Sunday, January 25, 2015

Ranking the J.R.R. Tolkien Movies

Happy New Year!  I am El Guapo and I'd like to thank you for reading my first post of 2015.  (Did I originally write 2014?  You betcha!)  Now, as much as I love to write and update my blog it just hasn't been possible recently.  With school, work and other factors getting in the way (not to mention Netflix marathons) I had to put Infinite Wisdom on the back burner.  But don't get it twisted, the Guaps hasn't run out of ideas.  Things like writers block just aren't a problem for me.  I got more ideas than I can possibly write about.  So to anyone whose been worried that I've lost my touch you can sleep easy knowing that as long as the sun shines I'll always be there for you.  Now that I've filled up about a half a paragraph I can introduce the topic of this post: the Tolkien movies.  Basically we're talking about the Lord of the Rings trilogy and the Hobbit shouldn't-have-been-a-trilogy-but-ended-up-being-a-trilogy-anyway trilogy.  Now when the first Hobbit came out I wrote a thoughtful review on it as well as a review on the second installment of the film.  I saw the third and final movie when it came out and to tell you the truth I've been just too lazy to write a full on review on the movie.  But how fair is that?  It's like if the Oakland A's played the best baseball in the league for the first half of the season only to completely fall apart in the- oh, wait... (Do I sound bitter?)  Point is I couldn't leave you guys wanting more without ever getting anything out of it.  So I decided to rank the six movies from worst to best.  So let's get going.

6. The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey
I was super excited when I heard an announcement of a Hobbit movie.  I was even more excited when I found out Peter Jackson was going to bring some of his LOTR magic to An Unexpected Journey.  Now I really liked this movie but it didn't have the same magic as the previous trilogy.  It looked gorgeous on screen and it was a fun film to watch but I realized the limitations of this franchise fairly quickly.  I've always told my friends that I like reading The Hobbit more than any of the Lord of the Rings books.  However, the prequel movies weren't as good as the LOTR trilogy because the stakes weren't as high.  What seems more urgent: stopping an evil lord from retrieving an all powerful ring and taking over the world or helping a dwarf get his home back?  One seems like one of the most epic tales in cinematic history (which it was), the other seems like a very pleasant story to hear about.  Again, I really liked the first Hobbit, I just wasn't blown away.

5. The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies
Here's the thing about The Hobbit.  It's a pretty big book.  It's a good book, but it's pretty long.  Might be a little much to stuff into one movie.  Two films for the this one long book is understandable, but three fucking movies?!?  Three?!?  I know the book is long but this isn't the Bible we're talking about.  Three is just too much.  I like The Battle of the Five Armies, I really do.  But I can't get over how exhausted I felt towards the end of it.  It felt like Peter Jackson was trying his best to kill time by adding subplots that weren't in the original book.  I'm not complaining, but why is an older looking, but technically younger, Legolas even in this movie.  (Side note: I love when people say "I'm not complaining, but..." and then follow that up with a complaint.)  Let's get to the good stuff though.  The movie started off with Smaug destroying a town.  How many movies start off with a fucking dragon battle?  I can only name one right now, and that movie is called The Battle of the Five Armies.  (I'm too lazy too do any additional research so if you can think of any dragon battle movie openers, you keep that to yourself.)  Who else loved watching Thorin get cabin fever (or mine fever)?  There's something about watching someone go completely paranoid that makes any movie better.  Then watching Thorin snap back to reality and battle some bad guys.  So my official grade will indeed be another Guapo.

4. The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug
This movie was the best of the Hobbit trilogy.  I happened to see this movie three times in theaters, but it wasn't necessarily on purpose.  It was one of those situations where multiple people keep asking you to watch the same movie and you end up doing so because you're such a good friend/son/boyfriend.  But I wasn't mad at the fact that I saw the movie three times within two weeks.  This was easily the most enjoyable of the three, though not as good as any of the Lord of the Rings movies.  The intros were already taken care of in An Unexpected Journey so Desolation of Smaug just had to pick up where the last installment left off.  And unlike The Battle of the Five Armies, this film didn't give me that feeling of exhaustion.  It was one continuing flow of adventure from beginning to end.  Some of the highlights include the Dwarfs and Bilbo's escape from the Elvish prison/water rapids scene, the introduction of Legolas' character (again, not in the book), and Smaug and Bilbo's cat and mouse game.  The only thing that would have made this movie better is an actual cat and mouse game.  (That's something I'd really like to witness, but something tells me that PETA and my sister would hate me forever.)

