The Lord of the Rings films haven't aged well, have they? NOW INCORPORATING THE RANDOM IRRELEVANT STATEMENT THREAD!

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The Lord of the Rings films haven't aged well, have they? NOW INCORPORATING THE RANDOM IRRELEVANT STATEMENT THREAD!

Post by Cliffjumper » Sat Jun 18, 2011 5:57 pm

Rewatching Fellowship at the moment, and my word is it booooooring. I mean, how much of this thing is in slow motion? Every ten minutes something apparently dramatic happens, and we get lots of close-ups of sad faces, a score presumably from Murray ****ing Gold and loads of slooooooow mooooootion. Things like 300 and, dare I say it, the Bay TF films have made some of the effects look pretty primitive too, which is a shame as there's ropey CGI in pretty much every scene.

Plus the acting is pretty bloody terrible when the visuals aren't rushing it all past you - fat bloke off Sliders yelling in what seems to be a dodgy Welsh accent, McKellen phoning it in like it's Harry Potter, that guy from Aerosmith.

Plus I left the room midway through to make a cup of tea, and the plot doesn't seem to have moved. I spent a couple of seconds checking whether I'd paused it or not. I hadn't.

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Post by Wildrider » Sat Jun 18, 2011 6:24 pm

Having read the books a few times, I feel it's one of the few occasions where the film is better than the source material. Tolkien's premise and story outline is great stuff, but his prose and writing style is stale and borderline academic in it's narrative, all appendices and impenetrable languages and ridiculous names ad infinitum. Much as I imagine Frank Herbert's 'Dune' work to be.

The films themselves suffer from their own success somewhat, 'Return of the King' is quite poor compared to 'Fellowship', the charm of the first film gets lost by the need to have bigger and bigger battles. The multiple endings of 'RotK' are just ludicrous.

Overall though I think you would be hard pressed to adapt the original films any better, Mortensen was a revelation at the time and Rhys-Davies is a welcome relief from all the constipated expressions on Bloom's face.

But the hobbits do grate over the duration of the films, from Frodo's emo whining, Sam's intermittent crying and the other two basically being feckless twats regardless of what situation they find themselves in.

For my money McKellen is fantastic, charm, humour and charisma, perfectly embodies the playful nature of Gandalf the Grey, it's just a shame Gandalf the White is far less entertaining. Where in reincarnation does it say you leave your sense of empathy and humour behind?

Oh well, as for the visuals? For the time they were made with a new effects house WETA (Although tutored by ILM no doubt.) I think they were ace, although the undead army in 'RotK' was shite.

Did I mention i don't rate 'ROTK'? ;)

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Post by Cliffjumper » Sat Jun 18, 2011 6:48 pm

Having disliked RotK on first showing, largely for the 16000 endings and a vast number of close-ups of pretty boys dressed as nerds staring into the mid-distance, I'm really dreading getting that far...

I swear you could cut an hour out of the first one just by cutting down on the needless staring scenes. I mean, I'm no philistine, I love Leone, but he used faces to transmit emotion, drama and suspense. This is just pictures of people staring, with a by-the-numbers score trying to tell me what I'm meant to be feeling watching this dead-eyed bunch.

The hobbits are definitely a pain in the arse - various things which are meant to be endearing, like the spare pair's incessant lame jokes, are actually pretty irritating.

I'd agree they're better than the books, but that's more a reflection on my low opinion of them, as they tend to read like a role-playing text or a rather dry historical tome. I've always preferred reading the Narnia books - CS Lewis was just as much of a racist prick as Tolkein, but his chummier "let's not kid ourselves" style and the lack of overdose of information makes them flow a lot better.

I seem to remember liking Two Towers the most, but at the same time IIRC it's the most effects-reliant of the lot (and also seemed to have a good chunk of explanation missing from Helm's Deep, where we suddenly go from having a shitload of those horse-chaps and a bunch of elves lead by Chunky Legolas) to four named characters in a hall. I'm sure there've been a couple of extended DVDs released padding that out with some nice lingering closeups of Orlando, though.

Gollum still looks good, but a lot of the action scenes creak a bit - the fight in the mine with the big troll, for example. I mean, I can ignore effects in older films up to a point, but when someone's made a film that relies on them it tends to hurt it a bit more.

Plus in 300, how the **** does Dilios know what happens after he leaves? I mean, he could be lying, but then why does he put himself in his story as leaving?

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Post by inflatable dalek » Sat Jun 18, 2011 6:58 pm

Last time I watched them was about threeish years ago, and thought they still stood up well (mind, I rarely watch anything made after about 1990 these days so my standards for good effects are probably a bit behind everyone elses).

