In defense of The Two Towers (which is your favorite?)

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Post by Eldorion on Wed May 07, 2014 8:13 pm

bungobaggins wrote:I think I'm going to up it from "pretty good" to "good." Smile

Not even to mention the soundtrack during the opening. I remember listening to that opening track more than any other when I first got the CD way back in 2002. Very Happy

Seriously, I think it's a fantastic scene. Very Happy Definitely my favorite of the LOTR prologues.

And you know the music is good when even bungo is praising it. Nod
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Post by David H on Wed May 07, 2014 8:19 pm

It's been a long time since I watched TTT, but isn't the intro presented as Frodo's nightmare within the context of the film, rather than literal?

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Post by malickfan on Wed May 07, 2014 8:20 pm

David H wrote:It's been a long time since I watched TTT, but isn't the intro presented as Frodo's nightmare within the context of the film, rather than literal?

Yes, 'What's the matter Mr Frodo?' 'Just a dream'.

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Post by Eldorion on Wed May 07, 2014 8:22 pm

Pettytyrant101 wrote:He is not even burnt! It could have been a chance to see Gandalf fight to the death- which is what actually happens- so hurt, so damaged he is victorious but at price of his own physical life- in Pj's he has a small cut above one eye by the end of it and his hair is a bit rough.

And decapitated orcs do not actually spew fountains of blood from their severed aortas, and the heroes are not covered in bruises and limping around after every battle, and so on.  Did you expect Gandalf to be covered with graphic third degree burns in a PG-13 fantasy movie?  You don't even get that in most R-rated action movies.

I'm a little confused, though.  A post or two ago you were talking about Tolkien's wisdom in not "showing" us the battle, but now it was a chance to see Gandalf fight to the death? scratch

And I stand by it being stupid to give away Gandalf return before the film has even started. And dont give me posters crap, anyone who sees these films from now on is as unlikely to influenced by its poster campaign than they are for Casablancas when they watch that.
Its a huge story spoiler in a not very subtle and spoilery fashion.
Tolkiens hints at Gandalfs return, but they are hints.

It doesn't give away that he survived.  Period.  Obviously the discerning viewer will gather that Gandalf is going to play a role, but it still falls under the category of foreshadowing. Not especially subtle, but better than having him show up completely unannounced.

And the point of the "posters crap" is that anyone who saw one (or watched a trailer) would have already know that Gandalf returned.  You don't have to "influenced by the campaign" to see his face at the top of the fucking poster.
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Post by bungobaggins on Wed May 07, 2014 8:22 pm

What I like about that music is that it's taking an established "Dwarvish" style that we hear in FOTR when they're in Moria, and it's doing something different with it without repeating themes and leitmotifs.

There should be more to Middle-earth than themes and motifs.

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Post by David H on Wed May 07, 2014 8:24 pm

Thanks Malick!
So that would seem like a plausible excuse for a bit of flying, I'd think.

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Post by Eldorion on Wed May 07, 2014 8:26 pm

malickfan wrote:I came across this thread in the LOTR plaza archives which should be of interest to you Eldo...

http://www.lotrplaza.com/archives/index.php?Archive=Second%20Age&TID=235930

I was so proud of that thread when I finished it. Laughing I still am, to some extent, though I've done a lot of other things in the intervening four and a half years.  But for the 15 year old me that was a really big deal and it being received as well it was on the Plaza made me feel like I was on top of the world. Very Happy My views have mellowed considerably since then, as I've mentioned before. Wink

Edit: I'm really tickled that you actually found and read that, even after all this time!

I haven't watched TT in four or five years, and I've yet to read through this thread properly, though from memory, my main issues were Gimli/Legolas becoming ever more gimmicky, Aragorn's stupid fall over the cliff (even before reading the book I found it very melodramatic and silly) and The ents deciding on a whim to attack on Insenguard (Jackson spent all that time bulidung up the ents, even taking the micky out of the slow accents, then reduced Treebeard to a angry old man 'Noooooo! Come my friends the ents are going to war...'.

I don't like any of those things myself, but my basic point in creating this thread was there are worse examples in ROTK, and that TTT has enough new stuff (especially action and worldbuilding) that, IMO, elevates it over Fellowship.  The Ents thing is probably the worst part of the film for me; it bothers me more than the Faramir bit.  At least Faramir has his own meaningful character arc in the films, even though it's very different from the book.  The sequence of events with the Ents makes no sense in any universe.
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Post by bungobaggins on Wed May 07, 2014 8:29 pm


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Post by Forest Shepherd on Wed May 07, 2014 8:31 pm

The petty has really been strong with you lately Petty.

