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Lord of the Rings...what's the deal?

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Other than being visually stunning, are the LotR movies really any good? Or are they just visuals and special fx? Personally, I hated them. They are too long, slow, have too many pointless charaters, rely on visuals other than story. I know millions of people are crazy for these movies, but I don't get it. If I was writing these movie adaptations, I would have done it completely different? Does anyone else agree with me? Or am I missing something.
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this is a tough question to answer.

I love the Lotr movies and books, though I think the books are rife with problematic elements. Tolkien didn't really understand anything about structure or emphasis or pacing or foreshadowing, but for whatever reason the story works nonetheless. All things considered I think Jackson has done about as good a job imaginable with the material (TTT aside) and shaped together a truly awesome series of movies.

That said, I'm surprised that audiences have connected with these movies so much, I figured it would just be fans of the books who would like them, and even then I figured many of the purest would be turned away.

However i don;'t see how you can say that the FX tell the story, these films are brilliantly acted and the dialogue is superb for the most part, I would say most of my favorite moments are not FX moments, and my favorite battle remains the AMon Her battle at the end of fellowship, which has no FX.

But I do agree that LOTR is not for everyone, and I'm puzzled on how it has done so well as it doesn;t seem like the sort of thing most people would like.
And I dance. And I sing.
And I'm a monkey, in a long line of kings.
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True it doesn't seem like the sort of fare that would attract the hording masses the way it has. But I think there are several things that have contributed to this...

1. The books are older than our parents and everyone has heard of them in some way, shape, or form.
2. It was well marketed and not overmarketed (read: The Hulk)
3. The production process has been well documented and without the typical sorts of problematic reporting that came with say Titanic or the Matrix sequels. People knew what was going on and they never really heard anything negative about the whole process.
4. The CGI do a great job in the story. I agree they do not tell the whole story like some people claim they do or like the SW PT movies have done, but they are a very important element in the popularity. I think the popularity of Gollum is what's continuing to bring people in for ROTK. Many may have missed him the first time around and now, after seeing his "acceptance" at the MTV Video Awards, they were completely entranced and want to see him on the big screen finally. MTV may suck as a whole, but you cannot deny it's power over Young America and the rest of the world.
5. Sex appeal... Liv Tyler and Miranda Otto for the guys (and not-so-straight women) and Viggo Mortenson and Orlando Bloom for the women (and not-so-straight guys). A lot can be said for having good looking people in a movie. Even if they are not that well known like Otto, Mortenson, and Bloom were before the release. Mortenson is known as an actor but he was never a "sex symbol" per se. If anything, he was a rather greasy looking kind of guy. But, Jackson redid a lot of the story to allow for a female-appeal love triangle with Arwen, Eowyn, and Aragorn and it helped immensely to bring in women.
6. A multinational cast of epic proportions. Brought in people of all cultures because they want to see some of their fellow kinsmen. Unlike the Harry Potter films whose only non-UKer was Verne Troyer (Mini ME in a cameo), these have the appeal of having people from around the world cast in it.
"You fell victim to one of the classic blunders, the most famous of which is 'Never get involved in a land war in Asia'."
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Kevin A
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Mr. Coffee, I think the best way to answer your question is to tell you to read the books; only then will you appreciate the masterful job that Jackson has done in paring away extraneous elements and pointless characters.

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definitly Gundark. I don't think LOTR could be done much better, baring a few changes which are strickly due to my taste and have nothing to do with how the movie would be excepted by a larger audience (for example I liked the original idea of not having the prologue in Fellowship that NewLine made them add in. The prologue is cool but I would rather it was revealed throughout as flash backs, and I wish they didn't show sauron)

But like I said these are minor things, and as a whole the trilogy works in a spectacular fashion.

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But, Jackson redid a lot of the story to allow for a female-appeal love triangle with Arwen, Eowyn, and Aragorn and it helped immensely to bring in women.


I think this is a really valid point, because what I think is ultimately the key to the trilogies success is the female appeal. The books have none, there is no real female presence at all. Its very male, and in many ways very homoerotic (see also the wonderful Master and Commander) But something I didn't count on was that women would swoon over Aragorn and Legolas the way they have. Infact its been my observation that in many instances the female fans now outnumber the male ones.

