Fred and Yasser’s Film Club: Week Seventeen, Part One: ‘The Lord of the Rings’ Trilogy: Extended Edition (2001-03)
Film fanatics and friends Fred Sullivan and Yasser Akram are on a mission to watch 25 of one another’s favourite movies. Each week they will watch one movie each and then get together to discuss what they have seen. We are up to the lad’s number ‘9s’ this week, so any criticism is likely to spark outrage. Will both men be smiling after this week? Read on to find out?
A good week for both last week. Can the run of mutual appreciation continue with the longest choice on either list?
You can read the entries from previous week by checking out the archives on the left of the screen.
To have a look at what Fred has picked so far, click here.
Likewise, for Yasser’s choices, click here.
Fred: Number nine on your list is the longest choice of ‘Film Club’, the extended edition of Peter Jackson‘s ‘The Lord of the Rings‘ trilogy
Yasser: How did you feel after it? Were you a broken man?
FS: I was glad it was over, but only because it was a lot to watch in one go. I regretted allowing trilogies about halfway through the second one
YA: There’s no point having a story without a beginning, a middle and an end
FS: Why did you pick them for your top 10?
YA: Well, Mr. S, to me it’s the complete trilogy and a complete story. Even though the story is of a fantasy nature and it’s boring at times, it comes together very well at the end
YA: Of course. There are many, but you couldn’t have nine hours of thrilling or action scenes
FS: I’m confused. We have 11 hours of film where a lot of it is action, battles or fights… Are you saying everything else is dull? Is the story dull?
YA: Perhaps boring isn’t the right word. It has very slow moments
FS: I didn’t find that. I think the one thing it wasn’t was slow
YA: When I watched the first one. ‘The Fellowship of the Ring‘, in the cinema, it unearthed something inside of me – a geek of sorts (laughs)
FS: What is it about these sorts of stories that inspires such devotion in people? I don’t understand it
YA: The fantasy. Another world, another reality. It’s a way out of real life
FS: There were times when I felt like I was watching ‘Star Wars‘. I felt, visually, there was a lot like the original ‘Star Wars’ trilogy, and the inclusion of ‘comedy’ characters added to that as well
YA: That’s not a bad thing, is it?
FS: Not at all. If that had been your trilogy of choice, you’d have scored a nine (laughs)
FS: I know… weirdo!
YA: So, let’s start with ‘The Fellowship of the Ring‘. I felt that the trilogy finds it’s feet in this film. What did you think?
FS: The basic storyline is really good. I don’t normally go for fantasy stuff, but the actual plot line that necessitates the journey from the Shire is good. It started well. I liked the beginning where the Shire was preparing for Bilbo Baggins’ (Ian Holm) send-off. The set-up of the story was very well done
YA: It was brief and to the point, but had so much in it
FS: Yes, exactly. Ian McKellen, as Gandalf, was introduced early, which was a bonus
YA: I found he stole most of the scenes he was in
FS: What I didn’t understand was why Sean Astin attempted that ridiculous West Country accent? The Shire is a mythical place so why did he had to have an English accent?
YA: It’s much better than his Californian accent for this type of task, surely?
FS: Why? What does a ‘Shire’ accent sound like? I had to listen to his voice a lot and it was annoying.
YA: The American action-hero type accent is not the type of accent that would have suited a hobbit. Other than Astin’s accent, of the four hobbits, who did you like and dislike?
FS: Well… what a collection of punchable faces
FS: I was praying for an Orc-led slaughter at times
YA: (laughs) But you liked Elijah Wood? Interesting. Out of all of them, he’s the one I find the most punchable
FS: He was perfectly fine. He’s a bit wet, but otherwise okay. I liked his relationship with McKellen
FS: Perfect casting. Great sense of humour alongside the necessary gravitas
YA: Without him I think the first half of the movie would have flopped
FS: Yeah. The problem is when he’s not on-screen the series loses something
YA: How about the rest of the Fellowship? Viggo Mortensen meets the hobbits quite early on…
FS: He’s a good actor. He should be bigger
FS: The film benefits from his introduction as he picks up where McKellen leaves off. He’s a very sympathetic character. I was rooting for him to resolve his problems much more than the hobbits
YA: How about the thorn in my side, Orlando Bloom as Legolas?
FS: He was better in this than in ‘Kingdom of Heaven‘, but he delivered every line as if it was the most important thing anyone had ever said. Like Tom Cruise in ‘The Last Samurai‘, it was all very forced and over-cooked
YA: I’d agree with that. There was also Jonathan Rhys-Davies as Gimli…
YA: What?! Gimli is amazing
FS: His ‘banter’ with Legolas was painful. What was so amazing about him?
