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Lord Of The Rings (1978)

What? Didn't know there was an animated feature of "Rings" made in the '70s? What kind of internet geek who reads this far into worthless movie diatribe are you? Oh, I know, the kind that wants to know the fabulous "101 Reasons Why This Movie Sucks Dead Moose Balls"!

I don't know why I care enough about this movie to list it with 101 bulletpoints. Maybe I have such a deep love for the source material that I have to offset this fantasy film travesty with an addequete amount of ranting rhetoric. Maybe now that the Star Wars prequels have come and gone, there's a lack of complaint for "raping my childhood", since I grew up with this movie amongst others. Maybe certain friends of mine have gotten me caring more about how movies are made. Anyway, whatever the truth, I submit to you the truth about said movie. Enjoy . . .

Be warned: I write these "101 Reasons" with the same respect-of-treatment that the studio and Bakshi gave their so-called movie. This means there is no serious proofreading, no coherent editing, and nothing as simple to use as a spellchecker. Hell, like Bakshi, I didn’t even bother to check my Tolkien references to make sure I knew what I was talking about. So now, on to the 101 Reasons Why Bakshi's LOTR Sucks Dead Moose Balls! Enjoy!

1) Treebeard is depicted as a naked, undead Yosemite Sam with two stalks of celery stuck in his head.

2) Boromir gave up his noble heritage to be a skirt-wearing viking.

3) For all the apparent strength Boromir gained from his career choice, he still let a group of Orcs kill him in a world where they’re such pussies that a larger group cowered when Aragorn just shouted at them.

4) Aragorn, the Native American, seems to be in competition with Boromir for both career choices that make less money (at least vikings take treasure), but also sheer and utter stupidity. I mean, okay, Boromir ignored the advise of a council of the wisest people from every land, but if Aragorn can make armies of Orcs quiver in fear by just a roarin’ at ‘em, why didn’t he just go around roaring (not unlike the balrog) for the rest of the movie, since all everybody fought were, um, Orcs?

5) The balrog has wings, flies, but dies by falling into a pit. Perhaps his fuzzy slippers were just too damn waterlogged and weighed him down.

6) Sam, the bad-toothed inbred son of an Eskimo and Bill Gates, hears Frodo’s heartfelt conviction about barely succeeding in the quest, and is so concerned he stands up and starts whistling, as if to say "Fuck you then, I ain’t goin’ there!"

7) Gandalf really ought to have a real beard as opposed to, say, a solidified torrent of white snot, which seems to have indeed fallen right out of his nostrils.

8) Barliman Butterbur is jealous of Aragorn’s bad career choice, so with his limited hick wisdom is trying to outdo him, mostly by complaining that travelers brought magic to his inn and not realizing its marketing potential, or that bearers of such wondrous treasures probably have more gold amongst them than all his other customers combined, but he berates them anyway. This notwithstanding that anyone carrying around such powerful magic could and would probably just kick his ass for acting like such a jerk anyway.

9) The crowd at the Prancing Pony went through wardrobe, went through makeup, went through catering, but forgot to go through rotoscope-animation. Perhaps they picked up too much ale at catering and forgot.

10) Sam likes to hide in bushes along rivers, probably doing some good pipe-weed, since Gandalf apparently smelled it and yanked him out of the shrubs at once "You little bastard! I don’t even get to smoke in this movie. Since you’re holding out, I’m sending you off to certain doom with Frodo for no other discernible reason. And when the hell did I even mention the Elves, anyway?" Perhaps that pipe-weed gives him the gift of prophecy, as he apparently knows what Gandalf is going to say before he says it.

11) Frodo shouldn’t even need the One Ring, since he has mastered many other mighty magical, immortal powers, such as walking on air in taverns and sleeping in the air above his lounge chair.