I, as an audience member, (and don't even start with that "you were 12 so your opinion doesn't count bullcrap: plenty of adults go ga-ga over The Hobbit), went to the theatre to see The Two Towers.
I had seen a trailer or two, but that was it. I wore ear-plugs for two whole hours before the movie, just so the experience would be more memorable and effective.

The opening sequence was brilliant. It shifted the emphasis of the most memorable scene from the first film towards Gandalf's experience with the Balrog. The fight itself was powerful and cool. Gandalf did not suffer as many injuries as one might expect in that sort of fall, but there was plenty of groaning and shouting to suggest some pain. The wide-angle shot near the end of the sequence looked, and more importantly felt, amazing for the time. AMAZING.
And when, they do finally crash into the water together, and Frodo jerks awake it is extremely effective cinema. It is a hook, as they call it in writing, placed perfectly to draw in the audience and suspend disbelief.
As Petty pointed out, it also serves to refresh the memory of the audience as to what has happened recently. And no, I don't think it does give away (yeah right as if anyone didn't know that Gandalf was coming back when going into the theatre) Gandalf's return. If anything, introducing the idea that the entire sequence is a nightmare of Frodo's simply reinforces the horror with which he remembers the passing of the wizard. An audience member unfamiliar with the story could believe that Gandalf does perish in the lake. I mean, with how far he fell it makes sense that he would have died down there. They don't know anything about the Endless Stair.

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Post by Forest Shepherd on Wed May 07, 2014 8:35 pm

Eldorion wrote:
I don't like any of those things myself, but my basic point in creating this thread was there are worse examples in ROTK, and that TTT has enough new stuff (especially action and worldbuilding) that, IMO, elevates it over Fellowship.  The Ents thing is probably the worst part of the film for me; it bothers me more than the Faramir bit.  At least Faramir has his own meaningful character arc in the films, even though it's very different from the book.  The sequence of events with the Ents makes no sense in any universe.
Agreed. The scene with Treebeard leaves one with the sense that the hobbits have somehow tricked the ent into attacking Isengard. It is also completely inconsistent with the earlier emphasis placed on their slow-to-action stance. Furthermore, how the hell do all those ents get there so fast? I mean sheesh. It really does rub one the wrong way.

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Post by Eldorion on Wed May 07, 2014 8:37 pm


I don't think so.  Nostalgia Chick is one of the few TGWTG reviewers who I can stand (thank God she doesn't have a gimmick), though, and her retrospective of LOTR was great. Thumbs Up


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Post by Eldorion on Wed May 07, 2014 8:38 pm

Forest Shepherd wrote:The petty has really been strong with you lately Petty.

Shots fired! Laughing

Forest Shepherd wrote:Agreed. The scene with Treebeard leaves one with the sense that the hobbits have somehow tricked the ent into attacking Isengard. It is also completely inconsistent with the earlier emphasis placed on their slow-to-action stance. Furthermore, how the hell do all those ents get there so fast? I mean sheesh. It really does rub one the wrong way.

It also makes one wonder how the so-called "shepherd of the forest" managed to not notice that Saruman was destroying said forest until it was literally right in front of his face.
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Post by Pettytyrant101 on Wed May 07, 2014 8:39 pm

A post or two ago you were talking about Tolkien's wisdom in not "showing" us the battle, but now it was a chance to see Gandalf fight to the death?- Eldo

Simple- better not show to much of it if at all, but if you must at least try not to make it look like it belongs in a super hero film.


"You don't have to "influenced by the campaign" to see his face at the top of the fucking poster."

How often before you watch a film do you normally look up the films posters first.
The majority of those going forward watching the films will be taking them solely on the face of the films, not some marketing campaign from the time.
Future audiences will be ignorant to Gandalf's presence in this film, until the opening shot that is. And anyone with their brain on will know they did not put him in that opening if he is not going to be back in the film later. Thus spoiling his reveal when it comes.

Forest- I am not denying that it makes for an eye-catching opening, or that it is well shot, only that its out of place and serves the PJ motifs of spectacle and cheap audience hooks far more than it does script or characters.
I also like the fact it leads into Frodo waking from dreaming of Gandalf because that at least is something based in the book that they had otherwise neglected entirely. But it doesn't change the much that is still wrong about it.

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Post by malickfan on Wed May 07, 2014 8:39 pm

Personally I could never say TT is a better film, but I think on initial viewing I found it a more interesting film in some ways than FOTR-as you say increased worldbuilding, bigger action, and more character development were all obvious 'improvements', but from memory the biggest thing I took away was Jackson feeling more confident as a director.

Now obviously that is a good or bad thing depending on your point of view, but TT does seem to be a more recognizably 'cinematic' film than FOTR, TT was always my least favourite of the books anyway (the same is true of the film), so the changes bother me less than the Jacksonism's. I partially agree about Faramir-I love Wenham's performance and the character arc works well in pacing/tonal terms, but I don't believe they had to turn him into such a desperate douche by the end.

