Customer Review

3 of 6 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Its failures have nothing to do with what was left out, November 5, 2001
This review is from: The Lord of the Rings (DVD)
The problem with this film is not what was left out, despite what some might say for ("those Tolkien nuts are just complaining because x was left out") or against it. It's not inevitable that any film adaptation of Tolkien's novels will disappoint. And it seems to me that calling it experimental, ambitious or underfunded is simply making excuses. This film fails on its own merits, and probably would even if it were not cut short.
I've never been a great fan of Ralph Bakshi's animation style (Fritz the Cat, Cool World), and this film does nothing to change my mind. In my opinion, the animation is simply poor. The animated characters are not particularly attractive and simply move too much; their gestures are exaggerated and several seem far too touchy-feely to be natural. Abstract backgrounds proliferate where a realistic approach would have been best, I think. The colors are muddy and the film is often so dark that, apart from some dim shapes and glowing eyes, nothing can be made out. Then there are the rotoscoped elements (at the Prancing Pony, the ride of the Nazgul to the Fords of Bruinen, and the battle at Helm's Deep), which, as others have pointed out, do not mesh at all with the other animated elements. A more unified animation style would have helped a great deal.
I also find the Leonard Rosenman score dissonant; it doesn't match the tone of the movie and with the storyline. Maybe it's simply because it sounds so much like his score for Star Trek IV (which I also felt was out of place). Maybe I just don't like Rosenman. It's hard to quantify.
No screenplay will ever be able to compress a story as dense as this one to a movie-friendly length of two hours, ten minutes without some compromises and sacrifices. The film certainly moves briskly, and covers much ground in little time, but at some cost of understanding. The history of the Rings (the smiths of Eregion, the Last Alliance, Isildur, the finding of the Ring by Smeagol) is presented in one big infodump at the beginning, and references to the massive backstory (Elendil, etc.), are made without enough explanation. It might have been better to jettison them altogether. More problematic is that the characters are not given enough time to develop into something with which we can sympathize. Yet in spite of all this compression, we are treated to overlong, dim, rotoscoped, dialogue-free animation excesses at the Ford of Bruinen and in Rohan.
There are also some errors in consistency. Aragorn's sword is shown broken at Bree and in Rivendell, but whole in Moria and afterward; of course it was reforged in the interim (as we know from the books), but if you're going to make a point of it being broken early on, it makes narrative sense to show it being fixed, or drop it altogether. Characters also inexplicably drop the "S" from Saruman's name, but only about half the time!
If nothing else, those of you who like this film will be happy to know that the transfer to DVD seems very good.
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