Saturday, November 17, 2007

Lord of the Rings trilogy live-blog

I promised I'd do this when I got my HDTV, and I waited until there was a cold day with nothing else going on to actually do it. I'm watching all three extended editions of the Lord of the Rings movies today. And I'm going to see if I can live-blog the whole thing.

10:30 AM: I just started Fellowship of the Ring. Enjoy Gollum now, we're not going to see him again for four hours. Also, I thought there was a scene in the beginning where Elrond and Isildur were at Mount Doom about to destroy the Ring, when Isildur turns away from the fire. Maybe that's later.

10:43 AM: Bilbo and Gandalf are having bread, cheese and tea, and I'm having oatmeal. Wow, this is shaping up to be a THRILLING live-blog. We'll see how long I keep this up.

10:51 AM: I just noticed that Gandalf wears one of those braided belts that all the white-hat guys wore at Georgetown back in the day. I'm not sure what that says about my favorite wizard.

11:09 AM: Frodo and Sam are off to Bree. Someone I know is trying to talk me into an adventure vacation. I'm not a hiking, getting dirty kind of guy. For some reason, Frodo and Sam walking off into the wilderness looks appealing. Too bad I know how this ends. They get into a lot of trouble.

11:16 AM: Better fight scene: Gandalf vs. Saruman or Count Dooku vs. Anakin Skywalker (the 2nd time)? I like anything involving lightsabers, but seeing two wizards square off is cool. It's always bothered me that a wizard apparently needs a staff to perform magic. Shouldn't Gandalf have some skills that don't require him to be holding his staff?

11:30 AM: It's the "second breakfast" joke, one of my favorites. I think it's time for coffee here.

11:47 AM: Can someone remind me how Liv Tyler got the part of Arwen? Have we heard anything from her since 2003?

11:55 AM: I watched The Matrix last night. I hadn't seen it in years. It's weird to go from scary, creepy Agent Smith Hugo Weaving to elf lord Elrond Hugo Weaving. Maybe tomorrow I'll watch Priscilla, Queen of the Desert and get really freaked out.

12:00 PM: HERE's the scene where Elrond tries to get Isildur to destroy the ring at the Cracks of Doom. Isildur tells him to piss off. Now I remember why Elrond is such a jerk in these movies.

12:12 PM: "The Ring must be cast into the fire from whence it came. One of you must do this." Don't all volunteer at once, people.

12:14 PM: Legolas: "You have my bow." Gimli: "And my axe. Well, my OTHER axe." Yes, I'm reusing jokes from the first time I saw this movie.

And that's the end of disc 1.

12:22 PM: One thing that has always bothered me about Elijah Wood in these movies is that he has a huge neck. He's not a big guy but he's got the neck of a defensive lineman.

And as they leave Rivendell, it's late October or November, but they don't close the windows or put up curtains. How temperate is that place? It must be like Miami there.

12:24 PM: We get the "Fellowship" theme for the first time. It gives me chills.

12:27 PM: Frodo slips in the snow and the Ring on its chain falls off his giant neck. If the elves can make swords that glow blue in the presence of orcs, you'd think they could give him a sturdier chain for the most powerful ring in the world.

12:35 PM: Why do the doors of Moria open to the Elvish word for "friend?" Shouldn't it be the Dwarvish word for "friend?"

This is turning into the live-blog of unanswered questions.

12:43 PM: I've got a 2 PM appointment to look at a friend's computer problems. I hope I'm done with this movie by then. I've already made it clear I've only got an hour or so to work on the computer. I don't want to be up until 3 AM with this thing.

12:48 PM: Sting is glowing blue -- orcs are nearby. Gandalf's sword should be glowing too, since he and Bilbo acquired them from the same weapons stash in The Hobbit and both are Elvish-made.

Incidental super-geeky note: my home PC's network name is Mithrandir, Gandalf's name in Elvish. My iPod is Glamdring, the name of Gandalf's sword. I've got other peripherals with Elvish LOTR names. No, I do not live in my parents' basement, and I have kissed a girl.

1:02 PM: I know Gandalf isn't really dead, but the aftermath of the battle of Moria is so good that I get a little misty anyway.

1:13 PM: In a male-centric universe, the relationship between Galadriel and Celeborn is the only one that is dominated by the female. Arwen and Eowyn, warrior-elf and shield-maiden they may be, but they end up subservient to their husbands. Galadriel wears the pants in that marriage. Cate Blanchett must be used to that, though. She did play Elizabeth I.

1:28 PM: I love Gimli. He's so shy around Galadriel. The gift scene is one of my favorites that was restored in the extended edition.

1:35 PM: It's great that a filmmaker finally found a use for those two giant statues of kings beside that river in New Zealand. It's almost as good as the U.S. electing four men as president who just happened to look like those faces on Mt. Rushmore.

1:50 PM: That's a lot of dead Uruk-Hai. I'm cutting it close, but I think I'll be done by 2.

1:57 PM: Credits. I just made it. Back in an hour or so for The Two Towers.

