My journey with The Lord of the Rings began when I tried to read The Hobbit when I was around 12-13 years old and found it to be incredibly boring. My memory of it is endless pages of description. I did force myself to the end of it but I definitely recall that I began to skip past all the passages describing the landscape.
I did see all the movies when they came out in the cinema with my family. My overriding memory from that time was that the last one, in particular, was, again, very boring and felt like it would never end! I’d have been 13 for the first movie (2001) and 15 by the last one (2003).
I will say in general High Fantasy is not my thing. I much prefer Science-Fiction, I’d rather look to the fantasy of the future, and the magic of technology or cool shit that could be in space, than fictional historical battles with swords and horses. That’s my personal preference. The only Fantasy I have really loved was A Song of Ice And Fire and that only worked for me because it’s completely character driven.
I am always on the lookout for Fantasy I could love but it seems to be a very tricky thing to find!
My partner however loves Fantasy, especially The Lord of the Rings and was very excited to finally get the Ultra HD Blu-Ray set. We’d made it 3 years into the relationship without my having to watch any LOTR, and it felt like it was time for me to give them another chance for his sake. After all, I did make him watch The Room (which honestly is a far more entertaining experience, in my opinion). I love him very much, so much that I agreed to sacrifice my time for the extended cuts!
It turned out that I actually did enjoy watching The Fellowship of The Ring! Though I was incredulous for how much of that movie Frodo is keeping the ring in a loose top pocket, and how he did not immediately lose it, this movie was good!
It takes its time to introduce everyone but in a way that felt well paced. We spend some time getting to know the characters as individuals – especially the Hobbits and Aragon – so I felt more invested in what was happening. I enjoyed the dynamics of the Fellowship and the struggle of Boromir in particular who was arguably the most complex character in the series. When Gandalf and Boromir died it was moving, and we got to see the other characters grieve.
Fellowship also had Gandalf the Grey who was kind of a moody bitch, and therefore much more entertaining than the calming even-tempered presence of Gandalf the White!
So when we sat down for The Two Towers I was hopeful I’d enjoy it – after all, it had been 20 years since I’d last seen it, my tastes may have changed! Unfortunately no, I was soon reminded why I don’t like these movies!
The Two Towers and Return of the King feel long. So very long.
I do not enjoy watching a lot of action fighting scenes or battle scenes, I find them very boring and my attention will wander off. There are a lot of them in these two movies, especially the last one!
The Fellowship are now scattered, we’re getting new characters introduced with Rohan and Gondor, and the narrative starts to split and be hard to keep track of. There were times we’d not been with Frodo and Sam for so long I’d forgotten all about them! The board becomes so full we don’t spend significant time with anyone, and they become more like pieces being shuffled about than individuals. The pacing felt so much slower to me, and with all the fighting scenes my attention and any emotional investment I had was gone.
The only bits I enjoyed of the latter two movies involved Smeagol/Gollum. I love Gollum. He is the only character that I felt really gets any significant development in the latter 2/3 of the trilogy. He’s heart-breaking and he is hilarious. I loved all his scenes.
So now we know, even 20 years later my opinions haven’t changed. While I can understand why other people love it, and I can appreciate the incredible detail in the world that JRR Tolkien created… I still don’t like LOTR.
It’s not for me!