Site anniversary, LOTR

Happy Birthday website! The Black Robes is a year old today!

I saw “The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers” for the second time on Saturday. Peter Jackson’s vision of the trilogy is coming along nicely.

The good stuff.

Helm’s Deep, the razing of Isengard, the Ents, Gollum, Gandalf the White. The Two Towers does a good job of telling three stories without much confusion.

The first plotline is Frodo and Sam, their continued journey toward Mordor, and life with Gollum/Smeagol.

The obvious center of this story is the Aragorn/Legolas/Gimli plotline, weaving its way into the world of Men in Rohan.

The third story arc is Merry and Pippin, and their forays with the Ents.

The Ents are presented in a very realistic fashion, as much as can be expected for a walking, talking tree. That is to say they are tastefully rendered, not at all cartoonish.

Gollum/Smeagol is by far the most realistically portrayed CGI character to date. Absolutely real. Peter Jackson directed an excellent job of exhibiting Gollum’s dual personality. BTW, here’s a tip to when Gollum or Smeagol is in control: when Gollum talks, he has small pupils, while Smeagol has large pupils. Helpful Smeagol helps the nice hobbitses. But we don’t like the fat hobbit. :)

We could do without…

Arwen and Elrond, and the numerous “war victim” shots of mothers, children, and old men at Helm’s Deep.

At first, I thought the Arwen/Elrond story could be totally cut from the movie without shame. It doesn’t add anything to the story. We already know Elrond doesn’t believe Men can do the job as caretakers of Middle Earth, and that the Elves should go to the Grey Havens post haste. Arwen resigns to her fate and begins the journey to the Grey Havens. Then it dawned on me: it’s all a setup to introduce a legion of Elven archers to reinforce Helm’s Deep. (Their introduction is a really cool scene.)

War is horrible, and Tolkien says as much in The Lord of the Rings. Battle is messy and chaotic. However, I think there are a couple too many scenes of mothers holding children, and old men looking frightened while hiding in the caves at Helm’s Deep.

Looking forward to “The Return of the King”.

There’s a few things I really hope come out of The Return of the King.

First, I really hope that the climax on Mount Doom turns out like the book: Gollum steals the ring from Frodo (by biting his finger off, but we don’t really need to see that), but overbalances and falls into the crack of Doom, thereby destroying the Ring.

Second, I hope we see the razing of the Shire. Wait… not because I’m a warmonger and desirous of destruction; rather, it is where Merry and Pippin “redeem” themselves and see the result of their adventures. Where at first they were simply pranksters, they marshal force in the Shire to rid it of the Men, Wormtongue, and Saruman who would take it over for themselves.

Third, we simply must see Bilbo, Frodo, and Gandalf go to the Grey Havens and journey over the sea. I am doubtful this will happen, as we find Rivendell dark in The Two Towers as the Elves journey to the Grey Havens. Is Bilbo there? Is he journeying with the Elves? We don’t know.

I’ll be very disappointed if the third movie ends at Mount Doom. (I think this was alluded to in Peter Jackson’s commentary in the LOTR:FOTR extended DVD.) If that happens, what purpose at all did Merry and Pippin serve as part of the Fellowship? Their quest, to raise the stature of hobbits, as it were, will go unfulfilled.

Here’s waiting for next December!