Pandragon Dan

Pandragon Dan

Author/Reviewer/Blogger

The Lord of the Rings (1978) Underrated Classic or Critical Disaster?

 

As you probably know from reading my past blogs, Peter Jackson’s The Lord of the Rings is my favourite film trilogy of all time – and one of the most faithful adaptations of any book in my opinion. I actually also didn’t mind The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey either. Despite the fact that people have complained that it was too long and added too much to the story – I never had a problem with the length and felt that the stuff added to it was pretty decent. I mean, after all, it is still from Tolkien’s Legendarium, so it’s not like they made it up from thin air.

 

Indeed, The Lord of the Rings, was the major inspiration for my Draconica novels so I owe a lot to it. The films are widely considered to be classics of their time and are still talked about today. I honestly think that these films will stand the test of time as some of the best films ever made.

 

But what some of you may not know is that this is NOT the first attempt to bring The Lord of the Rings to the big screen. In 1978, Ralph Bakshi (a well renowed director of animated films – his most famous being Fritz the Cat and Cool World amongst others) took it upon himself to bring The Lord of the Rings to the big screen. Unfortunately, whilst it does have a cult following, it is generally considered to be a disappointment.

 

 

I do actually remember seeing this film when I was a kid – but can barely remember anything about it. So, on a trip to HMV (before they went into administration) I used some vouchers I won at work to purchase a boxed set of The Lord of the Rings trilogy and saw that the 1978 film was on special offer. So I brought it and watched it. And I have to say I was very disappointed with what I saw.

 

The movie uses a combination of animation and rotoscoping (basically, tracing over live footage with cell animation) to create a rather unique look for the time. I’ll get more into the animation later but I just want to cover the story first.

 

The film basically covers the first two books, starting with Bilbo’s party and ending with the battle of Helm’s Deep. However, being a two hour film, the story is heavily condensed and cuts out a large chunk of dialogue. Unfortunately, this makes the story feel rushed and doesn’t really give it any time to breathe or develop in my opinion. Unless you know the story of the book, you won’t understand what’s going on. Adding to the fact that the voice acting is sub-par to say the least (and considering it has heavy hitters like John Hurt and Anthony Daniels in the voice cast, that’s a disappointment) and the actors don’t really have much in the way of emotion to their delivery. It’s more a case of they’re reading their lines – and that’s it. Shame really.

 

You may think that because this is a condensed version then it’s a quick film, right? Wrong. Despite being a shortened version of the first two books, the pace is just sluggish, especially during the battle scenes, which feel drawn out and dull – with most of the footage being soldiers standing still or marching as opposed to actually fighting. Not only that, but usually they’re shot in the dark, or (in the case of the battle of Helm’s Deep) shot with a horrible red and blue lighting effect that makes it hard to see what’s going on. Whereas the battle scenes in the Peter Jackson films are epic and full of exciting action, the fight scenes in this film are just, well... boring. I fell asleep during the Battle of Helm’s Deep – which was supposed to be the exciting climax of this film.

 

Now, onto the animation. I said at the beginning of this review that this was kind of a new thing at the time and I did say that it gave it a unique look to it. But, I will have to put my hands up to this. Unique or not, the animation is, quite frankly, dreadful. Some may go with the whole “Well, for the time they were quite restricted with what they could do” speech and, yes, I will agree that the animation they had back then was fairly primitive compared to what we have now. But if you consider the Looney Tunes cartoons (which came out several decades BEFORE this film) had fluid animation and fast pacing, then you can’t really consider that an excuse. But I’m getting ahead of myself.

 

The animation in this film is just jerky and stiff. The movements don’t flow very well and the character designs are just ugly to look at. Gandalf looks ok, as does Aragorn and maybe Sauraman (named Auraman in this film for whatever reason), but the Hobbits just look overly chunky and, in some cases, highly camp and effeminate. Boromir looks like a Viking for some bizarre reason, Gimli looks like an outcast from Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, and the orcs just look laughable – they look more like children in a Halloween party. The only characters that actually do look pretty cool are the Ringwraiths. The jerky animation actually helps add to the creepiness of their characters and they do actually look a lot more terrifying than the ones in Peter Jackson’s films. But otherwise, it’s just painful and tiring to watch.

 

As a film, it received mixed reaction, but generally most considered it a failure. As such, it never had a sequel and so was never finished. It’s a shame because this COULD have been a great movie – but for me, the overall movie just feels rushed with little time and attention put on it. Not only that, it’s just dull to watch and puts you to sleep – not a good sign.

 

However, I will say this for it, it did inspire Peter Jackson to attempt to make his own Lord of the Rings film (even shooting some scenes exactly like in the Bakshi film as a tribute). But in my eyes, what Bakshi did wrong, Jackson did right.

 

I’d like to say that Bakshi’s The Lord of the Rings is an underrated classic, but I’m afraid that, on this occasion, I can’t really recommend this film. If you’re a hardcore fan of Tolkien, then you may want to check this out for nostalgia purposes – or maybe as film study to compare this with the present day films. But otherwise, I’d give this one a miss, it is definitely NOT the one film to rule them all!