12) Gandalf, it seems, is the only one who has any wisdom, for besides being burdened with every single bit of exposition, he is aware of everything beyond the Fourth Wall, as proven by how he stares at the cameraman and threatens to poke his eye out whenever he’s interrupted from doing his best disco dance rendition of said lore.

13) If Ringwraiths can teleport through walls, why was a little ditch so much trouble to cross?

14) Frodo must have been secretly into beastiality, since the Morgul blade in his arm seems to give the Ringwraiths power over not only himself, but his horse as well.

15) The only character continuity in the movie is Sam’s homosexual delight over Frodo, which gets ramped up quite a bit when he sees how gay Legolas is.

16) Saruman the White, Aruman the Red, Saruman the Red, Aruman the White—no wonder the movie didn’t need to go past the Battle of Helm’s Deep, since by that victory alone they beat four major villains, and everyone got enough Experience Points to hit 20th Level and just call it a campaign.

17) (S)Aruman’s wizardry is just his day job, for by night Sauron has taught him hoodoo, as he has seemingly swapped souls with Gollum as proven by their voices and choices. I mean, (S)Aruman spends more time in this movie talking about the precious Ring than Smeagol does, and while Gollum merely sounds drunk and could sober up rather quickly, the wizard whose "voice" is given its own frickin’ chapter title in the book sounds like he just got his nutsack ripped off by Wormtongue and then mistook the packets of gravel for sale for stoning as ocelot spleens and ate the whole bag.

18) And since we’re referencing the real movie adaptions of Middle-earth, i.e. Monty Python, doesn’t Sauron look like the King of the Knights Who Say Ni?

19) They should not have cut the scene at the Council of Elrond where Boromir tries to do the "proper Tolkien thing" and burst into song for no apparent reason. Perhaps his rendition of "Spam" was given a boost by his Wagner-esque apparel and he just stole the show, so Elrond, already jealous for screen time, had this scene overruled and cut. It’s good to be king . . .

20) . . . even if your crown has been replaced by a disco medallion that it seems you got at the Farmer’s County Fair for throwing baseballs at a stack of old milk bottles. Why did the design team try to be real or literal here when they exaggerated everything else? Elrond should have kept that kick-ass halo he had in the Ranklin/Bass version.

21) I understand that animation relies on exaggeration, as any professional cartoonist or animator will tell you in defense of big feet, big noses, etc. but why the hell did they use this to destroy Sam, give everyone disco hair, and replace Middle-earth’s landscape with the most psychedelic scenery seen since Woodstock and then pinch pennies with size on such important matters as, say, the balrog? Or perhaps Orthanc tower? Or even Gandalf’s hat and boots, which Tolkien takes the trouble to say are oversized?

22) I wasn’t aware that Frodo and Pippin were twins.

23) Gandalf the Hunchback. He must have survived his fall with the balrog by doing his best pro-wrestling bump and landing on his big back cushion.

24) Middle-earth’s best kept secret is not the location of the One Ring, but Wormtongue and his ability to defy time-space by teleporting between Edoras and Isengard between the cuts of scenes, in a true instance of "There and back again".

25) Gimili the dwarf, who is as tall as everybody else. Perhaps Dwarves are more industrious and patient than we ever gave them credit for, as he’s apparently been lobbying for the coveted dwarf role in the D&D movie for over two decades. And then he didn’t even get it, but at least his baldness was an inspiration to the makers of that fine film.

26) Orcs! Smart! We use battering ram against solid castle wall. We no pay attention to door ten feet away. Come to think of it, Theoden and everyone else should have just stayed at Edores, since it’s pretty much all open doors and windows. Without a solid wall to attack, the Orcs would have been confused and could have been easily picked off by the archers.

27) Archers, by the way, must always stand in clear view of a shower of arrows, even if there are battlements large enough for two men to hide behind.

28) And warg-wolves must always lead the charge in siege, even against solid walls where ladders (and battering rams) will be necessary.

29) And it’s always imperative to lead the mighty monster army into war with a kazoo!

