By Shamus Posted Monday May 7, 2007

Filed under: Rants 74 comments

This whole DM of the Rings project has just about ruined the movies for me. I loved the movies when I saw them the first time, but now that I’ve stepped through them frame-by-frame, and listened to sections of dialog repeatedly while at the same time reading the books, I must say the movies have begun to grate. Case in point:

I’ve come across the scene in Return of the King where Legolas effortlessly drinks Gimli under the table. I could barely get through it. Is Peter Jackson some kind of Dwarf-hater? What would possess someone to write this scene, which goes against everything we know about both Dwarves and Elves. (Aside from the preposterous idea that an Elf could win such a contest, and that he would stoop to doing so, are we to believe that Legolas has lived for thousands of years and has never heard of drinking games?) Why not take out this ham-fisted scene and instead have them make the bargain to return to Fangorn and Helm’s Deep once their journeys are over? It would have made both characters deeper, and would have pleased fans of the book instead of offending them.

If I posted gripes like the one above every time the movie got on my nerves then we would have gripe updates more often than DM of the Rings.


From The Archives:

74 thoughts on “Anti-Dwarfisim

  1. Hal says:

    If I posted gripes like the one above every time the movie got on my nerves then we would have gripe updates more often than DM of the Rings.

    Eh. We’re all dorks here. I think we’d still happily read it. :-)

  2. cory says:

    What I wonder is how Jackson will manage the scene in the Hobbit where the wood-elves get drunk? As I recall, it’s critical to the plot.

  3. Skip says:

    I think Jackson will decide to have wargs carry them off instead.

  4. David V.S. says:

    To the first movie’s credit, I did appreciate how some of the changes made were small scenes that worked well on film but would have worked miserably in print. For example, Arwen’s race to the ford and the collapsing stairway in Moria both were very obvious additions, but (to me at least) seemed consistent enough with the text to be the kind of thing Tolkien might have put in if the written page could make the scene as exciting.

    I’m not sure why the people making the movies felt they need to “interpret” for film instead of just “translate” them. But given that they had such a mindset, they seemed to succeed almost as often as fall flat.

  5. Mike says:

    I think Peter Jackson lost a bit of his focus as the project dragged on. Return of the King has the best material but some of the the special effects and editing are rough around the edges. You can tell they were tired while working on that final installment.

  6. Randolpho says:

    Just remember: the movies are not the books.

    The movies are not the books.


    Really, it’s the only way to stay sane.

    I’m a fan of the movies and the books, although I certainly love the books more. What I like most about the movies is the cinematography — it really captures the *feel* of Middle Earth, IMO.

  7. Telas says:

    Oh, no… gripe away.

    That scene (which was thankfully not in the original release) should have been Gimli’s. He’s been the butt of jokes and a source of comic relief the entire trilogy; give him some spotlight, dammit!!

    Now, if you were going to wonder why Tom Bombadil wasn’t in the movie, I’d go elsewhere… Anyone who can’t understand why a short tanned guy in yellow pants with a blue shirt and jaunty hat who sings at things won’t work on screen really doesn’t have a position worth listening to.

    But hey-dilly-ho, that’s just my opinion-o

  8. ladyalinor says:

    Last I heard Jackson wasn’t doing the hobbit. He’s in some dispute with the studio and has some other project lined up as well.

    The scenes that really bugged me were the non-cannon scenes. I mean, the books are long enough to have filled the movie time without buggering about with the actual plot. Even if it would have ended up mostly a “buddy” kind of movie

    cory Says:
    What I wonder is how Jackson will manage the scene in the Hobbit where the wood-elves get drunk? As I recall, it's critical to the plot.
    3 Skip Says:
    I think Jackson will decide to have wargs carry them off instead

  9. Yes. The fact that Gimli was turned into cheap slapstick comedy in the movies has always grated on me (along with what they did to Faramir and ELVES AT HELM’S DEEP). But that drinking scene was *awful*. Gripe away, Shamus. You’ve earned it.

  10. Steve says:

    The films were on an elf-loving rampage.
    They couldn’t get enough of the elf and had Legolas win every Elf vs Dwarf contest there was. Gimli really was retired to being Legolas’ sidekick.

  11. Doug Brown says:

    Like a good nerd, I lined up to see the midnight showings of all three movies. I hated the first one. It took the shoddy second and the wretched third to reveal the first’s true and only virtue: it was slightly less bad than the movies that follow.

    I agree with Randolpho, the look of the movies approaches perfection. Everything else about them is so bad that one can only guess that they were assembled as damning proof that Jackson’s wife is a talentless screenwriter.

  12. John says:


    That was a big question over here. Before LOTR was made the studio confirmed that they would never ever make the hobbit as a movie, as it just wasnt suited to it. After having many millions lining their pockets they seemed to reconsider a bit, but i dont know how serious they really were. In any case they’re not even talking about starting it at the moment

  13. GEBIV says:

    I always thought that Legolas’ never having heard of ‘drinking games’ was a con. That he was just saying that to sucker Gimli into a game that Legolas already knew he was going to win.

    But maybe I’m reading feigned innocence into Bloom’s inability to act.

  14. Brian says:

    Gimli got Jar-jar’ed, plain and simple. There were many times where the character was cheapened to get a laugh. Those got to me more than anything else in the movies. Overall I thought they were great, but the treatment of Gimli left much to be desired.

  15. Lance with a Bee says:

    1) you earned griping rights. Aside from the cinematography, I think you go the movies beat.
    2) I’m glad we agree. Dwarves are too proud and self-respecting to be side kicks. That’s what hobbits are for.

  16. Joshua says:

    Yep, Gimli was sadly reduced only to comic-relief. Faramir was reduced to a pale copy of Boromir, and they took out all of his learning and courtesy. Eowyn, while fine enough in the movies, was not nearly as good as the book, as the book version didn’t seem so peevish or get frightened in the final battle. Although the book’s scene with Eowyn defeating the Witch-King was more dramatic due to Dernhelm/Eowyn’s surprise reveal, it would have been almost impossible to make the movie audience believe that the character was a guy until the last minute.

