HIDDEN GEMS: 27. LORD OF THE RINGS: FELLOWSHIP OF THE RING

Hidden Gems brings to light little known film gems which have somehow slipped through the collective cinematic consciousness. You’re welcome. This week Lord of the Rings.

JRR Tolkien’s mammoth fantasy novel Lord of the Rings has for a long time been considered unfilmable. Ralph Bakshi tried in 1978 but that was a cartoon and so doesn’t really count as a movie. John Boorman wanted to adapt the film but made Excalibur instead. Finally, at the end of the century Peter Jackson, a New Zealand filmmaker famous for gore fests like Bad Taste, decided the time had come. He gathered Ian McKellan, Elijah Wood, Sean Bean, Liv Tyler, Salah from Raiders, the guy who married the hot gal from Lost and Viggo Mortensen and together embarked on an epic adventure.

They would brave orcs, trolls and big spiders as they sought to return the ring of power to Mordor where they would destroy it.

‘One does not simply walk into Mordor’ a meme once said, and so it proved. Many problems beset the making of the film, but are now shrouded in mystery because mysteriously no interviews or behind the scene footage survives. Famously Andy Serkis’ Gollum character didn’t work at all and his performance was so poor, CGI was used for the first time to replace him. Similarly, Orlando Bloom’s Elf Legolas required digital enhancement to add vitality.

Only one ring to rule them all?

It is a miracle what came out is so good. Jackson grounds the fantasy in a realistic setting and uses his kinetic storytelling to push Tolkien’s tale on. He also manages to imbue it with some emotional content. Also, he does well to get rid of the songs. Though it is regrettable that Jeff Bridges as Tom Bombadil hit the cutting room floor, this moves the quest on at a clip. The special effects are amazing and the music by Howard Shore recalls a classical Hollywood orchestral score.

Unfortunately, Harvey Weinstein pulled the plug on the projected sequels. And so like the Bakshi cartoon the ending of the Fellowship of the Ring is an anti-climax. The road goes ever on apparently. There are reports that Jackson would like to complete the trilogy, but more recently he has renounced the whole idea of returning to Middle Earth, saying ‘Why would you need more than one film?’

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ARMAGEDDON PREQUEL: ‘LOOKS DULL’

HOLLYWOOD – The long awaited prequel of Michael Bay’s Armageddon has received an overwhelming thumbs down from the first test screenings Studio Exec has learned from inside sources.

The film, provisionally entitled The Rise of Armageddon, stars a cast of unknowns, including Mark Wahlberg as a young Billy Bob Thornton, Orlando Bloom as a young Bruce Willis, Meryl Streep as a young Liv Tyler, and Matt Damon as a young Ben Affleck. Produced by Jerry Bruckheimer and with a Hans Zimmer score, the studio hoped that the prequel would match the original which was the highest grossing motion picture of 1998, pissing on The Thin Red Line money wise from a height.  So what went wrong?

Below are some audience reactions with test score:

Alan Dunn(Chicago, Illinois):

DON’T GET IT. HARRY STAMPER AND HIS YOUNG PROTEGE A.J. DRILL UNDERWATER AND THE SCIENTIST DOES PAPERWORK. WTF? 2/10

Josie Perte (Austin, Texas): 

Why is the furniture moving? Oh that’s Mark Wahlberg and Orlando Bloom! Ha ha ha ha ha! 3/10

Monica Simons (San Francisco, California):

Nothing really happens. They just lead fairly normal lives. Then occasionally we see an asteroid but it’s too far away to be detected. And then some scientists at NASA say ‘Are there any asteroids heading towards the Earth?’ and another scientist checks like a machine and then he says, ‘No’ and then we’re back to drilling. 2/10  

Armond White (New York):

A work of absolute genius. Only Bay could have the audacity to take such a bold concept and run with it. Eschewing his usual vitality and car chases, and allowing only a tinge of his perfectly weighted homophobia and adolescent misogyny to seep in, Bay takes on the mantle of our generation’s Samuel Beckett. 20/10

Mannie Cloud (Tampa, Florida):

What’s Mark Wahlberg doing in front of the camera? Isn’t he an executive producerer or something?  1/10

VIGGO MORTENSEN BECOMES KING OF NEW ZEALAND

WELLINGTON – Viggo Mortensen arrived in Wellington, New Zealand today to prepare for his coronation as Aragorn, King of New Zealand, which will also be renamed Middle Zealand.

The peaceful transfer of power will be overseen by John Key, the current Prime Minister who is expected to cede power to the mastermind behind the move, Peter Jackson.

Speaking Elfish, Mr. Mortensen said:

I have nothing against Queen Elizabeth II who has been a wonderful figure head for New Zealand, but it is time that the country moved forward to the Third Age.  

Liv Tyler is expected to join Aragorn as Queen Arwen, as ‘I have nothing better to do, and being Queen, I mean that’s like, neat?’ However, she caused some consternation when she referred to a party of welcoming Maoris as Orcs. Jackson was quick to repair the damage, pointing out that what with Dwarves and Elves living in peace with men, this was going to be a multicultural absolute monarchy.

King Aragorn said today:

New Zealand has given a lot to us as film makers. You gave us your union powers, your animals and now you’re going to give us absolute power so we can play out our fantasies at the state’s expense. And I swear, that on my first day in power, anyone less than six foot tall will no longer be allowed to wear shoes.   

Other proposed changes include a banning of all technology, legislation to curb the use of dragons in mining operations and a controversial emigration policy for anyone over sixties who will be forcibly removed to the Grey Havens.