Gandalf's leadership in The Fellowship of the Ring exemplifies the perils of on-the-job training. Let's test your knowledge of the trilogy with the following questions:
1. How many horses did Gandalf insist the Fellowship bring?
2. What would Gandalf have done if Frodo didn't just happen to figure out the password Gandalf had forgotten at the Mines of Moria?
3. What was Gandalf's game plan once he saw that everyone in Moria was dead?
4. How many times did Gandalf hitch a ride with his giant eagle friends?
And now for the answers:
1. Zero (save one brave pony).
2. That giant squid would've eaten everyone.
3. "Into the mines!"
4. Twice - first when Saruman traps Gandalf on top of a tower; and then when, uh, Bilbo finally throws the Ring in, err, Mount Gloom (sorry, we felt bad spoiling the series for our 20 internet-less readers who are somehow viewing this site on a cave wall.)
"Thank you, my friend. I now have nine hours of superfluous battle scenes to attend to."
That there's a laundry list of botch jobs. The sheer fact that Gandalf forgot to outsource the trip to Mordor to the eagles is unforgivable, but what's more heartbreaking is that he's even more useless when comes back from the dead.
When Gandalf is resurrected in The Two Towers, his main job is to not use magic and just gallivant around on his horse, staring at the planetarium light show ensconced in his disco stick.
"This horse can, like, totally read my mind."
In short, everything would've come out mostly the same for the Fellowship of the Ring if they simply dumped Gandalf with a dimebag of wizard weed at the first gas station they passed. Come to think of it, his "smoking habit" explains his memory problems rather aptly.
"This is some prime Gondor Kush, brah. They fertilize the plants with troll shit."
Yes, Gandalf appears on the list twice.
Let's go back to Moria for a second, because it's there in that mine where the crucial plot point of the first film happens; the crew is attacked by orcs and the Balrog demon and (spoiler!) Gandalf seemingly dies.
The whole thing is triggered when Pippin sets off a Rube Goldberg reaction (that is, knocking a skeleton down a well) causing a racket that awakens every subterranean horror in a four-mile radius. Gandalf screams at Pippin, even hinting that it would be better if he had fallen down the well, indirectly blaming him for the catastrophe that follows.
"I know you're there, Gandalf. Please stop trying to kill me."
The crew was moving silently through the mines, not drawing any enemy attention. They're most of the way through when they reach the tomb of Balin... and Gandalf stops to read a book he found.
That's why they were lingering in the tomb, that's why Pippin started fidgeting around and knocking things into wells. And everybody knows it's a mistake; a panicked Legolas whispers to Aragorn, "we cannot linger here." Guys, if the elf is worried, you should be worried.
Dudes this hard don't scare easily
And it's not like Gandalf didn't know the place was infested with bad guys; he's the one who spent the several scenes leading up to that insisting that they not go in. So why the heck does he take a pit stop mere minutes from the Mine's exit to read some dead dwarf's diary?
Is there some secret he learns from the book? Valuable background information? No, he learns that bad guys have invaded and killed everybody. Keep in mind this is a book the found among hundreds of dead bodies with arrows in their backs. We had kind of pieced that together, asshole.
By the end of the clusterfuck battle, Gandalf's dead and a cave troll nearly offs Frodo, who is protected only by his uncle's creepy, Siegfried-and-Roy-style unmentionables.
Thanks to Gandalf the Grey's literacy break, the last words to his friends were "Fly, you fools!" It was only at his own death that he realized what an albatross he had always been to the Fellowship.
The first several minutes of Fellowship of the Rings recount Sauron's salad days of Middle Earth conquest, and boy oh boy, was he one power-drunk cat. He had the power of the cosmos on his trigger finger, a magic mace that could feather-dust entire armies to smithereens, and a fancy helmet that could substitute as a nautical mine. In sum, he was the most dapper despot around, and he fucking knew it.
So when it came time to kill a scrub like the hero Isildur, he should've been home in time for Mrs. Sauron to fix him a nice bowl of lava soup, no?
Ahem, let's take a look at the clip. It starts at 2:45:
He has his human enemy on the ground at his feet. One enemy, with tens of thousands at his back. He then sloooowly reaches out with his ringed hand, allowing his finger to get chopped off. The ring is detached, he dies, his entire empire collapsing with it.
What was trying to do, exactly? Tousle Isildur's hair? Shake his hand? Steal his wallet? Had Sauron ever read a goddamn Green Lantern comic, he'd know that if you've got godhood sitting on your index finger, you do not get into fisticuffs. You create giant egg beaters and rolling pins and xylophone mallets and bludgeon your opponent into organ paste.
Had Sauron simply worn the ring around his neck (like everyone else in the damn movies), or geez Louise, forged it into his feather-dusting mace, the trilogy would have been 554 minutes shorter than its theatrical run time, and Peter Jackson would've been forced to cram a $285 million budget into four minutes. Just imagine. If Sauron hadn't been so grabby, Lord of The Rings: Sauron Smashing Some Guy With A Hammer would be the best (and last) film any of us would ever see.
Good reviews would sadly be hard to come by.
Do you have something funny to say about a random topic? You could be on the front page of Cracked.com tomorrow. Go here and find out how to create a Topic Page.
And check out more incompetent characters, in 7 Classic Star Wars Characters Who Totally Dropped the Ball and 6 Evil Henchmen Who Sucked at Their Job.
And stop by our Top Picks (Updated 12.11.2009) because it's too cold outside to do anything worthwhile.