    I did think that some things were done better in the movies, like the fact that Gandalf bidding Frodo go to Bree had a lot more urgency, whereas in the books it was something like, “You should go to Bree, and I’d recommend you get started in the next couple months or so…..”

  17. Joshua says:

    Oh, and as my fiancee pointed out last night, what’s up with the scene with the retreat from Edoras that has Eowyn walking alongside the guys? So, the shield-maiden of Rohan and noble lady has to trod alongside the warriors like a common peasant?

  18. Skeeve the Impossible says:


  19. *** Dave says:

    Yeah … I was irked by Gimli from beginning to end. Great stuff, but with (dwarvish) feet of clay.

  20. Sartorius says:

    I did think that some things were done better in the movies, like the fact that Gandalf bidding Frodo go to Bree had a lot more urgency, whereas in the books it was something like, “You should go to Bree, and I'd recommend you get started in the next couple months or so…..”

    On the other hand, the pacing of that scene makes no sense.

    1. Frodo returns to a spooky Bag End; is surprised by frantic Gandalf, who is wigging out and demands to know if the Ring is safe. (Waving his staff around in case anyone is sneaking up from behind, no less.)
    2. Frodo and Gandalf have tea and chat at leisure about the Ring.
    3. Gandalf mentions that Gollum knew that Baggins had taken the Ring.
    4. Frodo must throw a few things in a bag and flee Bag End at once.

    How do you reconcile the sense of urgency here? It’s an emergency, and then it’s time for tea and conversation, and then it’s an emergency again?

  21. Jeff says:

    “For example, Arwen's race to the ford”

    I miss Glorfindel, *sniff*

  22. Otters34 says:

    You and me both, sir, after all, Glorfindel would have been a much more reasonable choice to send for Frodo, what with the being brought back(after a fight with a Balrog)from the dead.And, if I remember right, in the book, Gandalf had no knowing that Sauron would essentially know by second-hand(Saruman)where the Shire was.

  23. mom says:

    Jeff says, I miss Glorfindel, *sniff*

    Yes! I waited for that scene and was deprived.

  24. Sam says:

    @Sartorius It was written by an englishman. There’s always time for tea, even when the bombers are coming.

  25. Flexstyle says:

    First off, I didn’t see this scene in the movie where Legolas drinks Gimli under the table. I’m guessing it’s in the extended version?

    Now, I really like the movies as movies go. I’m not a big fan of a lot of movies but I really did enjoy these. That said, they did a horrific job of, ahem, interpreting the book. Reading DMotR has kinda shown me in a new way how badly the books were screwed up by the movies. In the books, there’s all this nobility and self-sacrifice and total maturity that the movies failed to capture altogether. The thing is, you just don’t find truly NOBLE and MATURE people these days. Much less in Hollywood. Sure, this whole I-don’t-care-about-you-and-I’ll-just-do-what-I-want-even-if-it-screws-you-up mentality makes for some great comedy in a webcomic, but it’s really kind of sad if you think about it. And the movies did a pathetic job of making the characters who they were meant to be.

    Hope that made sense….?

  26. Ravs says:

    I think you might be right, Flexistyle. It could be (although I never heard it said in the commentries) that the Hero characters that Jackson was trying to portray were a modern day early 20 something’s idea of heroism, hence the sheild surfboard and the drinking games.

    He may also have thought that the book lacked any comic releif which the film, for dramatic contrast, required – but I don’t buy it myself – but that’s easy to say in hindsight.

    Now the whole thing about Aragorn being dragged off the cliff in TTT and his dreams about Arwen…don’t get me started on that.

    Still having said all of that it’s very easy to be critical of these matters in retrospect. Us purists may want a faithful rendition of the book, but a movie has so many other considerations to take into account. Which is why what Jackson ought to have done was filmed footage for a ‘purist’ director’s cut of the film. I mean, LOTR is only something like the third most read book on the planet, so it’s not like he’d be catering to a minority fanbase.


  27. Carl the Bold says:

    Others have complained, and rightly so, about how LeggyLass was held up as an honorable chap and Gimli was the slapstick sidekick. It doesn’t surprise me that we all (Shamus’ Web-dom) seem to agree that we’d rather have had a closer interpretation.

    But, am I alone in thinking that the elf was shown to be such a wonderful creature, and Gimli not-so-much, for PC reasons? Elves are at one with the woods, while Dwarves strip mine the earth so greedily that they stir up the evil that lies beneath.

  28. Jadawin says:

    Unfortunately, I was never able to get past having read the books while watching the movie. Someone said earlier that the movies got progressively worse; I’m not sure I agree. The decisions made by Jackson in TTT were so abysmally bad that there was no way to salvage RotK if he had wanted to. I found this post interesting because it referenced a scene I didn’t recognize, which made me think about the fact that I own the extended editions of the first two movies (Christmas presents)and have never until now even thought about the fact I don’t own the third. LotR is the main reason I’d like to see our ridiculous copyright laws reined in. Until it is public domain and some students who really love the books are able to use ever-improving computer animation tools on it, we won’t see a version that comes close to satisying a purist. However, I’ll be lucky to live long enough to see it enter the public domain, and that’s assuming they don’t extend copyright even further (a very big assumption).

  29. Sartorius says:

    Allow to offer one feeble point in Peter Jacksons favor (granted, I too was pretty annoyed at what was done to Gimli):

    LOTR is essentially a tragedy. It is the story of an old world coming to an end. The old Shire is ruined. Interregnate Gondor comes to a violent end. The House of Eorl is ended. Rivendell is abandoned. Lorien is abandoned. Laketown is destroyed. Osgiliath is gone. Dwarfdom has withered. The Entwives are gone, and ultimately the race of the Ents with them. The One is destroyed; the Three lose their power. We see in the course of the story other places which are already gone (Arnor, Hollin, Moria). In the course of the story, many characters are killed: Gandalf, Boromir, Theoden, Denethor, and ultimately Frodo (after a fashion).

