Being whisked away to Middle Earth is Peter Jackson's masterful impact on the world of movies.
Based on the book series that has impacted our culture so immensely that there are even college courses teaching Elvish, Jackson really had a fantastic place to start for his Best Picture Winner of 2003.
Although, when it came to the the big finale, The Return Of The King, the pressure of not upsetting the world of devout fans must have weighed heavily.
Having not read any of the books I can't speak to the accuracy of the film adaptations. I can bet though that some person is pissed out there, wielding his replica Legolas bow staff, and still ranting about how they completely miscast the elves. Bless him (stick to your guns, man!) and those like him, but overall the trilogy seems to be aggressively adored.
Fans of the films definitely have a point.
Heading out to the movies should be all about escapism and this trilogy is the epitome of engaging in fantasy. The final film does not disappoint, and fans are left with a satisfying end worth spending nine hours in front of a screen.
Tense, rough times come and go for each of us in our own lives, and sometimes it's quite pleasant to watch a film all while daydreaming about how magical it would be living in a Hobbit hole at the Shire, possibly with Aragorn by your side. Sam or Frodo would probably do as well. I digress...
From the Shire to the fire wielding towers of Mordor, the audience feels pulled right into the story, as Jackson never limits the use of spectacular visual effects to tell the daring adventures of Frodo the ring and his merry gang of defenders.
The epic tale, in all sense of the word, was meant to wait the necessary years for film techniques to be updated enough to support the grand scale. Tolkien took pen to paper and created an entirely different world. Jackson crafted that place with digitally enhanced graphics combined with the landscape of New Zealand's rolling hills and snow-capped mountains.
Motion capture was newly developed at the time of this production and while it was flawless, new, and exciting then, now it is the one technical aspect that shows its 12 years aged in cinema limbo. I haven't seen The Hobbit, but I can only imagine that the use of motion capture now makes Gollum look even better.
Ultimately though, the films only drawback is the execution of adapting the actual story. This is always my complaint with most big scale action packed films-little plot details tend to get pushed to the wayside.
Movie viewers who haven't read the stories, will definitely have many, "but, who are they fighting?" or, "where are they going?" moments. I'm a great listener and active movie viewer, but even I was getting confused over the many similar character names, and how people are often thrown into the tale without introduction. Just a couple extra minutes cut out of an action sequence to be spent on character development or to explain a plot point could have made a tremendous difference.
Even for a wonderful movie series like this, improper storytelling can take anything one step back from perfection.
With that in mind, watching these films have only made hunkering down to actually read the trilogy more appealing. As much as I wanted to deny it in the past, the trials of Frodo, Sam, Gandalf, Aragorn, Pippin, Merry, Legolas, and all the rest, is a culture defining tale - one that will be remembered forever. With Jackson bringing it exquisitely to life, an entirely different audience has been able to live it too.
On your own Best Picture trek? Even though it seems obvious, it is definitely recommended to watch all three movies. Part of me greatly wanted to see how well it stood alone and then I realized that was lame. Plus, nothing is better than a movie marathon.
Next up: That one actress, who everyone in my hometown is one degree of separation from (and Glenn Beck-blah), got another Best Actress win in, Million Dollar Baby.