But I think more importantly on this note, what really helped the films was that 2 of the three writers were women. Smart women. and it gives this whole undercurrent of emotion and feminity to the films and not in a bad way. Opening the first film with Cate Blanchetts voice pretty much sets the tone throughout. And in all the DVD materials I'm always impressed with Phillpa Boyens who seems the very model of a smart artistic women with a stong understanding of filmmaking and good story telling.

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" A multinational cast of epic proportions. Brought in people of all cultures because they want to see some of their fellow kinsmen. Unlike the Harry Potter films whose only non-UKer was Verne Troyer (Mini ME in a cameo), these have the appeal of having people from around the world cast in it.


true however its still pretty brit oriented, there are a few americans, and the rest are Aussies and New Zealanders. I think actually the main problem (and this could not really be helped while remaining true to the source material) is that there are no characters of colour or any real diverse ethnicity. There isn't much appeal for black audiences, its a very white story filled with very white characters. Though I'm glad the at PJ managed to keep in the Easterlings and Southerns while managing to move far enough away from the Asian and Arab stereotypes which they obviously are meant to be in the books.
And I dance. And I sing.
And I'm a monkey, in a long line of kings.
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Originally posted by: Rebel Scumb
Its very male, and in many ways very homoerotic (see also the wonderful Master and Commander) But something I didn't count on was that women would swoon over Aragorn and Legolas the way they have. Infact its been my observation that in many instances the female fans now outnumber the male ones.

I think actually the main problem (and this could not really be helped while remaining true to the source material) is that there are no characters of colour or any real diverse ethnicity. There isn't much appeal for black audiences, its a very white story filled with very white characters. Though I'm glad the at PJ managed to keep in the Easterlings and Southerns while managing to move far enough away from the Asian and Arab stereotypes which they obviously are meant to be in the books.

Both very valid points, and both products of Tolkien's upbringing. My parents were both born and raised in post-WWII England, when the education system that taught Tolkien was still very much in place. Racism at the time was very casual, and the sexes were almost always segregated for educational purposes, except for those who couldn't afford it and were taught in a lesser manner.

Princess Leia: I happen to like nice men.
Han Solo: I'm a nice man.

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yeah, not a critism so much as an observation.
And I dance. And I sing.
And I'm a monkey, in a long line of kings.
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Just a statei saw in the movie magazine at silver city. 95% (95 or 98 cant remeber) of the people that worked on Lotr were from new zealand. there where around 1200 ppl who worked on lotr

another point that you guys brought about was about the appeal the movie had.part was due to the fact that every one has heard of how good the books were, there fore every one went to see the first one however, i think the movies really took off because the emotion that was felt in the movies where so great. ( i am not the kind of person that cries when watching movies, and there were parts in the trilogy where i could bearly breath because the lump in my throut was so big. this emotion captured the viewers when they went to see the fellowship.) this emotion hooked the people. so to sum up ppl went to the movie cus they had heard of lotr and were then hooked by the emotion that the movies had.

rebel the battle of helms deep was the best of the trilogy. Question: Wasn't the battle on pelenoir feild suposed to be in what seem like an eternal night? If it had been at night it would have been just as good as the battle of pelenoir feilds.

i think that is all for now.
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I think it was changed to day so that it would not feel exactly like Helms Deep.

I liked helms deep a lot, but the Amon Her battle remains the most perfect battle IMHO. Its up there with the hoth battle in ESB. Its a perfect blend of music, acting, scenery and action. And not an effect in sight so it all feels completely believable (not that the LOTR FX aren't awesome) and it all ends with the death of Boromir which is one of the best screen deaths of all time.
And I dance. And I sing.
And I'm a monkey, in a long line of kings.
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I agree on Amon Hem. Fewer effects. Much smaller scale. Both of which allow you to feel more emotion for those involved. Especially Boromir and then Merry and Pippen who watched him get killed. You suddenly see their Shire selves disappear as they witness the death of one of their own. It can be argued that the same happened when they saw Gandalf die. But there's just something more gut wrenching about seeing someone you know shot full of arrows while trying to save your life.
"You fell victim to one of the classic blunders, the most famous of which is 'Never get involved in a land war in Asia'."
--Vizzini (Wallace Shawn), The Princess Bride
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Kevin A
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its a more intimate battle, and it reminds me so much of when I was a kid runnign around the woods with toy swords. Its like the ultimate expression of that. Where as Helms deep is more like the ultimate action figure battle, the kind of battle you would stage with hundreds of GI Joes. Cool in its own respect, but the more you can put yourself into a scene the more effective it is IMHO
And I dance. And I sing.
And I'm a monkey, in a long line of kings.
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The only person I ever felt sorry for in Helm's Deep was the one Elf leader (and I don't even know his name). Other than that, the battle was a lot more impersonal than Amon Hem.

