I was privileged to attend the third LOTR movie on opening night (midnight on Tuesday) and I’m glad to report it was worth staying up until 3:30 am for it. The burning question is, of course, how does it compare with the Matrix trilogy?
I was a big fan of the first Matrix movie. Although I loved the first LOTR movie (The Fellowship of the Ring) too, I felt the Matrix was more original and thought-provoking. The second Matrix movie (Matrix Revolutions) showed how far and how fast a sequel can fall short of the original. Any excuse for meaning, plot, or originality was largely missing from the second installment, despite the cool CGI. The third Matrix movie (Matrix Revolutions) was largely unwatchable (and didn’t Naobi die in the second movie, or did I just die of boredom?). I remember reading an article in which the producers commented that to get the full experience of the movie, you’d have to play the game (presumably for XBox and PS2). I bought an XBox, but I have no intention of buying the Matrix video games.
So what happened to the Matrix? It completely lost its way, falling back on unfufilling cliches. Oh, and did I mention the uncanny resemblance it bore to the much better saga written nearly 50 years ago, Lord of the Rings?
Fro…er Neo…travels to the heart of enemy territory accompanied by his erstwhile companion Trinity Gamgee. Oh, and he gets blinded and they suck face a lot. I don’t remember that in the book. Anyway, enough about shitty trilogies, let’s talk about a great one.
My main complaint about the second LOTR movie (The Two Towers), as reviewed here was the omission of certain scenes (and the inexcusable corruption of Faramir’s character into someone who coveted the Ring). As I predicted, an important scene from the end of the second book, which was omitted from the second movie, appears in the third movie. As with the second installment, the beginning of the third movie is unforgettable, albeit incomprehensible if you haven’t read the books or seen the previous movies. In fact, if you haven’t read the Hobbit, much of the movies don’t make as much sense as they otherwise would. I hope Jackson brings the Hobbit to the screen as well, although it hasn’t nearly the depth of the later trilogy.
So is it bad for movies to complement the book? I think not. They’re different media, and you will be truly enriched for having experienced both. In the third book, the plot is divided between two and sometimes three different venues. Long after something occurs in one venue, the book goes forward or backward a week in time to the other story line. I thought this built a lot of dramatic tension, which was missing from the movie where all plotlines occurred simultaneously (switching between venues when necessary). Perhaps it was unavoidable, as the movie might have been impossible to follow for those who hadn’t read the book if it mirrored the book’s timeline.
All in all, the third installment of the movie is better than the second and perhaps as good if not better than the first. The actress playing Eowyn was excellent. I don’t know how she made her face quiver on cue like that. There are parts of the movie verbatim from the book that would otherwise seem like Hollywood hokum, as when Sam carries Frodo. And there are deviations from the book to simplify or speed the plot, or eliminate otherwise minor characters. Billy Boyd as Pippin was particularly good fulfilling his sworn oath to the Steward of Gondor. It was so good, it was almost difficult to watch. As in the second movie, there were simply breathtaking battle scenes. And again, as with the second movie, I’m sorry they omitted a scene (the one in which Gandalf rejects the offer to surrender at the Black Gate).
Judging by the audience reaction to certain scenes, many hadn’t read the books. To Jackson’s credit, he doesn’t end the movie immediately following the trilogy’s climax (which occurs about halfway through the third book). True to the book, he continues the story for several more scenes, illiciting outright gasps and groans from movie-goers weaned on Hollywood formula every time the scene faded down and then back up. But it gladdened this reviewer’s heart tremendously, and even at over 3 hours, the movie brings the trilogy to an end before I was ready to part ways.
All in all, my only regret is that I didn’t catch “Trilogy Tuesday” where some theatres played extended cuts of the first two movies preceding this third installment. I recommend you rent them and read the books, but don’t miss this one in theatres.
Here is the final scorecard from best to worst:
1. The Matrix
2. LOTR: The Return of the King
3. LOTR: The Fellowship of the Ring
4. LOTR: The Two Towers
5. The Matrix Reloaded
6. Matrix Revolutions
Now don’t get me started on the Godfather…
Which was your favorite, LOTR or The Matrix trilogy? Which was your favorite installment?