The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly – Thoughts on the Two Towers movie.

by Dec 20, 2002Reviews

I struggled with the FotR movie. It was touted as accurate to the book…but it wasn’t. They quoted the book and took scenes from the book…but they missed the feel of the book entirely.

THE GOOD: The props and costumes are incredible. Edoras is wonderful and Helm’s Deep looks pretty neat (except for some spots where you can blatantly tell it was made to look old). I can’t say enough about Edoras; it looks wonderful (although not how I pictured it). It is really too bad that they dismantled that set (or so I’ve heard). It was a beautiful piece of work. The ire of the Ents is cool. I generally dislike cutting the Ents part down (what was wrong with them being at Helms Deep???) but them putting the smack down on Isengard was pretty cool. Gollum and Gimili get some laughs. Gimili is the comedy relief at the expense of his (book) dignity. But the movie watchers laughed and he did have some funny scenes.

THE BAD: Going in to see TTT was a little easier. I realized that I wasn’t going to get what I wanted (an decent portrayal of the book) so I didn’t expect as much.

The movie doesn’t follow the book as much, and in fact it doesn’t keep with the feel either.

It seems that PJ is trying very hard to make Strider the ONLY noble human in Middle-earth. Faramir…a very noble book character is rather despicable in tTT movie. Gollum, on the other hand, is a poor victim of circumstances, not a brother-murdering slave to the ring as in the book. Oh well, all Tolkien fans have figured out by now that PJ & Company doesn’t care about Tolkien fans except to get their $$$ at the box office.

The quick explaining of the elven cloaks (a scene that was cut out of tFotR was… in a word… bad.

The sequencing is very skittish. If I weren’t a Tolkien reader I would have had a terrible time following what the heck was going on. I doubt there are many people out there that haven’t seen FotR or read the books and went to see this movie…but those that have, I pity them!

PJ increased Arwen’s part in FotR because he though people wouldn’t know who she was in her real important part at the end of the story, so to keep with this he had to do a dream sequence to remind you of who she was in this movie. This, to me, is making a mistake to cover a mistake. I like Liv, I think she looks great as Arwen…but PJ’s handling of her character is a disaster.

The Helm’s Deep part is okay, but you completely lose sense of time. Gandalf tells Aragorn to hold Helm’s Deep and look for him on the fifth day. The way the movie is shot you only get the sense that one day has passed… two at the most. Maybe Gandalf is early; after all, wizards are never late or early…but always exactly on time, right?
Just a few points that the Tolkien fan in me thought up…

THE UGLY: Putting aside my disappointment that the movie just isn’t as good as the book and that PJ and Company can’t seem to figure out the important parts of tLotR. The movie has faults. I tried really had to separate my Tolkien fan from my movie watcher.

(Nice Gollum: “My precious, the movie is pretty, yesss it iss! We likes it, we do. We trusts our good master, PJ…” Evil Gollum: “No you weakling, it isn’t good…PJ has betrayed us, he hassss…. evil little Directorses! He has led us into the trap of Hollywood and 60 sec society he hassss!”.

All of this aside, the filming is spotty. One moment it will be crystal clear…the next it will have a gray or “graininess” about it. I don’t know what would cause this (I am not in the film industry) but it’s bad enough for me to notice (so it must be BAD).

The continuity is bad. Arwen’s tears drying up, then her face being wet, etc. Again this must be bad because I don’t normally catch this stuff. (We won’t even go into the (future) dead Aragorn blinking!)

I do like special effects, and I do pay attention to them and in TTT they are incredibly good…or incredibly bad! Sometimes you can’t tell what is real and what isn’t, at other times it looks like it was drawn with a dull crayon. The close ups of Gollum are really cool…but the far shots are often off color (making him light in the shadows and whatever). The battle scenes are relatively bad. The CG is obvious in all of the big scenes to the point of the orcs going up the scaling ladders look like a series of toys out of a Barrel ‘O Monkeys on strings. The wolves (or whatever they are supposed to be…giant Hyenas?) are very bad also, although the far off shots are sometimes okay.

I’m not sure where PJ was going with the Aragorn-falls-of-a-cliff thing. Truly it was a waste of film. It did nothing for the movie except give Legolas a good line. Is PJ so unimaginative that he can’t even come up with a new way to “kill” a main character? Did he think that even the 14 yr old girl with the I Love Viggo T-Shirt in the first row was even going to believe for a split second that Aragorn might have died? For a three-hour movie, that was unneeded.

The exorcism of Theoden was overcooked. Like Aragorn’s fall it was too long and did nothing for the movie. (Dropping a chance to do some really cool special effects with lightning so we can make-up fade sequence? A bad trade-off)

Just a few points that the moviegoer in me thought up…

I really, really wanted these movies to be good, I wanted to believe the hype that PJ was going to stay true to the books…they turned out to be okay movies that followed the book about as far at the opening title. I have tried to separate my movie-watching persona from my Tolkien fan persona…which seems to help a little bit. But truly these movies are really only good to those that think Viggo and/or Orlando is cute. True Tolkien fans, like those that have borne the One Ring, are left craving for more, knowing that we’ll never get it…


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