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The Two Towers: first impressions...

No slash commentary here! This is Serious!

The unfortunate thing about seeing a movie of a story I know so well is that, at least the first time I see it, I can't help but compare every bit of dialogue and every bit of plot with the story to see what was changed. The especially unfortunate thing about Lord of the Rings in this regard is that the movie's hype machine keeps on churning out statements about how Jackson has hardly changed the story at all, only the bare minimum necessary to bring it to screen, blah blah blah. And although that isn't true for his version of Fellowship (Bakshi's version, with a screenplay written by Peter S. Beagle, is based more closely on Tolkien, say whatever you will about rotoscaping), for some reason I was holding out hope that Two Towers would contain fewer gratuitous changes.

I was wrong. It had more. And they kept pissing me off.

I didn't like much of anything about the way the Ent story was handled. I didn't like the notion that Saruman had "possessed" Theoden's body or that Theoden's depression was entirely due to a magic spell. I didn't like the squabble between Arwen and her father (one might think that elves who had lived for 100s/1000s of years would have finished with adolescence). I would have preferred that Fangorn come to Helm's Deep instead of Lothlorien elves. I didn't like that Faramir was all set to take the Ring against Frodo's will and suddenly changed his mind. I thought Gollum was good but not good enough to deserve that much screen time and I didn't like the "go away and never come back" bit, which sounded like it was out of some kind of new age encounter group [imagining a new age encounter group full of Gollums]).

At first, I rather liked Jackson's slightly altered emphasis on the relationship between Frodo and Gollum - emphasizing the similarities between them as fellow ring-bearers. But by the time Frodo had his sword at Sam's neck for several minutes, I thought it had been a little overdone.

I liked the way they opened the movie. I liked most of the battle of Helm's deep and the Rohirrim in general.

And yet, some parts made me cry or otherwise blew me away emotionally.

So I kept swinging back and forth between "blown away" and "pissed off."

As with Fellowship, I'll probably like it better when I see it a second time and I can consider it as a movie on its own merits.


( 14 comments — Leave a comment )
Jan. 2nd, 2003 05:49 pm (UTC)
This is part of why I deliberately didn't re-read the books before going to see the movies. I suspected I might be disappointed otherwise. As it is, I can better appreciate the movie magic that PJ has wroght, without having to fight my way through "but that's not how it's supposed to be!"

Have you seen the extended version of the Fellowship? And all the making-of stuff? THAT's where I start getting really impressed.

And [sarcasm]thanks so much for the image of an encounter group full of Gollums![/sarcasm] Now I'll never get that image out of my head!
*tips head over and knocks self on ear, hoping that this image will fall out...*
Jan. 2nd, 2003 06:03 pm (UTC)
I last read Lord of the Rings in summer/fall 2001. I thought that was long enough ago, but I guess not.

Yes, I've seen the extended Fellowship, and I like it better than the movie version.

Re: Gollums: I guess I just had to share...
Jan. 2nd, 2003 06:22 pm (UTC)
Yeah, I haven't read it for probably close to 20 years. Though as a teen, I read it several times, along with all the supplemental stuff I could get my hands on, and even wrote (very bad) poetry in Elvish. I was VERY excited about the Bakshi version, and very disappointed by its strange and abrupt ending. By comparison, this is much better, IMO. But I do understand the disappointment with messing with the story line. I fully expect the extended version of this to be much better, too, though of course it can't fix the alterations in major plot devices.
Jan. 2nd, 2003 07:31 pm (UTC)
I plan on seeing it this weekend. I wanted strict adherence to the books, too. I was okay with the deviations in the first movie, but this sounds like he's gone too far. I heard it's really good--but Lothlorien elves at Helm's Deep? That irritates me.
Jan. 2nd, 2003 08:25 pm (UTC)
I managed to not scream in frustration until the scene with Legolas skiboarding on a shield down a set of steps. At that point I banshee'd loud enough for people two theatres over to hear me "what they HELL is peter jackson thinking???" for a moment I thought I would be lynched, but then I got applause. Guess I wasn't the only one....
Jan. 2nd, 2003 08:54 pm (UTC)
LOL. I would have applauded too. Actually, I just laughed at that scene.
Jan. 8th, 2003 05:15 pm (UTC)
Legolas in the "Extreme Ops" sequel
Oh, yasss! Testify!

