The Lord of the Rings (1978) (part 10 of 11)
Now it’s back to Alvin and Sam. They’ve made it to a mountainous area and are climbing down a rope. “Thank goodness for that rope the elves gave you!” Alvin exposits. Groan. Naturally, Sam falls down the last bit, because, you know, it’s funny. And even though they use the rope later on, we don’t actually see them retrieve it here. Continuity is for nerds! Sam points out Mount Doom in the distance, and asks Alvin if he sees it. Kinda hard to miss there, Sam.
They walk on for a bit, and we see Gollum is following them and muttering stupidly to himself about his “precious”, AKA the Tap Washer. Sam realises they’re being followed, but Alvin already knows this, and tells him not to look around. They duck around a corner and lie in wait to ambush Gollum, but Sam is too dumb to stick to the plan and keeps wandering out into the open. Talk about a liability. If I were Alvin, I’d tie this doofus to a rock and carry on my merry way. But then again, I’m not in love with him.
So, here’s the moment where we finally get our first good look at Gollum, and it definitely was… not worth the wait. He looks like a skinny, wrinkled old hairless monkey, but even more than that, he looks like a brown Grinch. When one of your movie’s (supposedly) scariest characters looks like something out of Dr. Seuss, you know you’re in trouble. The Gollum of Peter Jackson’s LOTR was one of the best movie characters ever, and this version is easily one of the worst. So there’s further proof of which adaptation is superior, just in case you were still unsure.
Sam tackles the Grinch from behind, and they end up wrestling on the ground in a manner that’s more than slightly disturbing. Alvin arrives to break it up, and the Grinch surrenders when he feels Alvin’s short sword at his throat.
The Grinch slimily begs for mercy. Sam doesn’t trust him, but Alvin says he feels sorry for him. And who wouldn’t, after what the animators did to him? Alvin demands that the Grinch help them get to Mordor, and the creature immediately makes a break for it. There’s a guy who clearly understands the aggravation of travelling with these losers.
Sam catches up with him, and there’s yet more man-wrestling. Did Ralph Bakshi have some sort of fetish? Don’t answer that. Sam takes the rope they supposedly left hanging on the mountain, and ties it around the Grinch’s ankle.
Somehow, this makes the Grinch throw a major hissy fit. He rolls around on the ground, screaming “It burns, it burns!” At last, someone sums up what it’s like to watch this movie. “It freezes us, it bites us!” he adds. Yep, I’m right there with you, pal. Alvin wants to let Gollum go, but forces him to promise to help them first.
Now comes the Epic Battle between the orcs and the Riders of Rohan. Actually, I stand corrected. It’s really an Epic Staring Contest. They stand facing each other in two lines, and do nothing for an eternity. Finally, one Rider shoots and kills an orc, and the other orcs respond by cheering. No, I’m not kidding. Maybe the Rider unwittingly killed the Gomer Pyle of their ranks. A couple of them shoot back, but the leader tells them to stop, saying they can’t afford to “waste arrows”. What? It’s a freaking battle! What else do they need the arrows for?
One thing you might notice in this scene is that half the characters aren’t even animated. They’re just static pictures, frozen in place, making it look like the actual animated characters are wandering between ranks of cardboard cut-outs. Yep, this is where the budget really started to run out.
The staring competition goes on for so long we actually have time to wander off and find out what the Idiot Cousins are up to. Being shouted at, as it so happens, by the orcs. They argue for a bit, and then we abruptly cut to Legolas, Herman and Gimli.
Herman and Gimli are asleep, but Legolas is staring at the sky. Herman wakes up and goes over to ask what’s on his mind, and Legolas says, “They are far. Far away” [?] Then we cut back to the staring contest. Wow, that was enlightening.
There’s a quick shot of the Idiot Cousins’ guards running off to help with the staring contest. Once they’re gone, the Cousins get abused by a stray orc, who wants them for… something. I think he wants to take them to Sore-on rather than Aruman (at least, that’s what I’m hoping he wants), but it’s not made all that clear.
One Cousin cockily pretends he’s got the Tap Washer, slipping the words “precious” and “Gollum” into his speech. Okay, where did he find out about that? The orc gets pissy with them for not handing it over, and lifts his weapon to kill them. But he conveniently gets shot by an arrow fired by a Rider, and even more conveniently, the orc dies instantly, unlike Boromir. Accordingly, the Idiot Cousins use this opportunity to escape.
Now it’s back to the staring contest. A Rider rushes into the orcish ranks and kills some of them. Strangely, they don’t do anything to stop him, which would probably be difficult anyway, since most of them aren’t animated. Finally, finally, the two groups actually start fighting. But there’s not much to describe here, unfortunately. Just picture lots of tinted people rushing about killing other tinted people, and colour the whole thing in various shades of muddy brown and puke green, and you’ve got the general idea.
Meanwhile, the Idiot Cousins are wandering through the forest, one whining about the lack of creature comforts, and the other whining about how it’s the other Cousin’s fault they’re lost. Why doesn’t anybody in this movie ever do anything besides whine or argue?
They troop on their way, noting that they’re in Fangorn Forest. Another cool name! They decide to climb a hill to see where they’re going, and then they just stand around talking about how much they like the forest. A deep, booming voice from the treetops remarks that it’s nice of them to say so, causing them to nearly wet their pants. Wusses.
Instantly, we cut to them being carried along by Treebeard the Ent. In the books, Ents are walking giant tree-things that talk ponderously. This thing, however, looks like an overgrown turnip with broccoli stuck on his head, and he even spits leaves as he talks. That’s funny. The other races don’t spit hair when they talk.
Treebeard is friendly, though, and the Idiot Cousins tell him their story. Treebeard rumbles something incomprehensible, then introduces himself. One Cousin remarks that they thought he was a tree before he spoke to them. Oh, come on. If this… thing looks anything like an actual tree, I’m a hamster.
The Cousins want to know whose side he’s on, and he says no-one’s side. Makes sense. All the “sides” we’ve seen so far have been packed with idiots and wankers, and who wants any part of that? But Treebeard says he’s not on the side of the orcs, so the Cousins applaud him [?!]. Then Treebeard walks off, carrying the Idiot Cousins out of the movie for good. We never see them again.