3. The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Rings
No disrespect to the Hobbit movies, but I'd rather watch a LOTR movie any day of the week.  Out of the three amazing installments of The Lord of the Rings, Fellowship is probably the weakest.  But saying it's the weakest implies that The Fellowship of the Rings is weak in any way, which is not true.  So instead I'll say the first chapter of the trilogy is the least super-awesome.  I've seen this movie countless times, more than any other movie on this list.  Probably has to do with the fact that I own the movie on DVD.  (It was originally a gift for my dad back in the early 2000's.  Eventually things just fall on my lap.  Kinda like my dad's old The Chronic CD.  I'm digressing.  Point is, my dad now owns the trilogy on Blu-Ray.)  As a rule the first movie in a trilogy is almost always gonna rank at the bottom.  (This rule only applies if the franchise was intended to be a trilogy from the get-go.)  Why this rule?  The first movie is where they pack the story and character introductions as much as possible, so there's less shit going on.  I'm not saying I didn't like meeting the Fellowship, but meeting characters is very time consuming.  (Side note: the Fellowship > Bilbo & the Dwarfs)  Two things stand out about The Fellowship of the Rings.  First off, Gandalf's "YOU SHALL NOT PASS!" scene has been ingrained in my memory bank, popular culture and cinema history. That counts for something.  Second, Boromir stole the temporary "Best cinema death" crown from Gandalf at the end of the movie.  (Spoiler alert!)  I mean seriously, if I ever do die, I want to go out like Boromir.  Actually, no.  That seems really painful.

Spoiler alert: Boromir dies.  But you probably figured that out.

2. The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King
The last movie of the LOTR trilogy racked up a fuck-ton of statues at the Academy Awards.  Return of the King won Best Picture, Best Director, Best Screenplay, Best Costume Design, just to rattle off a few of the 11 awards.  Shit, even the guy who delivered coffee to Elijah Woods' trailer got an Oscar.  I can't emphasize enough how good this movie really was.  This movie was probably one of the most anticipated movies of all time.  Let me put it this way: when the second Hobbit movie was released I said to myself, "That was good.  I can't wait for the final movie."  Then about a week later I forgot about the movie.  A bunch of months went by until I saw the trailer for the final Hobbit movie, and I got excited again.  Compare that to the time The Two Towers came out.  I was quietly waiting for The Return of the King for a full year.  I was constantly wondering when the teaser was coming out, then when the trailer was coming out, and finally when the actual film was dropping.  That's called anticipation.  Not every movie demands that type of anticipation, but The Return of the King did.  And when the movie finally came out, it delivered.  The closer we inched the end the more intense it got.  Peter Jackson put his foot on the gas and never let up.  It was the ending, though, that kind of sank this movie from the top spot.  I'm not saying it was a bad ending at all.  (Saying so would be more an insult to Tolkien than Peter Jackson.)  I just think the ending took too long.  From the point where Frodo and Sam are rescued by Gandalf's eagles to the moment the screen turned black and "Directed by Peter Jackson" popped up took way too long.  I swear that whole period felt like another full length picture show.  (I sound old.)

1. The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers
You know those movies that you catch on cable TV all the time.  (If you've seen a movie on TV more than six times then it qualifies.  Movies that make the cut are Home Alone and for some reason every Vin Diesel movie ever made.)  The thing about those movies is that I always tune in at the same exact spot.  For The Two Towers, I always tune in during the battle at Helm's Deep.  I don't condone war, but that scene is the battle scene to end all battle scenes.  I really liked the battle scene in The Battle of the Five Armies, but it doesn't hold a candle to this one.  It's really this scene that catapulted (pun intended) this movie to the top of the list.  There's more though.  As much as I loved seeing the fellowship together in the first film, Legolas, Aragorn and Gimli just work better as a trio.  The hobbits are really just a liability to them.  Frodo and Sam first meet Gollum in this movie, one of the most memorable movie characters in recent history.  I'm not sure if Golluming was invented during this movie, but the term was definitely coined because of it.  Gandalf the Grey came back as Gandalf the White.  (That part still confuses me.  Please don't attempt to explain it to me.  I won't pay attention and I'll only get more confused.)  Um... what else?  Oh! Pip and Merry talk to some trees.  Tie all this together and you have the best film in the six-movie franchise.

Go buy the box set!

That's my time everyone.  Sorry it took so long to post a new blog.  Truth be told this post took longer than any other post I've written in a very long time.  But it's finished now and that's all that matters.  If you want to read my original movie reviews for An Unexpected Journey or The Desolation of Smaug you can click on the links.  Follow me on Tumblr at  Be sure to keep up with me on Twitter @ELGUAPO3 and Instagram @CAPTAINCRUNCHTIME.  Fuck it, I'll even hit you guys with my Snapchat: Crunchtimemario.  Be sure to look out for my blog posts on this site as well as my new site Infinite Wisdom on the NBA.  Have a great 2015 and stay Guapo out there!