    Good enough to make it the greatest literary work of the twentieth century, but the makings of a very, very gloomy ten hours of cinema. So I can see how the director would have decided that there has to be some systematic levity somewhere, or the theme of sorrow and loss would become overwhelming. Gimli, Merry, and Pippin drew the short straws; Gimli got to be Falstaff.

    Justifiable? Maybe not. But not inexplicable.

  30. Melfina the Blue says:

    But but but, I want the Hobbit as a movie. Okay, not a Lotr style huge epic movie, but a Harry Potter style kids movie. It made a good movie. The cartoon movie was good (granted I was 6, but man I loved it so much). Without the cartoon Hobbit, I never would have made my mom read me the book and never would have fallen in love with fantasy. Plus, don’t we all want to see the elves of Rivendell singing “Tra-la-la-lally, down here in the valley” while Elrond tries to pretend he’s not with them? Or better yet, gets drunk enough to join in?
    Oh, and alternate interpretation of the drinking scene…
    Mirkwood wine is 100 proof. That’s the way I’ve always taken it. And Gimli may be Sidekick Man, but at least he’s not Captain Obvious.

  31. Dan says:

    I loved the movies. I loved the books. It’s one of the rare cases in which the movie doesn’t follow page for page and it doesn’t bother me in the slightest.

  32. Ruana says:

    It’s not just Gimli, although he’s the worst example. The films’ attitude to short people in general annoyed me mightily. Frodo was the only hobbit/dwarf main character who didn’t frequently have me sqirming in vicarious embarrassment at some gratuitous piece of unfunny stupidity.

  33. DaveJ says:

    Short people just suck, I think that’s the real message of the film. Unless you grow tall you will never have a mighty brain or dignity.

  34. -Chipper says:

    OK, I admit I recently started a list of the things I don’t like about the films.

    I first read the books in high school, more than 20 years ago, & have re-read them several times. But I don’t consider myself a purist; rather a realist in understanding movies change things. Initially I loved the movies & easily ignored the complaints, even though the complaints were still multitude. Glorfindel replaced by Arwen & Arwen calling the flood instead of her father? NBD. Made sense for brevity of characters & giving Aragorn an active love interest which didn’t really happen in the books. Arwen & Aragorn connecting via dreams in TTT & elves helping defend Helm’s Deep? Made some sense since the complication of Dol Gulder & the Mirkwood orcs attacking Lothlorien couldn’t be portrayed, why not show the elves fighting elsewhere? Dwarf tossing jokes? OK, annoying but minor…

    And these movies are stunningly beautiful – visually & special effects wise, they are amazing. The characters & places look right. They took an amazing amount of care to portray Middle Earth without making it campy.

    Yet I have started that list. I won’t share it all with you – I should get my own blog for that. But the biggest thing that bugs me now is the big stuff – as Flexstyle discussed – the characters had their nobility drained away. Aragorn doesn’t want to be king. Boo hoo. Frodo is the only one of the four hobbits that DOESN’T stand up to the Nazgul on Weathertop & spends too much time falling down. He doesn’t defy them at the ford either. Elrond is made petty. Boromir stands above the others in this respect even though he falls… until you see the extended version of TTT & realize that Boromir was under orders from his dad to get the ring all along. Sam, after making such a fuss about, “don’t you leave him,” goes ahead & leaves him.

    Ack. OK I think I’m done now. My pulse is starting to come back down. *sigh* I guess like all things of Men, this did not fill its full promise. Thanks Shamus for a place to vent.

  35. Vegedus says:

    Huh? I was fairly sure there was a good reason Legolas won the drinking game: Elves are immune to poison, and alcohol is very much a poison, even though we kinda like it’s side effects.

  36. RKB says:

    Nah, they’re immune to magical sleep effects. In D&D. In LOTR, I don’t believe they’re “immune” to anything but age, though they are much hardier than men, but then again, so are Dwarves.

  37. Siliconscout says:

    I have but one really big complaint.

    There are many changes that they made that seemed senseless to me. Faromir being a big one, why ruin the fact that he was the better man and his father had even that wrong I don’t know.

    The one that bugged me by far the most was Thoeden King once they got holed up in Helm’s deep.

    I remember The fellowship crew being all for bugging out to the caves and making a run for it when Theoden rallied the troops and the Heroes and charged them out the gate.

    I loved that part of the book because it made the “Heroes” more human. They got scared and faltered just like the rest of us, they were not flawless perfect beings.

    If anything Theoden was the most “perfect” hero in the books, and I kinda liked that there were people who weren’t essentially angels (a la Gandalf) who the Heroes looked to for inspiration.

  38. The Pancakes says:

    Doug Brown @ 11
    “Like a good nerd, I lined up to see the midnight showings of all three movies. I hated the first one. It took the shoddy second and the wretched third to reveal the first's true and only virtue: it was slightly less bad than the movies that follow.”

    Sounds like my Star Wars, Episodes 1-3 experiences.

  39. Sartorius says:

    Frodo is the only one of the four hobbits that DOESN'T stand up to the Nazgul on Weathertop & spends too much time falling down.

    TBS ran a funny promo for showing FOTR which consisted of nothing but scenes of Frodo falling down. (Maggot’s farm, the Prancing Pony, Weathertop, Moria, Dead Marshes, etc.)

  40. Purple Library Guy says:

    Huh. There’s lots that annoys me about the movies, but when it comes to the *worst* stuff I seem to have totally different ideas from anyone here.

    The drinking game–OK, so it was non-canon, although theoretically it could have happened “off page” because it has no plot effect whatsoever. And OK, it was part of the general “dwarf comic relief” motif, which did get annoying. And OK, the elf won. Well, elves are weird. I don’t have a big problem with it in terms of demeaning dwarves though–I mean, did you see the size of the pile of mugs by the time Gimli went down? It was clear that any human involved would have been toast hours previously.
    And hey, unlike some of the other comic relief, it was kinda funny.

