean Astin is just kind of a lame guy, and he doesn't do Sam justice. His Sam is kind of a nebbish loser in a way that the book Sam isn't.

    Gollum is sooooo annoying. When i saw it in the theater, people actually applauded every time they thought he died.

    Yes - even more than Gimli, Gollum is my "unforgiveable" character. Practically everyone I have read over the past decade has opined about how "great" Gollum was in the film. Well, I most strenuously disagree. For one thing, computer animation, even today, just looks too cheesy and unrealistic, so that it's impossible to take Gollum seriouly as a bad guy whose very appearance is supposed to send shivers down your spine. (For this reason I am also not looking forward to the orcs in the new Hobbit.)

    For another thing, I loathe PJ et al.'s interpretation of Gollum as a pathetic, whiny creature rather than a devious, cunning, scary villain. The scene in TTT (film version) where Gollum bursts into tears made me momentarily almost literally want to murder PJ when I saw it in theatre.

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  9. And Eowyn is way prettier than Arwen.

    That's setting the bar pretty low (Liv Tyler is a freakshow), although I don't have much good to about Eowyn, either, the character I have always hated ever since I can remember.

    Also, about the effeminacy of Legolas: The Elves in general were portrayed as very fay beings. That is certainly not the impression you get in the books. Who could read about Feanor, Fingolfin, Gil-Galad, or Glorfindel, and think they were anything but the manliest of men( or elviest of Elves)

    Definitely true. Although they expanded his role unnecessarily, I actually appreciated Haldir in the film - he comes across as a pretty good example of what I think an elf should be like.

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  10. My choice of lamest scene not already mentioned is the culmination of the baleful "age of men" subplot in TT (with the evil Elrond etc), where the camera pans back over the corpses of the slaughtered Lorien elves. The time of the elves has come to a end not through renunciation but ineffectualness (I think all the peasant boys and old men of Rohan manage to survive the battle). The shot seems to show a perverse glee in misunderstanding the elves and their ignoble demise where they never ought to have been. (The implication is that the privileged elves have just been aloof and negligent of their responsibility, but Galadriel has held an inquiry and the social workers/resources have finally arrived. But in turns out we don't need them anyway. The whole thing has a subtext of Liberation Theology type stuff.)

    From tragedy to farce; I cringe every time I recall the skateboarding down the stairs on the shield.
    Anthony

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  11. @Anthony - I hadn't noticed this but I think you are correct. However, I think the fading of the elves is one of the aspects of LotR which I found hardest to understand - it took me many years.

    @SJ - Actually, I found Haldir extremely camp - and this character in the movie became a 'gay icon' and the subject of scurrilous 'slash' fiction. I also have to disagree about the portrayals of Gollum and Sam - both of which I found excellent.

    Although Sam's speech to Frodo near the end of Two Towers in Osgiliath (! - and what was *that* all about?) was certainly one of the lamest moments of all.

    @Professor - Theoden was involved in some of the highest of high points for me (indeed, in general, Rohan was done excellently in the movies): the cavalry charge to liberate Gondor; also Theoden's death ('halls of my fathers' etc); and the speaking of the excerpt from the alliterative poem 'Where now the horse and the rider?' All these are simply superb.

    @AT - some of your criticisms are of the book (not specifically the movie) - and I'm afraid I cannot allow that!...

    I was thinking of starting a thread on favourite moments from these movies - but I found there were simply too many.

    But one has to be the very end - Sam greeting his wife and children with 'Well, I'm back' and the last view of the door at Bag End (with the gorgeous music). Sob...

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  12. The shot seems to show a perverse glee in misunderstanding the elves

    The directors misunderstood many of the spiritual aspects of the story. I nearly lost it when I watched the Director's Commentary over Boromir's death scene, and they complete fail to understand that the scene is about Boromir's repentance and ultimate redemption, NOT about Aragorn "taking up his mantle" or whatever they said.

    Actually, I found Haldir extremely camp - and this character in the movie became a 'gay icon' and the subject of scurrilous 'slash' fiction.

    Well, I have no idea about that...

    I also have to disagree about the portrayals of Gollum and Sam - both of which I found excellent.

    *shrug* If you really thought that was what Sam, but especially Gollum, were supposed to be like, then I guess my quest to find someone who agrees with me will have to continue!

    I do agree that Rohan in general was done excellently in almost every way, but that does remind me of another "lame" moment, which is the PC-ization of Theoden's funerary speech: "No parent should have to bury their child." Egad, come on, "no man should have to bury his son" would have carried MUCH more emotional force, but I guess they couldn't have that.

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  13. "That's setting the bar pretty low (Liv Tyler is a freakshow), although I don't have much good to about Eowyn, either, the character I have always hated ever since I can remember."
    Good point. I was probably comparing Miranda Otto to Liv Tyler as opposed to comparing their characters. It's been long enough since i read the books that i don't accurately recall either one of them. While we're on the subject of LOTR females, Galadriel is supposed to be achingly beautiful. Cate Blanchet? That's the best we could do? Granted, i can't think of any achingly beautiful actresses, so maybe it is the best we could do.

    @Anthony: Excellent point. The Elves getting mowed down by Orcs just doesn't fit anything we know about either of them. I also think you are spot on in describing the Elves as privileged in the film, when in fact, their only privilege is that they know how to live life properly, and are difficult to corrupt.

