Let’s start from the very beginning. The Previews. Each new one was more exciting than the last. The tiny little glimpse of ‘Pirates of the Carribean’ starring Johnny Depp and (squee!) Orlando Bloom (okay, I’d squee for Johnny too, actually) was a tantalizing teaser. That fish movie, ‘Search for Nemo’, looked very clever as well. ‘DareDevil’…. eh, not terribly inspiring. I still think Ben Affleck is miscast, and his hair looks awful — what, just because the guy’s blind, he can’t tell it’s all standing on end? Hello, finger-combing, anyone?
X2. Ian McKellan (who still gets called McClellan by Jay Leno, lord knows why…. omg I just realized I went to bed and forgot about Sean Astin being on The Tonight Show last night! Nooo! And less than an hour before I was reminding myself to stay up for it! *whimper* Anyway…) is going to really give you the creeps this time, he’s even more sinister than in the first movie. Maybe the close exposure to Christopher Lee rubbed off on him?
‘T3 – Rise of the Machines’ looks promising as well, a lot better than my brother wants to credit it with being anyway.
Now to the movie.
That long panoramic shot of Caradhras, the faint echoes of the race for the exit from Moria, had me holding my breath both in anticipation and in a desperate attempt to -hear- what was going on. That’s not a negative thing, either — there are tons of stone between our ears and the action, it’s wholly logical that the audio would be practically inaudible and it does increase in volume the closer the camera comes to the entrance/exit of the mines.
The Balrog Fight — absolutely amazing, not overdone at all, and the sight of Gandalf riding the Balrog’s back and hacking away at it with the sword he snatched from midair as he fell? Thrilling!
I don’t even feel cheated by Frodo’s “It was just a dream” claim right after awakening from the vision of the battle.
Pippin — not only having his innate cleverness from the original story, he got to employ even a bit more added cleverness in getting the Ents to join in the battle. Okay that bothered me, that the Ents had to be tricked into going to war against Saruman, that wasn ‘t how the decision came to pass originally and it ‘dehumanizes’ them even more than being ‘demihuman’ in that as originally conceived, all living things were the concern of the Ents and now suddenly they’ve become arborial separationists who can only be won to the side of the Fellowship by being tricked onto seeing the devastation Saruman has wrought on the forest surrounding Orthanc. That irked me, I have to say.
But I was really pleased to see the orc-slaying competition was kept in the relationship between Gimli and Legolas, and the bit of teasing along the parapets of Helm’s Deep even before the fighting began, never mind the assurance of Legolas that Eomer would be dead before his blade could touch Gimli’s neck, reassured me that that staunch friendship was not being abandoned after all.
Theoden, possessed by Saruman? That was a complete debasement of the subtlety of the magic of Tolkien’s wizards, that showy exorcism Gandalf performed on Theoden King. I won’t call that cool, ever.
Any more than the apparent affinity for the Nazgul that’s being pinned on Frodo, as exhibited in the scene where Faramir and his company come into the city and find it under attack and then Frodo goes all possessed-looking and turns into Heather O’Rourke — “They’re here….” No. Also no to Frodo standing on a precipice and holding out the Ring to the Witch King. He is not supposed to be so deeply under the influence of the ring until after he’s bitten by Shelob and taken captive by Orcs.
Gollum was flawless. Absolutely flawless. Even in his split-personality argument with his other self, he was prilliantly performed. Between Andy Serkis’s acting and the programmers’ illustration of that performance…. Gollum is very nearly human.
I really thought that Gandalf and Saruman were going to meet face to face again in THIS movie but it looks like that’s not happening until Return of the King.
What can I say about the battle at Helm’s Deep that everyone else isn’t also going to say? Except maybe this — when the Uruk-Hai were creeping up that ramp with their shields over their backs, all I could think was, Oh look, an army of cockroaches.
Well, Saturday I’m going to see it again. How can I not?
Here is what I have to say about how engrossing the movie is. A slight bit more than three hours in the movie theater, and not once in that whole time did I get up and go to the bathroom. And I’m diabetic, it’s not uncommon for me to run to the bathroom on an hourly basis. Any movie that can get me to stay rooted to my seat despite the screaming agony in my bladder (and the only other one of those in recent times to merit that from me was Reign of Fire), has got to be a phenomenal experience.