    And while I agree with some of the other criticisms raised, none of them are remotely the worst. The most horrible violence done to the books for me was clearly in two places. One, the bit where Frodo picks and trusts Gollum over Sam. Could we get real here? I know what they were trying to do. Their reasons were not remotely good enough to do that kind of violence to the depth and strength of love and trust between Frodo and Sam. It’s just ludicrous. In the books, Frodo and Sam had disagreements about how to treat Gollum, but that’s because Frodo’s priority was staying human with the ring on, and Sam’s priority was keeping Gollum from killing Frodo. It’s not that Frodo thought Gollum was seriously trustworthy, much less in any kind of competition with Sam. The whole “believing Sam ate the waybread and lied about it because of Gollum’s tawdry plot” reeks of sitcom nonsense. It’s horrible.
    The other really awful thing is . . . pretty much everything that happens in and around Minas Tirith. Denethor portrayed as nearly a dolt, utterly undercutting the whole message surrounding his fall (I’m not blaming the poor actor, who did a good job at what he seems to have been told to do). Gandalf whacking him with a staff in public in front of his guards, and nobody doing anything. The dimwit stuff with Denethor refusing to call for allies. Just everything that happened in Minas Tirith was awful. The whole approach was hamfisted. And then in the battle, Aragorn shows up with the ghosties and simply wins the whole battle with them, making everyone else’s heroism pretty much moot and creating a massive anticlimax. Oh, and the bit where Aragorn muses over whether to use the ghosts to win the whole *war* and takes the honourable course. Yeah, nice message, I think you need another sledgehammer or two to deliver it. Don’t try to put in your messages instead of Tolkien’s, there’s a reason you’re doing a film of his book not the other way around.

    Most of the other parts of the movies, the quibbles are really almost details compared to the Minas Tirith section, which systematically dorks up every theme the book was working on. They even managed to bugger up a simple thing like Sauron’s artificial night, blown away by the west wind. Instead, Sauron’s forces, orcs and all, appeared to attack Minas Tirith in the daylight. Gah!

  41. -Chipper says:

    Amen, Purple Library Guy!!!

  42. cosmofur says:

    With a handful of exceptions the comments above read like it's a contest of who hated the movies more.

    I like just about everyone here loved the books and make it a habit to read them at least once every 18 months or so (plus as I have a 2 hour car commute each day, I also listen to the tapes) (Do I have to give credentials?)

    Having said that, I find the movie version thrilling and think that many of the changes that Jackson made improved the stories. Not just with the justification of the translation, but frankly Tolken had a few issues with class, nobility and more or less raciest themes that in modern story telling would need to be address. I personally think that had Tolken still been around and writing today, he would have made several of these changes himself. Or at least equivalent ones.

    People complain about Aragon is too “˜weak' in the movies. But frankly he's too stuck up in the books. In 1940's England when people were still traumatized by WWII I guess the perfect “˜nobility' of many of the characters met some deep emotional need. Personally I read quickly though those parts as I find it deeply insulting. I'm not a believer in intangible qualities like nobility running though blood lines. (At least not in human scale time spans) I like the idea that the greatest “˜hero' of the book ends up being Sam who has humble roots.

  43. Problems with the films-as-films:

    (1) Continuity errors. Why is Gimli the only one who doesn’t know that Moria was wiped out years ago? How does the elven legion teleport from Lothlorien to Helm’s Deep? Why are the ents entirely ignorant of Saruman’s destruction of the forest if there are dozens of ents just 30 seconds away from the destroyed tree-line?

    (2) Pacing problems. This is something of a subjective judgment, but I find the middle of THE TWO TOWERS to be absolutely horrible when it comes to pacing. Perhaps the most inexplicable thing in the entire movie is when Galadriel delivers a two minute monologue in order to summarize the plot of the first half of the movie. Did Jackson think we weren’t paying attention? Was he worried that someone had fallen asleep? Did he really think having Galadriel describe the first half of the movie would wake them up?

    (3) Peter Jackson doesn’t know how to direct a battle sequence. This is somewhat problematic since he was, in a very real sense, directing a war movie.

    Yes, the special effects technology was amazing. But just because you’ve got amazing special effects, it doesn’t mean you’ve used those special effects to tell an interesting and compelling story.

    And that’s the problem with Jackson’s battle sequences. First, they make no sense. Whether it’s Gandalf’s assertion that it’s suicide for a vastly outnumbered force to retreat to a defensible position or Theoden delivering a rousing speech to his troops AFTER riding into view of the orcs below (and giving the orcs to fully prepare for their eventual charge), Jackson betrays a complete ignorance of how warfare works.

    (My personal “favorite”: Aragorn leads his army to the natural choke-point of the Black Gate (and the cliffs surrounding it). Then he stops his army just outside of this choke-point. Then, when the enemy charges his position, not only does he wait for them to get out of the natural choke-point… he waits until they have him COMPLETELY SURROUNDED. The fact that Jackson was simply reusing the same second-rate storytelling that he’d used to water down the Moria chase sequence just made it a little bit extra special.)

    But the graver sin, by far, is that Jackson was apparently incapable of handling a plot more complex than “we have a bunch of special effects and then the cavalry arrives and all the orcs are killed”.

    For an example of how to do it right, look at 300 or ZULU or BRAVEHEART or SPARTACUS. For an example of how to do it just like Jackson (i.e., screw it up) look at THE LION, THE WITCH, AND THE WARDROBE.

    Problems with the films-as-adaptations are far more numerous. Everyone can safely agree that some material had to hit the cutting room floor. Most people can agree that some sequences would need to be adapted to the natural strengths of a visual medium.