The third one however, is unfortunately the weakest, as said the endings just go on and on. I still can't believe there are people who are upset they cut out the scouring of the Shire epilogue when what it shows- that the Hobbits can now look after themselves- is aptly proven by the preceding 700 pages. And I don't get why Christopher Lee's final fate wasn't in the theatrical cut, it only takes about a minute and is kind of important.

I actually think the first is the best despite the second having the awesome battles, it's plot is a bit more focused and tighter than the others.

I'm not looking forward to the Hobbit at all, even if it is turning Sylvester McCoy into a big Hollywood star.
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Post by Cliffjumper » Sat Jun 18, 2011 7:07 pm

Yeh... I think the Hobbit is going to look very out-of-place ten years on. As far as effects-driven fantasy films go (which is what the LOTR films are) they've been thoroughly left behind by comic book films and the like, and it's going to leave a lot of average cinema-goers cold - especially as the book is episodic as hell anyway. Anyone want to bet that the Battle of the Five Armies takes up a totally disproportionate amount of time compared to the book? It's a bad sign that they seem to be roping the likes of Legolas in.

One thing that I do find hugely annoying about the second film is Gimli's running. We get these constant jokes about how knackered he is and how much slower he's running than Aragon and Legolas, yet strangely the gap drops to a few feet every time the camera angle changes (which is a lot... again, if there was a bit less of these three capering around New Zealand stating the ****ing obvious, it'd be a much shorter film).

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Post by Slayer-Fan123 » Sun Jun 19, 2011 8:13 am

I don't think the first one aged that badly. I still watch it and enjoy it.
The third one, however...I was just hoping that those giant eagles would eat those damn hobbits.
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Post by Summerhayes » Sun Jun 19, 2011 7:30 pm

This is a huge coinkidink because the missus has just turned up at my flat demanding we watch Fellowship.
I remember absolutely loving these films the first time round (and, like everyone else I liked TTT the best and found the books tedious) but I was about 12, and haven't watched them in years, so we'll see what my opinion of them is now.
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Post by inflatable dalek » Sun Jun 19, 2011 7:50 pm

Cliffjumper wrote:Yeh... I think the Hobbit is going to look very out-of-place ten years on. As far as effects-driven fantasy films go (which is what the LOTR films are) they've been thoroughly left behind by comic book films and the like, and it's going to leave a lot of average cinema-goers cold - especially as the book is episodic as hell anyway. Anyone want to bet that the Battle of the Five Armies takes up a totally disproportionate amount of time compared to the book? It's a bad sign that they seem to be roping the likes of Legolas in.
The problem seems to be they don't think people want The Hobbit, a silly fun kids story, but more Lord of the Rings. Considering the amount of extra stuff Tolkein wrote set in Middle Earth I just wish they'd have dropped the Hobbit stuff if they didn't have the balls to risk it and just did a couple of films following the back story.

I wish they weren't sticking Christopher Lee in it either, he was very much looking his age at the BAFTA's and seeing a walking corpse doing gymnastics is going to be even sillier than it was first time round.

I actually feel a bit sorry for Orlando Bloom, he seems to have become very uncool these days considering the success he had back at the start of the decade. He'll never challenge the full range of facial expressions but I thought he was fine in Pirates and LOTR (where he gets some great arrow based cool moments as well).

I don't think I've ever found a single CGI flesh creature convincing, even in things like Avatar. Spaceships and robots seem much easier to do, with organic things I just wind up thinking a costume would look much better. I mean, they couldn't just shave of Serkis' hair for Gollum?
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Post by Cliffjumper » Sun Jun 19, 2011 8:48 pm

Yeh, TBH they'd be better being honest and just going for a general-purpose prequel (i.e. all those battles and shit that were in the other even more inpenetrable books). Get that desperate son of his to write them some half-arsed script in order to placate the lunatics, and just go for it. How bad can it be? Well, ****ing terrible, but leave The Hobbit out of it.

Going down the cast list on Wikipedia is incredibly disconcerting, as I can't remember most of the characters even being in The Hobbit.

Good point about CGI and living stuff (though I thought 300 pulled off some bits - like the mad rhino - pretty well, but then the shooting style was probably pretty sympathetic)... The bit that really looked off in Fellowship was in the fight in Moria, where the cave troll looks a bit iffy. And then Legolas jumps on its' back and there's just no weight to either of them. Same when Gandalf jumps on the back of the owl.