I said something like, "Oh, Gawwwwwwwd!" out loud. I don't
know if anybody noticed.


P.S.: "Shieldboarding". (Ironically, SCA stickjocks refer
to a shield as a board, as in, "sword & board".)
Jan. 2nd, 2003 09:45 pm (UTC)
i don't know the books well at all. however, there are books that i've loved that were made into films (_Dune_ comes to mind, first and foremost, followed by _Chocolat_). i tend not to be too disappointed. there is a HUGE difference to me in terms of the medium. text on paper is very different than images on celluloid with a soundtrack. and image in head vs. image on screen isn't the only difference: there's time and how it unfolds as one reads vs. how one watches, and so on and so forth.

i do compare them a little bit, but i guess it's less in a disappointed way, than a "isn't that interesting how translations between languages work".

actually, this kind of translation is very integral to my design school work. there's always more information in a given landscape than can be depicted using any medium except for the landscape itself. so, one has to pick and choose what one will show, and in what medium. as a designer, i have to choose what medium(s) will support what is most important to me as a designer about the landscape that's in my head. a model is completely different than a section drawing. but each one has a lot of information that can be really valuable.

know what i mean?
Jan. 2nd, 2003 11:41 pm (UTC)
I know what you mean. But in the case of TTT, some of the changes I mentioned felt more like "creating something different" than like "translating." I'll have to see if I can come up with medium-related theories why the changes were made. So far the only theories I have for the changes I didn't like are "the director thought the audience would be too stupid to understand this bit if he didn't change it."
Jan. 2nd, 2003 09:50 pm (UTC)
Wonderful timing! I just saw it tonight. It wasn't as bad as I was afraid of.

I seem to have too much to say so will write it in my own journal.
Jan. 2nd, 2003 10:14 pm (UTC)
I haven't seen Two Towers a second time, yet, although I'm planning on it. But I know I had the same phenomenon with HP: Chamber of Secrets. The first time I saw it I didn't much care for it, because I couldn't get the editor out of my head. I was constantly running over what I remembered of the text, and comparing it to the film. I saw it a second time with elynne last weekend, and enjoyed it a lot more, because I wasn't critiquing it.

I wasn't as bothered by Two Towers, because after seeing Fellowship, I knew that he was going to have ot change it up to make it work right. I didn't like the Legolas shield-boarding thing, I kinda cringed. And I thought Faramir had too much screen time. But other than that, I didn't really have many complaints.

Oh, and, the whole Arwen thing still bugs me. They are *way* over-inflating her character. Get off the screen.
Jan. 3rd, 2003 02:27 am (UTC)
I had the pleasure of seeing TT without having EVER read the book - or any of the Tolkien books actually. I liked it a lot. I had very few comments about the movie as we walked out of the theatre. MY SON, on the other hand, has read the book like 3 times (he's 14) and the minute we walked out he started with "they left THIS out" or "they changed THAT!" Boy was he pissed!

On a more encouraging note - I just bought the platinum edition of The Fellowship of the Ring on DVD. After we saw TT in the theatre, my partner was filling me in on a bunch of the background of the story that she felt they should have included in either the Fellowship or TT. The next day we put in the DVD and almost every bit of information she was telling me about was right there in the expanded scenes. So, maybe some of the stuff they left out will be in the DVD version of TT. That, of course, won't change any license they've taken with the movie, but maybe it will help.

Jan. 3rd, 2003 10:12 am (UTC)
So more or less the Dork Tower reaction?

I don't love the books and it's been a while, but that does sound like bad changes as opposed to necessary translation stuff. Haven't seen it yet; I suppose I will eventually.
Jan. 3rd, 2003 10:35 am (UTC)
Exactly. But you should see it, if only because you'll appreciate that Dork Tower comic even more afterward.
( 14 comments — Leave a comment )

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