3:55 PM: I'm back, and The Two Towers is up. By the way, these movies look incredible on my HDTV, and this is with a progressive-scan 480p normal DVD player. I wonder how they would look with an upconverting one. I'm thinking of getting one of those for the holidays, so maybe I'll try this whole event again in February.

4:04 PM: Here's Gollum!

4:06 PM: What an eccentric performance.

4:16 PM: I think employees would take their jobs more seriously if the boss made them swear obedience and cut their hands with a dirty blade in a special ceremony on the first day. It could be part of orientation.

4:25 PM: I hate to see orcs and Uruk-Hai fighting. Can't we all just get along?

4:34 PM: I never noticed until now, but there's horror movie music when Treebeard makes his first appearance.

4:47 PM: Aragorn and Legolas switch between Elvish and English so much it's like Spanglish. Or Elvglish, I suppose.

4:53 PM: The big debate for this movie: Ent poetry vs. Vogon poetry --which is more yawn-inducing?

5:03 PM: Merry and Pippin are like lazy college guys. All they want to do is have fun, smoke weed, eat, and drink. Sure, they grow up in these movies, but is that really a gain for them? I guess everyone has to graduate and become responsible sometime.

5:16 PM: I like that the scene where Gandalf and company free Theoden from Saruman's power uses much of the original dialog from the book. In particular, Wormtongue's lines are straight from the book. "'Lathspell' I name him. Ill news is an ill guest."

5:20 PM: Theodred's funeral scene is my only complaint about the material added back for any of the extended editions. I thought the original film's sequence worked much better. In that version, Theoden visits Theodred's grave, having missed the funeral entirely due to his enslavement. I thought that was far more tragic.

Also, I could do without Eowyn's song of lament.

5:34 PM: The Smeagol/Gollum debate now reminds me of the "Formidable Opponent" segment on The Colbert Report.

5:41 PM: Faramir has found Frodo and Sam, and that's the end of disc 1. I'm officially halfway through.

5:55 PM: So it's true what they say: shield-maidens can't cook. What is in that stew, gristle? All the more reason for Aragorn to take the throne of Gondor and Arwen as his wife. Then he can have a professional chef of Gondor preparing his meals, instead of Eowyn's feeble efforts.

6:09 PM: Helm's Deep, named for Helm Hammerhand. I just noticed the statue inside the fortress's gates is holding a hammer like Thor's. Nice touch.

6:21 PM: We take a break from the action so Galadriel can bring the audience up to date on why we're watching everyone on this quest.

6:36 PM: The added scenes with Boromir, Faramir, and Denethor help to explain why the writing team changed Faramir's character to make him more loyal to the misguided policies of his father. I'm not a fan of that one, but at least it makes more sense in the long version.

6:52 PM: I'm taking a quick break before the Battle of Helm's Deep to switch over to the end of the Penn State-Michigan State game. Let's see if the armies of Joe Paterno can defeat the orcs of East Lansing.

6:55 PM: The orcs will win this day. Damn. Back to Helm's Deep.

7:05 PM: I love the pacing in this movie. Just when I'm getting into the battle scene, we cut back to the Entmoot.

7:06 PM: If Merry and Pippin are growing taller as a result of drinking Ent water, how do their clothes still fit?

7:19: This always happens when I watch this movie - I'd almost forgotten about Frodo and Sam in Faramir's custody. To tell the truth, Frodo and Sam's story is my least favorite part of the book. I enjoy the battle scenes too much.

7:21 PM: I've said this several times before, so I'll say it again -- I wish Howard Shore had stayed true to the text when the Ents march on Isengard. The book says that they march to the sound of trumpets, but his score has a choir singing with drums underneath. It just doesn't work for me.

7:33 PM: I sure do enjoy it when Theoden and Aragorn ride out together from the Keep. They must be on magical horses, because real horses won't ride over or through obstacles. Although orcs don't exist, so maybe horses would ride through them. I should stop thinking about this and just enjoy the movie.

7:40 PM: Merry and Pippin get high. And when they get the munchies, they're sitting on top of the hoard of Isengard. And they WILL get the munchies. They're hobbits, after all.

7:47 PM: Credits. Time for a break. I'm a little hungry so maybe I should eat dinner now, before starting the next one. I don't think I can watch and eat and live-blog all at the same time.

8:38 PM: Time to start The Return of the King. It's going to take me about 4 1/2 hours to watch it, and I'd like to be done by 2 AM. So I will eat, watch, and try to comment all at once.

8:42 PM: Also, the Penguins gave up two goals while I was watching, and Penn State lost while I had that on. I should stick to the movies.

8:50 PM: I'm glad I have a strong stomach. I can eat and watch Gollum tearing into raw fish.

8:59 PM: In this version, Saruman gets a good death sequence. I know they cut the Scouring of the Shire for length, but I still wish it could have made the big screen. We do get closure on the Saruman storyline, though.

9:04 PM: Before beginning the drinking contest, Gimli says the rules include "no regurgitations." Do they follow IFOCE rules, or did the IFOCE get their rules from this movie?

9:14 PM: All the men are sleeping in some kind of anteroom, but Eowyn is sleeping by herself in the great hall of Edoras. That's got to be freezing at night. Doesn't she live here? Shouldn't she have her own room?

