LORD OF THE RINGS or THE TOLKIEN VERSE

The Universe:  Lord of the Rings

The Movies:  The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, The Hobbit: The Desolation Of Smaug, The Hobbit: The Battle Of The Five Armies, The Lord Of The Rings: The Fellowship Of The Ring, Lord Of The Rings: The Two Towers, The Lord Of The Rings: The Return Of The King.

The Big Picture: Over Sixty years the fight of good vs Evil takes place between, men, elves, dwarves, trolls and Hobbits, which are not like men or elves, or dwarfs but KINDA are.   Definitely not trolls.

NOTE: This is the first time I am watching all the Hobbit films and the Extended Lord of the Rings movies. Clearly I am watching them in “chronological order” not release order. Although I kinda wish I had. Also Microsoft word can spell check all the Lord of the Rings characters names. So that’s kinda neat.

The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey (2012)

PG-13 | 2h 49min 

RECAP –    The Hobbit, Bilbo Baggins, is drafted by the Wizard Gandalf to help Thorin the rightful King of the Lonely Mountain kingdom which was taken over by the dragon Smaug. Thorin is being hunted by an Orc named Azar who we think is seeking revenge for Thorin cutting off his hand, but is actually doing the dirty work for the ancient evil entity Sauron. After discovering a cave full of ancient weapons, Gandalf seeks help about the ancient evil from Galadriel, Saruman, and Elrond who doesn’t necessarily believe him. Thorin and his men are captured by Goblins, and are rescued by Bilbo after he steals a magic ring from the crazed character named Gollum. After they are confronted by Azar and his orcs, they then run up a tree and are saved by large birds

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REVIEW – I expected the recap to be longer considering the length of the film, but not much actually happens. This is an almost 3-hour movie that should barely be an hour and a half. I get now why the LOTR prequels and not as beloved. Its like there was a mandate that they had to be almost 3 hours long, and so every sequence is about 5-10 minutes longer than it needs to be. They spend the first almost 45 minutes of the movie at Bilbo’s house where the dwarves, talk and eat and wash dishes and sing. This would have been quaint after 20 minutes but after 45 minutes, the charm is long gone. All of the action scenes are the same way, exciting at first but then drag on, where by the end all the tension is gone and you’re just bored. And in those action scenes no one dies or is hurt, so there’s even less tension. The bulk of this movie is walking. Long aerial sweeping shots of the characters… walking. Walking through fields, walking through forests, walking through mountainsides…. Lots of walking. And you’d think with all of time with the characters you’d get to know them, but you don’t. Aside from Thorin, none of the other dwarves are distinguishable from the others besides the way the look.  None of them really have a personality other than some look different then the others. Martin Freeman is good as Bilbo but you never get a clear reason why he decides to join the adventure. He seems completely annoyed by Gandalf and the dwarves at in his house. He doesn’t really have the skills they need, but when they leave he runs off to join them. The best scene is Bilbo’s confrontation with Gollum. Mostly because it’s a treat to have Andy Serkis back. But even that could have been trimmed a little.

So, what do you need to know for the future movies? Bilbo has a magic ring. And they are no where near the end of this journey.

The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug (2013)

PG-13 | 2h 41min 

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RECAP –    After escaping Azar, Bilbo and his dwarves are attacked by giant spiders, and saved by the elves Legolas and Tauriel (Kate from Lost). They are then imprisoned in the elf kingdom where the good looking dwarf has a thing for Tauriel. Bilbo saves them and they escape in barrels and chased by Orcs and tracked by Legalos and Tauriel. They come upon Bard, from Lake Town which is just outside of their destination the Lonely Mountain, who agrees to help them. Gandalf meanwhile tracks down the “evil” in the forest behind Azar and find Sauron and is captured. Thorin and Bilbo and the other dwarves make inside the Lonely Mountain. Bilbo confronts the dragon Smaug alone but then Thorin and the other dwarves join in. And when Smaug is almost beaten he escapes the castle and vows to destroy Lake Town.

