Saturday, December 17, 2005

The 800-pound gorilla

Devoted reader Julie posed a question in response to this post I wrote Thursday: "What is the reason behind the LOTR boycott?" I don't think I've addressed that subject in this blog, so here goes:

I saw The Fellowship of the Ring on the big screen, and it was the most butt-numbing experience I've ever endured. Waaaay too long. Peter Jackson seemed to throw everything at you, showing no sense of, um, direction. And the plot felt like a video game -- I never read the books, but surely J.R.R. Tolkien wasn't writing such a linear adventure. Great, memorable visuals, but nothing else. And the fact that the prettiest girl in the movie was Orlando Bloom didn't help. The whole thing was very gay, and not in a fun, campy Smallville way, either. (I never timed the scene where Boromir dies in the arms of Aragorn, but I swear it lasted ten minutes. I remember sitting there and debating whether I should yell out "Just die already!" or "Just kiss him already!")

Previews for The Two Towers suggested more (much more) of the same. I decided I could do without the continued experience, so I decided to boycott the next two films. And I'm glad I did.

My justification stems from the degree of excess in this series -- as I understand it, these long films are made even longer and more bloated with DVD extras, and no one seems to care. They just eat it up -- all 9 to 12 hours of it. And there's a weird mob mentality to the fandom, as if people are afraid to say anything negative. I believe the Academy relented to this pressure -- there's no way The Return of the King deserved 11 wins for its 11 nominations. (I do remember reading Elton John panning the film's Oscar-winning song by Annie Lennox, and then they outed him for it.)

These days I'm resolutely anti-Peter Jackson -- King Kong was never of interest to me, and that was before I learned it was 3 hours long, and nearly 7 if you include the production diaries. But I wasn't always that way. I saw Dead-Alive in a film class back in college and was entertained. (It's home to one of my favorite all-time movie lines: "I kick arse for the Lord!") I hold great esteem for Heavenly Creatures, but can never watch it again because the single violent act is just too horrible. I even like The Frighteners more than most. But any sense of whimsy or charm, or restraint for that matter, is gone. The fact that he plans to tackle some video game movie as his next project does not bode well.

So far it appears that I'm the only one who feels this way. That's fine. But if there's a part of you that wonders why the emperor's clothes are about twice as long as they need to be, you will find sanctuary here.


bdure said...

I think you've accurately expressed some of the reasons why I never venture to the theater at all these days. Films like this are too bloated, and indie films are too dreary. I don't want to spend the time and money on anything like that.

At home, at least I have a nearby bathroom and a remote in case I decide there's something better on HGTV. (There often is.)

When I see films like LOTR, I basically end up asking my wife for synopses. "OK, why is this guy fighting an entire army of bad dudes?" "What happens to this guy three hours from now?"

Some sports leagues these days are getting creative with the highlights they offer on their Web sites, and DirecTV's Sunday Ticket plan actually lets you watch condensed NFL games -- more than three hours of a game whittled down to 30 minutes. If they offered that for the LOTR series, bearing in mind that I think once you've seen one CGI effect you've seen them all, I might be interested.

Julie said...

They always showed American football ('gridiron') on Australian tv like that - edited down to 30 minutes. They thought that is how it is really played! Made sense, since you don't even stop a rugby game for even a death - you just move the play further down field.

Neel, it is obvious in some of your comments that you haven't read the books. I don't know how to say that without sounding like a literary snob, because that's not what I mean by it. But there are things in the movie that if you haven't read the books you would not know why such things are being focused on.

Thinking Fool said...

Amen: "Used at the end of a prayer or a statement to express assent or approval."

Amen, Neel. Amen.

K-Lyn said...

And to add to Julie's comments. There is a LOT in the book that felt long and dragged out there but the movie actually made it more enjoyable.

I guess it all depends on what you like. I'll take too much chocolate any day. And the extended Two Towers still rocks my world. And I think even the die hard fans would give you that Return of the King ended about 5 different times but I went along because I, like the director, wanted to remain in that world.

King Kong's world though doesn't entice me. It says wait for DVD when you can see what Black and Brody pull off from your couch with fast forward button.

Now...go see Kiss Kiss Bang Bang. Seriously. Go. Now.