 Shrugging 

I probably should watch it again soon

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Post by Eldorion on Wed May 07, 2014 8:44 pm

Pettytyrant101 wrote:Simple- better not show to much of it if at all, but if you must at least try not to make it look like it belongs in a super hero film.

For better or for worse, there are a helluva lot more genres than just superhero movies that don't show all of the realistic consequences of their action scenes. Some of these genres have even produced some pretty great movies! (Again, Die Hard comes to mind.)

How often before you watch a film do you normally look up the films posters first.
The majority of those going forward watching the films will be taking them solely on the face of the films, not some marketing campaign from the time.

I don't know if it's different in Scotland, but at American multiplexes, you have to walk past dozens of posters for current and future movies before you get to the specific theatre room you're trying to enter. Unless you're actively avoiding looking at the walls, you're bound to notice the posters. And anyone who watches TV is going to see those little 30 second ads they put out constantly in the week or two before and after the film's release. There's no way you can not notice Gandalf in this unless you are literally catatonic while watching TV.

Future audiences will be ignorant to Gandalf's presence in this film, until the opening shot that is. And anyone with their brain on will know they did not put him in that opening if he is not going to be back in the film later. Thus spoiling his reveal when it comes.

Not necessarily. None of the people in the FOTR prologue showed up again outside it except for Gollum.
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Post by Pettytyrant101 on Wed May 07, 2014 8:52 pm

Die Hard comes to mind - Eldo

James Bond, Doctor Who, there are loads of places where over the top, impossible stunts are fine, and to be expected and are part of the expected experience of such films. But it is just as out of place in LotR's as it is in the goblin town sequence in TH. Whats the difference?

I would think its pretty obvious the opening of TT is a set up scene Eldo.
And future audiences will not have walked past anything to see it, or looked at the posters or probably anything else to do with its marketing at the time- they will just watch the films.

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Post by bungobaggins on Wed May 07, 2014 8:57 pm

I have a feeling that for future generations it will be a lot like how Star Wars was for me. Parents introduce it to their kids when they're little and then the memorable moments are always there with them. I can't remember a time where I didn't know that Darth Vader was Luke's father.

And sure, you can argue that parent's shouldn't be letting their kids watch a PG-13 rated movie, but that's not the point. Parents who are rabid LOTR fans will want to introduce these movies to their kids.

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Post by Eldorion on Wed May 07, 2014 9:53 pm

Pettytyrant101 wrote:But it is just as out of place in LotR's as it is in the goblin town sequence in TH. Whats the difference?

Emotional involvement would be the first answer that comes to mind. We know who Gandalf is, we're aware of the stakes, and the sequence was set up very well in FOTR. None of that was true of Goblin-town. There's also a matter of degree in how over the top it gets.

And future audiences will not have walked past anything to see it, or looked at the posters or probably anything else to do with its marketing at the time- they will just watch the films.

At the risk of harping on a point for far too long, Gandalf is also on the DVD covers. But regardless, I think Bungo raises a good point. LOTR is so famous and ubiquitous, and Gandalf such a prominent part of all three films, that I would be surprised if many people were not aware of his demise. That might have been the case when TTT came out, too, though I think it was probably less so than it is now (post-movies). But I was eight years old when TTT came out, so it's not like I can remember what it was like back then.
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Post by Eldorion on Wed May 07, 2014 9:55 pm

bungobaggins wrote:And sure, you can argue that parent's shouldn't be letting their kids watch a PG-13 rated movie, but that's not the point. Parents who are rabid LOTR fans will want to introduce these movies to their kids.

PG-13 ratings are getting more and more common, so I don't think it will be as big of an obstacle to parents in the future regardless of fannishness. Back in 1977, George Lucas asked the MPAA to reconsider after they rated Star Wars G because he thought that would make it seem too childish. Nowadays, studios are trying to avoid the PG rating for the same reason. But I think many, perhaps most, parents are going to allow their goods to watch the PG-13 rated HP and SW films. LOTR is aimed at a somewhat older audience than that, but not by too much.
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Post by Pettytyrant101 on Wed May 07, 2014 9:57 pm

I was eight years old when TTT came out- Eldo

I still think this is paying a large part in this discussion. When I saw that sequence I was already a crabbit adult.
My reaction to it was no different than my reaction to Legolas stunts or Denethors on fire sprint.
It was and is all the same sort of crabbit inducing nonsense to me.