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  14. @BGC: As i mentioned before, it's been a while since i read the books, so i might be mixing things up. Rest assured that you are talking to a fellow Tolkien fool who spends an inordinate amount of time trying to write fan fiction, usually set in the First Age. I also have a bit of an obsession with the Vanyar, and the House of Feanor, and wish that they'd had a role to play in the Third Age.

    Because we all seem to love Theoden and his Rohirrim, some of my favourite quotes/moments:

    Theoden: Simbelmyne. Ever has it grown on the tombs of my forebears. Now it shall cover the grave of my son. Alas, that these evil days should be mine. The young perish and the old linger. That I should live to see that last days of my house.
    Gandalf: Théodred's death was not of your making.
    Theoden: No parent should have to bury their child.
    Gandalf: He was strong in life. His spirit will find the way to the halls of your fathers.

    [Shadowfax rears]
    Aragorn: Gandalf.
    Gandalf: Theoden king stands alone.
    Eomer: Not alone. Rohirrim!
    [Rohirrim gather behind him]
    Theoden: Eomer!
    Eomer: TO THE KING!

    Theoden: I know your face... Eowyn. My eyes darken.
    Eowyn: No. No. I'm going to save you.
    Theoden: You already did... Eowyn. My body is broken. You have to let me go. I go to my fathers, in whose mighty company I shall not now feel ashamed. Eowyn...

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  15. Did anyone else find it irritating that when Eowyn killed the Witch-King, which should have been a highly dramatic moment, they immediately cut to an irrelevant scene of Legolas leaping about on one of the war elephants?

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  16. @JP - I know what you mean, but somehow the whole scene worked beautifully, didn't it? Could it really have been better? I think it was editing of near genius. I felt the third movie was beautifully cut - the second (different editor) was done poorly.

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  17. While we're on the subject of LOTR females, Galadriel is supposed to be achingly beautiful. Cate Blanchet? That's the best we could do? Granted, i can't think of any achingly beautiful actresses, so maybe it is the best we could do.

    Ha, yes, again I agree, and have thought this before. I don't think there is really a real, live human actress that can capture the unique, ethereal beauty that elves are supposed to have.

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  18. For those with busy lives, the LotR trilogy (as well as The Hobbit) has recently been made available at www.Audible.com or at www.audible.co.uk.

    The audio is unabridged and the narration is ably performed by Rob Inglis.

    Lord of the Rings Unabridged Audio

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  19. The writers absolutely destroyed Faramir as a virtuous character, turning one of the most virtuous manly warriors in the book into a whiny my-daddy-doesn't-luuuuv-me teenager. They also completely misconstrue the power of the ring as a constant wearing temptation, and instead treat it like a sci-fi mind control ray. The two are connected: the female writers say in the DVD extras that they just didn't understand how Faramir in the book resists the compulsion of the ring. The movies are scarcely aware of the concept of virtue, while the books are saturated with it.

    Speaking of female scriptwriters, the male friendships in the movies are all portrayed as rather gay. The "male friends as homosexuals" poofter-fest reaches peak frenzy in Frodo and Sam's lovers quarrel over lembas crumbs, initiated by Gollum. Because every decades long loyal friendship between men is just like the friendships of emotionally shallow teenage girls, easily shaken by a few whispers from a third party. I half expected makeup sex.

    These are some of my favorite Hollywood movies. But compared to the books they are pretty thin gruel.

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  20. zc - Yes, I agree with all this. Also the actor was miscast. Among the New Zealand actors Denethor, Eowyn and Wormtongue were excellent (qua acting) - but some of the others not so good. Elrond was particularly poor, and the fact he has been re-cast for the hobbit casts doubt on the Directors judgment. Or maybe he is cheap?

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  21. Here is the utterly clueless Philippa Boyens on the Ring as a mind control ray rather than a very powerful object that, because it is a tremendously powerful object, is an object of great temptation:

    And it's not just the effect that the character out of the book has on Frodo and Sam's journey, it's the effect that character has on the Ring. You've just been desperately trying to establish that this is the most evil thing ever created, it's tearing apart the mind of your main character, it's reduced this other character to this miserable creature Gollum, and now you come along someone who says, 'I would not touch this thing if it lay on the highway.' You've just stripped the Ring of all its power."

    It is quite striking that someone can read LOTR multiple times (as I'm sure the screenwriters had to do), with virtue and temptation and vice and redemption and humility hammered into you continuously in an epic length story, and still come away without the slightest, um, inkling.

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  22. @ZC - I think the conditions under which big movie scriptwriters work make it very difficult to get anyone with real integrity to do the job - so they make-do with glib-merchants with phenomenal memories and no need for sleep or rest - hence you get script-doctor gags, off the peg situations and pork pie peril sequences interjected into just about every movie:

    http://charltonteaching.blogspot.co.uk/2011/07/pork-pie-peril-in-movies.html

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  23. @ZC- Great point about Faramir. Especially when comparing that performance with what the same actor did in 300. A Spartan who was heartbroken that he wasn't allowed to die on the battlefield with his friends, but instead sent home to muster the whole Spartan army. The actor obviously knows how to play a man, he just wasn't given the opportunity. This is in no way an endorsement of 300, which morally is on the opposite end of the spectrum from LOTR.
    When considering all the comments here i think there is a theme. Too much female influence on the films as a whole. Especially the emotional incontinence of some(all?) of the characters.

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