So, it's coming up on the 20th anniversary of the release of The Fellowship Of The Ring, a fact that is entirely mind-blowing to me. To think that this film came out nearly half my life ago. Staggering.
I am so old.
Well, as I'm now allowing myself to ramble on about any old shite on this blog, I thought I'd try and recount my short but intense love affair with the trilogy.
Me when I want KFC
I've always been quite a nerd, but growing up I was never into classic fantasy as much as I was sci-fi. For example, I always preferred 40K to Fantasy Battle, or Star Wars to something like Conan etc...
This lack of interest in the genre contributed heavily to me knowing next to nothing about the franchise in the run up to the release of the films, a fact that seems incredibly strange now to think back on. But it was true. I'd never read the books, or really knew anything about them, save for a few nuggets of information I'd picked up from a work mate who was a big fan.
It was also a big deal that the internet wasn't such a big part of my life back then compared to now, and hunting for movie and/or game news wasn't really something I did two decades ago.
The first thing I saw of LOTR was when my bro hired the Fellowship on VHS in late 2002. He was watching it at my parents' and there was about 20 mins left when I showed up. So all I saw was the fight against the Uruk-hai and the ending, but I was already very interested.
This was maybe 2-3 weeks before the release of The Two Towers, which I enthusiastically went to see without even seeing most of the first movie. This didn't matter. I fucking loved the movie and I was in.
I snapped up the extended edition of The Fellowship which was recently released on DVD, and I've never before or since gone so hard on a set of discs. I watched them so many times over the next few months I'm surprised they didn't wear out. And strangely, it was the appendices that I watched the most.
I loved the documentaries about the making of this movie, from the lore, to the script process, to the prop and set design, to the filming and editing. There was something so magical and interesting to see such a huge project have so much work put into it and to see it all come together.
Then there was the year-long wait for the next movie, Return Of The King, which became only the second film in my life that I went to watch at the cinema multiple times, and still easily my favourite movie-going experience. Some of the big, impactful moments gave my goosebumps goosebumps.
And then I bought the extended Two Towers DVD set. I probably didn't go quite as hard on these discs as I did the Fellowship ones, but it came close. In addition, this cut of the Two Towers became, and has remained, my favourite film of the series. This is mostly due to how I think the added and extended scenes really enrich the original theatrical cut, something which I feel is lacking in the extended Return Of The King release which followed a year later.
It must be noted here that, even nearly 20 years later, I've still never seen the theatrical cut of Fellowship. My strong belief is that, if I had seen it first, the extended Fellowship would instead be my favourite movie of the trilogy.
So, another year went by, and this time there was no new movie to enjoy, but I was really looking forward to the extended Return Of The King.
As mentioned above, while I enjoyed it well enough, it just kind-of fell flat compared to the first two extended editions. The added scenes didn't really add all that much, and the behind the scenes documentaries were just simply not as good or as interesting.
My addiction to Middle Earth had already started to wane when I finally got around to reading the books maybe a year later, and boy did I struggle with them. Oof, what an absolute slog. I was so fed up with Tolkien's way of writing that I didn't even fully finish the last book. I simply stopped when the ring was destroyed. No Scouring Of The Shire for me, or all of those appendices.
Most awesome scene of an awesome trilogy
I'm sure a lot of die-hard fans had trouble dealing with the changes that were made in order to adapt the books to film, but I really appreciated the vast majority of them. I liked how they changed Faramir for a start, and was really glad that there was no stupid Tom Bambadil to be seen. What an irritating character.
On the flip side, the main change I had a problem with was how they used the army of the dead. I much preferred how they were used in the book, but I guess there was just no space in the film for Aragorn's journey through the land in order to build up an army of Gondorians.
For whatever reason, the Hobbit trilogy did very little to re-ignite my passion for this world, and I did not go to the cinema to watch any of those films. I'm not sure why, as I think I'd made up my mind not to bother with the cinema even before news got out that the first film was disappointing.
I don't think I watched them until I picked up the trilogy cheap in early 2017, and I didn't even bother with the extended versions.
Like a lot of fans of the LOTR trilogy, I did not like the Hobbit movies. Though on my second watch a year or two back, my opinions softened on them a little. I think it also helped that I had watched Lindsay Ellis's Hobbit vids on Youtube, during which she really goes into detail about the immense levels of bullshit that went on behind the scenes during the making of those movies.
It's honestly surprising that the movies weren't even worse than they actually ended up being.
At some point, I will have to read the books again, and also read the Hobbit, as that is something I have not done yet. Now that quite a few years have passed, diving into the books may prove to be more fruitful than before. Plus, I need something meaty to read, as I've not done much since reading all of the Witcher books last year.
Other than reading the books again, I can't really see any more LOTR action for me in the near future. I know Amazon are making a show inspired by the Silmarillion, but unless something drastically changes I won't be having anything to do with that at all. Just thinking about all of the franchises I used to love that have been ruined in recent years by the current flock of writers and directors, such as Star Wars, Star Trek, Robocop, Ghostbusters and Masters Of The Universe, gives me absolutely no confidence in anything that gets made these days.
And I'd rather not watch some crap that taints my enjoyment of what I think is easily the best movie trilogy ever made.
But that's just me I guess.