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REVIEW – There is a pattern in these movies, the dwarves get captured and Bilbo saves them. It happened once in the first movie, TWICE in this one. It gets a little repetitive. This movie feels a little tighter but still like the first movie each sequence goes on too long. The confrontation with Smaug starts great but again it just goes on and on and on. The movie is at its best when it is setting up Lord of the Rings. Gandalf discovering Sauron is the best sequence in the movie. And it spends just the right amount of the time doing it. But hey on the upside there are now TWO dwarves with personalities, Thorin and… well… I still don’t know his name. I just call him the “Good Looking Dwarf” who has the hots for Kate from Lost. Also Smaug about to destroy Lake Town is a rather good place to end the movie.

So, what do you need to know for the future movies? Bilbo has a magic ring still. Gandalf is captured. And somehow after reaching their destination there is still another two-and-a-half-hour movie left.

The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies (2014)

PG-13 | 2h 24min 

RECAP –   Smaug attacks Lake Town but is killed by Bard who becomes the leader of what is left. Galadriel, Elrond and Saruman arrive to save Gandalf from Sauron. Galadriel uses her power to drive off Sauron but is severely weakened. Saruman vows to go after what is left of Sauron and end him for good. Meanwhile back at the Lonely Mountain, Thorin has gone full Col. Kurtz from Apocalypse Now. Obsessing over his treasure and blocking him and the dwarves inside the mountain. Complicating this is Legolas’s Dad and Bard who show up with their armies wanting their rightful share of the treasure inside. What they don’t know is Thorin has sent word to his family and they show up with an army to defend the dwarves and THEN AZAR shows up with an army of Orcs to kill Thorin and everybody else. (Hence the FIVE ARMIES!!) So everybody fights.  In the process, Thorin comes to his senses and joins the fight against the Orcs, as do the Elves and Men and Dwarves. The good looking dwarf is killed. Thorin kills Azar and is also killed. The Orcs lose the battle is over. His adventure over, Bilbo takes his ring back to the Shire.

eb6674d2abcb65ab3d4ec3f2ab95d58974e967e56d58a60a27dc92aeccea0f94REVIEW – This is the first one of these I liked.  Full confession in the first two I fell asleep and had to go back and watch the half hour or more I missed. This one I stayed awake the whole time. The rescue of Gandalf is bad ass. It also is what makes the rest of the movie so frustrating because again like the first two every sequence goes on for too long. The final battle between the armies goes on forever, and I just got bored. It picks up a little when you follow the individual battles with characters you know. But even still those battles go on for too long. A little trim here and there and it could have been so much better. It also has the same problems with the characters. I have been following these 13 dwarves for almost 3 movies now, I only know one of their names, Thorin. I know one other, as the good-looking dwarf. The rest… gun to my head I couldn’t tell you any of their names. I know the name of Bard’s son and he just showed up at the end of the second movie. (Its Bain). The only thing that kept me interested was trying to figure out what was up with Legolas’s face. It looked weird and I still can’t figure out what is wrong with it. Were they trying to de-age him, I don’t know but its super distracting. And in all of this Bilbo gets lost and aside from talking to people has nothing to do. For the final battle, he gets hit in the head and passes out until its over.

So, what do you need to know for the future movies? Bilbo still has his magic ring. Gollum is still upset about that. Legolas and his weird face is seeking out someone called “Strider.” And Saruman taking out what is left of Sauron is not going to go the way he expected.   

The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring (2001)

PG-13 | 3h 28min 

RECAP –    Set 60 years after the events of The Hobbit movies, Gandalf the Grey returns to The shire for Bilbo’s 100th birthday. Bilbo is ready to leave the shire and write his book, so he gives everything his nephew Frodo, including The Ring he got from Gollum all those years ago. Gandalf figures out the ring is THE RING, and has to get Frodo out of the shire and to safety. Gandalf puts Samwise in charge of helping Bilbo out as soon the hobbits Meri and Pippin join them. Gandalf brings this news to Saruman but finds he has already been turned by Sauron. Frodo and the hobbits meet up with a ranger named Aragon who helps them evade the Ring Wraiths, but Frodo is injured and is taken to Rivendell. After Frodo recovers, he agrees to take The Ring to Mount Doom and destroy. images (2)To help him do so Aragon, Sam, Meri Pippin, Gandalf, Legolas, Gimli and a son of the last house of Man, Boromir. They all form The Fellowship of the Ring. While trying to avoid Saruman’s traps, they flee into a cave and are attacked by Orcs, a large Troll and finally a fire monster that Gandalf sacrifices himself to stop. As they travel on THE RING begins to get to everyone, especially Boromir who tries to take it from Frodo to save his kingdom.  Frodo escapes as more Orcs attack. Meri and Pippin are captured, Boromir is killed and Frodo and Sam strike out on their own to continue the mission.