I used to play swords or guns the same way, me and a handful of friends running around the neighborhood. I was the same with G.I.Joes. Always used my half dozen faves in a battle instead of all of them.
"You fell victim to one of the classic blunders, the most famous of which is 'Never get involved in a land war in Asia'."
--Vizzini (Wallace Shawn), The Princess Bride
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Kevin A
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amon hen was cool and yes it was very personal, however i still fell that helms deep was better.

i agree that boromirs death was one of the best i have ever seen.
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Amon Hem made for such a cinema style battle IMHO. It showed more than the book let on. Whereas they did put more into Helm's Deep than was there, but it just wasn't like Amon Hem. Shelob's Lair could have also had the same effect that Amon Hem had, but for some reason they didn't really do it justice. Return of the King seemed to be more about spectical now that I think about it. Even some of the stuff with Frodo and Sam was too BIG.

I can't wait to see the EE and hopefully see the Aftermath of Isengard scene done right.
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I agree the shelobs lair part didn't play as well as it could. The whole light of ilidil or whatever didn't reallys eem effective because the lair wasn't dark enough.
And I dance. And I sing.
And I'm a monkey, in a long line of kings.
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Did anyone else who saw ROTK notice the sudden overreliance on rear shots of Hobbits walking with humans/wizards/elves and notice how awkwardly they were shot? Especially with regards to all the scenes of Pippen with Gandalf. You can tell it's a stand in and it just doesn't look right. Almost like PJ was too ashamed to show the two together from the front. I know that it's easier from the back because you can use a stand in as opposed to paying for the SFX to "shrink" Billy Boyd. But instead of using this awkward shot, why not just eliminate it entirely and just cut back and forth to close ups of Gandalf and Pippen as the move, for example, into Denethor's throne room?
"You fell victim to one of the classic blunders, the most famous of which is 'Never get involved in a land war in Asia'."
--Vizzini (Wallace Shawn), The Princess Bride
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Originally posted by: Bossk
Did anyone else who saw ROTK notice the sudden overreliance on rear shots of Hobbits walking with humans/wizards/elves and notice how awkwardly they were shot? Especially with regards to all the scenes of Pippen with Gandalf. You can tell it's a stand in and it just doesn't look right. Almost like PJ was too ashamed to show the two together from the front. I know that it's easier from the back because you can use a stand in as opposed to paying for the SFX to "shrink" Billy Boyd. But instead of using this awkward shot, why not just eliminate it entirely and just cut back and forth to close ups of Gandalf and Pippen as the move, for example, into Denethor's throne room?


I would say quite the opposite Bossk. ROTK was the first of the trilogy where i noticed a lot of composite work done as compared to the other two films, with less reliance on scale doubles.

I'm embarrassed to admit it never occured to me when I saw FOTR that they would use scale doubles and could not for the life of me figure out how they achieved some of the shots they did (ie Pippin and Merry tackle Boromir, Frodo leaps into the cart to hug Gandalf)

