The Lord of the Rings Reviews
Although it has a messy structure and the animation is uneven, Ralph Bakshi's bold attempt at Tolkien's epic fantasy is incomplete but features enough psychedelic imagery, charm, and affection towards the novel to be watchable.
The most noteworthy part of this movie is its heavy use of rotoscoping, or animating by tracing live footage, and it does so inconsistently. The end product is a cast of cartoon characters surrounded by pseudo-live action extras. The effect is creepy and makes the animation look sloppy.
The plot is also extremely rushed. Rather than cutting extraneous plot to provide a better narrative Bakshi chooses to visit every plot point for 5 minutes. Yes, Bilbo has a birthday party, we visit Moria, we meet Galadriel, but each section is so short that it just serves to make the narrative more confusing. I can't imagine trying to watch this without already being familiar with the source material.
Lastly the characterization is nonexistent. Characters like Elrond, Legolas, and Gimli are little more than placeholders. Characters who DO get personalities are one dimensional and generally obnoxious (looking at you, Sam).
This movie was so, so painful to watch. If you want a TL;DR of this trainwreck watch the Prancing Pony scene and be thankful you skipped the other 2 hours
The black riders, in particular, are scary. Not that Peter Jackson's riders weren't ominous, but they were seldom scary - more big, american embellishments, like the rest of the film.
The art style is inconsistent, and the rotoscoping, though bold for it's time, fails in terms of uniting the more cartoon look of the characters with the secondary characters. The black riders, again, this style works for, because it makes them more unearthly. It was a mistake to use it for human characters, and the like. The orcs and elves look ridiculous, Peter Jackson's version did greater justice to both them and the balrog, which in this looks something of a chimera. At times the look can resemble a high-school art project.
The soundwork is hit-and-miss - sometimes the absence of music is keenly felt and the effect is stark. Often the vocal recording is inconsistent between shots for the same person. Overall, not a great score, though original and it has it's brilliant moments.
For all it's faults, Peter Jackson's version did a brilliant job of humanising the characters. Here they retain some of the amorphous glibness of the book's characters. Gollum is nowhere near the chaotic schizophrenic malevolent masterpiece that was Andy Serkis's recent work.
It's hard to watch without feelings of absolute smirking postmodern irony, but it's enjoyable - save the battle scenes (eminently dull). I hope that in 30 years time, I'll be showing my grandnieces and grandnephews this version, as well as Peter jackson's LOTR.
ps. Since when is the "s" in "saruman" silent?