Guest Writer: London Film Institute chairman, Dr. Albert Oxford, PhD
- Crass Marketing.
I've heard some students are being forced to read some novelization of the movies in their literature classes. Ridiculous. Does Hollywood run our classrooms now?
Hollywood can't make a movie these days without crapping out a sequel the next year to squeeze more cash out of the proverbial sheep. After Two Towers made its money, did anyone doubt Rocky would come out of retirement one more time?
- Quality Control at New Line.
Millions of copies of the LOTR DVDs have thick black bars at the bottom and top of the screen throughout the film. Didn't anyone catch this? You know what happens at the end, in the extreme foreground and extreme upper sky? Neither do I. Bush league, gentlemen.
- They switched Darrens on us!
Look closely in Fellowship and you'll notice the human member of their party is played by two different actors at different points of the movie (it takes a sharp eye to notice, but one of them has red hair, one black).
- Quality Control at New Line, II.
In the massive Mt. Doom battle scene at the beginning of Fellowship of the Ring, a DVD pause reveals at least half a dozen of the 50,000 Orc Warrior extras are wearing modern tennis shoes.
- Speaking of Orcs...
The Orcs were obviously stolen from PC game maker Blizzard and its Warcraft series. Too bad Blizzard is apparently too scared to sue New Line over it.
Percentage of protagonists in Fellowship who are white: 100. Meanwhile the black-skinned antagonists and their black crow spies and their black glass seeing ball inhabit their black towers and perform black magic. One would have to be blind to miss the symbolism.
- Gold: The Stretchy Element.
The ring, which is seen to be at least two inches in diameter at the beginning to fit the polish sausage-sized finger of Sauron, suddenly fits Frodo's child-sized finger later. I guess this movie takes place in a world where rings magically change sizes on their own.
Give me one reason that story couldn't have been told without all the fighting.
- Horse sense.
Why didn't they take horses on their quest? Or even better, why didn't Gandalf's giant flying bird friend haul them into Mordor? Watch out, Frodo! All of your methods of transportation have been swallowed by the Dark Lord of the Plot Hole!
- Return of the Living Dead.
In FOTR, if you watch closely during the Inn scene, Frodo and his crew are shown getting stabbed by the Ring Wraiths. Then, five seconds later, they are fine again. Note to the director: try proofreading your movie before you release it to the public.
- Did someone say plot hole?
Liv Tyler's character is seen easily defeating nine strong supernatural beings, even though she is clearly a woman.
- The Battle Droid Syndrome.
The mutated muscular soldiers of Mordor turned out to be hilariously ineffective fighters, a dozen of them held off by a single dying human. Apparently they made the beasts by crossing Orcs, Goblins and the French.
- Sloppy CGI.
Gandalf's smoke boat at Bilbo's party is pretty impressive, but smoke cannot be made to travel horizontally, thus revealing it to be nothing but a cheap special effect.
- The Asbestos Wizard.
We all saw Gandalf fall into the molten core of Middle Earth after his battle with the firebeast thing in part 1. Well, I guess the Gandalf action figure must have sold well, because in the slap-together sequel Two Towers, Gandalf is back. Perhaps it was voodoo, a la the corpse in Weekend at Bernie's II (look closely and you'll notice LOTR steals several elements from the WaB films).
- Invisible Implausibility.
Every time Frodo or Bilbo went invisible with the ring they should have also gone BLIND. Your eyes cannot function unless light is reflected off the cornea. If light passes through it (as must be the case with invisibility) sight is no longer possible. Also, rings do not turn you invisible.
- The Asbestos Wizard, II.
The giant fire beast thing at the end of part 1 was breathing a firey breath hot enough to send heat-distortion waves through the air. The sheer temperature of the air should have burned off Gandalf's beard and eyebrows. None of my reading on evolutionary biology reveals a single reason why a particular race of humans would develop unflammable facial hair as this would provide practically no advantage in either survival or mating.
- I'll have to rent that one.
The rushed-through story the screenwriter threw in as the first ten minutes of Fellowship of the Ring looked a lot more interesting than the movie we were forced to watch. Why didn't somebody make a movie off that instead?
- Magic Mechanics.
Experts on the occult say in order for a wizard to floorspin a fully-grown man like Gandalf, he'd need three magical staffs, not two.
- Finders, keepers.
So Bilbo, who we are supposed to identify with as a protagonist, finds a piece of someone else's jewelry and just keeps it for himself? That's funny, because I would expect a good man to submit it to the local Lost and Found so it could be claimed by its owner. It makes me wonder if he bought that hillside house or if he was just squatting.
