Sunday, November 20, 2011

My preciouuuussssss!

Ahoy there! I know it's been awhile since I posted an actual review. Admittedly, it's been because I've been a bit lazy, but also because I've been busy and distracted with something called life. And because in my downtime I haven't been watching many movies, but rather catching up on TV and reading what has to be the worst book ever published in the history of the world, Breaking Dawn, the final (thank god!) book in the Twilight series. 

So what better to come back with a triumphant return with not only one, but THREE movies (although you could argue they're just one really long movie put together). Not only are these movies very popular but the ten year anniversary of the first movie is coming up. I'm talking, of course, about The Lord of the Rings trilogy.

The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring
Director: Peter Jackson
Cast: Elijah Wood, Ian McKellen, Sean Astin, Viggo Mortensen, Orlando Bloom, Liv Tyler, Billy Boyd, Dominic Monaghan, Sean Bean, Cate Blanchett, Christopher Lee, John Rhys-Davies, Hugo Weaving, Ian Holm
Released: December 19, 2001
Viewed in theaters: February 2, 2002

Oscar nominations:
Best Picture (lost to A Beautiful Mind)
Best Director - Peter Jackson (lost to Ron Howard for A Beautiful Mind)
Best Supporting Actor - Ian McKellen (lost to Jim Broadbent for Iris)
Best Adapted Screenplay - Peter Jackson, Fran Walsh, and Philippa Boyens (lost to Akiva Goldsman for  A Beautiful Mind)
Best Cinematography (won)
Best Art Direction (lost to Moulin Rouge!)
Best Costume Design (lost to Moulin Rouge!)
Best Sound (lost to Black Hawk Down)
Best Film Editing (lost to Black Hawk Down)
Best Visual Effects (won)
Best Makeup (won)
Best Song - "May It Be" by Enya (lost to "If I Didn't Have You" by Randy Newman for Monsters, Inc.)
Best Original Score - Howard Shore (won)

I haven't watched The Lord of the Rings trilogy since early 2007 and with the upcoming 10th anniversary of the first movie coming up, I thought what better time to watch them again. It's almost funny that I'm a fan of LotR (well, the movies anyway), because I almost never saw the first movie. I remembered way back in the summer of 2001 when I knew there would be two movies coming out later that year based on very popular book series that I had not yet read. One, as you may have already guessed, was Harry Potter, and the other, of course was LotR. Because I wanted to be with the times, I bought both first books of those series, so when I saw the movies I would know what was going on. Reading Sorcerer's Stone was no problem. I read it in a day and soon devoured the following three books. However, Fellowship of the Ring was a different story as I just could not get into it. The writing was too heavy and tedious for me and there were so many characters to keep track of and this whole Middle Earth place was so confusing to me. So I flung the book aside and never picked it back up...for awhile, anyway. December came and I didn't see the movie. Towards the end of January I was becoming more curious, hearing everyone talking about it and all, but didn't think I would understand it, not having read the book, not to mention I wasn't sure I could sit though a three hour movie that I might find dull. My brother, a Tolkien geek, assured me that I didn't need to read the book to understand what was going on, so finally, on 2/2/02 I decided to see it. I was living in a small town at the time which only had one old movie theater with two screens and the seats weren't very comfortable, so I knew I would be in for a long, painful and excruciating experience if I didn't like it. I was really expecting to hate this movie and usually this IS the kind of movie I hate; however, it turned out I loved it and was dying to see the second one as soon as it ended! (And, hey, I only had to wait ten months while everyone else had to wait a whole year!) And I finally picked up the book and read it and actually understood what was going on having seen the movie.

The first movie obviously sets up the story and introduces us to the nine members of the Fellowship as well as some other characters. For me, the movie doesn't really start until Frodo and Sam embark upon their journey and after the Fellowship is introduced, then that's when the movie starts to get really exciting. Even if you have never seen the movie (gasp!), everyone knows the plot. Basically Frodo is in possession of an evil ring and has to travel to Mordor to get rid of it and there are A LOT of obstacles along the way.

