Episode 102 - The Fellowship of the Ring vs. The Return of the King (w/ Joanna Robinson & David Chen)
Posted 14 May 2017 - 10:47 PM
Posted 14 May 2017 - 10:58 PM
I suspect this ep will be a battle of semantics honestly.
Posted 15 May 2017 - 12:52 AM
In all seriousness, I'm going The Return of the King. The Fellowship of the Ring may have better moments, but the film is so goddamned uneven. It takes forever for the film to get going, the film stalls between the time they leave the Shire and when they get to Rivendell, and they don't even form the actual fellowship until halfway in, right after we've barely met our characters, and after one of the worst scenes in the series--with the council at Rivendell. Most of what Amy describes comes near the beginning, or in the back half of the film. As a whole, this is barely watchable.
The Return of the King, on the other hand, is consistently thrilling from top to bottom, and opens with might be the best scene in the series. Jackson's ability to turn a warm, joyous outing into something so chilling and disturbing. That's why Jackson won a Best Director Oscar for The Return of the King. I would also argue that Aragorn showing up with the ghosts is not a deus ex machina, but the logical conclusion to his arc. Aragorn's whole journey is that he doesn't want to accept his kingship. He doesn't really want this legacy that he, much like Frodo, didn't choose. Those ghosts are personification of that forsaken inheritance. Once he stops running away from his past, and stops running away from who he is--and what he's destined to be, given these ghosts--he proves himself as the leader everyone needs. And yeah, maybe that's big and on the nose, but The Lord of the Rings is, by no means, a subtle story. It's a sweeping epic with broad ideas, and Aragorn's works all the way to the end. Anyway, the Raising of the Shire is a bummer of an omission, but it works for the film, so who cares? Also, re-watching the end of The Return of the King--yeah, there are many conclusions, but they're all terrific, and they all work together. It's not ideal filmmaking, but it's at least functional. Even the ensemble is better in The Return of the King. They understand their characters better, and have lived with them for so long--Sean Astin, in particular--that the hit those emotional beats and character moments with greater effect that only works because it pays off here.
Really, we should be inducting the series as a whole. The books were written as one. The films were made together. And, frankly, the one that deserves to be in the canon the most, The Two Towers, isn't even in the discussion. If forced, to me, The Return of the King is the picture where Peter Jackson irons out the directional/storytelling kinks of The Fellowship of the Ring, and really arrives with his most fully-formed iteration of Tolkien's story.
The Return of the King.
Posted 15 May 2017 - 05:46 AM
Posted 15 May 2017 - 07:01 AM
Also, "Run Shadowfax, show us the meaning of haste," is probably the best quote of the entire franchise and it's on the third movie.
Posted 15 May 2017 - 08:15 AM
Anyway, if I must vote for only one film, I think I'll go with Fellowship. Despite the fact that it lacks Gollum almost completely, it does set the tone for whole series, and it made a mark on the landscape of film that is pretty undeniable. I wish I could articulate my feelings better, but unfortunately I can't.
For the most part, I prefer the extended editions of all three films, but Return of the King's has possibly one of the most egregious bits of invention by Jackson, Walsh, and Boyens. Toward the end of the Battle of Pelennor Fields, we see a crippled Eowyn being menaced by a slightly less crippled Gothmog, the orc commander. Rather than mustering the strength to save herself, she is rescued by Aragorn who, in an even more insulting turn of events, casually kills Gothmog practically without noticing while riding into the main part of the battle. It's like Jackson and co. decided to toss out all of the character building they'd done with Eowyn up to that point. It would have been marginally more forgivable if it was something from Tolkien, but it wasn't. I hate it so much.
Posted 15 May 2017 - 08:51 AM
These movies are basically the Star Wars prequels with swords and orcs instead of lightsabers and clones. Yeah, I said it. Fight me, nerds.
There's a single story stretched across three four-hour films, and it would be much better, more exciting, and actually watchable if someone cut all three into a single, lean, mean, 2-hour film. Where's Topher Grace when you need him?
Posted 15 May 2017 - 09:26 AM
So it was up to David to potentially convince me to vote for the latter. His argument was fairly weak, leaning heavily on the Oscar wins (which even he admits were probably aimed at the whole trilogy and not just the final entry) and citing "cool moments" in the battles. So my vote goes to Fellowship.
I'm also super glad that Amy cited the passage that has held the most resonance for me in our current political moment, and yes, this is something that pushes the first film over the top IMO:
Posted 15 May 2017 - 09:43 AM
Posted 15 May 2017 - 11:33 AM
Not only that, but to sign up for this forum and make it your first post.
Posted 15 May 2017 - 12:30 PM
As an individual film I definitely prefer Fellowship. It has the most resonant character work, the special effects weren't out of hand, and it wasn't one gigantic battle scene after another. There are numerous beats that happen very naturally in Fellowship that then get supercharged and overdone in both the latter films. Someone's already pointed out the escalation of Legolas from being plain awesome, to shield surfing, to slaying an oliphant and all its passengers. Off the top of my head I'd add in Gimli's characterization and poignant death scenes.
The first film sees Gimli at his most well rounded. He's funny, sure, but he also gets real pathos, particularly in the mines of Moria. He bawls in grief at the tomb, and then he gets fired up with vengeful rage. In Two Towers and Return of the King, barring a friendship moment with Legolas, he's reduced to never ending dwarf jokes. He gets pegged exclusively as a comic relief character, and he becomes much flatter as a result.
Fellowship earns its sorrow. Gandalf and Boromir get tragic, resonant deaths, particularly the latter. The most glaring example I can recall of the following movies trying and failing to recapture this magic comes inthe middle of the battle for Helm's Deep. The elves bring reinforcements, led by that one random dude who has an excellent, imperious one-liner in Lothlorien and nothing else. Then the entire battle slams to a halt so he can die a beautiful death, and it's so cheap and superficial. No amount of slow-motion and Howard Shore music can cover up how shallow an attempt at emotional manipulation it is.
Posted 15 May 2017 - 12:36 PM
Considering how Netflix has made binge-watching a national passtime I think you're almost definitely wrong.
Posted 15 May 2017 - 01:11 PM
There was one attempt, the Ralph Bakshi animated version. I haven't seen it, but it certainly didn't seem to capture the public's imagination the same way Jackson's trilogy did.
Posted 15 May 2017 - 01:17 PM
Even the Bakshi version doesn't adapt all three books. It pretty much ends where the Two Towers movie does (i.e., after the battle of Helm's Deep and before Frodo, Sam, and Gollum get to Shelob's lair). It's also pretty terrible.
Posted 15 May 2017 - 03:00 PM
Right, and I think that's the point really. Some stories are better told in two hours, and others need five times that to take shape.
Posted 15 May 2017 - 03:20 PM
The biggest mark against is the army of the dead… on its own that was a "jump the shark" moment for me. And it just reinforced how the fellowship had, at this time, become larger than the films that contained them. They were superheroes that were untouchable, never in danger, and knowing they were never in danger because they're the stars.
The Gondor storyline seemed like a waste of time, and everything between Aragon and (the vision of) Arwen was a snore.
Posted 15 May 2017 - 03:58 PM
Amy said he had an open invitation to return, so hopefully it does happen some day.