First Impressions of
The Lord of the Rings
[Mike and Micky Gunn are friends of mine from Wellington, NZ. We share an interest in fantasy and
role playing games; Micky is the Dungeon Master (Mistress?) for a play-by-email RPG (PBEM RPG) in which
I've been participating for several years. Mike's a member of the role playing party, too. Micky wrote
a software review for the AJ in December 1998; have a look at the archived copy on the TPC website.
We're all fans of Tolkien's Lord of the Rings books, and have been eagerly anticipating the movie
that's been filmed in NZ. When Micky told me they were going to the premier, I asked for a report on
their impressions, and they agreed to let me publish it. It's coming to Japan in March, I hear, but I
thought you'd like to read their first impressions. Mike plays a dwarven fighter, Grungebeard, in the
PBEM RPG and--like any good role player--takes his role seriously...which explains his calling Legolas
the elf "Leg o' lamb", and his admiration for his dwarven counterpart in the movie. --Mike Lloret]
Well LOTR...first off, it is the first movie I have been to, where the
audience applauded at the end. Seems everybody was there to see a great
movie and be entertained, and they all appreciated what they saw.
Well it's long, at nearly 3 hours (when the DVD comes out it will have
the missing hour making it 4 hours long--a little secret from an insider).
Overall we loved it. From the opening scenes showing the history of the ring
right through to the break up of the fellowship it held you. As an avid
reader of the book you sat there in anticipation of how they would handle
each up and coming chapter of the book and marveled at how they managed to
capture it just right. There was from my point of view no scene that
disappointed me in its interpretation of the story.
The scenery was superb, (well it would be, being New Zealand) and they managed to conjure up a real
feeling of Middle Earth. The buildings (especially The Shire and Bree) gave a real impression of being
there. The characters and how they handled the size difference was seamless and early on you readily
accepted that Hobbits were smaller (God knows how they handled it where the larger member managed to
sweep the hobbits of their feet and carry them over the bridge in the mines--absolutely brilliant).
The elf ("Leg o' lamb") was particularly well done, without being tacky they managed to portray his
quick bow firing skills and elven gait to a treat. And of course the dwarf, the only thing he did not
do that was dwarvish was scream beer!* (maybe in the next movie). He and all the characters in the
battle sequences were portrayed using their particular racial traits (love the bit where the party
waits for the attack of the orcs in the mine all with some concern except the dwarf who stands stalwart
with a grin of anticipation and a glint in his eyes). The fight scenes are handled well from the small
battles being a rolling, brutal, fast-paced scrap to the opening historical battle sequence that was
absolutely breath taking (bodes well for some of the bigger battle sequences latter on in the series)
The attack against an elven shield wall is stunning and left me in awe of just how they did it!
The comic relief provided by the two younger hobbits (Merry and Pippin) was just right as was the
relationship between Sam and Frodo. Oh, and Gollum was handled well with only some quick glimpses of
Low points...the battle with the cave troll seemed a bit over done (picky really as it's hard to see
how else it could have been handled), and of course the missing bits such as the barrow downs, the old
oak and Tom Bombadil (despite the length I guess some bits still had to go...oh, for the missing hour).
Overall, a great movie, one that will be a classic...gee, I have not mentioned the ring wraiths, the
weapons and armour, the use of magic, the fireworks, the kraken, the Eye...there is so much that is
good about this movie...go see it!
*Think "Grungebeard" and you wouldn't be far wrong! (Micky)
PS: (Micky) Though looking forward to seeing the movie I was a little skeptical walking into the cinema
(which has some of the monsters--one of Saruman's uruk-hai and a cave troll--on display). All too often
a fantasy movie is over the top or completely and disappointingly unlike my expectations.
I'm happy to report LOTR was neither...and I even forgive Mr. Jackson for cutting large chunks out of
the book in order to cram the basic plot into a 3 hour condensed version. The cinematography and FX are
breathtaking, and their model makers and sculptors were first rate (and believe me, I was closely
scrutinizing the latter's handiwork for any signs of inferior craftsmanship. :-)
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