The scale stuff is still ace, though - I can never quite get over the first bit where Frodo jumps into Gandalf's arms. Complete showing off, like Ironhide at the start of RotF, and bloody excellent for the same reason. And the bit in Moria with the collapsing staircase is still vertigo-inducing, even on a little telly.

I like Orlando Bloom, nice harmless chap - he doesn't think he's Richard Burton reincarnated, and seems perfectly likeable. Most of the problems with the acting in LotR are down to limited direction and scripting - John Hurt would struggle if the script read "Your character stares vaguely into space for six solid minutes" or "Throw a lame quip in Legolas' direction, preferably in a sort of Welsh accent".

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Post by inflatable dalek » Mon Jun 20, 2011 7:25 am

Cliffjumper wrote: Going down the cast list on Wikipedia is incredibly disconcerting, as I can't remember most of the characters even being in The Hobbit.
Yep, even without having paid a huge amount of attention there seems to have been a buggerload of extra characters thrown in (including McCoy's character, who weirdly wasn't in the LOTR films despite being briefly in the book). For a story that already has 15 lead characters. Considering most of the dwarves get short strife in the book anyway (hell, the only reason there's so many of them is for the gag of shy and retiring Bilbo suddenly having to put up with 13 drunk hooligans) they're almost certain to be reduced to bit parts even with the bloated running time.
Good point about CGI and living stuff (though I thought 300 pulled off some bits - like the mad rhino - pretty well, but then the shooting style was probably pretty sympathetic)...
I've not seen 300, but it got a very stylised look hasn't it? Probably helps cover the visual side of things.
The scale stuff is still ace.
Oh yes, extordinay effort put in there, especially considering the temptation there must have been to do a Willow and just use real little people. Only false looking moment for me is when the Fellowship gets announced and they're all standing next to each other, which looks blatantly like they're all standing in front of blue screens and composited together, I think the lighting wasn't quite right.


The shame of it is, a proper Hobbit film could have been a great movie. Yes, more kid aimed and yes probably oddly out of place to anyone coming from the previous films with no real knowledge of it (but the same must be true of the books), but still a lot of good solid family fun with some moments of visual splendour.

And having Ian Holm in an old Bilbo framing sequence really shows missing the point. Yes, he's obviously too old to go running about New Zealand, but considering it's a rather major plot point in LOTR that he hasn't aged at all since he got the ring actually drawing attention to this by putting them both on screen together rather than just treating it as a handwaving "HE always looked like this" recast is every sort of stupid.

Has anyone actually watched King Kong?
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Post by Summerhayes » Mon Jun 20, 2011 8:02 am

Well, we watched the first disk and so far I've found it to be brilliant. Of course, the only effects I've seen have been establishing shots and the scale stuff, which nobody can say isn't incredible. I'll wait and see about the rest.

As for monsters, I generally find hairy ones to look fine- the Wargs, and werewolves in various things. And scaley things like dinosaurs. Its just skin they seem to struggle with.
inflatable dalek wrote: Has anyone actually watched King Kong?
Yeah, I've fast-forwarded to the midway point dozens of times. Not entirely sure what happens at the start- I haven't watched that since I saw it at the pictures.
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Post by inflatable dalek » Mon Jun 20, 2011 8:14 am

Summerhayes wrote: As for monsters, I generally find hairy ones to look fine- the Wargs, and werewolves in various things. And scaley things like dinosaurs. Its just skin they seem to struggle with.

And elbows. Ten years after the CatoffRedDwarf had a digital double for Blade 2 I've yet to see one where the arms bend convincingly. It really bugs me every time. They spent all that money on Superman Returns and couldn't find a CGI artist who knows Stretch Armstrong's bendy floopy arms are not the norm?

Yeah, I've fast-forwarded to the midway point dozens of times. Not entirely sure what happens at the start- I haven't watched that since I saw it at the pictures.
I probably count as some sort of film philistine in that I've only seen the 70's version.
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Post by Summerhayes » Tue Jun 21, 2011 1:12 pm

inflatable dalek wrote:
I probably count as some sort of film philistine in that I've only seen the 70's version.
Until the most recent one, all I'd seen was King Kong versus Godzilla, so I can't say much.
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Post by Auntie Slag » Tue Jun 21, 2011 8:52 pm

I still like the first one for sentimental reasons. It's like a boys own adventure, like I had back in the 50's with Gordy, Chunk, Data and Fonz.

There are some really ropey CGI Gollum sequences in The Two Towers where it looks like he's been animated by the B or C team. They're so clunky, like the kind of things only given the green light because of a looming deadline.