30) Even though Galadriel avoided the 1970s fashion curse, she just didn’t want to feel left out, so she tossed her Mirror into the bushes and quickly rushed out to the mall and bought a kaleidoscope to mesmerize Frodo and Sam with.

31) In order to ensure they had those huge disco wigs, the hobbits, seemingly thwarted by the low budget they already monopolized by taking rotoscope time away from everybody else, shaved all the hair off their huge hobbit feet and transplanted it to their heads.

32) Waldo is nowhere to be seen, even though he was the perfect candidate for a rotoscoper’s wet dream. Maybe he was rotoscoped as an Orc.

33) Orcs, in case you didn’t know, are sometimes unfinished, wearing nothing but rags, or are escapees from a wax museum and half melted by the balrog’s man-love, causing them to look like the oozing figures that threaten Spaceman Spiff with sit-down talks of Wholesome Principals.

34) Boromir the mighty viking really has to try hard to close a door of paper-thin balsa wood that is easily broken into thin shards by an Orc doing the pex-flex a moment later. He should have watched "The Gamers" and learned from Newmoon about how it’s all in the legs, not the back.

35) Gandalf the wizard, the old man, who leans on a walking staff, can dodge arrows like Spider-man, thereby proving he is in fact hopping between sets, as if his hat changing color between frames wasn’t enough evidence of his secret job as a superhero character.

36) Theoden has a secret life as well, that of Santa Claus. The dead giveaway is that he must go everywhere on his horse, even into caves, just as St. Nick cannot operate without his sleigh. Not convinced yet? How about the Christmas music that plays when he rides to victory? No? Need more proof? All his people are rotoscoped, but he’s totally ‘toon, a ghost like Santa who doesn’t really exist in the same time-space. And, since Gandalf doesn’t actually heal him, he rises from his throne to wage war on (S)Aruman for a wholly different reason—to steal back his red cloak so he can be Santa once again!

37) The Last Alliance of Men and Elves. What can I say? It was an epic, world-changing, heroic battle between, well, a dozen or so people. And do not forget the "heroic" Isildur, who sneaks up from behind and backstabs his enemies, is thwarted by an arrow breaking over his forehead. Perhaps this is why it is ancient and forgotten history—nobody wants to remember it. Or, maybe they just remember it wrong. After all, I didn’t know that the Last Alliance failed.

38) Merry and Pippin must have been part of a package deal when Sam bought Bill the Pony in Hobbiton, since they have no other reason for being on the road with Frodo and Sam.

39) Try though he might, Tolkien, in his fight against publishers, editors, dictionaries and critics to accept "Elves" and other elements of Middle-earth as something besides fairytale "elfs", the creative folks of this fine, fine film decided to make hobbits of various families pale blue, pale green, and many other elfin colors, proving that Tolkien did not, in fact, have a better vision for Middle-earth than they did.

40) Boromir the mighty viking strides across wooden floors in Rivendell without making a sound, yet hobbits, known for their stealth in nature, cannot walk across the earthen floor of the inn without making enough noise to wake the dead. I guess that’s how the evil always finds them and leaves the saving up to guys like poor Boromir.

41) The Black Riders realize that acting villainous is a requisite for their contract, so they stop to water their ghost, teleporting horses during the day, even when they have a clear path to Frodo in the wilderness, and just wait for darkness, as if trying to be menacing. Or maybe they were on break. Union rules, ya know.

42) Aragorn, taking great care to ensure that the One Ring is not reclaimed and the world not plunged into eternal darkness, after seeing the Black Riders close behind, decides the best way to fortify the group’s position is to tell love stories while Frodo and Sam make out by the fire. Perhaps he’s considering another career change, something for the French Court. At least he’ll have a permanent place in Rivendell where all the women hang out. And never mind about the world outside, since the Enemy’s toughest warriors are afraid of crossing the little ditch on the ‘Dell’s border.

