It's going to be nearing 20 years since the release of the Lord Of The Rings trilogy. They are timeless movies that still stand the test of time in their own right and are absolutely incredibly made films whether you like fantasy or not. However, how well do they hold up and stay close to the original novels written by J.R.R. Tolkien? The films, for being absolutely incredible, have earned much praise. Peter Jackson did a great job at not only showcasing his vision for the books into movies, but also for the individual characters and actors who played those characters. The scenery, special effects, and general storyline of the films as adapted from the books are done extremely well and as a film trilogy, these still stand as ultimate strong points of things that were done incredibly well.
However, at the same time, the films have received a lot of criticism as well, because there are several things and parts of the film that weren't necessarily in the books, or just parts of the book that were left out all together that left many die-hard fans questioning these decisions. It's reasons like this that keep these films from achieving a perfect 10 because, like most films adapted from books, the film didn't stick to the book completely, and instead added and took out what was necessary for the greater good of the film. We're going to go over 8 things that the films got right, and 7 things the films absolutely failed to properly portray.
If you were to think back and try to remember as much of the movie as possible, the number one thing you would probably remember is all the amazing scenery. The great thing is that a lot of parts of the movie were actually shot on location in New Zealand, and minimal CGI was used as far as environments go. This creates an amazing fantasy setting with a feel of authenticity. The Shire, especially, was done very well. It had taken them literally over a year to grow and get the entire set to look how it does in the films. That's just one example from many of the environments they nailed perfectly throughout the film. If you read the books (and if you haven't, you definitely should) you would definitely agree. From the dungeons, to the vast open plains, Jackson chose the perfect places in the world to shoot the film without dumping tons of money into CGI backgrounds and green screens.
One of the biggest things that disappointed hardcore fans was the absence of the final battle at The Shire. If you remember the end of the third book, you will know that Frodo and the gang return home to find the entire Shire in shambles, and Saruman and his evil servant Wormtongue have overtaken it. Many fans were disappointed that it was excluded, but this may be because the running time of the film was already very long without this scene. However, in the book, Saruman and Wormtongue finally meet their grisly end, unlike in the movies. Unfortunately, in the films this was left out entirely, and the Shire is virtually untouched as the gang returns home, giving us that sense of feeling that there's a cliff-hanging ending that we may never get answers to.
The ring, the forefront of the entire trilogy, is the thing the entire series is ultimately based around. One thing that Peter Jackson did an incredible job crafting was the ring. From the shimmering gold, to the Elven writing, and the ability to make its user invisible and sending them into the other realm to where they can see spirits. Jackson was really able to put a lot of emphasis on the idea of the ring and was really able to give us a great visual exploration of how the ring really works, and he really made it come to life. The first time we see the ring on screen, as Bilbo puts it on to avoid his birthday party in the first movie, it made quite an impression on the viewers.
This goes hand in hand with the above listing. In the books, Saruman meets his demise in the very end of the third book, ending his chapter once and for all. In the film, however, the audience is left with an open ending regarding what happened to Saruman. In fact, many fans who never read the books and only saw the films believe that he ended up dying somehow, and that there was no reason to show him anymore. It's odd, too, because just about every other character gets an "ending," so to speak. The audience is left to believe, however, that Saruman ended up perishing in the Ent attack on his tower. Even though this is an inconsistency in the story, it at least allows Jackson to exclude the attack on The Shire. The only issue is that this diverges from the books.
Saruman is the evil, vile white wizard who turns corrupt, otherwise known as Gandalf's counterpart. While it is always difficult to perfectly portray a character from a book on screen, Jackson did a great job with Saruman. Everything was perfect: from the actor who played him, to the costume, and ultimately the battle him and Gandalf have later on in the trilogy. He becomes so much more than a fallen wizard, but rather, an important antagonist to the entire trilogy, as he manufactures his entire army of orcs and Urukai. One thing that sticks out was his tower. Every scene that featured Saruman's tower was incredibly memorable and impressive.
The thing with Merry & Pippin is that they're depicted differently than what a lot of fans of the book would have liked to see. In the books, they demand that they come on the journey, and even though Elrond is strongly against them coming, Gandalf ultimately insists they should be allowed to come along for the journey. In the movies, though, they are depicted as warriors who accidentally end up joining the fellowship with no real rhyme or reason. Furthermore, Merry's main contribution to the story had been entirely overlooked. In the film, you see him plunging his dagger into the side of the Wraith, after which he ends up getting killed by Eowyn, and receives no credit at all.