I have to give Peter Jackson and all the other people who worked on these films a lot of credit. Think about all the costumes, makeup, set designs, set locations, music, visual and special effects they had to work on! And let's not forget the daunting task of adapting all three of the books into screenplays! Ten years later and the effects still hold up pretty well although some of the computer graphics are a bit obvious. But just watching the movie makes me exhausted thinking of all the long hours and hard work that was put into it.

Just one small nitpick: at the beginning of the movie we learn the date is September 2, 1400 (Bilbo Baggin's 111th birthday!) I really never paid attention to this before, but this time while watching I thought it was odd when Frodo and Sam are sleeping on the ground and Sam is complaining about how uncomfortable he is and Frodo tells him to imagine he's sleeping on a soft mattress. Uh...did they even have mattresses (did the word even exist?) back then? Didn't people use to sleep on stone slabs?!?! I mean, I'm no history expert, but I always thought the mattress was more of a modern invention.

He's so pretty - it isn' fair!
With so many characters, it's hard to choose just one favorite. I love the humor and mischievousness from Merry and Pippin and how they're always hungry. "What about second breakfast?" I've seen FotR probably about five times now and I ALWAYS laugh after Merry and Pippin announce they're going to join Frodo on his quest and Pippin asks, "Where are we going?" Gandalf is awesome (as is his cane which I've dubbed the Staff of Awesomeness) and he has Shadowfax, the most beautiful horse in the world, and the best lines. ("Keep it secret, keep it safe!"; "YOU SHALL NOT PASS!"; "Fly, you fools!"; "Fool of a Took!")  The elves were my favorite among the different races of Middle Earth. Arwen is so gorgeous with her dark hair and alabaster skin. She even CRIES beautifully and gracefully. Liv Tyler sounds so different in this movie than how she normally does. And great casting there. She is so amazingly stunning; she really does kind of have these elfish qualities. And Legolas!  He's just so damn pretty! Look at that face! That hair! Those ears! Whenever he's on screen, I'm like, ", so pretty!" I'm just so mesmerized by him. Not only is he pretty but he has amazing archery skills and is quite agile.

As much as I love those characters, I have to say my two favorites are Sam and Aragorn. Sam is such a sweet hobbit! There were several times during the trilogy when I wanted to give him a big hug and a big bowl of stew. I think Sam was a little gay, I mean, c'mon, it was so obvious he was in love with Frodo! I always think of that joke on The O.C. when Summer asks Marissa, "Remember that movie the guys showed us? About the gay guys on the mountain?" and Marissa immediately responds matter-of-factly, "The Lord of the Rings." Oh, that was great. That will never not be funny. But in all seriousness, Sam was the heart of the movie and he was the one who stuck with Frodo through thick and thin even when Frodo was being a jerk and needed to be slapped over the head with a frying pan. (I know, I know, it was the damn ring...) Then there's Aragorn who is so smoldering that I nicknamed him HRH (His Royal Hotness). Haha, I remember when my theater had this huge poster of him hanging up and I'd just stare at it. Best poster EVER in the history of cinema! It's no wonder both Arwen and Eowyn (and I think Legolas just a tad!) were in love with him. He looks damn good for 87! But just the way he looks isn't the only reason why I love him (well, it's a big reason, though!), but he's definitely an important part of the trilogy and he has mad sword skills.

Top row: Aragorn, Gandalf, Legolas, Boromir
Bottom row: Sam, Frodo, Merry, Pippin, Gimli
My favorite scene is when the nine members of the Fellowship are crossing the Bridge of Khazad Dum (had to look that up; I'm not that much of a geek!) I always tense up when they're running across the narrow path over the deep chasm and come across the gap in the steep steps and have to jump even though I know they're going to be okay...well, most of them. There's some nice foreshadowing when Gimli warns the others that he doesn't need any help and how, "Nobody tosses a dwarf!"

Part one ends with Gandalf falling to his assumed death, Boromir getting killed, Merry and Pippin being taken by the orcs, Sam following Frodo to join him on his continued quest to Mordor to destroy the ring, and Aragorn, Legolas, and Gimli off to save their little friends. To be continued...