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REVIEW – You realize watching this after the hobbit movies what those films lack, compelling characters. Maybe its because we meet these characters slowly as opposed to the hobbit where everyone at once at Bilbo’s house. But we get to KNOW Frodo and Sam before we meet Meri and Pippin and we get to know them before we meet Aragon, etc.  Gandalf is far more interesting in this movie than he was n the Hobbit films but on paper he is not that different. Maybe it’s a Ghostbusters 2 problem, where you have the same team involved in making these movies as you did the others, but for some reason those prequel films just don’t work.  For me it seems to be this trilogy has more interesting complex characters, that you care about early on.  All that said, this is the first time I am watching the Extended Editions, so aside from a few places I don’t know what’s new and what’s not. And not to use this to bash the Hobbit films, but with an extra hour in length, this movie still moves. I really can’t find anything wrong with it. My only question is considering how good he is in the movie, why isn’t Viggo Mortenson a bigger star?

So, what do you need to know for the future movies? Someone who has been following the fellowship is now following Sam and Frodo. Meri and Pippin still need to be saved. Someone mourns Boromir. And Gandalf may not be as dead as we originally thought.

The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers (2002)

PG-13 | 3h 55min

the-lord-of-the-rings-the-two-towers-ss3RECAP –    Gandalf survived his “death” and is now Gandalf the Grey. Meri and Pippin escape and are now accompanied by Treebeard a large walking talking tree. Arargon, Gimli and Legalos are in Rohan where the king has been under a Saruman spell. It broken, his kingdom is soon to be under attack by Sauron’s forces. Frodo and Sam are attacked and then capture Gollum who wants to kill the Hobbits and take back the “Precious” but who Frodo convinces to show them the way to Mordor. On the way they are captured by Boromir’s brother Faramir. Faramir plans to take them back to Gondor, his kingdom and use The Ring to save his kingdom. When they arrive during an attack, he sees the effects it has on himself and Frodo and combined with hearing what it did to his brother he lets them go. Meri and Pippin show Treebeard Saruman has killed a bunch of tree to create his huge arm so Treebeard and the other trees destroy his place. Aragon, Gimli and Legalos help defend Helm’s Deep from Sauron’s army, but are saved by Gandalf and an army of exiled Rohan soldiers.

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REVIEW – The Hobbits get pushed to the side in this movie. All the stuff with Meri Pippin and Treebeard is SOOO boring. I’m not sure if they added stuff from the Extended Edition but its sooo boring. So in that case it’s a good thing. Frodo and Sam, the opposite. First of all every time you see them you see Gollum who almost 20 years later is still an outstanding performance by Andy Serkis. Gollum is pathetic and scary and cute and devious and the 360’s to do each one is amazing every time. Even just the times he is “talking to himself”. And seeing how important he is to Frodo, knowing The Ring is taking its toll on him and needing to see if Gollum can be redeemed in the hopes maybe he can too. Gollum is the best part of the movie. The bulk of the movie though is Aragon and his defending of Helm’s Deep which is not a bad thing, but it overtakes Frodo’s story. Its enjoyable, and amazing to look at. Also its fun to see how the Gimli/ Legalos / Aragon relationship has grown to where they are making fun of each other or keeping track of how many Orcs they kill. Legolas even gets to be funny. But you kind of got the impression the trilogy was supposed to be about Frodo, and he seems pushed aside for Aragon. And that is no slight against Aragon because at least he and his history and his love life is interesting (Are you #TeamArwen or #TeamEowyn?) But it is a little disappointing.  

