January 7, 2002
Review of FotR
This will be pretty harsh - but honest. I hope somebody reads it in the same despairing attitude in which it is written.
CHARACTERS (in order of appearing, more or less)
BILBO. He comes across like a character from "Only Fools and Horses" or "Last of the Summer Wine". Or whine, maybe. Obviously played for pathos and sympathy, but only worthy of being called pathetic. Hoggle, in "The Labrynth", faced with s similar moral challenge to Bilbo, is much more believable - and he's onle a man in a rubber mask!!!
GANDALF. A grungy, sticky-looking, unkempt, uncombed, unbathed nerd. Again, the spin was so obvious - an "essentially good" wizard with a "human fallibility" streak. Not convincing at all.
FRODO. I liked Frodo. Wide-eyed and shoeless, a brilliant performance.
THE OTHER HOBBITS IN THE FELLOWSHIP. Come off it. Who are these guys supposed to be? Took was like an Irish leprichaun, out-of-place even in this movie. Sam is like Billy Bunter.
GIMLI. Not bad.
THE REST OF THE FELLOWSHIP: Well, again, they're about as bad as everybody else except Frodo. I feel sorry for the actor who played Frodo. He tried so hard and so well. The others didn't.
SARUMAN. Chris Lee played him the way he always played Dracula - in other words, as though he had a wooden stake up his jaxie and was afraid to move at all in case it hurt. Stiff, wooden, hopelessly out-of-place in this role.
THE ORCS. Lovely, lovely.
ARWEN. Why was she in this at all? Basically, she rides Frodo across the river and then gives the finger to the Dark Riders. Wow. So What? And the special effects here are drab and dismal. That TV advert with the water-horses is much better!
GALADRIEL. Dear oh dear. This "Queen of the Elves" has a face like a horse. She glides stiffly like a wooden statue, instead of walking. She recites instead of talking. Cold, grim, unloveable, unsympathetic. No wonder her hubby was so wound up all the time..!
BALROG. That scene when Gandalf and Balrog have the Mexican stand-off, roaring at each other, is laughable. Like the cave-men in 2001, all talk and no action. And when Gandalf shouts: "You shall not pass!"... did it remind me of another character in The Labrynth? Yes. Couldn't the script-writer have given him a better line at this point?
THE MOVIE ITSELF
One of those sad efforts where the special effects are the best thing about it. The architecture and sculptures and backgrounds are terrific. But this doesn't make a good movie. It shows what happens when you use 21st Century technology to bring to life ideas and attitudes that were old-fashioned and out-of-date fifty years ago. Like so many SF and fantasy movies, the ideas are old-hat and worn-out, stolen from stories which were published in the 1940's. Out of copyright now, so the film guys can steal the ideas without having to pay for them. Essentially, though, I'd say that the film is out-dated because everything in it is so black-and-white. Black is evil, white is good. (Except for the corrupted Saruman). And Gandalf, caught in the middle, has to be Grey, of course. As for the philosophy and/pr meaning or the story... WHAT philosophy and/or meaning? The last fifty years of human history have shown us that human evil is not generated by nasty rings, fallen angels called Lucifer, or any other external agency. The evil is in our own souls. This movie, and the books, keep alive the idea that we can forgive our own sins by claiming that "it wasn't me that did it... it was the influence of the ring... or the devil... or even God." Like saying that Satanism's upside-down cross causes evil. No it doesn't. It takes an evil person to turn the cross upside-down first, and quite a few more to turn that image into an accepted symbol of evil. If we don't change our minds and start helping each other to overcome the evil in our own souls, the human race is doomed. Melting down a gold ring is not going to restore goodness into the hearts and minds of the human race. I dislike Lord of the Rings because it keeps alive this idea.