The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers
Director: Peter Jackson
Cast: Same people from the first movie, Miranda Otto, Bernard Hill, David Wenham, Brad Dourif, Andy Serkis, Karl Urban
Released: December 18, 2002
Viewed in theaters: December 25, 2002

Oscar nominations:
Best Picture (lost to Chicago)
Best Art Direction (lost to Chicago)
Best Sound (lost to Chicago)
Best Film Editing (lost to Chicago)
Best Sound Editing (won)
Best Visual Effects (won)

The Two Towers is my favorite movie in the trilogy. I may or may not have seen it more than once (um, or twice ::::coughcoughorthreetimescoughcough::::) in the theaters in two weeks. I like this one the best for several reasons: we are introduced to new and intriguing characters such as Eowyn, King Theoden, Faramir, Wormtongue, Treebeard, and, of course, Gollum/Smeagol. I hadn't quoted a character as much as Gollum since 2000 when I went around shouting "TIMMY!" all the time. I like how the movie is divided into three different stories so the pacing is a little quicker and you get a change of scenery with each storyline. Here's a fun fact if you've never read the book: Tolkien divides the book into three sections and you read about Aragorn, Legolas, and Gimli first, then you read about Merry and Pippin meeting Treebeard, then you read about Sam and Frodo meeting Gollum. That might not be the right order because I don't have the book on hand, but the point I'm trying to make is that Tolkien didn't intersect the different storylines. Peter Jackson was smart to do that!

This one is also my favorite because the Battle of Helms Deep was my favorite scene in any of the movies (and this is coming from someone who usually hates battle scenes in movies, but this one was pretty cool and epic). I love the friendly rivalry between Legolas and Gimli when they're counting how many orcs they've killed and the callback to the first movie when Gimli allows Aragorn to toss him onto the bridge and tells him, "Don't tell the elf!" This film also features three of my favorite (albeit very short) clips. One is the scene where Aragorn is opening those huge double doors in slow motion when he has returned to Helms Deep. Let's not kid ourselves: that was pretty hot. I have not yet met another female who doesn't love that scene. Whoever edited in slow motion is a genius. And the other two are Legolas scenes, you probably already know which ones I'm talking about: When he slides down the steps on his shield during the battle and the one-handed vault onto his horse. Let's not kid ourselves: that was pretty freaking awesome! Haha, I remember when I saw it in the theaters and there was this guy sitting in the same row as me and he went, "WOW!" Wow, indeed, buddy, wow, indeed.
Right after the movie's release, I conducted a "scientific poll" on a message board I frequented back in the day. It was titled "Who's Hotter: Aragorn or Legolas?" Legolas won. Damn teeny-boppers ;-) I remember this one girl said she debated for two hours trying to decide who indeed was the hotter one and finally settled with Aragorn.  Haha, I love it. Here are some of the other answers people wrote down: (I voted for Aragorn, btw). 

LEGOLAS!!!!!!!! ooooohhh could eat him up he's so pretty. I don't really go for the always dirty, can't make up his mind about which freaking woman to marry sort of guy.

Oh, don't make me choose! :-\
Um... hm... uh... *whimpers* I...can't...decide!
Aragorn's smoldering and HOTT.
Legolas is sexy in this poetic, beautiful way.
Oh jeeze. *bites lip*
I'm gonna go with...
I like his ears and he has pretty hair. 

I'd say Aragorn has it going for him.

Legolas. I am a boy.  Is my vote counted? 

Legolas is pretty like a wintergreen mint but Aragorn is a cinnamint! I choose Aragorn! (but I also like Legolas!) ARAGORN!!!



LEGOLAS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! he's my husband, he just doesn't know it yet, lol.

Obviously Legolas won the poll, but clearly Aragorn is the real winner as he had two ladies (and I still maintain Legolas was in love with him too!) after him. There's a lot of Aragorn/Legolas fanvids on YouTube and this one has to be my favorite:
Leggy consoles Aragorn.

I would be remiss if I didn't mention the creepy Gollum/Smeagol conversation. It was disturbing, funny, and heartbreaking all at the same time. Gollum was a revolutionary character; you really had seen nothing like him on the screen before. I also loved Sam's speech at the end - so sweet. Almost reminded me of another speech Sean Astin gives during one of his movies. "Down here it's our time! It's our time down here!" If you weren't a child of the '80s, I'm talking about The Goonies.  