    But why add sequences which contribute nothing to plot and chew up screen time? Why radically alter and even invert the personalities of entire characters? Why take one of the most powerful and tragic moments in 20th century literature and turn it into a pathetic old man running the length of an entire city WHILE ON FIRE before plunging off a cliff? (This last quite possibly qualifies as the most ridiculous thing I have ever seen in a film.)

    And the most frustrating thing to me is the false-promise of FELLOWSHIP OF THE RINGS: That first film was as close to perfection as anyone could reasonably hope for. Sure, I can quibble that Jackson did’t handle two of the big chase sequences very well or that Gimli’s ignorance of the disaster at Moria (when Gandalf and Aragorn both know of it) is inexplicable — but the film was compelling and exciting from beginning to end, and it was never false to Tolkien. And, for me, the handling of Arwen (in this first film) was inspird — it was exactly the type of change that adapting a story to film justifies.

    FELLOWSHIP OF THE RINGS was brilliant.

    THE TWO TOWERS and RETURN OF THE KING, on the other hand, were merely mediocre. And there was absolutely no reason for it.

    Justin Alexander

  44. Rebecca says:

    Aagh! Too much discussion to read!

    I just hope that no-one said that nobody likes the movies better than the books. Because I do.

  45. The films approach things from an entirely different angle to the books, this is the cause of all the ‘changes’.

    The books are about *hobbits*. For whatever reason, the films are about *men*.

    The real story of the three films follows the weakness of man (as a race) and his opportunity for redemption – personified in several characters, Boromir & Faramir being the most extreme examples – and rightly so.

    Few people would argue that the character of Boromir was much improved in the film from that of the book; he actually *has* character in the film, rather than being the rather obvious foil for the ring that he is in the novel.

    Many, many people complain about ‘what was done to Faramir’ – but he too was turned into a more believable, and in fact more *heroic* character in the films. In the book, he gives up the ring with little or no effort (because he makes an oath prior to knowing about it) – he’s a two-dimensional ‘loyal’ character, just as Boromir is a 2D ‘corrupt’ character.

    Whereas in the film, he actually *fights* the corruption of the ring – and wins (at a moment of crisis, not dissimilar to the moment of Boromir’s failure).

    Similarly, Aragorn and Theoden are a lot more *real* in the film than in the book; we see them fail, fear & despair – and redeem themselves. They’re the heroes of the film.

    The hobbits are reduced to ancillary characters as a result (especially Merry & Pippin)

    (speaking of hobbits, movie Frodo clearly sends Sam away to protect him, not due a genuine lack of trust)

    Gimli & Legolas aren’t treated as particularly major characters in either version of the story.

  46. Pawlak says:

    IMHO: LotR despite being quite good movie was made mainly for people like Legolas player from DMotR. Guys like that praise their elfish archers so much that they’ll buy any crap that makes their favourite race looks better then others.

  47. I haven’t seen the scene in question and so I guess it was in the Extended Version (as others have speculated). Seems to be another reason why I tend not to like “Director’s Cuts.” Director’s fall in love with things that interfere with story-telling.

  48. Cineris says:

    Surprising amount of dislike for the movies here. The Two Towers was fairly weak, and Return of the King was nowhere near as good as Fellowship of the Ring. Still, I liked all the movies and the only gripe I really even want to give a nod to is the handling of Minas Tirith.

    Lets face it, it’s amazing that Lord of the Rings got nearly as faithful and good an adaptation that it did. Personally, I enjoy not having to have another D&D movie foisted on me and poisoning other people’s attitudes towards one of my hobbies.

  49. Telas says:

    Cineris: Lets face it, it's amazing that Lord of the Rings got nearly as faithful and good an adaptation that it did.

    I am thankfully not alone in thinking the movies were pretty damned good.

    Sure, I’ve got a few things that would have made them perfect in my eyes, but I’ve gotta give Peter Jackson credit for having the audacity to tackle this project, the nerve to stand up to everyone so he could put his interpretation on the screen, and the raw talent to make these movies better than I ever expected them to be.

    When I saw the first preview, my current-wife/then girfriend had to tell me afterwards that I was quietly chanting “please don’t suck” at the screen. Yet when FotR came out, I was so amazed at how accurate Jackson portrayed my own interpretation of Hobbiton that I had to watch it three times to even get an objective sense of the film.

    I think it’s so popular and easy to complain and nitpick and “make the perfect the enemy of the good” that some of the folks here frankly missed some pretty good films.

    So Jason, you seem pretty knowledgeable about cinema; when’s your first film coming out? ;)

  50. Jeff says:

    I liked the movies. They were swell.

    This is akin to me liking both steak and cookies. I like them differently, and can’t really answer which I like more.

    The only thing I dislike is the lack of the Scouring of the Shire, which I had always felt was critical, and the most enjoyable parts of the book.

  51. oleyo says:

    I agree with the above in that I really enjoy the scouring of the shire, and wished I could have seen it in the movies, although I fully expected that it wouldnt and couldnt be. It really gives a sense of the age passing when the shire is changed, I feel. Some of my 2c: I LOVED Sean Beans portrayal of Boromir…I thought the character had a lot of depth compared to the portrayal in the books. Casting in general was spectacular, Gandalf-perfect, Sauruman-absolutely perfect(come on! In the DVD interviews he recites the ring inscription from heart without batting an eye IN THE BLACK SPEECH), Denethor-very well done (acting as a man ruioned in despair, not the human torch BASE jumping) Theoden-I ALWAYS get the chills at his speech at the Pelenor (splicing lines from various characters and times worked fine…didnt bother me) I feel that no rendition could ever live up to such an epic and widely loved book, obviously the written story is the penultimate. Despite alot of nagging annoyances, overall I think the quality is better, as others have mentioned, than we might have expected from a hollywood rendition of perhaps our favorite story.

  52. Morrinn says:

    I hated the way Jackson undermined Gimli as a character, taking away the deep and important characteristics he had in the books and turning him into a silly little slapstick sidekick.

