So where to start. I’ll start with the conclusion; Loved it. That is not to say I have no nits to pick. I’ll get to those, but I just wanted to get it out of the way up front that I loved this movie, and it is a classic that stands far above the vast majority of movies. Now to the details.
I thought “Fellowship of the Ring” was as good of a movie version of the as was possible. Every change that was made, every part that was left out, I could totally understand why it was done. I’m pretty sure I even agreed with all the changes. I can’t say the same about “The Two Towers”. It was a bit slow to get going, and the flow and pacing was not as good as it could have been. There were definitely far more liberties taken this time around than on “Fellowship”. Again, I’m not against liberties in principle, and sometimes they’re even necessary to make a story work in the film medium, but some of the changes from the book just seemed pointless and unnecessary. Never the less, I found it enthralling, and destined to be a classic. I’m sure I will go to at least a few more showings, and will buy the DVD on the day of it’s release. I just hope Peter Jackson and company pull in the reigns a bit for the next movie and don’t get quite so loose with it. I never questioned anything about the first movie, but this one did leave a few criticisms with me. Still highly recommended though. I wait eagerly for “Return of the King”.
The Specifics
Let ye be warned, thar be spoilers ahead! Big nasty spoilers with pointy teeth!
I could spend endless amounts of time and space going over each bit but here are the ones that jump to mind:
Gandalf: The whole story of exactly what happened to him was highly confusing and surreal. He’s falling into a crevice, wait he’s on a mountain top battling the Balrog…
Admittedly, it was equally confusing and surreal in the book.
Wormtongue: I actually really liked Wormtongue although he was very obviously a bad guy. As soon as you see him you think “well there’s an evil dude”. I thought it probably shouldn’t have been so obvious.
Theoden: The whole bit with Saruman actually “posessing” him was a bit odd. not necessarily bad, but yet it didn’t quite sit right with me. Especially since Wormtongue “influencing” him doesn’t work with that scenario. Why would Wormtongue be whispering persuasive words if Saruman was in control of Theoden anyway.
Faramir: He was not much more than a Boromir copy, while in the book it was his contrast from Boromir that gave him such character. The entire journey to Osgiliath with the hobbits was not only completely fabricated but pointless and unnecessary. This was one of the changes that left my wife and I truly scratching our head.
The Ents: After their long decision, the Ents are supposed to decide to go and take Isengard, but instead they decide not to go, only to change their mind later when Pippin tricks them into seeing all the trees that had been killed. Again, a bit pointless to me. In the book, the Ents are already quite outraged at Saruman, and it is their own decision to go to Isengard and do something about him. I personally think this would have been a much better way to go.
Aragorn: The fabricated Warg attack scene was fine, but having Aragorn fall off the cliff to his apparent doom felt a bit contrived and unnecessary.
Arwen: I like Arwen’s increased role in the story, as opposed to barely being mentioned in the book, but was a bit confused when Elrond was lecturing her about how if she stayed, she would have to bear Aragorn’s death, and watch as those around her all died. This confused me because the whole point is that Arwen was becoming mortal herself if she stayed with Aragorn so she too would eventually die. The only sense I could make out of it was that maybe Elrond was saying that even as a mortal elf, her life span would still be much longer than humans, and therefore she would have to bear Aragorn’s death, plus many more before she herself died.
Helm’s Deep: Brilliant scene, but why the gratuitous company of elves? There was never a company of elves who showed up at Helm’s Deep. Not to mention they were led by Haldir, a lothlorien elf, but yet they said they came from Elrond (true that is possible that they were collaborating, but still an odd choice). I agreed with the change of Gandalf showing up with Eomer instead of the original character from the book. This played up the drama of Eomer’s banishment and provided a good conclusion to that angle, while also eliminating the need to introduce a new character just for that one scene who had no other purpose.
The Ending: While I can’t say I really have much of a problem with where they ended, I do think it would have been better to end where the book does. A big, cliffhanger ending where it looks as though all is lost. It just lends itself perfectly. This is why “The Empire Strikes Back” is such a strong movie.
Also check out Jess’s review.