 

 

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PANDRAGON

 

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Top Five Crossovers/Fan Fictions I'd Love to Read

Hey guys. Sorry for the blog going up a day late. Due to the recent problems in Denver, I decided to hold back this blog for one day. My heart and prayers go out to the families of those affected during this difficult time.

 

But now, as promised, I bring another Top Five for my blog. This one is slightly different than the others and actually more an experiment. Hope it works. It if doesn't - well, I'm sure you guys will let me know.

 

Crossover stories have interested me in some way - when two of our favourite stories or characters come together for the joy of all fans of that series. Ever since the old days of King Kong Versus Godzilla, there have been a lot of speculations and “what ifs” about different characters and stories coming together to create some kind of super story that shakes the very foundations of fandom and creates all manner of arguments. Crossover stories are quite popular (especially in the world of comics) and in fan fiction – which is littered with tons of crossover stories. Some make sense (like, for example, Spider-Man Versus Batman) but others are just plain weird. For example, I once read a fan-fiction that was a crossover between the Manga Dragonball Z – and The Diary of Anne Frank. How the hell did THAT idea ever come about?

 

Now, for me personally, I don’t always think crossovers are a good idea – most of the time it’s done purely for fanservice and often is wrought with plot holes and inconsistencies (don’t get me started on the DREADFUL Alien Versus Predator films! Yeah, I know those films have their fans and that's fair enough - but I personally don't like them). However, on occasion, I think that there are some crossovers that SHOULD be made – just for fun if anything else. I like the idea of two completely stories crossing over with each other and seeing how the two worlds would react once they meet.

 

Therefore, today’s Top Five is the Top Five Crossover/Fan Fictions I’d LOVE to read!

 

 

DISCLAIMER!

 

All works included here are copyright of their respective owners. I claim NO ownership in mentioning and of these and purely use them for parody purposes. Please support the official releases.

 

Also, I haven’t actually researched any of these ideas yet – so there is every chance some of the ideas mention could ALREADY exist. If you are a writer of parody/fanfic/etc and one of your ideas is here – I apologise and no ill will is meant. Please contact me if I have listed one of your ideas here.

 

Also, as this is a bit of fun, I’m sure some of my ideas may upset hardcore fans of the series mentioned. Please don’t take this seriously; it’s just a bit of fun!

 

Ok, now I got that out the way, let’s look at the Top Five Crossover/Fan Fictions I’d love to read.

 

 

1. Harry Potter and the Call of Cthullu

 

Mix of: Harry Potter and the Cthullu mythos.

 

The Story: Sort of a reboot of the franchise. Harry Potter thought he lived a normal life until he discovers he comes from a long line of wizards. He attends Hogwarts school and starts to learn magic.

 

Being crap at it, he visits the local library to try and learn some more powerful spells – discovering a hidden copy of the Necronomicon. Foolishly casting a wrong spell, Harry awakens the mighty Cthullu from his sleep. Now the Great Old One and his legion of Deep One followers begin their insane quest for dominance to enslave mankind for forty years of darkness.

 

It’s up to Harry and his friends to try and stop him – but Harry soon learns the dark secret of his family.

 

Why it would be awesome: In true Lovecraftian fashion, Harry could discover that his parents were actually Cthullu cultists and that when Harry was born, Cthullu planted his seed into Harry, which is why he was able to free him (or something convoluted like that). Even though Harry could defeat Cthullu, the memory of this causes him to go insane (as is the fate of any protagonist in a Lovecraftian story), forever crippled by this dark knowledge.

 

This could be a great chance to show how dark Harry Potter can REALLY be! Speaking as someone who isn't a fan of the Harry Potter books, I still can appredicate the dark undertones within it. And if you mix it with arguably the greatest horror writer of all time (in my opinion), then you got some potentional for some really messed up material.

 

 

2. Lord of the Thrones

 

Mix off: Lord of the Rings and Game of Thrones

 

The Story: Many years ago, the Dark Lord Sauron forged a master ring so that he could take over the world of Westeros. Many of the Houses fell to him, including Lannister and Targaryen and swore to be his servants. But an alliance of Starks and Baratheons joined forces and helped destroy the Dark Lord Sauron. But the ring was lost.

 

Years later, Daenarys Stormborn (last of the Targaryen dynasty) has come across the one ring and gathers her Dothraki armies to assault Westeros. The Nazghul attack from the North, trying to break through the Wall, guarded by the Nights Watch. And the Starks are facing enemies from the Lannisters, who plan to take over the throne and prepare for the coming of the Dark Lord.

 

Our only hope lays in the hands of Tyrion Lannister, a quick witted dwarf that is hated by his family. He alone can save the world of Westeros and destroy the Dark Lord – or not. Because, for there are plenty of twists and turns along the way.

 

Why it would be awesome: It would just be exactly like the original Lord of the Rings – except with more violence, nudity and incest – which was heavily lacking in LOTR in my mind.