  53. ryanlb says:

    There are a couple of changes that don’t necessarily make sense to me, but for the most part I buy the explanations given by Jackson and crew as to why the changes needed to be made for cinema. As far as movie adaptations go, these are by far the best that I’m aware of.
    I really enjoy the movies and find them much more accessible than the books (though I also quite enjoy those as well). Sure, they have their issues (what movie doesn’t?) but they’re mostly insignificant to me. They don’t have anywhere near the plot holes or stupid characterization that other movies do (some that should have been better, like Revenge of the Sith).

    Still, I’ve recently come to the realization that I critique movies on the level of a 12 year old, so I’m not really hard to please. If they’re are cool looking bad guys (Witchking, fell beast) and cool action sequences (sword fighting, explosions) then I’m pretty much going to like the movie.

  54. Joshua says:

    Out of curiousity, does anyone have a link to an actual page that gives Peter Jackson’s reasons for making the changes he did? I can guess at some of them, such as adding the Warg battle to add an action scene to change the pace, and splicing the storylines of Rohan and Frodo’s journey to not seem as disconnected, but I’m not sure on the others. If we knew WHY he made some of these changes, I’m sure we could have a more informed discussion on them. After all, there may have been studio pressure, time and/or budgetary constraints, etc.

    Also, while it may seem simple to just add certain lines of dialogue here and there, having too much plot added could confuse some of the audience. It can be seen that Jackson tries to avoid this to some extent in the Two Towers where Galadriel’s speech to Elrond and Faramir’s poring over the map of Rohan and Gondor are not so subtly there as a recap to tie everything together for the non-book audience.

    As far as the elf vs. dwarf bit, I don’t know why Jackson diluted the character, but it may just be a sad reflection of society’s expectation of short, fat people to be comic relief, and thus Legolas is always topping Gimli while Gimli is meant to look like a clown. Maybe not, and Jackson just felt that more overt and silly comic relief needed to be added to the movie in addition to the occasional dry humor, and they felt like Gimli was the best choice.

    I have to say, though, that if New Line gets over their issue with Jackson and wants him to do the Hobbit, it will be pretty interesting to see what happens as the dwarves are the protagonists and many of the elves are villainous.

  55. ryanlb says:

    I know that several explanations are on the bonus DVDs.

    Also, Legolas doesn’t always win – Gimli had the higher kill count after the battle of Helms Deep, beat him by one.

  56. Tom Zunder says:

    Movies aren’t books, Books aren’t movies. I agree Gimli became the butt of the jokes, but hey, it’s okay, he’s ONLY a DWARF!

    Yeah? Yeah? Think you’re hard enough, come and taste my twin headed axe, dwarfy boi..

  57. Batmanintraining says:

    Well to Jackson’s credit though, Elves pretty much are ultimate badasses when it comes to the various races. It’s pretty ridiculous.

  58. Deoxy says:

    I think the best thing to say about th movies is that they captured the FEEL of Middle Earth so VERY AMAZINGLY well.

    After that, I’d point out they they are the first attempt at LotR movies that didn’t SUCK [expletive]. That’s pretty good, too.

    After that, there was a lot of minutia that WAS screwed up (Gimli not knowing about Moria’s defeat? And then later knowing that contact was lost years ago? And then STANDING ON BALIN’S TOMB?!?), but that’s normal for movies, and not a big deal.

    But there were some Big Deals; some jumped out at me on first watching, some came later, and some of the first ones I noticd I found pretty good reasons for later.

    1) Boromir and Faramir: I always liked the portrayal of Boromir – wonderful! But Faramir got ROBBED! Then, as I’ve watched them a few more times, I see that it was done to better convey the power of the ring over men AND to make Faramir’s eventual giving up the ring all the more potent to those who haven’t read the book. I think it could have been done a bit better (taking the hobbits to Osgiliath?), but it doesn’t bother me anymore, and I think it might even be better for the medium it’s in.

    2) Aragorn not wanting to be King: Unimaginative Pseudonym (#45) makes a good case about why certain things were done (his “It’s about Men” theory is pretty good), but this still rally chapped my hide. Aragorn’s character is screwed with pretty badly.

    3) Gimli as sidekick: this bothered me at first, but someone made the point above about how just gosh-awefully tragic the movies are, and I do remember some commentary somewhere about Jackson deciding some comic relief was necessary. I find it a bit sad that Gimli was chosen, but he and Legolas really were the best choices for it, and a) there were no special size effects needed for Legolas and b) Orlando Bloom, as I understand it, had some stunt training already, so he made a better fit as the “actiony” one, leaving Gimli as the Comic Relief. Merry and Pippin didn’t really require much change at all to be comic relief… and they still got their heroic bits, so that never bothered me.

    4) “Why take one of the most powerful and tragic moments in 20th century literature and turn it into a pathetic old man running the length of an entire city WHILE ON FIRE before plunging off a cliff?” Amen. Not much to say to that, except that the character presented, if one just forgets about the books entirely, was well-acted and fairly enjoyable (and for some odd reason always makes me think of Nixon). The hard and strong man (dude, sleeping in full chainmail, for YEARS – wow) completely psychologically destroyed by years of Sauron-controlled selective viewing through a Palantir was totally thrown away and replaced by an insane, selfish moron.

    5) Frodo telling Sam to leave. I’ve seen it plenty of times, and the comment that he was sending Sam away to protect him just doesn’t fit. It was just plain stupid.

    6) Elves at Helm’s Deep? Stupid! But it was at least a way to show that the other people’s of Middle Earth were actually involved. I think that method was dumb, but for the uninitiated, it was probably the simplest, which in a movie is almost always the best. Anybody else notice that the elves must have been completely slaughtered, as there were none left at the end? (Bowmen charging pikemen tends to do that… thanks Ara-moron!)

    7) Leaving out the Scourging of the Shire: again, in some commentary somewhere, I picked up that Jackson felt that the movie was just too tragic already, and that it simply couldn’t take the added weight. I disagree, and I feel that the excuse of screen time is bogus (after wasting so much on Frodo staring at the camera, etc), but I can respect that, as it IS a terribly hard story (as someone already pointed out).

