Top Twenty of the Decade #11

Boromir: It is a strange fate that we should suffer so much fear and doubt over so small a thing.
Gollum: You don’t have any friends; nobody likes you!
Sam: Then let us be rid of it… once and for all!

11. The Lord of the Rings Trilogy: Extended Editions (2001, 2002, 2003)
– Dir. Peter Jackson

From one 6-hour movie, I lead you to an 11-hour behemoth. You know it, you love it or hate it, but the thing is an undeniable achievement: The Fellowship of the Ring, The Two Towers, and The Return of the King. Before I go further, let me start with what some might consider bullshit on my part.

Yes, all three. And yes, the extended editions. “How can all three count as one,” you say? Simple, they were all shot at the same time.

Plus, I believe they are all one big movie, one large story. I suppose you could feasibly watch Fellowship and then stop, but why would you? There would have been riots had TT and ROTK not been released. Counter point, you could watch Star Wars and not really feel cheated if you never got Empire. (It makes sense in my head.)

Also, they are all the same level of greatness in my mind. So, if they were not, in fact, three large parts of a greater whole, then they would still be tied on my list, but would count as three spots instead of just one. Oh, and the extended editions were, indeed, shown in theaters, so screw you if you wanted to point that out as a flaw in my argument.

But why the extended editions? Well…they’re better. I won’t watch the other versions. After watching the extended cut, I really started to love this trilogy. I liked it before, but the extended version is when I realized I was watching a classic. Everything extra is great and adds more character and depth to the overall story. It can’t be “too long” if what you’re getting is greatness.

Looking back at the whole 11-hour journey, it’s not perfect, but it’s awesome, epic action, story, and acting, on the largest of scales and touching upon the greatest of themes.


24 responses to “Top Twenty of the Decade #11

  1. I’m surprised it’s so low on your list. I also want to point out that now since the days of truly remarkable DVD’s have come and gone, it’s interesting to look back at the theatrical and extended cuts of LOTR. I really don’t know which a prefer because the DVD’s so dramatically change some of the pacing of the individual movies. I feel the Fellowship extended really drags the breakneck pace of the theatrical cut but the longer Two Towers fixes so many issues I had with the flow of its theatrical release. Return of the King is just ridiculous and I love how freaking long its extended cut is (nearly and hour longer if memory serves) and it doesn’t affect anything pertaining to the movie as a whole and it’s theatrical cut was already 3 1/2 hours! The differences are too great in my opinion because the extended turned my least favorite theatrically (Two Towers) into my favorite of the whole series when it was recut for the DVD.

    Jackson also goes on (and even in the DVD) about how the theatricals are the true “director’s cut” and the extended is intended for viewing at home. I think it all comes down to personal preference. What is also personal preference is counting the series as 3 movies or 1 movie in 3 parts. You bring up a good point that you wouldn’t want to stop at Fellowship and it’s not like you could really appreciate Return of the King on its own. YET, I want to see what you feel about Kill Bill.

    Though really, the 2000’s weren’t that spectacular so I’m really surprised this didn’t even crack top 10 for you.

  2. So, I don’t know if I ever mentioned this before… but I totally call “shenanigans” on this. These are three separate movies, and they were from the beginning of pre-production. Being shot at the same time doesn’t change that fact, it just means Jackson & co. were economical filmmakers. There might be leeway on films that started out as one long movie, but were then split up because of the studio/time restraints. Still, the fact that it’s a continuing saga doesn’t matter either. Three separate tickets purchased for three separate releases of three separate stories that happen to be part of a bigger, over-arching story… This is three movies and should count for three slots on your list. And yes, eleven hours is too long. SHENANIGANS!!!

    And of course, side note: There was never a question of any of the LOTR movies being on my top 20 of the decade. None of them were even in the running. And I never really need to see any of them ever again.

  3. There really doesn’t seem to be a right answer regarding them being 3 movies or 1 in 3 parts. Adam’s points are just as valid.

    Bryan, they perhaps should be 3 spots on your list, but that doesn’t mean you have to rank them individually.

  4. Citing IMDb is not an argument.

    None of these are stand alone films…in fact Jackson moved some pieces from each book into different parts of the movie…regardless, I think I made my point in the post and you’re a hater anyways so your opinion is tainted on the matter.

    • You’re right, it isn’t. It’s presenting cold, hard, irrefutable facts.

      You really gonna make me bust out the definition of a trilogy?

      “Trilogy: A group of three dramatic or literary works related in subject or theme.”

      Three works = three films = I win. You’re just being greedy with you top 20.