43) Why does the director insist on close-up shots of Gandalf’s big ass sitting in a chair? Maybe he was hoping to catch one of Gandalf’s real good butt-rumbling farts, but he missed his que, as he let it a minute or so later, for after doing his disco dance explanation of the fate of the world, he goes outside even though it’s where everybody can hear their secret talk, but it must be one super magic fart, since Frodo smelled it anyway, judging from his reaction (after Gandalf resists the temptation of the Ring). "Yep!" Frodo must be sayin’. "Something’s rotten in Denmark, alright. But it ain’t the Ring!" Maybe that was Gandalf’s plan all along, as Bilbo figured out. He wanted the Ring for himself. So he barged in unannounced on Frodo, having already girded himself against toxins, then took advantage of hobbit-hospitality and ate all of Frodo’s best food and drank all his best booze, building up a Magic Fart to knock Frodo unconscious and then take the Ring without a fight. But little did Gandalf heed his own advice, about how resilient hobbits are.

44) Ahhh, the lovely realism offered by rotoscoping, complete with bloopers, like the Return of the Mighty White Wizard, now the highest of his dignified order, wrapping his cloak around his face as he attempts to remember the proper steps to his disco dance.

45) One wonders why (S)Aruman, if he can shoot nuclear winter fireballs from a hundred miles away with pinpoint accuracy, didn’t just have a band of Orcs find the fellowship and by their presence lace the target, thereby allowing this "wisest of wizards" to blast the heroes in the wilderness, then send the backup group to fetch the One Ring from the ashes.

46) I see no reason to believe that Elrond was Elven or even Half-elven. He just wasn’t gay enough, and even wanted the gay guys gone! In fact, he was more manly than the King of Men, Aragorn, whose skirt is just too difficult to take seriously. Really, how do you climb a snow-ridden mountain slope in that thing? But back to Elrond. For someone whose fate is tied to the One Ring, he seemed awfully indifferent to it. It’s almost as if he was saying "Well, Frodo, I’ve got a Ring of Power already. Tough break for you that you can’t keep yours. Better luck in the next lottery. But I feel sorry enough for you to let you stay in my ski lodge for a few months before you go, since your rich uncle is paying for it. And by the way, don’t use your Ring or give it away, since it might jeopardize my own. Not that I’m jealous or really concerned about you or anything. And shut up, Boromir! All your talk about the power of Frodo’s Ring is exposing me! It’s hard enough to con Gandalf as it is. He has all the exposition, remember? Look at those shifty eyes even as we speak! Oh, yeah, Frodo. Get the fuck outta here and take the gimp with you! Maybe my Ring will fail, maybe it won’t. But at least there’s betting odds. It’s a foregone conclusion that I’ll go insane if I have to listen to any more of Sam’s goofy giggle!"

47) How come "boulders of sword sharpening" are not on the magical items list for the Game Master’s Guide? I guess it’s false advertising when the publisher says they're rules are "complete". Perhaps they figure that most sane warriors use whetstones and don’t need to lug heavy rocks around. Maybe the chest-pack in Holy Grail was full of "boulders of sharpening", given that Boromir’s true origins, like those of any good gamer, are in that holy grail of films.

48) Legolas is a scary, scary man—er, Elf. I mean, watch out, Moria Orc dudes, the guy with no arrow notched in his bow is ready for your charge. Perhaps he’s waiting to use the acoustics of Balin’s Tomb to use the bowstring like a harp, and serenade you all to sleep. Or maybe, given the way he’s dressed, he wants to be tackled by the furries—er, Orcs.

49) Is it just me, or does Rivendell look like a stack of matchstick boxes you might expect to see in a Disney movie about mice?

50) Aragorn. Ranger. King. Strider. Goes about on those long shanks of his, he does, that man of destiny and dignity. Lead the way! Legolas and Gimli will follow as you trip over your own sword scabbard. And the great artistic-minded director will use that take for the rotoscoping. Hmmm, maybe Bakshi was only animating, but Ed Wood was in charge of filming.

