LITTLE Things That Irk/Please You in LOTR films

I’m talking about LITTLE things. Those here who want Peter Jackson drawn and quartered due to his tampering with text etc can go mutter to yourselves in the corner, kay? Little things.(and some things irk and please me at the same time!) I’ll start:


“Do you remember the when we first met?” said by Arwen to Aragon. He should have shoved her off that log for such a trite, banal and shallow sentence. What was next–what sign are you? :rolleyes: It clangs ever. time. I. hear. it. Philippa whoever should have been shot at dawn for that one. I blame her–no, I don’t know if she wrote it, but I still blame her (she was so obnoxious in the EE interviews).

The hobbit who is digging in his ear for wax (or god knows what) and then flicks it off his finger. I get that it’s to set the mood or be funny–it’s not. Move on, already.

Ditto the scene with the pig in the town and the hobbits.
The eagles–but that irks me in the books, as well…convenient plot device, that.
The scene where Aragorn “discovers” marks left by Merry and Pip as they escaped the orcs. There ain’t nothin’ there but some dried grass and it shows…
The whole depiction of Galadriel and her telepathy, plus her “great and terrible” temptation image. It looked cool the first time, but subsequent viewing have made it comic to me.

The same can be said for Frodo’s big moment just after they leave the mines of Moria. The first time I saw Frodo’s face as Aragorn approaches him (just after Gandalf’s fall), I was shocked and thought, wow–Wood’s got “it”. Now, he just looks tired and petulant to me. (this may say more about me, but still).

Why are there so many scenes of “Dorothy waking up surrounded by her dear ones”? i.e., there are too many scenes of Frodo waking up in a bed, with the Hobbits jumping about and the non-Hobbits looking on indulgently. Gah.


The depth and amount of detail crammed into this world. It truly adds to the experience and does not detract from the action or the story.
The fall of Arwen’s cape as she confronts her father re his “lack” of foresight. Plus his vision for her of her life post Aragorn’s death. Compelling, but saturated in a Maxfield Parrish world–art within a film. And to use Tolkien’s lines–some of the best lines he ever wrote–amazing.

The look Arwen gives Aragorn has they take their public leave. It is so telling and is only explained much later. I like that we don’t know what to make of it and then it all falls into place.

The tension between Eowyn and Aragorn as he leaves to take the paths of the dead.

The way in which Wormtongue’s eyes watch Eowyn… creepy as hell, but good.

The face off between Theoden and Aragorn when he makes the decision to go to Helm’s Deep. And again when Aragorn has learned something from Theoden when Aragorn now takes Theoden to task for his helplessness in the face of so much evil.

The beacons–to see that in the theater was thrilling. Its impact is lost on a TV screen, though.

Aragorn putting on Boromir’s gauntlet thingies (can’t remember correct term).

There are (of course) many, many more. I didn’t really touch on Gandalf at all. When I say the character’s name, I also mean the actor’s depiction of that character. I don’t think that anyone was miscast for these films (Liv Tyler was a bit weak, but I think she did what PJ asked of her–that is another thread).

What say you?

IRK: John Rhys-Davies played Gimli, but also did the voice for Treebeard. It’s obviously his voice, why didn’t they find someone else? Seems kinda cheap to me.

Irked: Sauron tossing Elendil aside casually, and Isildur defeating him with a lucky stroke, taking the ring finger and a few other digits with him. In the book, Gil-Galad and Elendil gave their lives to immobilize Sauron, which gave Isildur the opening to slip in and cleave the ring finger, and only the ring finger, from his hand.

Pleased: The bit with Gandalf and the Balrog falling and battling as they fell, into the lake in the depths of Moria.

Most of my Irks are simply where PJ decided to change things, especially where the changes were extremely bad.

His made Aragorn less heroic and added in that useless over the cliff scene that did nothing to move the plot.

He radically changed Faramir in my opinion and moved Éomer to the sidelines.

The boosting of Arwen’s role I still think added nothing and I did not like one part of it.

The changing Anduril seemed meaningless to me.

The Legolas surfing down on a shield scene was really dumb. I mean really dumb!

Sting glows goshdarnit!


What I really liked.
They really created Middle Earth much like I always saw it in my mind. I am still amazed by how well they showed us Middle Earth.

Gollum: He was nearly perfect and will remain the first example of how to create a good CGI character. Serkis brought the CGI to life and was brilliant.

Gandalf was perfectly casted and acted.

Lee, I love the old Hammer films and I love Christopher Lee’s job and thus forgave all the changes.

Already mentioned, but the Beacons and the score of the beacon scene really got me. It was incredibly powerful.

