Many of you may be wondering why I have been so tight-lipped about the latest Lord of the Rings movie. It isn’t that I haven’t seen it yet – I have actually seen it 3 times already. I haven’t really had time to take it all in, though and wanted to think about it for the last couple weeks since its release. Here are some of my thoughts upon reflection:

At first I thought it was better than the first movie. Now I am not so sure. They were different, and I had heard how the second was supposed to me much darker but I don’t think it was. It actually ends with some rather uplifting moments of triumph and a great speech by Sam. It had much more of a sense of closure than the first film and so people without the background of the stories may like it better. It was well-acted and visually stunning – more so than the first. The first film, however, had more of a sense of intimacy with the characters (save for Gollum who I feel deserves a nomination for best supporting actor) than did the second. As I write the last line I am not altogether sure if I buy it myself… I don’t know. The Two Towers is definitely more epic in scale making me fear a letdown of sorts in the third and final film. There are still plenty of trials and tribulations ahead of the fellowship and the world of Middlearth, but my recollection of the books is that they do not, perhaps live up to the battle at Helms Deep and the Last March of the Ents in terms of cinematic glory. The Two Towers has oft been called the favorite of the three by many fans of the series.

Maybe news of a forthcoming Hobbit movie would offset any disappointment next year. Though I believe in Peter Jackson and in his love of the story. I am sure he will do a fine job with the third film. Overall I have loved these first two installments, which have resulted in the best fantasy movies of all time.

Here are some thought by some others:

A much more eloquent review than I will write. [Salon]

J.R.R. Tolkien — enemy of progress. [Salon] You could write an entire essay on the real-world symbolism at the heart of these great fantasies, in fact that may be more or less what is in store for tomorrow’s post.

A review of the Extended Edition DVD that I do not particularly agree but wanted to complete the trilogy of Salon articles links. My thoughts laid out in the post above are based, in part, upon my recent viewing of the extended edition of the Fellowship of the Ring. I feel the extended edition that came out on the 4-disc with over 30 minutes of additional footage is the best version of the film – and it was not just for geeks and Tolkien purists. I feel that many compelling scenes were added back to the film that serve to develop primary characters and give some history for those who not familiar with the books – especially for those who are unfamiliar with the books.

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