    8) The ENTS. This is the one that bothers me the most. Not much to say about it, really, except that at least they did capture the feeling that the Ents really did completely expect to die, but went anyway.

    9) The RingWraiths not going all-out to get the ring from Frodo on WeatherTop. Hello? The Ring is ALL – there is NOTHING worth not doing for the One Ring! Run from a guy with fire? MORONS! Have 4 of you take it on the chin (they’ll get better) while the fifth takes the ring and runs! Oh wait, this was the single excruciatingly stupid moment from the books… sorry, there is no 9.

    Oh, and I generally agree on some of the “badly done battle scenes” comments above. Enjoyable and expansive cinematography, but really stupid battle plans and some of the fighting in general, too.

  59. Deoxy says:

    On last comment in defnsee of the Gimli/Legolas bit: somebody’s comment above about how Tolkien elves really are all that is spot on. While a dwarf should be able to out-drink on elf (and some other stamina-related things), once you’ve decided that comic relief is necessary, and you’ve got a choice between elf and dwarf, for Tolkien-inspired stuff, there’s no contest: Tolkien elves were the world’s most insanely bad-assed bad-asses.

    Oh, and one I left out from the earlier list…

    10) Isildur cutting the ring from Sauron’s hand by luck/the stupidity of Sauron. I understand why it was done for the movie, but in the books, Isildur and his dad and the Elf king and his son went in and beat Sauron down! Granted the two older ones died (IIRC), but those guys were serious powerhouses. Yes, that would be hard to convey in the movie, so I know why they didn’t do it, but it does annoy me.

  60. Purple Library Guy says:

    Don’t get me wrong, I generally was very fond of the movies despite my harsh criticism. Peter Jackson has a number of great strengths as a director. His casting is amazing. His ability to get the best out of people is evidently superb, from the actors to the effects people to the modelmakers. His vision for middle earth as a place, with all its scenes and artifacts, is just beyond amazing. His use of effects is generally awesome, although occasionally betrayed by his need to show off the results. That is, there are scenes that would have been more effective dark and shadowed, with the critters just suggestions and vague looming in the murk, that were diminished because he really needed to show off every detail of their awesomeness. Siege of Minas Tirith and Shelob spring to mind.

    Personally, I think the sending-Sam-away decision was tipped, whatever Jackson may say about motivations and such, by his horror-director urge to have Frodo isolated by himself, to enhance the scariness. Bad instinct and he shouldn’t have trusted it. And then he undermined the scariness by having a place that should have been very dark apparently well-lit, mainly so we’d all see the totally awesome spiderwebs and every hair on Shelob’s body. Shelob *was* cool, but the scene was undermined. Darkness, glowing eyes looming out of the near-dark, webs and shadowy outline of spider only coming clear when the phial of Galadriel was wielded–*that* would have been scary.

    I assume horror-director background is also why the “paths of the dead” ghosts were cheesy green.

    But in my opinion the last half or so of RotK were truly wonderful. Never a false note after the bits I’ve complained about. Well, one, but I assume the Hollywood Gods came down to PJ and said “Thou shalt have the obligatory main-character-dangling-by-one-hand moment at Mount Doom, for it is ordained that all scenes with chasms or precipices shall do so”, so I won’t blame him too much for that. But the later parts of the movie put tears in my eyes multiple times, and if that’s sappy sentiment I make no apologies.

  61. H3adlin3 says:

    ” And then in the battle, Aragorn shows up with the ghosties and simply wins the whole battle with them, making everyone else's heroism pretty much moot and creating a massive anticlimax.”

    Yes! Yes! Yes!
    This thing too stuck in my craw.

    On a tangent:
    In defense of Tom Bombadil being in the movie:

    Tom Bombadil is our first clue that the works of Sauran eventually will amount to a fart in the wind. As, given time, do all works of men.

    From Tom Bombadil we go to the Barrows, where after defeating the barrow wights, TB gets the blades for the Hobbits. The specially made Freaking Blades made for destroying the Freaking Servants of Sauran! These blades help in their defense on Weathertop, and allow Merry to kill the Witch King. That’s right Merry killed him. With his magic sword. That he got from Tom Bombadil.

    As to the argument that you couldn’t have a guy singing at everything, what about Aragorn breaking out in his little song at the end of TRotK, that was plain embarising. I could only imagine the people in the crowd saying: “What’s he doing now?” “He’s singing.” “Singing what?” “I don’t know, sounds kinda funny.” “And he’s our new king, then?” “Yeah.” “Wasn’t there anyone else?” and so on.

    I too understand the different language of film compared to books, and that sacrifices must be made, but they could’ve trimmed ten minutes of walking around, and put my Tom in.

    Ah, well they could’ve been a lot worse. Tom Cruise as Aragorn for starters.

  62. H3adlin3 says:

    Okay, so what was right about the movies:

    As others have said before: the look, the feel, the actors/acting.

    I actually dug the take of on Aragorn as the reluctant king. Kinda explains his farting around up north for DECADES, while there was trouble a-brewing down south. ;D

    Special props to PJ for having Cate Blanchett play Galadriel. I mean, wow. Her uncommon beauty, and the way she lights up the screen when she smiles…wow. (And of course her excellent acting.)

    The effects. Apart from some of the med-long shots of the main characters on horse back (where both blue screen use and bad background shots were readily apparent), the effects were almost seamlessly meshed with the movie. The creatures were fantastic.

    Andy Serkis as Gollum. And the team that created the CGI Gollum, great work!

    The score, and the songs chosen for the end credits.

    There’s more but I’m tired. G’night.

  63. Kristin says:

    I love the movies. I know there are shortcomings, but for the most part I can set it aside as Different Creators, Different Visions, Different Results, and I can respect LotR the Movie for what is is while still loving the books and wishing there could be a pure version made in movie form.