 

Actually, in all seriousness, I doubt this crossover will ever happen (officially anyway). George R R Martin has always stated his hatred of fan fiction and refuses to give permission to his characters to be used. So, in essence, I just broke that rule! (Sorry GRRM, if you’re reading this, I think you’re awesome!) So I guess this is one idea that will never happen. Never mind. Let's move on.

 

 

3. Twilight and Prejudice

 

Mix off: Twilight and Pride and Prejudice

 

The Story: (Note: I haven’t actually read Pride and Prejudice so I don’t really know what the story is. I apologise if I offend any Austen experts with this one).

 

Elizabeth is an attractive, witty, but rather judgemental young woman in a old fashioned British family. Then one day, a rich young man by the name of Edward Cullen moves into the nearby estate. A somewhat shy, reclusive young man, Elizabeth none the less falls for him. One problem, he just happens to be a vampire!

 

And so the two engage on a slow moving affair, where Edward teaches her about life as a vampire. Soon, their love grows so much that Elizabeth asks to BE a vampire as well. But Edward will not allow that. Can they possibly fight through all obstacles to prove their love? (I’ll give you a hint – yes!)

 

Why it would be awesome: This could be a powerful and moving story that mixes in the wit and irony of Jane Austen with... er, a vampire that sparkles in the daylight? Ok, so as you can probably guess I'm not exactly what you call a Twilight affectionardo – but I think if there ever was a perfect match of two different genres, why not this one? And hell, they once did a Pride and Prejudice with zombies – why not vampires?

 

Hopefully it won't suck (ooohhhh, bad puns FTW!)

 

 

4. The Hunger Wars

 

Mix off: The Hunger Games and Star Wars.

 

The Story: A long time ago, but still set in the future (don't ask me how), the Evil Galactic Empire have finally managed to subdue the Rebel Alliance after so long fighting. Their leader, Darth Vader, has declared that once a year, a boy and a girl must take part in the Hunger Wars, fighting it out to the death.

 

Enter Katniss Everdeen, one of the participants. Unbeknownst to the other participants (and even the Empire), Katniss is the last of the Jedi – who were supposedly wiped out during the rebellion. Katniss must now use her Jedi powers to fight off all contenders and face Darth Vader in combat. Cue plenty of over the top action and some mature violence! Oh, and plenty of people shouting "nnnnnnnooooooooooo!"

 

Why it would be awesome: Even though I still haven’t read The Hunger Games, I have seen a little bit of the film - and from what I saw I liked it. Katniss is a pretty kick ass heroine - so why not make her MORE kick ass by making her a Jedi? Because it is my belief you make a character a million times more badass when you make them either a Ninja or a Jedi.

 

Maybe there could even be a scene where Katniss puts an arrow through Jar-Jar Binks head – finally freeing us of the torture of that character! Hell, I’d read it just for that one scene!

 

 

NOTE: This next entry may contain some adult themes that might be unsuitable for younger readers. Just saying! Also this next one is probably the WIERDEST of the entry - but just hear me out.

 

5. 50 Shades of Greyskull

 

Mix off: 50 Shades of Grey and She-Ra: Princess of Power.

 

The Story: Frustrated by his inability to defeat She-Ra and the rebellion, Hordak plans a final plot to finally defeat his enemy. Having learned to transform himself into various machinery over the years, Hordak learns to turn his arm into (ahem) a rabbit – those who watch Sex in the City will know that I am not referring to a cuddly animal. With this, She-Ra is finally at his mercy. Or so it seems.

 

Not to be outdone, She-Ra learns to turn her sword into a whip to fight him off. And so the two former enemies begin a quest of discovery, involving plenty of interesting “toys” and... well you get the idea!

 

Meanwhile, He-Man comes to his sisters aid – only to discover that she actually doesn’t WANT any help... The story gets a little blue here so I'll stop.

 

Why it would be awesome: It’s a 50 Shades of Grey parody – with She-Ra! Do I even need to go on?

 

Ok, so this last one may upset a few She-Ran fans, but I HAD to get a 50 Shades crossover in there somehow, given that this is the ONLY book I seem to be hearing about at the moment. And seeing as She-Ra was the first fictional character I ever had a crush on, it kinda makes sense. Plus, I think it would give a whole new meaning to the term “Princess of Power!”

 

Yeah, so maybe this idea is a little perverted (what, from little innocent old me?) but seeing as 50 Shades of Grey is officially now THE bestselling book of all time (beating even Twilight and Harry Potter), I don’t think I can be judged too harshly. I hope.

 

Trivia: Did you know that 50 Shades apparently started off as Twilight fan fiction?

 

Anyway, those are my choices for the Top Five Crossovers, some strange, some obscure, but all I think worthy ideas. Did this experiment work? Please feel free to leave your comments below.

 

Right, now I'm going to sit down and write my soon-to-be-bestselling masterpiece: 50 Twilights of Harry Potter and the Hunger Game of Thrones. With a title like that I just can't lose!

 

Until next time. Have a great weekend folks!

 

 

Regards

Pandragon

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