Let me be clear, taking on a massive masterpiece like J.R.R. Tolkien's masterwork is no easy feat. It has a complex storyline, modeled on an alternate history with a huge number of characters and subplots that are almost impossible to make intelligible to a person who has never read the book a half dozen times or more. It's only natural the tale is simplified where possible. Tom Bombadil and the Old Forest-gone. The conflict between the Moria orcs and the White Hand orcs reduced to a petty squabble. Aragorn's raising of the coastal towns simplified to capturing the corsair fleet with the Army of the Dead.
In doing this, Jackson was able to help us understand other important stories a bit better. He lavished time on the tale of Gollum/Smeagol, helping us to get inside his head a bit. He played out the story of Saruman and Isengard to better understand his role in the story and also bound the rise of his power to his depredations on Fangorn Forest. A little artistic license on Jackson's part, but it furthered the story.
However, in three areas Jackson exceeds the speed limit and rockets us off into places that don't further the story and simply left me scratching my head.
|The winsome Ms. Tyler as Arwen. Unfortunately. Arwen has little mention in The Lord of the Rings.|
First, there is the matter of Arwen and her story. In the Lord of the Rings Arwen received about three lines in the 1200 pages of text. One of those lines may actually be in the considerable appendices. Was Liv Tyler short of work? Did Jackson simply need someone to look lovely and mopey, or did the part call for somebody who could speak perfect Elvish? The Arwen and Aragorn story Jackson tells is made from whole cloth because certainly Tolkien didn't tell it, and it's a ridiculous distraction from the rest of the story. We learn little from it regarding the struggle to control Middle Earth, and it doesn't enhance our understanding of other key parts of the story. Is Arwen's presence an effort to bring some gender balance to the story? Unfortunately, the Lord of the Rings is a tale largely about males. Frodo and Sam. Gandalf and Saruman. Gimli and Legolas. Aragorn and Sauron. Only Galadriel and Eowyn stand out as female characters of note. It is inappropriate and outside the story to create this new subplot, one that isn't told very clearly or acted very well, and ask us to buy it.
|I feel a bit of nausea coming on.|
|Sam's comment at Osgiliath: "By rights we shouldn't even be here" may be the most unintentionally ironic in the The Lord of the Rings.|
|Nazgul at Osgiliath. The awesome video vs. the awful truth.|
|Haldir and a wandering company of elves abandon the defense of Lorien to show up at Helm's Deep. In Tolkien 's story the defenders win without you big guy. You don't need to die.|