    However, there are three things that take me out of the movie and make me whine. Two major, one minor.

    1. Frodo sending Sam away. I call bullpuckey.
    2. The friggin’ Ents. “Gosh, no thanks, we don’t want to get involved in your war. Oops! Hey, they’re destroying my forest! I didn’t know about that despite this being my forest that I know everything about! I’m going to get REALLY MAD and summon the Ents, who are all conveniently within three Ent strides of the border, even though they don’t know about it! Oh, yeah, all that stuff about Ents not being hasty? If you’ll forget that, so will we.”

    And the minor one…

    3. “Dwarves are natural sprinters. We’re wasted on cross country.” Every time this comes up, I turn to my brother and say “So much for the legendary endurance of Dwarves.”

  64. Tola says:

    3. “Dwarves are natural sprinters. We're wasted on cross country.” Every time this comes up, I turn to my brother and say “So much for the legendary endurance of Dwarves.”

    They’re like Cheetahs, then? Perfect for charging into battle, or out. I can see it that way. A little. Are Dwarvesa known for having to run at high speeds for ages on end? Be fair. They took three days of high-speed tracking. ANd that was a major accomplishment, remember.

  65. Simon_Jester says:

    “People complain about Aragon is too “˜weak' in the movies. But frankly he's too stuck up in the books. In 1940's England when people were still traumatized by WWII I guess the perfect “˜nobility' of many of the characters met some deep emotional need…”
    Keep in mind that the idea of innate, hereditary nobility is a common vein running through virtually all human cultures through virtually all of human history. Tolkein was writing a story set in a sort of ur-Western Europe, based on northern European mythology. In context, it fits far better than would some anachronistic message of revolutionary populism.

    “Theoden delivering a rousing speech to his troops AFTER riding into view of the orcs below (and giving the orcs to fully prepare for their eventual charge), Jackson betrays a complete ignorance of how warfare works.”
    That’s actually not at all inconsistent with the way warfare worked in the age of swords and bows. Armies did actually march into sight range of each other and then pause to shake out formations, give speeches, and otherwise get ready for a fight.

    “But why add sequences which contribute nothing to plot and chew up screen time? Why radically alter and even invert the personalities of entire characters? Why take one of the most powerful and tragic moments in 20th century literature and turn it into a pathetic old man running the length of an entire city WHILE ON FIRE before plunging off a cliff? (This last quite possibly qualifies as the most ridiculous thing I have ever seen in a film.)”
    Now THAT is a good point. Personally, I didn’t mind the moments that look a little silly or simplistic (the cavalry arrives and the orcs die). I did mind some of the inversions of personality, such as making Denethor a dimwit and Gimli into comic relief.

  66. Deacon Blues says:

    Dr. David Brin had an interesting take on the tale of LotR:

  67. suzene says:

    Yes, this is ancient, but I wanna put in my two cents anyway.

    I really disliked Gimli as the comic relief in these movies and, though Bloom was very pretty to look at, I enjoyed the slightly smartass Legolas of the books more. That said, the drinking game was the one instance of Gimli-as-comic-relief that I really didn’t mind. Seems like most of what Mirkwood elves do is drink strong wine and kill spiders, so it didn’t seem that odd to me that an elf that’s probably had several centuries to build up a tolerance could hold his ale better than a mortal. But yeah, blondie is totally lying about not knowing what a drinking game is. This is Thranduil’s kid for crying out loud!

  68. Tola says:

    9) The RingWraiths not going all-out to get the ring from Frodo on WeatherTop. Hello? The Ring is ALL – there is NOTHING worth not doing for the One Ring! Run from a guy with fire? MORONS! Have 4 of you take it on the chin (they'll get better) while the fifth takes the ring and runs! Oh wait, this was the single excruciatingly stupid moment from the books… sorry, there is no 9.

    You must not remember well-Gandalf had 4 of them occupied(This ISN’T brought up in the movie, which leads to the failure of the Make-Sense Test), and the last 5 got, in turn, tied up by the group whilst Glorfindel and Frodo got away, then washed away by Elrond and Gandalf. And even THEN, it was a case of ‘lost the battle, won the war’, as they’d already hit Frodo with that Morgul Knife at Weathertop, so it was pretty much a case of ‘just wait. He’ll come to US.’ It was luck that he was cured in time-Gandalf remarks on how close it was when Frodo wakes up.

  69. Daemian_Lucifer says:

    Well,what did you expect for a movie that they said was “Focusing on the epic battles of the books”?And those battles trully were made awesome.But the characters were made…well,you all see what they were made into.But even without ruining almost every character,there are so many parts of the movies that are completelly idiotic.My favourite is that when you shoot three arrows it increases their penetration power.

  70. I'd prefer reading in my native language, because my knowledge of your languange is no so well. But it was interesting! Look for some my links:

  71. Zara says:

    That scene is supposed to be humorous and was made to lighten the mood of the story.
    I don’t think Peter Jackson has anything against dwarves…

  72. Gandaug says:

    I know this is old and I haven’t read all the comments, but I can’t agree more with Shamus’ assessment. Dwarves have always been highly undervalued in fantasy settings. I’ve yet to see a setting where players didn’t routinely use dwarves for comedic effect and the worship ground elves walk on. Personally I can’t stand elves.

  73. Alec says:

    Your point is valid and agreed with…mostly.

    Except, there is one thing – Legolas probably would win, and probably would play along.

    Unlike a High Elf, who really never would stoop to it, a wood elf probably would have a crack at a drinking game with a dwarf. ‘The Hobbit’ makes clear that Legolas’ people have no issues making merry with fine drink, and have an attitude of bemused contempt for dwarves.

    Also, if there’s one thing the Silmarillion makes clear, it’s that the Eldar are just…well, better, than mortals in every single way physically and intellectually. Even a mere Sindaran elf like Legolas could probably drink an entire family of dwarves under the table. Just sayin’.

    The dwarf hate in Jackson’s films really did annoy me though.

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