Bilbo was great. The Hobbits overall were very good.

Totally. That was great in the theater.

I like all the little CGI guys flying all over the place during battle scenes. Is there a button for that?

Some of the CGI stuff in general becomes more cartoonish with each viewing.

I liked the thunk of Sauron’s ring finger when it hit the dirt.

Irk: “Dwarves are not for tossing!” :mad:

Slightly off-topic, I find it entertaining that IMDB’s “memorable quotes” section for each of the LOTR movies appears to contain every line of dialogue.

I’ll preface this by saying that the vast number of decisions that had to be made in terms of what to keep, what to cut, and what to change to make it work on the screen must have been absolutely daunting. To have come up with the success/failure rate that they did (FOTR: 95%; TTT 85%; ROTK 90%) is pretty impressive all things considered. By way of contrast, consider some of the goofy choices that Bashki made.


It is painfully obvious when one of PJ’s girls invented dialogue (vs. using what JRRT wrote). In addition to the quotes already mentioned, there’s Saruman’s “You have chosen…the way of PAIN!” which sounds like something you’d hear on an MST3K-level film. They should have at least made a pretense of trying to keep the lyrical style closely-hewn to JRRT’s own style.

Treebeard’s complete obtuseness when it comes to happenings in his own forest. In the book he was all too aware, as of the Entmoot, of what Saruman was doing to his woods. “How can that be your decision” indeed! When one of your own effin’ characters directly criticizes a plot choice PJ that should have been your first clue.

The “scrubbing bubbles” Army of the Dead when they rush into the Pellenor Fields. Even PJ admitted it doesn’t work on screen.

Frodo telling Sam to get lost-never bought that, at all.

The last two movies don’t seem to “flow” as well as FOTR does. FOTR plays like something lovingly crafted over a period of several years, while TTT/ROTK both feel disjointed and rushed (which they in fact were) and “moviecraft” plays second fiddle to advancing the various plotlines at breakneck pace. A good filmmaker lets his material “breathe” every so often, but PJ had a pretty hard time limit on the TE’s, which pretty much eliminated most opportunities to do that. A lot of the problems with the films can be directly blamed on this constraint (would 4 films have worked better?).

Several goofy moments involving Legolas and/or Gimli-the former with his surfing bit, the latter falling of a horse. The actors help to redeem what the script did to their characters, somewhat.

Denethor’s depth was almost completely strip-mined. No mention of the role the Palantir he has played in his madness, he just comes across as a raving and drooling maniac. Deserved more development time, which PJ alas was unable to give him else the running times stretch out to 5 hours…

That’s for starters…


Most of the actors absolutely nailed their roles. Perhaps the worst casting job was Hugo Weaving as Elrond, and he isn’t all that bad. Several (Pippin and Merry most notably) looked exactly like how I imagined them.

Eye candy: Beacons, Argonath, Balrog fight, the wave of Rohirrim breaking upon the shores of orcs at Pellenor, Moria, Ents trashing Isengard. PJ wisely utilized the talents of a certain Messers Lee and Howe, and it paid off handsomely.

Serkis/Gollum, as already expounded on by others.

The epic scope, something I’m always a sucker for.

The ending was on precisely the right note.

Really, there’s a lot to like here, in spite of the things which do admittedly bug me. Overall despite the missteps PJ succeeded…not quite brilliantly but more than adequately. Much of the stuff he cut (Bombadil, Scouring, all those goofy songs) I am in complete agreement with (should have kept the Barrow Wights tho).

Things I didn’t mind which Irked other people:

Movie Aragorn is a hero for our age. Perhaps not for Tolkien’s age but white bread heroes are pretty much out of style now. He has good reason to be suspicious of absolute power. Arwen worked pretty well too, tho thankfully we were spared her “Warrior Princess” take; she had to be in this film in some reasonably major capacity (and we did get to see Glorfindel standing behind Elrond during the coronation, tho he should have been given some lines or something).

Likewise Faramir works better for modern audiences than book Faramir would have. The little soliloquy he gives in the TTT EE after he kills the Southron helps to soften the character a bit, and the EE flashback of him and Boromir likewise helps to contrast the two brothers. Consider that he has lost his brother, is about to lose a city, and his father hates him, and he isn’t exactly having a good year. He does eventually “show his quality”, and again we get a ROTK EE argument with his father where he tries to justify his actions. The problem, as you may have gathered, is that the regular editions simply didn’t have the time to give him more development, as with Denethor who was not given any development time at all. Anyone who was upset with how he was treated in the TE’s have a point, IOW.

Elves at Helm’s Deep-yeah, not in the book, but helps to symbolize the bond between men and elves. No great deal-breaker for me.

