The Lord of the Rings (2001, 2002, 2003)

The Lord of the Rings:  The Fellowship of the Ring starts off with a prologue telling the history of a bunch of rings, but of one ring in particular, how it was forged, who had it, what he did with it, who got it next, and then it was lost and then it was found, and then it turned up over here, and on and on and on. By the time that was over, I had already lost interest. What followed only made things worse. In a world where anything can happen, one quickly becomes bored. It all reminded me of a video game, in which you have to take an item from point A to point B, overcoming obstacles along the way. Once you get to point B, you move up to level 2, which is a new region, with new creatures, with strange new powers, all of which may assist or hinder you in getting to point C, whereupon you move up to level 3, and on and on and on.

This movie is set in a world sort of like our own, as it was during the Middle Ages, reminiscent of Norse mythology or the Arthurian legends. In such a setting, we expect the dialogue to be different from twenty-first century English, and we certainly don’t want to hear any modern expressions or slang. And so a kind of generic heroic-epic speech is employed, to give the flavor of a different era. And that is fine, but it should not be overdone. Unfortunately, they overdid it. For three hours, we hear this unrelenting heavy manner of speaking, in which almost everything that is said is fraught with ancient mystery and future destiny, until it just wears you out.

For some strange reason, movies set during Medieval or faux-Medieval times seem to have a disproportionate share diminutive folk, be they midgets, dwarfs, elves, trolls, gnomes, or, in the case of this movie, hobbits, which are the main characters. These hobbits have the biggest, ugliest, hairiest, dirtiest feet in this world or that, and they don’t even have the decency to cover them up by wearing shoes, like almost everyone else in the movie. No matter what else happens to these Hobbits, the movie keeps reminding you of their big, ugly, hairy, dirty feet, as if you could possibly forget. Nothing is explained about this in the prologue, which would have been one piece of information worth having, nor is it explained in the movie. I have read that in the book, it is said that Hobbits do not need shoes, because the bottoms of their feet are thick and leathery, while the tops are covered in fur. Well, that’s fine for them, but what about us? They should have some consideration and wear a pair. Fortunately, they did not force us to look at the big, ugly, hairy, dirty feet of a female hobbit. That would really have grossed me out.

The Lord of the Rings:  The Two Towers is the middle movie about Middle Earth, whatever that is supposed to be. Is there an Upper and Lower Earth, a Right and Left Earth, or what?

Anyway, as I watched the hobbits still on their mission to get the ring somewhere to do something with it, I could not help but wonder why all the evil people didn’t just make another ring, if they wanted one so badly. I mean, what one person did once, surely another person could do again. I’m sure there is some perfectly good, unbelievable reason why other evil rings cannot be made, but by the end of this second part of the trilogy I was frankly past caring, because it had been six hours by that point, and I was really tired of it all.

Especially wearying is the relentless epic-speak employed by almost everyone in the movie, which has made me sick of hearing the preposition “of.” These people could never say something like, “We need to go through the Lincoln Tunnel” or “We’ll have to cross the Golden Gate Bridge.” They would have to say, “We must pass through the Tunnel of Lincoln” or “We must cross over the Bridge of the Gate of Gold.” And even when they say something that might look like normal dialogue when written on paper, the characters utter all their lines gravely and ponderously, as if everything they say is of the deepest significance.

An exception to this is Sam (Sean Astin), sidekick of Frodo (Elijah Wood). He actually talks normally. As a result, he became my favorite character, the one I most wanted to hear from. And when he made his speech about the goodness of the world being worth fighting for, it had more effect on me than anything else said in the movie, because it was spoken naturally. Furthermore, Sam’s face is easier to take than Frodo’s look of angelic innocence. I wish Sam had had the ring, and one of the other hobbits had been his sidekick, leaving Frodo out of the story altogether.

In The Lord of the Rings:  The Return of the King, the third part of this trilogy, Frodo finally disposes of the ring.  What follows is the longest, most drawn out anticlimax in cinematic history.  When the hobbits returned to the Shire and Sam and Rosie (Sarah McLeod) got married, I held my breath.  “Please, please,” I begged the movie, “don’t show me Rosie’s big, ugly, hairy, dirty feet!”  For the most part, my prayers were answered, for we get only the most fleeting glimpse of her feet at a distance as she goes through a door.  Unfortunately, we still had to look, seemingly for minutes on end, at Frodo’s sappy face as he prepared to depart, and that was almost as repulsive.

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