9:27 PM: Can't someone sweep up around Rivendell? There has to be an elf gardener somewhere. And re-forge that sword already! Aragorn was supposed to take it with him from Rivendell, not get it when the trip is nearly over.

9:39 PM: Hey Gandalf -- maybe all that coughing is a sign that you should cut back on your leaf-smoking habit. It must be traveling and rooming with Pippin. That guy is a bad influence on everyone around him.

9:54 PM: I love the lighting of the beacons. It's one of the things that didn't come from the book but it works so well in the film. And it's some of Shore's best music.

10:08 PM: Time out for a phone call.

10:32 PM: We're back. Frodo, Sam, and Gollum are climbing the stairs near Minas Morgul, AKA "The Emerald City." The orcs do remind me of the flying monkeys.

10:43 PM: These are some dirty hobbits. They must smell like mud and feet and ass, after months without baths.

10:54 PM: Theoden has quite a tent set up for an overnight camp. Rugs, tables, torches, and more. I think he has a satellite dish and a big-screen TV in there too. Is this a war camp or a tailgate party?

11:03 PM: I would follow Theoden into Hell itself, and he hasn't even given his best pre-battle speech yet.

11:13 PM: I forgot about the cave of the dead and how the skulls pour out like popcorn from the crumbling castle. I'm not sure what that's about, but I'm surprised our heroes can get out of the cave amid that mess.

11:21 PM: I love fightin' Gandalf.

11:22 PM: I'd love to get a "Grond!" chant going at a rock concert. What band would be appropriate for such a chant?

Time for disc 2. I'm almost done.

11:31 PM: I just remembered the fortune cookie from tonight's dinner. It was no fortune at all. The "fortune" was an ad for a Nostradamus special on The History Channel. I got one last month from a different restaurant and took that place off my list. I can't take this one off, though. It's right across the street.

Hey, my first comment! It's only taken 13 hours!

11:33 PM: It's Shelob time. Peter Jackson indulges his love of horror movies.

11:45 PM: Even if I were a soldier of Gondor, I think I'd crap my pants at what came through the gate after it was shattered by Grond.

11:57 PM: The Witch-King of Angmar shatters Gandalf's staff, but I swear he has it later in the movie. It doesn't matter. Rohan has come at last. This is my favorite moment in the entire trilogy.

12:16 AM: That is the greatest battle scene ever committed to film. I have nothing else to say.

12:21 AM: I'm glad the Houses of Healing scene made it into this edition. And we get a glimpse of the Eowyn-Faramir relationship. Bear in mind, I am a hopeless romantic.

12:32 AM: Oh, Faramir, I could get lost in your eyes forever.

12:40 AM: Even in his orc armor, Sam is still carrying his pots and pans. I guess the other orcs didn't notice they had a chef in their midst. Or they didn't think anything of it.

12:47 AM: That's some mouth you got, Mouth of Sauron.
"I guess that concludes negotiations."

12:57 AM: Pippin: "The eagles are coming!" There's a Don Henley joke in there somewhere, but it's not coming to me.

1:11 AM: Why does Gandalf take the crown of Gondor from Gimli? Did the dwarves make it? And why does this movie have like six false endings? That's always annoyed me.

1:13 AM: And now, a musical selection by the King. "Eh Nooniam." (Or something like that.)

1:21 AM: Aged Bilbo looks like Emperor Palpatine.

1:30 AM: THE END.

With breaks for food, phone calls, and tech support, that took 13 hours. I thought it would take even longer. Even so, that was a great way to spend a free Saturday. I don't know if I learned anything new about the trilogy watching it this way, but I enjoyed the hell out of it. I'd do it again, but not for a while. My ass needs a break.

I think the next marathon may be all the Star Wars movies in order. That may have to wait until after football season.


Unknown said...

I wish I had been there... but I spent six hours playing WoW with both my brothers. If we're trying to out nerd each other, who wins?

PhilCatelinet said...

I've been doing this since 10:30 this morning. I win.

Jonathan said...

You could chant "Grond" at a Blind Guardian concert as they sing "Time Stands Still (at the Iron Hill)". It's about the battle between Morgoth and Fingolfin, where Morgoth uses his war-hammer named Grond to fight with.

Plus, the album is called "Nightfall in Middle Earth" and is a concept album based on the Silmarillion.

Luisa Perkins said...

David L. (my long-time pal, your NYRO maestro) sent me a link to this post. It's brilliant; I laughed and laughed.

Zaak said...

Sirdar sent me a link to Luisa's blog which had a link to yours.

I just watched the LOTR EE set a couple weeks ago again. I did it one disc per night for 6 nights (I have 2 small children who don't let me sleep). I've done the marathon three times before (twice on two of my birthdays). The first time was when they released ROTK and showed the extended editions of the first two in theatre just before. I called a sub and skipped work for it. So awesome.

Anyway, your comments were hilarious. Frodo's ring chain always bothered me and what about Legolas never running out of arrows. Good gravy! He shoots a lot of those suckers.

But I love the funeral scene in Rohan. And "Rosie Cotton dancing with ribbons in her hair." You don't comment on that? I don't think we could be friends.

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