Gollum is hands down one of the most iconic figures in the entire movie. I mean, his famous line, "my precious," is something that's become an integral part of pop culture, and for good reason! One thing a lot of people were worried about before they got a chance to see the film was the way the film would handle Gollum, who is a central character in the novels. You have to admit that the actor and the CGI work mind-blowing. The performance was extremely forceful and nuanced. Our first introduction to the character in the movie is so eerie and represents the novel very well. Later on, when we see Bilbo meet Gollum in The Hobbit movie, we can see that the character was made even better.
This entry is one of the biggest changes from the book to the films. There are many poems and songs that appear throughout the book which, for whatever reason, don't show up in the film adaptions. Of course, there are but a few songs which Jackson utilized in the film trilogy, such as the folk tune that Thorin Oakenshield hums. However, many of the tunes in the book that are written are not included in the films. For those that haven't read the books, there are places where you can actually view the entire list of songs and poems that are included in the book, and you would be surprised by how many of them you never actually see. In fact, there are so many that there could even be a Lord of The Rings musical!
Some of the best things about the entire movie trilogy are all the epic battles that take place. See, the thing about the books is that you're not able to get a full visual on all the stuff that goes on in the battle field. It is difficult to show the thousands of elves or orcs clashing with their enemies and the gruesome battles that take place. Also, just about every battle sequence is done perfectly, from the mines in the first movie, to the epic huge battle in the last movie, and everything else in between. Jackson really did his job and made the action shine. I think the battle sequences are among the golden parts of this movie trilogy, and they actually outdo what the books do. It gives you a wonderful visual on the parts of the movie that need a visual the most: war sequences!
Now, for those of you that don't know, Tom Bombadil wasn't an integral part of the overall plot and story, but he is definitely an interesting character that many fans were saddened to see Jackson leave out. Jackson, of course, sped up the beginning of the first film to get things going, and get the gang out of the Shire to form the fellowship, while the book elaborates much more on this. If he would have been cast and included in the story, it really would have created a much needed air of mystery and levity before all the trouble starts for our heroes. Introducing him would have ultimately changed up the storyline, as well. Of course, anyone who has read the novels would know exactly how he interacts and sets the tone for the story.
Honestly, one of the more terrifying parts of the film is the All-Seeing Eye. Now, even though this eye is only rarely shown on screen, Peter Jackson absolutely made it terrifying. From seeing it in the Orb to the scenes in which the characters are trying to climb their way up to Mordor, it is all well done. It's more than just the special effects; it's the way the movie handles the concept of the All-Seeing Eye. Peter Jackson went above and beyond to really make this part of the trilogy creepy, and he did a good job showing you the evil that lives and sees through this eye.
It's always interesting when they take books and turn them into films, just because of the changes they make to specific characters, and not just by casting certain actors, costumes, etc. Sometimes, filmmakers change around events and change certain things about the characters. For example, many complain that in the movies, Eowyn's character is too oversimplified. In the books, Aragorn represents the entire antithesis of her dying uncle, considering he is the epitome of strength and progression. He's practically the king she wished her uncle to always be, and she looks up to Aragorn. Unfortunately, we don't get that in the film, and much of her growth and development is actually cut short for other things. Obviously there's not enough screen time to depict every little thing that's in the book, but it's sad, considering Eowyn is such a strong character.
This goes hand and in with the scenery, but because this was done so well, it really deserved its own place on this list. In the last movie, many of the elements really shine. The view of the characters climbing up the mountain and the fiery sky is absolutely terrifying and dreadful. Sam and Frodo's entire journey up to this point isn't as edge-of-your-seat as what's shown in the last film, because at that point, they're at the very end. It is in the last film that the scenery, imagery, and atmosphere were an astonishing rendition of what was written in the original books. It just really brought the entire thing to life. The last film in itself is worth rewatching just to see the journey through and up the mountain.
One thing I'm sure many fans are happy about is the strong bond between Frodo & Sam, and this was taken straight from the novels. One of the best things Jackson did was cast the right actors for these parts, and the two actors playing Sam and Frodo have an incredible chemistry on screen that really brings their friendship to life. From the very beginning of their journey as they leave the safety and comfort of The Shire, to the very end of their journey in which they throw the ring in the pit of fire, it's all incredible. Seeing these two come to life and traverse the world that J.R.R. Tolkien created was a delight to behold.
Aragorn, being one of the very main characters in the film, is a person many would have hoped for Jackson to keep right up to the standards of the book. This isn't the case, however. In the books, he's your typical hero and leader in every sense of the word. He always takes on his challenges, no matter how large or frightening. In the films, this isn't so much the case. He questions his identity much more, and for whatever reason, always seems to have one foot out the door. He even goes a little more rogue in the films when he beheads the messenger at the Black Gate. Ultimately, he breaks his moral code and goes against the grain of what his character was in the books.