RoTK was on telly the other week and I was apalled at some parts. How does Denethor manage to run for half a mile completely on fire before jumping off the edge? What were the continuity or common-sense team thinking when they were viewing such scenes in the rushes? Maybe they couldn't be arsed any more...

The ghosts in the mountain seemed like the lamest of plot devices (against some stiff competition).

Aragorn's accent went all around the houses by the third film. It appears as if the entire film crew were simply too in awe of him to notice him slipping clunkily into different accents within a few sentences of each other! (apparently Viggo is a really nice bloke, but that's no excuse to have him go from The Commitments to Lovejoy to the farmer off Chicken Run).

There was plenty I liked; the Orcs in Fellowship were excellent, really exuding menace. Gandalf was great in the first one & I loved his rousing comment from RotK; "Yes Merry, we're going to die so painfully in a few moments... but death's alright really so I wouldn't worry too much". Top stuff Gandalf! team motivation!

I thought the cave troll scene from the first film was a fantastic stand-out moment. Full of thrills and spills and camera juddery. Sam twatting a mad orc with a frying pan is just pants though.

Treebeard walking against the utterly crap 70's blue screen background. All he needed was some flares and sideboards to complete the effect.

Legolas is right old tart and I never laughed once at Gimli. However, Aragorn's comment about beards, that was the proper way to go. We should've had more of that kind of humour instead of the ultra-forced Gimli crap.

Sean Bean was great as Sean Bean.

The big flying wraith things looked great, and I think the theatrical versions have equal value to the extended cuts, if not more so. I reckon the definitely do more with less. Much tighter in places, which improves the films somewhat.
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Post by Cliffjumper » Tue Jun 21, 2011 9:20 pm

ROTK really feels like a contractual obligation album, doesn't it? Everyone involved seems to realise they've peaked, and they just want to get this over and done with and get on with their lives.

God, I forgot they did those preposterous extended editions - I wouldn't sit through those if you paid me. I used to love the idea of directors' cuts back in the day when they dealt with films that had been ****ed by studios, distributors, censors and so on, but now it seems everything's got an extra hour on the DVD which largely goes to show what a good job the editor did in the first place. Actually, I suspect most of it's cut with the DVD in mind now. It's like the extended forest fight scene in ROTF - sure, there's loads more bits of Grindor flying around, but it screws the whole flow of the scene (notably the skipped needle on the score).

The Orcs and Urak-Hai (was it Urak-Hai? Or was that that ultimate vampire thing from Buffy that was near indestructible when there was one of them and cannon fodder when there were scores of the things?) were excellent, but they worked because it was a bunch of 6' 6" musclebound thugs in oodles of slap, which means if it's done well it tends to age well. Physical effects tend to age better - even ropey old model/prop/set work has its' own sort of charm to it even if it is unconvincing.

And is it me, or does Frodo nearly die about once every ten minutes?

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Post by Auntie Slag » Tue Jun 21, 2011 9:39 pm

I was in awe of the extended editions. It felt like such indulgence to see what the Director really wanted to show were there no time constraints. But I agree with you, there's a reason editors exist and that's to ring out the crap and tighten things up.

I still enjoy the extended editions now, but they do as much harm as good. How can all the all the guys at the back possibly hear what Theoden is shouting with the stirring cry before rushing into all the orcs and oliphaunts?

Why are the horsemen so stupid that they choose run right at the oliphaunts, who have all those tusks with the big garotting wire between?

Why is it so painful watching Legolas firing CGI arrows into orcs whilst doing that silly counting game?

Why wasn't Gollum voiced by a parched John Hurt instead of a creepy man trying to attract a kid with his paedophile voice?

There's a bit in The Two Towers where Aragorn, Legolas & Gimli are tracking the Uruk's who have Merry & Pippin. At one point Legolas says; "The Uruk's have turned North East, they are taking the hobbits to Isenguard". Now the books all have a map in the front. This film is allegedly made by dyed-in-the-wool Tolkein ultra-nerds and not one of the ****ers noticed that North East is in completely the opposite direction. North East is where Legolas comes from! Isenguard's almost straight west and up a bit, near Camarthen. Muppets

And where's David Bowie?

[Edit] The forest fight scene in Revenge of the Fallen was extended? I didn't know that. How do you reckon it screws the flow? I enjoyed that bit a lot, although I think RofF just ingited my robot bloodlust really, so the more robots hitting each other the better despite the crazy camera.

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Post by Sades » Tue Jun 21, 2011 10:38 pm

The dude from Aerosmith. That got a giggle. I made that same comparison over the weekend. Mine wasn't as amusing however.