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Post by Eldorion on Wed May 07, 2014 10:02 pm

I wasn't allowed to see the LOTR movies when they came out because of my age.  I was 13 when I saw TTT for the first time, by which point I had read the books and, believe it or not, I was very critical of many of the changes.  I did enjoy the films, though, and as the years have gone by I have made my peace with most of the changes and try to focus on the things I enjoyed.  But there are still countless threads, especially on other forums (like the one Malick posted a link to) where I go on and on about stuff I didn't like in the movies. Razz

That said, I honestly always enjoyed the TTT opening sequence, even during the period when I gave a running commentary about all the changes and problems I saw in the film to whoever I was watching it with (usually my long-suffering brother). The only thing I can recall us complaining about/making fun of was Gandalf catching up to his sword and the Balrog while falling (though we didn't term it flying).
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Post by Pettytyrant101 on Wed May 07, 2014 10:13 pm

For me the main purpose of that scene is merely to have an action orientated opening. It is merely a contrivance of the blockbuster format being fulfilled. Nothing more.
I shortened it significantly to be less stupid and moved it into Gandalfs flashback after he comes back, with his voice over 'through fire and water' over it. Works better in context narratively in my view. But would admittedly not start TT with a big action sequence.

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Post by Forest Shepherd on Wed May 07, 2014 10:18 pm

Pettytyrant101 wrote:Die Hard comes to mind - Eldo

James Bond, Doctor Who, there are loads of places where over the top, impossible stunts are fine, and to be expected and are part of the expected experience of such films. But it is just as out of place in LotR's as it is in the goblin town sequence in TH. Whats the difference?
Really? Really?
Well let's see!
1. We care about Gandalf deeply. His fall at the end of FotR is played as a real loss. He is arguably the most widely liked character (outside of the female Viggo fanatic group) in all LotR movie fandom.
   As compared to: We know that all the dwarves, and the hobbit, and the wizard get out of Goblin-Town just fine. In addition, the comical approach to the entire situations removes any real threat against their lives.

2. Cinematically, the extended fall of Gandalf was edited better, did not feel utterly ridiculous, had zero laugh gags, and most importantly, was short and effective unlike its bloated counterpart.

3. The stunts in question are more believable in LotR. The manner in which the dwarves bounce about like rubber toys is silly and results in no physical harm to them. Gandalf effectively dies after his ordeal with the Balrog.

I mean c'mon, these are things YOU yourself have pointed out. Petty and crabbit is well and good. But acting in a stubborn irrational way by putting out flippant statements like yours above is nothing short of TORN behaviour!  Mad 

Pettytyrant101 wrote:
I would think its pretty obvious the opening of TT is a set up scene Eldo.
And future audiences will not have walked past anything to see it, or looked at the posters or probably anything else to do with its marketing at the time- they will just watch the films.
As I have argued before, I think the opening sequence effectively immerses the viewer back into the story after the break from the last film. I do not think it necessarily suggests that Gandalf lives, and I do not think it necessarily relates to anything that comes after (apart, of course, as a dream of Frodo's). This is similar to the prologue of RotK, which has no direct bearing on the events of the film, and is merely an opportunity to fill out more fully Gollum's character.


P.S.
On further meditation of the subject, I believe the comparison made above is comparable to contrasting Tennant's Doctor Who scene involving the destruction of the Racnoss children with Smith's "defiance of the Daleks" rooftop scene at the end of Time of the Doctor.
One is an emotionally charged scene which explores the Doctor's darker side. The other is a, supposedly, feel-good scene involving much noise and little actual content.

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Post by Pettytyrant101 on Wed May 07, 2014 10:27 pm

The essence of the two is the same- for the sake of spectacle all the rules that have normally applied in the film are suspended.
Gandalf zooms like a superhero after his sword, grabs it as he flies by and catches the Balrog.
He is thrown all over the place to no real apparent damage or effect.

Just as in goblin town all the rules are switched off and dwarves can fall, bounce and whatever without damage.
As to comical, well apart of me was already laughing at the TT scene as soon as I saw superman Gandalf chasing after his sword, the way it was shot looked like a parody.
But the length and amount of stupid is irrelevant to my point. Its still the same thing in essence, the same basic problems.

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Post by Eldorion on Wed May 07, 2014 10:40 pm

Pettytyrant101 wrote:But the length and amount of stupid is irrelevant to my point. Its still the same thing in essence, the same basic problems.

Except it really isn't.  The only similarity is that it's an action sequence that doesn't follow the laws of physics.  It's worth noting that very, very few action sequences in any of the movies are especially plausible, even the relatively grounded one.  Legolas' antics in FOTR* are impossible even if they aren't as flash as the ones later.  But by laser-focusing on this one similarity, you're ignoring the differences of degree (saying its irrelevant) and the emotional context (not even acknowledging that that point was made by both Forest and myself).

*See here for a detailed breakdown: http://www.squidoo.com/legolas-stunts
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