Part two ends with Gollum leading Frodo and Sam onward towards Mordor with malicious intentions. To be continued...

The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King
Director: Peter Jackson
Cast: Same people from the first two movies, John Noble
Released: December 17, 2003
Viewed in theaters: December 25, 2003

Oscar nominations:
Best Picture (won)
Best Director - Peter Jackson (won)
Best Adapted Screenplay - Peter Jackson, Fran Walsh, Philippa Boyens (won)
Best Art Direction (won)
Best Costume  Design (won)
Best Film Editing (won)
Best Score - Howard Shore (won)
Best Song - "Into the West" by Annie Lennox (won)
Best Makeup (won)
Best Sound Mixing (won)
Best Visual Effects (won)
(Yes, it won EVERYTHING!) 

Let me tell you a true (and stupid) story: right after The Two Towers had just been released, I was all giddy and excited for Return of the King, so myself and another online friend who also frequented the same message board as me decided we would do a countdown to RotK....starting in January 2003. I've found the original message, which you'll notice was written on January 9, 2003!  

Countdown to ROTK
Author: *********
Date: 01-09-03 13:48

LOL, this will be the first of MANY MANY posts to come. Sara and I will take the time each day to post how many more days until December 17, or when ROTK comes out! To me, this is very good time to pass the many days of waiting! And so, the first official "Countdown to ROTK" post -

342 days to go! *throws confetti*

Welcome all, to the longest year ever!

When we got to 299 we were excited we finally reached the 200s. I think we quit after four months! 

I once wrote a post about how Return of the King was one of my most memorable movie experiences. If you haven't read it, you can find it here at #9.

Pretty, but should not be
credited third! 
I still think this movie has way too many endings and I think it should have ended after Frodo does the voiceover of how they returned home after being away for 13 months. There. The end. We don't need the other ten millions endings you tacked on, Peter Jackson! I do love the credits and how instead of getting a black screen like the previous two movies it's a white background and you see sketches of the actors as the characters they played when they show their names. It's a very cool curtain call. It also helps that "Into the West" is my favorite song of the three original songs. I don't know why Liv Tyler is credited third though! She's right behind Elijah Wood and Ian McKellen, but she should at least be behind Viggo Mortensen and Sean Astin too. 

The scene that always gets me is when Frodo and Sam are almost to their destination and Frodo has grown tired and weary and Sam declares, "I can't carry it for you, but I can carry you!" and he picks up Frodo with a determined look on his face. That should make even the cruelest of people shed a small tear, because seriously, if that scene does not get to you, you obviously have no heart or soul!

My other favorite moment is when the Witch King tells Eowyn that no man can kill him and she takes off her helmet and declares, "I am no man!" before killing him. That got a huge cheer from my audience when I saw it in the theaters. 

I've mentioned before that the effects are amazing, but I'm beginning to think they ran out of money by this movie because there's a shot of Eowyn and Merry on a horse and when they show a close up of the actors you can tell they're using green screen, it's that obvious and bad!  

While I liked Gollum in the second movie and felt sorry for him at times, I really hated him in this one and was glad when he got his comeuppance. I thought it was strange he didn't scream when he landed in the lava as I would imagine most people would scream if they were covered with hot, boiling lava. When Frodo and Sam are escaping from Mount Doom, it totally reminded me of the (very old school, circa 1992) PC game, "Indiana Jones and the Fate of Atlantis" (the greatest game ever) when Indy and Sophia are escaping from Atlantis. In both scenarios, there's lava everywhere and things are crumbling down around them. 

These are amazing movies and by the time you finish them you are exhausted, but you feel strangely satisfied. They really let you escape and take you into another world. I highly recommend them and this is coming from somebody who's not really a fantasy fan. Sure, I've read and seen all the Harry Potter books and movies, but other than that and being a fan of the LotR films, I could care less about the fantasy genre. If you've never seen these movies, you must give them a chance because they are amazing. I would daresay that they are among the best movies of the aughties! 

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