One of my brothers was watching one of the movies the other day... I forget which one. The one with Gollum leading Frodo into the giant spider's web and stuff. Elijah Wood is really good at looking like a frightened young girl.
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Post by DrSpengler » Tue Jun 21, 2011 11:04 pm

How was the Hollywood blockbuster fantasy film subgenre before Peter Jackson's Lord of the Rings came along?

I remember not caring for fantasy films period before it, that they didn't really make very many to begin with, but now there's too damn many of them.

As a kid I had stuff like "Willow" and "Krull" and "Legend" and god it was all terrible. I could dig stuff like Jim Henson's flicks, like "Labyrinth" and "The Dark Crystal", but I always just held those in the same regard as "Follow that Bird" and "The Muppets Take Manhattan" instead of serious fantasy cinema.

I just can't think of any fantasy films before Lord of the Rings that just didn't look like a bunch of LARPers fighting Gumby with midgets waddling around. and it was always the same 3 or 4 midgets, too; Hollywood has a very shallow pool of midget talents and we always end up with either Verne Troyer or that dude with the beard. You know who I'm talking about.

Wait, I liked "Conan the Barbarian". So there's that.

I remember "Fellowship of the Ring" being the first time I saw a fantasy film that made me genuinely believe I was looking into a fantasy world and for being the first time I ever cared about fantasy cinema. The sequels certainly don't hold up so well and I rarely find myself making it past "Fellowship" to get to any of them. "Return of the King", the Academy Award-winner, always felt like the worst of the lot, suffering from the same problems the Rankin-Bass cartoon musical from the early 80s had: "Oh Mr. Frodo, I'm so tired, I can't go on!" "You must go on, Sam!" "Oh Sam, I can't bear the burden any longer, I must give up!" "Don't talk like that, Mr. Frodo!" "Oh Mr. Frodo, I can't take it any longer!" "Hang in there, Sam! We're almost there!" and back and forth and back and forth.

Though "Two Towers" has the problem of feeling like so much filler, especially how Sam and Forod spend the whole movie as prisoners of douchey-human-guy, apparantly for the sole purpose of keeping them from reaching Mt. Doom until the third movie.

But then, I think a lot of those problems stem from the source material.

I've always been more of a "The Hobbit" kinda guy. Found the compact nature of the story made it more enjoyable, the kid-oriented nature of the book made it a more joyful read and the Rankin-Bass cartoon from the 70s is awesome, everybody who hates it can shut up now.

But in regards to the Peter Jackson movies, I just remember them as being the first time I actually cared about fantasy movies. And even when they're at their worst, I don't think they're as bad as the fantasy films from the 70s and 80s. Though I suppose when LOTR is at its worst, it's boring enough to put you to sleep, while when any given 80s fantasy film is at its worst, hilarious crude stop-motion monsters and midgets are involved. So maybe 80s fantasy has the edge, after all.

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Post by inflatable dalek » Wed Jun 22, 2011 5:40 am

I do think the director's cut versions of the film's are better than the theatrical, but that's mainly down to the slightly unfair trick of them blatantly being edited with the DVD version in mind anyway.
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Post by Cliffjumper » Wed Jun 22, 2011 12:57 pm

Surely the most prolific midget is Kenny Baker - Time Bandits, the Star Wars trilogy, Amadeus, Elephant Man, Labyrinth, the other Star Wars trilogy that we don't talk about...

Regarding older stuff, I'm not a big fantasy buff in general, but I agree on the boring thing - LOTR's biggest problem is that it takes itself so seriously, which is one reason why Gimli's bitching stands out so badly. They've all had their sense of humour surgically removed, but we get these comic relief characters like the spare Hobbits and fat bloke off Sliders thrown into this world of staring miserablists. It's like the script was written by Tolkein and edited by some guy who wrote Friends.
Ver Slag wrote:The forest fight scene in Revenge of the Fallen was extended? I didn't know that. How do you reckon it screws the flow? I enjoyed that bit a lot, although I think RofF just ingited my robot bloodlust really, so the more robots hitting each other the better despite the crazy camera.
For the IMAX version, which IIRC was given a US Bluray release... Might have got more since, but I've not paid much attention since it was given an internet release. It's at about 0:55 and 1:55 IIRC... It does bridge Prime going from rugby tackling everyone to Prime getting thrown through a tree nicely. I think it was just that I'd seen the original something like 200 times by then, though the score 'restart' feels very forced, and it does make Grindor look a little more useful - I always liked the way it was "PRIME! MEGATRON! STARSCREAM! AND... Grindor. PLACE YOUR BETS!"]XctuVzwERe4[/youtube]

Heh.


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