Flooding of Isengard

It seems a good way to continue reading Lord of the Rings with your sanity intact is to every now and again, put it down and try to forget about it. This I recently did and yesterday recommenced the story at what I must describe as ‘quite a cool part’.

It was the flooding of Isengard where I returned, a saga which spawned 2 chapters and recall the vents where Gandalf and his company return to Isengard to converse with the evil wizard Saruman, only to find him imprisoned in his tower with the area surrounding flooded by Ents.

I particularly enjoyed these two chapters. The events of the battle are told from the perspective of Merry and Pippin in the first of the two chapters; ‘Flotsam and Jetsam’. This certainly worked well for me as I felt that other battle sequences written from the 3rd person perspective seemed to focus too much on the very minor details rather than the whole picture of the battle (especially the Helms Deep scene). The second chapter; ‘The voice of Saruman’ is where we finally meet the so-much discussed White Wizard. Throughout the book, and indeed the Fellowship of the Ring, we have heard much about the character and exploits of this guy, made all the more mysterious by the fact that we have never seen him until this point. When you do meet you really feel how powerful he is and how is presence resonates and affects those around, even the reader. It is here that you realise that Gandalf, who seems mighty and has returned from the dead, is nothing compared to this guy.

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Of course my view was shaped slightly by the film. In Peter Jackson’s film trilogy the actual flooding bit was in the Two Towers movie however the encounter with Saruman was only available to those with the extended cut of the Return of the king.

The flooding bit was certainly excellent, a chance for Jackson to show off some of his CGI creations hurling rocks at a dam (much more epic than I make it sound). However the encounter with Saruman was a let-down after reading the book. Here Jackson thought it appropriate not to have Saruman to be standing on a first floor balcony but instead on top of a sixty floor building. And he’s not shouting and  his voice inst magnified, how the hell can they even hear each other? I remember when I first watched that thinking ‘I bet somebody is gonna’ fall off that tower’.

Oh I love being right. Jackson had moved Saruman’s death which takes place in the Shire in the book to this point and had Saruman falling of the building. Yep, I’m definitely with Tolkein on this one.

Saruman with the Stone of Orthanc

The Battle of Helmsdeep

McKayla2towersIt’s been an everlasting conundrum for me as I cannot seem to work out whether I prefer the book or film versions of the Lord of the Rings. The film is more concise and the action scenes are better (well of course, you can see them) however the book gives you all the background description to the ways and creatures of middle earth which I think is masked in the film version by the landscape shots.

However a specific scene I am certain about is the Battle of Helmsdeep. The film version is way better, no competition. All that really happened in the book was that Aragron, Legolas and Éomer ran around getting incredibly tried and always looking out of windows at the massive army but not doing much about it. During this Legolas seems to spend pages in deciding where to shoot his last arrow and Aragorn and Éomer get so tired they need to use their swords as leaning post instead of going somewhere and fighting with them.

The battle was very very modified into the film version and considering it’s the best bit of the film, I don’t think anyone can moan. The best thing about the film was that we got to see some tactics. The elven warriors (not in the book but who cares) firing a folly of arrows at the orcs, the Uruk-hai using ladders to scale the ramparts and the last warriors charging out the meet the remainder of the enemy. Gandalf’s role was also changed so that it was more clear that he was the pivotal pillar (oh that is very good) to the Rohans winning the battle.

Definitely the film version, definitely. DEFO!!!

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The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey

‘The Hobbit An Unexpected Journey’ a film that I have been told on many occasions to be the most anticipated picture of 2012. Yesterday I went to see this film and I feel that it is always nice to do a little light-hearted review of a film you have recently seen.

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The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey is the beginning of a trilogy of films which focuses on Bilbo Baggins, a young hobbit who sets off on a mission with a band of dwarves. The film, which was directed by Peter Jackson, is a prequel to the Lord of the Rings film trilogy from the same director and features many of the same cast. Being a fan of these films myself it was very easy to get into the spirit of the film however the Hobbit acts as a completely different story told in a completely different way. In fact somehow whilst watching it I was both always and never thinking about the Lord of the Rings.

The Hobbit: An Unexpected JourneyBefore watching the film I, like many others, was wondering how on earth Jackson had managed to stretch one 280 page book into three motion pictures. I was pretty shocked to hear that the nearly three-hour long film only covered 6 chapters of Tolkien’s original book. However you forget all your criticisms when you are watching it. The film never ceases to be amazing, truly bringing Tolkien’s work to life. The film also contains many scenes (and many villains) that weren’t featured in the books however fit in perfectly with the world of Middle Earth.

The start of the film is spoken from the view of an elderly Bilbo (played by the returning Ian Holm). He tells the tale of the dwarf Thorin Oakenshield and the capture of the lonely mountain by the dragon Smaug (epically played by Benedict Cumberbatch). This part then seamlessly returns to a point only about an hour before the Lord of the Rings starts, with Frodo Baggins running off the meet Gandalf. If I hadn’t known otherwise I would have thought these scenes were filmed simultaneously.

The Hobbit: An Unexpected JourneyPerhaps my favourite scene featured the return of three “Lord of the Ring-ers”. These were Galadriel, played by Cate Blanchett, Saruman, played by Christopher Lee and Elrond, played by Hugo Weaving. These three along with the good old Gandalf come together in the White Council where they sit around and talk about stuff. Christopher Lee especially gave a great performance (especially considering his roles for all three films were filmed in four days). Lee managed to combine the character of the kindly wise-old wizard with a darker backbone of the traitor which is to come in the Lord of the Rings.

However in every film there are a few minor moans to be had. Some of the battle scenes seemed to never end (yes that worked well in LOTR however Jackson should remember that the Hobbit is a children’s tale). Another thing; though pleased at the sight of Sylvester McCoy playing Radagast the Brown, I wasn’t completely sure that some of his scenes were completely necessary (take the part when he is running round frantically trying to save a dying hedgehog while giant spiders knock on his windows).

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After hearing about the release of The Hobbit; An Unexpected Journey, I decided to read the Hobbit (novel).

The Hobbit is set in the land of Middle Earth and focuses on a young hobbit called Bilbo Baggins. Bilbo Baggins is a respectable young hobbit who would never dream in getting mixed up in anything unusual until one day he meets the mysterious Gandalf and a troupe of thirteen dwarfs.

Unwillingly, Bilbo sets of with Gandalf and the Dwarfs, in search of the dragon Smaug, to regain treasure he stole from the leader of the dwarves; Thorin Oakenshield.

The Hobbit for me was a truly excellent read, I literally couldn’t put it down! I am now moving on to reading the Lord of the Rings books and I hope I have as much luck with them.

The film of course is being made by Peter Jackson, the acclaimed director of the Lord of the Rings trilogy. The film also stars Sherlock actor; Martin Freeman as Bilbo. That’s something to look forward too.

The Lord of the Rings trilogy

I may confess that I spend too much time watching films over and over again, and rarely straying out from a select few. However recently I have engaged myself with the award winning, Lord of the Rings trilogy.

The stories are set on the mystical land of Middle-Earth, a place ruled by the evil tyrant Sauron.

The stories mainly focus on young Frodo Baggins, a hobbit who is on a quest to destroy the one ring; the source of Sauron’s power and therefore rid Middle-Earth of Sauron forever.

Along the way he meets loads of people such as Gandalf the Grey (played by Ian McKellen) and the evil creature Gollum (voiced by Andy Serkis).

I would whole-heartedly recommend these films to anybody in need of something to watch, as I have really enjoyed them.

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