So, what do you need to know for the future movies? Gollum may not have it in him to kill Frodo and Sam but he might be leading them to someone who does. Rohan may not be the last kingdom of Man that needs to be saved. (Hint hint might be Gondor)

The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King (2003)

PG-13 | 4h 18min 

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RECAP –   After the battle of Helms Deep, Gandalf Aragorn, Legolas and Gimli head over to Isengard to find it destroyed by Treebeard, AND they find Merry and Pippin very much alive. Saruman has been defeated and before Wormtounge kills him, reveals Sauron plans to attack Gondor. Gandalf and Pippin head over to warn him, while Aragorn, gets Rohan’s troops ready to help them. Meanwhile Gollum, Sam and Frodo are still on their way to Mount Doom. Gollum has been starting to play Frodo against Sam, telling him how Sam secretly wants The Ring. This comes to a head when Sam finds all the food gone and accuses Gollum of eating it. A fight ensues between them, and Frodo chooses to believe Gollum over Sam and sends him away. Elrond arrives at the Rohan camp to tell Aragorn the only way to win will be to unite the all kingdoms of Men and as the last true heir he has to do it. He agrees and the first thing he does is go off to get the Army of the Dead to help fight Sauron’s forces. An Orc Army arrive at Minas Tarah and Rohan and Aragon’s forces arrive soon after and drive them off. As payment Aragon forgives the Army of the Dead’s debts and they are free to head to the afterlife. Gollum leads Frodo to a trap of giant spider, who stings him and covers him in webs. Sam fights off the spider before it can eat Frodo but thinks he is dead, but soon overhears the Orc’s that take Frodo away that he is still alive. Frodo wakes up and is beside himself because he thinks the Orcs took The RING. Sam charges into the Orc stronghold and saves Frodo and reveals he had The Ring the whole time. Hearing Frodo is still alive Aragorn stages an attack on Mordor to buy him time to get The Ring in Mount Doom. Frodo and Sam arrive at Mount doom, but Frodo can’t throw The Ring in and decides to keep it. Out of nowhere Gollum attacks Frodo biting off his finger with The Ring. Gollum then falls into the volcano holding his “Precious on last time before the lava destroys him and The Ring.

WAIT!

Frodo is recovering in Gondor and reunited with all his Friends. He sees the coronation of Aragorn as King before Heading home.  There Sam marries the girl he had a crush on. Frodo, Merry and Pippin are all at his wedding.

WAIT!

We jump 4 years ahead. Frodo has finally finished Bilbo’s novel and added his own story, “The Lord of the Rings”. He closes the book as Sam arrives.  

NOT YET!!

Sam, Frodo Merry and Pippin all take a very old Bilbo to Rivendell to get on a boat with Gandalf, Elrond and Galadriel to sail off to the Undying Lands. Frodo decides to go with them. Sam, Merry and Pippin all watch their friends sail off into the sunset.

NO! NO! NOT YET!!!

Sam returns to the Shire and is greeted by his daughter, wife and baby son. Done with his adventures, he joins his family and goes inside his house.

7bc0028c74d348b2aaa87ea807d97b15REVIEW –- Its rare that the third movie of  a series wins Best Picture, but this one did. It deserves it. Its great and I don’t know if its because I hadn’t seen in a long time or because it was the Extended Version, but I barly remember it, so every twist was new so that was great. The Hobbits are back in the forefront in this one, and the film is the better for it. As amazing as the battles are in the movie, for me the most compelling part was Gollum, Frodo and Sam story. From the beginning from sees Smeagal “become” Gollum, all the way to the end, this plot of the movie was what I wanted to keep coming back to. Its such a personal story with such huge stakes. And Sean Astin almost steals it. This becomes Sam’s movie. My only gripes are again this is too long. They could have cut a lot of the Gondor battle and focused more on Frodo and I think I would have been happier. I also realize there is no Azar in these films. Each one they create a  “Big Bad” Orc, who dominates for a while and then gets killed. Its just odd. Its also odd we never get to “know” Sauron. We are told what he is going to do and what he thinks and feels from other characters, but never a scene with him other than sees the Eye. Again its odd. And okay the endings, I know they get a lot of grief and there could have been less. But they didn’t bother me as much this time as they did the first time I saw it. Maybe its just because I knew they were coming.  But if you are ever going to wrap up a saga, this is the way to do it.

So, what do you need to know for the future movies? FUTURE MOVIES?!?! It ends 4 times!!! What more do you people need!!

THE OTHER UNIVERSES

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