And I dance. And I sing.
And I'm a monkey, in a long line of kings.
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They digitally shrunk them. Those shots don't bother me (referring to Frodo leaping in cart, Merry and Pippen tackling Boromir, etc.). They are better because you can see faces. Yes, they look awkward in terms of scale, but then again, Hobbits are supposed to be awkward in terms of scale when compared to humans, elves, and wizards. Looking at the stand ins that were used in ROTK, they just didn't appear the same. They were stockier than they appeared when they are either by themselves or facing forward in a composite shot. They don't look like who they are supposed to be standing in for. It felt like PJ was copping out at the last second and said, "screw it, skip the effects, let's save money and use a body double." It really irked me.
"You fell victim to one of the classic blunders, the most famous of which is 'Never get involved in a land war in Asia'."
--Vizzini (Wallace Shawn), The Princess Bride
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Kevin A
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I still don't get it. I am so tired of watching 'battle of the Orcs'! All three movies are the same. People say "you have to read the books" but I don't feel a movie has to be justified by reading the book. A movie should stand on it's own. I feel 85% of these movies have pointless plot lines, characters and fx. Isn't the story about getting the ring from A to B? The so called 'love triangle' thing was weak and had no meaning the story what-so-ever. As did most other characters. These movies are very predictable, and it takes forever for an event to happen! GET ON WITH IT! I don't mean to sit here and bash these movies. But I don't see what all the hype is about. Vissually, they are great. But that doesn't make a movie. Yes they were well acted, but that doesn't make the story any better. I feel they were over written and crammed with too much nothingness. (travell in this environment - fight orcs. - change environments - fight orcs. - repeat. - stray from this to listening to talking trees for an hour while waiting for them to do-in "Dooku" - fight more orcs - listen to elves talk about who know what - fight orcs - oh wait, Frodo has the ring and is still getting nowhere - fight orcs -) OK I'll stop there. I think the moral of the story is HOBBITS ARE A PAIN IN THE ASS AND SHOULD BE LEFT ALONE.

I know I am pissing a lot of people off, I'm sorry. But, I DON'T GET IT!
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I feel these movies do stand alone and you do not need to read the books. It does help for the sake of comparison or supplemental information, but there is absolutely no need to read them to know what's going on.

I agree with you that a movie should be able to stand alone without supplemental multimedia to aid in the understanding of it. Maybe that's why I hate Mulholland Drive so much. It made absolutely no sense and everyone I talked to about it said that there was some online source that helps you understand it. What kind of BS movie requires you to do outside reading to understand it? Load of crap. Fortunately, LOTR was not like that. I saw FOTR before reading anything and I followed it just fine.
"You fell victim to one of the classic blunders, the most famous of which is 'Never get involved in a land war in Asia'."
--Vizzini (Wallace Shawn), The Princess Bride
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Mr coffee were you actually watching the movies when you saw them. you cant not say that all three movies are exactly they same. the other think is that in case you didnt know lotr is one book not a trilogy so you are going to get more similarity then you do in other trilogies.
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I feel these movies do stand alone and you do not need to read the books. It does help for the sake of comparison or supplemental information, but there is absolutely no need to read them to know what's going on.


I don't fully agree, in that I've shown the movie to some people who had not read the books and they found alot of the politics and cultures to be a bit confusing and hard to absorb on first viewing. My wife was a bit confused by some of it but upon repeat viewings has gained a strong udnerstanding of middle earth (what is it in the middle of?????)

I do think the movies stand on their own, but I also think some stuff is a bit confusing for those unfamiliar with the source material.
And I dance. And I sing.
And I'm a monkey, in a long line of kings.
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Originally posted by: Bossk
They digitally shrunk them. Those shots don't bother me (referring to Frodo leaping in cart, Merry and Pippen tackling Boromir, etc.).


No those are all scale double shots.


Funny thing is, if I had made these movies, I would of just cast short people as the hobbits.
And I dance. And I sing.
And I'm a monkey, in a long line of kings.
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Originally posted by: Rebel Scumb
I don't fully agree, in that I've shown the movie to some people who had not read the books and they found alot of the politics and cultures to be a bit confusing and hard to absorb on first viewing. My wife was a bit confused by some of it but upon repeat viewings has gained a strong udnerstanding of middle earth (what is it in the middle of?????)

I do think the movies stand on their own, but I also think some stuff is a bit confusing for those unfamiliar with the source material.

I had no problem with them when I went in knowing nothing about FOTR. I have several friends who went in blind as well and have had no problem whatsoever. Friends who have no grasp of the genre or the style.
"You fell victim to one of the classic blunders, the most famous of which is 'Never get involved in a land war in Asia'."
--Vizzini (Wallace Shawn), The Princess Bride
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Kevin A
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