51) It’s nice to have a musical score similar to World War II epics such as Patton, but are we forgetting that Tolkien detested allegory and any comparison between Lord of the Rings and WWII? Oh, I forgot, the filmmaker’s knew Middle-earth better than Tolkien did.

52) Pippin is able to hear the approach of a galloping horse, complete with jingle-bells. Okay, good for him. But how come Aragorn the Ranger didn’t hear it? I guess he failed his dice roll.

53) I think maybe Aragorn is just wanting the hobbits to die so he can get on to being king. "Follow me Sam, stay close!" he says, as he’s racing past the stumpy little bastard at a pace no hobbit could possibly match or even do half of.

54) Of the Three Tall Elf Kings, Galadriel and Keleborn do not know the first line of their own lore, as Appendix E in the novel clearly states that how Celeborn’s name was pronounced in this film is exactly how it should not be spoken.

55) The rotoscoping got out of hand when they animated over a crate of camera equipment, making a perfectly square box for Frodo to sit on when deciding to leave the fellowship.

56) I didn’t ever realize that Wormtongue was a hobbit as well. Or maybe a Jawa, who is so upset that he got kicked out of the sandcrawler that he waited for the day when C-3PO—er, Legolas showed up, but was robbed of his chance to get revenge by Triple H—er, Gandalf, who demands all the screen time.

57) The narrator is Tom Cruise. He not only sounds like a whiny bitch, but just like when Big Nose Tom hosted the 2002 Oscars (which, coincidentally, should have been owned by the Lord of the Rings), he does the opening narration and then disappears. Well, he does pop up for one cameo during the Council of Elrond, but that’s it.

58) Hmmm, Tom Cruise, Triple-H. Both have no talent, hog the spotlight, and have huge noses. They are one and the same for their respective industries. Perhaps they were each given one of the Five Rings for Entertainment, and in time, they will be corrupted to being nothing but massive noses that screw every talented individual trying to improve his own trade and the industry along with it. I’d like to see Bakshi try rotoscoping that.

59) Why is it that the Nazgul shuffle around like limp lepers? Disguise to match their cloaks? Perhaps if they were in a populated area, not along the road when their quarry are all who’s around to see them. Besides, they seem to forget their crippled-act immediately to swiftly remount their horses and ride off.

60) It’s a rare known sport dating from ancient days, to line up two armies and have one guy ride between them and take pot-shots, while his enemies cheer him on. Maybe the Orcs and Rohirrim were simply stoned, or the director was, and they were waiting for the command of "Action!"

61) Every war horn sounds the same, from Orcs to Boromir’s to Rohan’s. Can’t the composer make up more than a few notes? Maybe he ran out of paper. Now, this wouldn’t be so bad if the single war horn sound wasn’t so wimpy. It sounds like Donald Duck trying to sing soprano.

62) The Watcher in the Water defies the laws of physics. When it slams the gates of Moria shut, it seems to pinch its tentacles, and yet, we never hear a satisfying monster yelp. What’s up with that?

63) Eowyn never speaks. Then again, neither does Eomer. At least his sister Eowyn gets to be drawn, while poor Eomer has to settle for sketchy rotoscoping, a half-existence comparable to his exile from Rohan. Or, perhaps, he feels like he’s stuck in a 1960’s Disney animated feature.

64) Sauron doesn’t need the One Ring! Because he’s already invisible, and you never see him! Nope. You don’t even get to see Barad-Dur or even Mordor. You see Mt. Doom from a long way off, and only once. Sauron, the guy whose very name is the title of the movie for God’s sake, doesn’t even get to appear outside of his audition for Ni Knights in the prologue. Granted, he’s a villain who stays in the shadows, but you think he’d be mentioned more than once or twice, and might make his presence felt to, I dunno, give some dramatic tension to the movie?