YA: You cut me deep, bro. I love Gimli. He brings comedy to the film
FS: This story doesn’t need out-and-out comedy. The whole thing has a sense of humour without him, or Pippin and Merry (Billy Boyd and Monaghan), the two shit hobbits
YA: Hmmmm. Sean Bean, anyone?
FS: (laughs) He was my third favourite of the Fellowship after McKellen and Mortensen. I like Sean Bean, though I’m not really sure why as I’ve never seen anything of his I’ve really enjoyed loads
YA: I think he’s underrated. He tends to be a bit typecast as the hard-arse
FS: You see my problem, though. It’s difficult to truly commit to the trilogy when so many of the main cast irritate me
FS: ‘The Two Towers‘ was a step up. It was much, much better. I lost interest in the first film about halfway through. In many ways ‘Two Towers’ was the tightest of the lot. I felt that all three of the films started well, then had a lull prior to a huge battle scene that, whilst repetitive, did at least grab my attention. In the first and third ones, there was then about 45 minutes of tedium at the end. The second film didn’t really have that
YA: The way they focus on Frodo and Sam (Astin) at the beginning is very similar to the first film. They encounter Gollum (Andy Serkis) very early on. What did you make of him?
FS: He’s a great character. I’m glad, though, that it wasn’t Serkis as he is in real life as he’s another fantasy punch-bag. I’m also not one of these people who think it’s a great performance. I’m never convinced by praise for actors playing CGI characters. How much of the performance is him, how much is the computer?
YA: He acted it all. They used his face
YA: Oh dear! So you didn’t rate his performance?
FS: He was good, I’m just surprised he got so much praise
YA: We are introduced to a few other new characters here. Did any of them stand out?
YA: I think he captured his role really well
FS: He has a strong presence. He wants to do what’s best for his people and he’s even slightly pig-headed, but only out of fear of a massacre. Which brings us on to the Battle of Helms Deep. That was breathtaking. I’d loved to have seen that on the big screen
YA: What were your thoughts on the third film, ‘The Return of the King‘?
FS: This was also very good, but felt quite repetitive from ‘The Two Towers’. Jackson could definitely have wielded the scissors a bit more, especially at the end.
FS: It fells like it had five endings. People in the cinema must have put their coat on four times. “That must be it.. Oh! hang on…”
YA: It was a substantial task doing these films. Was there anything about Jackson’s direction that was good or bad?
FS: You have to praise the technical aspects. The make-up and costumes were all perfect and it’s obvious a tremendous amount of work went in to them. The choice of New Zealand as a location was inspired. What a beautiful place! The films look fantastic. I was surprised, though, that there was some moments where the special effects looked very, very fake, and that was on a small screen! The best thing about Jackson’s direction, though, was his desire to make the best film possible. He really has a passion to tell the story and make it entertaining, so his enthusiasm negated a lot of the negative aspects around the acting
FS: Before I sum up, what is it that keeps you coming back for more?
YA: It goes though so many concepts of cinema. There’s romance, comedy, horror, thrilling aspects, but it’s ultimately a fantasy epic. I think there is something here everyone can relate to. It’s beautifully shot – mesmerizing at times. There is wonderful characters, compelling performances, the music is captivating… I’m very much looking forward to ‘The Hobbit‘
FS: Perhaps the best compliment I can give the trilogy is that I’m also looking forward to seeing ‘The Hobbit’
YA: On that note, let’s see how you rate ‘The Lord of the Rings’
FS: I was sort of dreading this week as I knew I was watching 11 hours of film from a genre I don’t really like. Thankfully, as soon as I turned on the first one I realised it wasn’t going to be a chore. There was some very irritating characters, but there was also amazing visuals, a good story, and Ian McKellen and Viggo Mortensen were saving graces from an acting point of view, even when my concentration was being tested by the film’s length and repetitiveness.
FS: ‘The Fellowship of the Ring’ was the weakest of the trilogy but it was setting up the story. The first hour was very good, but towards the end I felt they could have lost a few scenes. As a stand alone film, it would get a 6/10. ‘The Two Towers’ was better. It was tighter, and the storyline with Gollum, Frodo and Sam was really enjoyable. Furthermore, this was the film Viggo Mortensen took centre stage. There was also the excellent battle of Helms Deep, that I really enjoyed. This was the hardest to rate. Finally, ‘The Return of the King’ which, for three hours, is easily the best. The final battle, though a but derivative, is spectacular. The climax of Frodo and Sam’s journey is a little hammy, but it’s still gripping. Unfortunately, the last 45 minutes spoilt it, as it was like a ‘deleted scenes’ reel of alternative endings. All together, it’s a 6 and two 8s, so overall I give it 8/10
Later this week: ‘Singin’ in the Rain’