Irk: In the extended edition of The Two Towers, there’s an added scene where Faramir’s men beat the living shit out of Smeagol, while Faramir, Frodo & Sam watch. It’s brutal and unnecessary - the capture of Smeagol alone is explanation enough of his feelings of betrayal and return to Gollum.

And to (almost literally) add insult to injury, in the Director’s commentary, PJ says something inane like “Faramir doesn’t do the beating himself - it shows the nobility of Faramir. He’s above this.” Sorry, no - if you’re a commander and order your men to do something, it’s exactly the same as doing it yourself. There’s nothing noble at all about ordering your men to beat a helpless captive, because you don’t want to get blood all over your nice armor.

Irk: The horn of Gondor sounds like someone strangling a goose.

Pleased: There’s one scene, after the Fellowship leaves Rivendell, where we see the whole party walk past. There’s a stone to the right that’s about chest high on Aragorn and Legolas, head-high on Gimli, taller than all four hobbits, the chest high on Boromir. And it’s all done in one continuous shot, with (AIUI) no CGI. Really fantastic cinematography.

“It comes in pints!”, a subtle little dig at the “half-pint” hobbits.:smiley:

Aragons speach at the battle before the gates- almost up there with Henry V.


Gimli was used as comic relief about 20 times. 10 times would have been OK, but 20?

Galadriel’s “You shall have a QUEEEEN!” moment. This could have been handled soooooo much better if played subtly. It irks me because it’s a great moment from the books that is just ruined.

Theoden’s aging. Again, this can be done subtly. We should see an old man mumbling to himself on the throne. But to show the lifting of the curse he shouldn’t be scrubbing off pancake makeup! Maybe try…acting?

The river Anduin was much too small in FOTR. Every other location was perfect, but while New Zealand has forests, mountains, lava fields, plains, and the Shire, it just doesn’t have a big enough river.

Subbing Arwen for Glorfindel rescuing Frodo from the Black Riders. Thing is, Arwen is nowhere in the actual books. I remember the first time I read the trilogy and when Aragorn gets married at the end, I had no idea who this elf-maiden even WAS. You’ve got to get Arwen some screen time, and since this is the 21st Century you’ve got to have her do more than moon over Aragorn.

Gollum of course.

Eowyn was handled really well.

Another pleases for me:

The costuming. Not only did they provide different looks for various Orcs and countries (are they countries?) of men, the women, both elven and human are so beautifully dressed. Sumptuous is the word that comes to mind. Arwen is in those deep wine colors for the most part, subtly underscoring the dying of her world; Eowyn is in colors that reflect her people and the land–earth tones and slightly rougher textures. Glorious.

Irk: the just showered Aragorn at the coronation. He looked better in the flashbacks with Arwen, so why does he look like he’s about to have his prostate examined? Bad hair or Viggo’s attempt to show Aragorn’s ambivalence?
Pleases: I like the film Aragorn much more than the book one. The book one is too cocksure for my liking–no depth or shading to his Hero persona. I like flawed heroes.

irk/please: I didn’t know Gandalf could talk to moths. It’s a great visual and makes for a quick cut (and IMS, he used a bird in the book to tell the eagles where he was imprisoned), but twice? :dubious:

One minor irk I have with the beacon-scene, which was visually wonderful as everyone says - is that the two capitals are supposed to be only three day’s ride away, whereas the beacons appear to be spanning a far greater distance than that.

Like: the richness and depth of the world, even in minor things. In one scene they show the Pukul-Men statues, which are only briefly described in the books.

Can I participate despite my hatred of the movies if I promise to be good?

The greatest moment of the movies is Pippin’s singingto Denethor while Faramir leads his doomed charge.

The five Nazgul’s balletic approach to young Master Baggins is also good.

The expression on Frodo’s while telling Faramir about his journey so far, when he says, “One of us fell is Moria” is just heartbreaking. He’s been so busy he hasn’t had time to grieve yet, and I get the distinct impression that he can get no closer to saying "Gandalf is dead.’

Pleases – too much to even mention. But the first “little” thing that totally had me hooked was the first view of The Shire – the attention to detail from that shot meant I knew I was going to be seeing a movie of quality and reverence. (The intro also drew me in but that’s a big thing.)

LITTLE Irks – when off-screen dialogue or sounds are not synched with actor’s reactions to them. The three I can think of are:
– When Gandalf turns around a bit too soon when Bilbo says “no, it’s right here” when Gandalf was reaching for the fireplace.
– When Gandalf’s eyes light up a bit too early after Frodo says “nothing, I see nothing…wait!”
– When the hobbits look frightened at the well a half second too early when they hear drums coming from it.