- Go-Go Gadget Arrow Sprouter.
Legolas shoots arrow after arrow at his enemies, and yet the number of arrows in his quiver never decreases. I guess elves have glands on their back that secrete arrows.
- Watch out! He's going to explode!
The heroes are shown eating again and again, and yet no one ever goes to the bathroom throughout their entire quest.
- Meesa gonna make theesa movie suckah!
The character of Gollum in The Two Towers was entirely computer animated (a cheap effort to cash in on 1999's Jar Jar Binks Mania) but was just a dim shadow of George Lucas' effort. Thank you, Peter Jackson. Thank you right to Hell.
The Elves, clearly the most advanced and wise species, are also clearly gay.
- Speaking of Elves...
Elves are beautiful and wise and tall? Great warriors? Makers of fine lightweight weapons? Our modern knowledge of elves has observed only an ability to make cookies and toys. All the elves in the film are portrayed as living in a warm paradise (Rivendell) but our own information tells us the aforementioned group of toymaking elves work and thrive in the arctic. Hey, Mr. Jackson: Research is half of writing.
- Homage or theft?
The "happy village of little people" idea was stolen from Willow.
- Homage or theft II?
The wise old wizard character was stolen from Harry Potter.
- Homage or theft III?
The "travelling on our quest through a corn field" scene was stolen from Shrek.
- Homage or theft IV?
The character of the rebellious-but-helpful Ranger was stolen from Val Kilmer in Willow.
- Homage or theft V?
The concept of the violent dwarf was based on Al Pacino.
- Homage or theft VI?
The "old man looking through the door hatch at the approaching little people" scene was stolen from A Clockwork Orange.
- Homage or theft VII?
The cantina scene with a noisy bar filled with a mix of otherworldly species was stolen from Cecile B. DeMille's One Night in an Alien Bar.
- Homage or theft VIII?
The incident with the flock of evil magical spying crows serving the All-Seeing Eye was based on an actual incident.
- Homage or theft IX?
The character of the Giant Evil Flaming All-Seeing Eye was based on former President Jimmy Carter.
- Homage or theft X?
The character of Elrond was based on Agent Smith from The Matrix.
- Weighty issues.
AKA "Plot Hole No. 273." Even with all that walking and light eating, the character of Sam only got fatter.
- Realism, schmealism.
Liv Tyler's immortal elf volunteers to give up her eternal life for a single romance with a human man. Could any man really be that well endowed? I find it unlikely.
- Hair Today, Gone Tomorrow.
The most advanced civilization is that of the elves, which are long-haired, new-age types? Sorry, Mr. Jackson, but modern science has proven that in any modern civilization, hippies would be extinct.
- Too many notes.
No movie should be over two hours long. Did we need that whole thing in the mine in part 1? What about that almost-infinite battle scene in part 2? Didn't it seem like they were just adding pointless scenes in the middle to pad it? It's like they decided beforehand they wanted three hours for each film and used filler to flesh them out.
- Too many notes, II.
I just want to re-emphasize the above point. There is no reason entertainment can't be concise.
- Too many notes, III.
Too many characters to keep track of. The dwarf was clearly only there as a token dwarf character to sell tickets to lucrative movie-going dwarf demographic. Lose him.
- Rationalization for violence.
Why, in part 1, is the black octopus creature painted as the bad guy when it attacks, when one of the fellowship had clearly been throwing rocks at it?
- The Shoeless Land.
The Hobbits both 1) refuse to wear shoes and 2) run a livestock-based farming economy. Wouldn't they constantly be stepping in feces? Why doesn't the movie address this issue?
Why couldn't Frodo have been played by Christopher Walken?
- Casting, II.
Why couldn't Gandalf have been played by Bruce Campbell?
- Casting, III.
Why couldn't Bilbo have been played by Vin Diesel?
- Casting, IV.
Why couldn't Aragorn have been played by a monkey?
- The Score.
The background music nearly zero funk.
- What's that smell?
As bad as the Lucasfilm internet leaks were with the last Star Wars trilogy, the filmmakers of Lord of the Rings allowed the paperback novelizations onto shelves years in advance As if we needed any less of a reason to go see it.
-Dr. Albert Oxford, PhD
London Film Institute
11. Damn you, gravity!
The giant firebeast thing is defeated by Gandalf when he destroys the bridge, sending the creature plunging to its death... despite the fact that it has wings.
This was retracted when a reader pointed out that the wings, like the rest of the beast, were made of shadow and fire and thus would be useless for flight.