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Rating History

The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring
22 months ago via Rotten Tomatoes

I'm always impressed when a film actually lives up to extraordinary expectations. For years, I had been told that the Lord of the Rings trilogy consisted of some of the best fantasy films of all time, some saying that they were even better than the original three Star Wars films. I went into The Fellowship of the Ring with an open mind, though my expectations were lowered a bit after seeing the first disappointing prequel in the Hobbit trilogy. Luckily, The Fellowship of the Ring doesn't really share the problems of The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey. It isn't perfect by any chance, but it holds up as one of the most ambitious fantasy films I have ever seen.

I will start off by talking about the problems I had. The cinematography was sub-par during several of the earlier scenes, and some of the special effects used throughout the film were noticeably bad. Peter Jackson's direction was often problematic as well. During the action sequences, there were too many quick cuts and turns. I still had a good sense of what was happening, but I wasn't always sure where the protagonists where relative to one another. The quick cuts and turns of the camera made sense for the film though, since there are a multitude of characters to keep track of. Some of the direction was also extremely cheesy, specifically during the slow motion sequences of the antagonists preparing for battle running through the forest. Jackson's direction of one scene in particular actually completely ruined it for me. In the scene where Gandalf is fighting Saruman, Jackson chose to have a lot of close ups, and he also cut from their actual battle to their falls a lot; it felt like a YouTube compilation of old men falling rather than a thrilling action scene. Due to Jackson's direction, not all of the action sequences are intense as they should be, though this isn't a big problem since the action is only in the film to move the plot along. I know that this complaint is a nitpick, but I really disliked the high-pitched voices and screeches of the Nazgûl. I thought that they should have had deeper voices, since they were supposed to be big and menacing.

Now I'll touch on the good, which definitely overshadows the bad. The cast is excellent, and unlike The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, the script actually gives each member of it interesting things to do. All of the actors shine in their roles, so much so that I am unable to single out any particular actor as the best in the film. They are all worthy of praise. They bring an array of characters to life, which is astounding simply given the number of characters there are that are essential to the plot, which progresses smoothly. In The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, it was obvious that every action sequence -- actually, every single scene -- was extended to ridiculous lengths just to give the film an appropriate run time. The Fellowship of the Ring earns the right to be almost four hours long, which is extremely impressive given how few and far between the action sequences are. There is an excellent concentration on plot and characters, and much of the film is spent building suspense and anticipation for upcoming battles. I really appreciate that. As I mentioned, not all of the visuals are up to my standards, but for the most part, the visuals range from good to excellent. I was impressed by the quality of a lot of the CGI, makeup, and costumes. The comedy is funny, and the jokes are all short. The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey spent way too much time on forced, unfunny, juvenile comedic gags, while The Fellowship of the Ring only has a few humorous moments which are well-executed and brief.

I am very excited to finish watching Jackson's Lord of the Rings trilogy, and I hope that the next two installments live up to their reputations. In conclusion, the Fellowship of the Ring is a well-written, outstandingly acted, satisfying, well-paced, engaging, ambitious film with some impressive visuals, memorable characters, a good score and an interesting plot.

The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers
22 months ago via Rotten Tomatoes

After The Fellowship of the Ring actually met my high expectations, I became very excited to see The Two Towers, even though it is well-known by fans as the worst in the beloved trilogy. I can say for certain that The Two Towers isn't quite as good as The Fellowship of the Ring, though I'm not sure yet if it is the worst in the trilogy, since I haven't yet seen the final installment: The Return of the King.

The Two Towers has a somewhat rocky start due to a surplus of exposition. This plagues most of the first act, and some of the second, but ultimately doesn't sink the ship. The first acts do start to drag at points, especially during the time spent with the Treebeard and the hobbits. I was extremely interested in what was happening with Aragorn, Legolas and Gimli, but my interest with the hobbits and the Ents was waning as I heard more and more dull dialogue. I understand that the audience was supposed to understand the frustration of having to hear Treebeard speak so slowly, but the time spent with Treebeard was too frustrating and overlong to be appreciated for what it was meant to do. The third act really picks up, and it is clear during the action sequences that Peter Jackson has improved as a director; they are more comprehensible and therefore more enjoyable. It is still obvious that most of the action sequences are simply meant to move the plot along, but the filmmakers still put in effort to make them exciting. I was a bit underwhelmed by the action sequence with the Ents, but the battle of Helm's Deep was well-choreographed, well-directed, exciting, and fun; it overshadowed the forgettable fight sequence. The cinematography, costume design, set pieces and makeup effects are excellent; more impressive than that of the previous film. The cast is still outstanding, but the script doesn't match the quality of the acting. The acting is still impressive, but the surplus of exposition and bad dialogue holds the actors down. The special effects range from impeccable to mediocre, while the motion capture is extremely impressive.

The Two Towers isn't quite as satisfying, well-written or interesting as The Fellowship of the Ring, but the cinematography, direction, effects and action sequences are definitely better than that of the first installment in the acclaimed trilogy. I'm excited to see The Return of the King, and if the final installment is good, then The Lord of the Rings trilogy can rank as one of the best of all time.

Rating: 8.75/10