Pointed ears on the elves. There may well be a reference for them to be pointed, but I don’t remember it.

Also agree that Gimli was too much comedic relief. That’s what the hobbits were there for. It’s like Scotty walking into that strut in the last TOS movie (“I know every inch of this ship!” KLONG!).

Staircase surfing.


Every other aspect of Legolas as an archer. Stabbing somebody with an arrow, pulling it out and shooting the guy behind him… showing what kind of an archer you can be if you are (a) an elf and (b) 1,000 years old…

I got so thoroughly into how PJ was telling the story that I completely forgot how the scene with the cave troll was supposed to play out and wondered for a second if, similarly to having Arwen rescue Frodo at the ford, they were going to change things up and have Frodo be horribly injuried by the troll, and then I was all, “oh, yeah… mithril shirt… right.” Making me forget how the original book went, when you’re telling the story exactly as it was in the book… that’s talent.

Whither Saruman? Saruman just disappears abruptly from the movie storyline. You have to watch the “extended version” on the DVDs to see Gandalf cast him from the order, and the whole Scouring of the Shire and his and Wormtongue’s ultimate fates are completely discarded.

To me, the character of Saruman fills an important point in the spectrum of effects the Ring and the lust for its power has on people:

Gandalf, Galadriel: they are freely offered it, yet refuse it
Bilbo: begins his accidental ownership of it “with pity”, and manages to give it up
Boromir: agrees to help destroy the Ring, is overcome by lust for it, but repents
Frodo: Doesn’t know what the Ring is when he acquires it, aims to destroy it, but in the end could not do it
Gollum: gains the Ring through murder, is twisted from long years of wearing it, yet is bound by an oath to it that makes him its ultimate destroyer

And then there’s Saruman. He is a divine agent sent to aid the fight against the Shadow and was never tempted by the physical presence of the Ring, and was even given (but turns down) a chance to repent and help his original cause after his defeat at Isengard – which makes his fall the deepest of any in the story.

The Lidless Eye taken beyond metaphor. I always thought of “The Lidless Eye of Barad-Dur” as a metaphor for the malice and brooding thought of Sauron, not a physical aspect of Sauron as a big glowing cat’s-eye suspended over the Dark Tower that scans the sky helplessly as the Ring is destroyed… And then explodes?!

Theoden being possessed by Saruman. He’s supposed to have been psychologically poisoned by the words of Wormtongue, not magically possessed from afar by Saruman! In the book, Gandalf rekindles a fire that is within him, a very dramatic thing… In the movie, it plays out more like an exorcism.

Echoing Peeves: As others have mentioned, too many dwarf jokes, changing the Anduril story and Aragorn’s back story, and oh yes the shield surfing thing was just plain DUMB.

Echoing Likes:
I also liked Elrond’s vision of a mortal Arwen dying in grief, and the scenery, outfits and hobbit CGI were exactly as I always imagined it.

Elven Ears are debatable, but somewhere there is are some obscure mentions of pointed ears. Nothing will determine it for sure though. See Balrog wings for similar debates.

“I am afraid, if you will need drawings of hobbits in various attitudes, I must leave it in the hands of someone who can draw. … I picture a fairly human figure … fattish in the stomach, shortish in the leg. A round, jovial face; ears only slightly pointed and ‘elvish’; hair short and curling (brown).”
JRRT - Letters #27, writing to Houghton Mifflin circa March-April 1938.

Actually this link defends the pointed ears to some degree.

But there was no cave troll in the book. That scene bugged me. It was just a large orc, not a troll.

<looks sternly at Skald> We’ll see how you go… :wink:

That was compelling. And Denethor showing his lascivious nature through it all.
Irks: I didn’t like the ending. The real ending, I mean, not all the run ups to the ending. I think it could have been done better–as a flashback of Sam’s, for instance or a voice over. I think it should have ended with the coronation. Of course, this ignores the whole Scouring debacle, but I said minor things, so there it is…

Pleases: Frodo’s standing apart from the other hobbits, from the very first. It is he that says get off the road and he that scrapes dirt onto their fire on Weathertop. I always felt in the book that he is just a carrier–he seems more proactive in the films (that said, I really don’t know if he does the above two things in the books or not–can’t remember).
Love the little touches like Gandalf’s smoke clipper ship and his fireworks for the kids etc.

Hey! I think I should get points or something! I mean, you KNOW there are 6 X 10^23 things I hate about the movies.

I, um, don’t think you mean “lascivious.” No matter his faults, the last ruling steward was not a pervy hobbit fancier, and, anyway, Gandalf would have killed him if he’d tried anything.