65) Aragorn fights really dirty! Upon escaping from the balrog, a couple of Orcs are waiting for the fellowship on the Dimrill Stair. Aragorn, feeling that Gandalf stole his thunder with the balrog a moment earlier, decides "Fuck the sword, even though I’ve already got it drawn, I’m just gonna thump this Orc in the balls and get bonus points for style!" Well, it’s a helluva junk, I have to say, but I still wonder if Aragorn is ever going to use Anduril as anything but a last resort. But, at least his backstabbing ancestor Isildur would be proud. Hey, points for consistency!

66) Oil and water, red and blue, and then red again. Some things don’t mix well, and some are just jarring. During the prologue, which is done entirely in (bad acted) silhouette, there is a red wash over everything. It feels like you’re in a dark room. But when Deagol finds the One Ring, it’s fully animated and underwater so it’s fully blue, meaning the film not only changes its animation style, but its color palette as well, and then when Deagol resurfaces, yep! we’re right back to hazy red and badly acted silhouette rotoscoping. Wouldn’t it have been better to just do the entire prologue in the same manner without this one jarring shot? Maybe, a little consistency, please? I was fully expecting the animation to suddenly cut to a live action scene at some point. Wait! It did! Did I mention the customers at the Prancing Pony?

67) The title is "J.R.R. Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings". I think this is wholly inaccurate. Tolkien’s name should be lifted. This is clearly Peter Beagle’s and Ralph Bakshi’s "Lord of the Rings." I feel for Beagle, who really tried with the script to be true to the timeless book, but then, you’re dealing with Bakshi, a guy who in 2001 criticized Peter Jackson without his films even being seen yet, saying Jackson would utterly fail to capture Tolkien’s spirit. Goes to show that people can claim they know it all, but "being right" is a title granted only by Time.

68) Boromir announces himself boldly at the Council of Elrond. This really begs the question as to the narrator saying that "All that morning the Council debated . . ." In all that time, no formal introductions were made? Nobody asked each other’s name? They just all sat down and started to argue? Or maybe they were busy playing D&D and it came time for the viking to introduce his new PC called Boromir? Well, if Gimli was lobbying decades ahead for the D&D movie, it stands to reason that Borormir, who clearly became his Character (as opposed to, say, the Prince of Gondor) was ready for Tom Hanks’ role in Mazes & Monsters, which was only a few years off.

69) Frodo gets the fellowship thrown out of Lothlorien. The way the scene with Galadriel’s Mirror was scripted, to those who do not know the story, it sounds absolutely clear that Frodo’s offering of the One Ring to Galadriel directly caused her to tell the fellowship to get lost. I can’t imagine a mainstream audience thinking anything except "Why the fuck do we care about these hobbits? They wake up the balrog and get Gandalf killed. Then they get everybody thrown out of the only sanctuary left to them. Then they get Boromir killed". Supposedly, and as the book makes clear, Merry and Pippin give Boromir the chance to redeem himself and die a hero. But maybe Boromir would have been a real hero if he just lopped Frodo’s head off and took the Ring. Since Bakshi wants to change the themes and meanings of everything, at least Boromir with the Ring would have made for an exciting movie.

70) Aragon’s sword, the Sword That Was Broken, is prominently displayed in Bree, but after Rivendell, it’s Narsil, reforged without any explanation. To the casual moviegoer, this looks, at best, like a continuity error. More likely, it’s just another bit of evidence in a rapidly lengthening list of "Why the fuck should we care about what’s going on in this movie? Obviously, the director doesn’t".

71) The film ends about 71% of the way through the story. Therefore, these 101 reasons why it sucks, like the film, are missing most of their second half. I suppose you could say that the movie’s premature ending, being marketed as a complete story, and no subsequent apologies by the studio can add up to 30 full reasons why it sucks.


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