      And I’m not a hater. I just don’t need ’em.

  5. Rosko: You’ll see soon enough what kept LOTR out of the 10

    AS: Being greedy would have been listing PIXAR as one film.

    He shot them at the same time not just for economics, but because it is really one long movie.

    Trilogy shm-elogy, I’m going off of intent not labels.

  6. I think both sides here have valid points. Released as three separate movies? Counts as 3. Ever watch it at home one at a time? Nope! One long movie.

    What I would be curious about is how they would be ranked if you had t choose them separately. Would you simply rank them in order, or do you, like Rosko, have distinct favorites?

    In my opinion the extended editions all together can count as one movie, while the theatrical releases count as 3. The extended editions were released specifically to be watched at home and the additions made to the theatrical versions create more of a one-giant-fucking-huge-movie feel than the three that we saw in theaters.

  7. That’s sort of my point.

    As I said though I think they are all on the same playing field of awesomeness.

    If I was forced to pick one, I would go with Fellowship simply cause it has some of the more “Classic” moments that you associate with LOTR. i.e. The Council, Frodo disappearing for the first time, Mines of Moria etc.

    But only by a slim margin since the more you rewatch the more you remember equally “Classic” stuff from the other two. i.e. Helms Deep, Shelob, everything with Gollum.

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  9. Okay, so because of this fight (by the way, LOTR = 3 movies. I hate math, but even I can count to three) I watched The Fellowship of the Rings this weekend. I liked it, a lot, but it was never “OMIGOD I need to call people in from the street so they can watch this.” Peter Jackson does not get how to do bro love without making it an over-the-top shellacking of gayness. I get it, they’re hobbits, they’re besties. Now move on to the dementors. I remember being annoyed with the third one especially because of this, and it sticks in my craw and becomes all I can remember about the series–talking trees and gayness. That does not a top-ten make.

    If you’re going to cheat for a series, do it for Kill Bill.

  10. It’s not top ten…just eleven.

    I’m so tired of the too much walking, talking trees, and gay bromance gripes. Criticize it for something more substantial than that.

    Something like such and such isn’t clearly developed, or the action scenes are blank. Something else other than, it’s too long, that’s gay, they walk too much.

    Also, I get if you don’t love LOTR but don’t try and tell me they’re no good. Not your cup of tea, fine, but definitely well made.

    A lot of Kill Bill love out there.

  11. No. I WILL gripe about the bromance, because it was a real sticking point for me. It made me think PJ couldn’t handle his characters properly. Action, fine. Good vs. evil, check. But when it came to interpersonal relationships, the movies felt awkward, and that’s a legitimate point.

  12. You can’t ask us to criticize something that isn’t there. If it were a substantial film (in content, not size), then there would be something more substantial to criticize, but there isn’t. No amount of bombast or increase in running time will change the fact that it’s just another in a long line of “hero’s journey” stories, that adds nothing new or exciting in the form of content, just wraps it up in a different package of “spectacle,” which is watered-down by the fact that it’s still just a bunch of walking.

    The tedious trek across Middle-Earth, complete with talking trees and poorly-developed relationships leading to the appearance of awkward, latent homosexuality… the reason that you’re tired of hearing about all of these is because they’re such glaringly obvious shortcomings in the LOTR trilogy, which can’t be ignored by everyone else who refused to drink the LOTR fan-boy kool-aid. The fact that these points are constantly brought up is further proof that they are valid. And sticking your head in the sand won’t change the fact that beyond technological cinematic achievement and spectacle, LOTR isn’t really all that special. They are tedious and anti-climactic.

  13. I should add, the films weren’t tedious the first time through, but watching extended editions was tedious and I couldn’t imagine ever watching any, let alone all, of them again. That’s why I don’t think they’re top 20 of the decade material. When I think of top 20 of the decade, I think of films that I could watch time and time again.

  14. The reason they keep popping up is because someone said it and then it caught on as a lazy way to criticize the movie.

    It sounded funny and it snowballed.

    And I’d be the first one to call out something for being latently homosexual and this is not. The interpersonal friendship stuff is the substance of the movie, as well as ideas about war, courage, repeating history, technology, environmentalism etc…

    If you thought it was just gay hobbits walking with some nifty effects than I don’t know what you were watching.

    And as I said, I was no fanboy the first time I saw LOTR and had no idea what I was about to watch. After multiple viewings of the EXTENDED editions have I become such a big fan.

    • I know you weren’t a fanboy going in, but then you drank the kool-aid, now you’re a devout follower of the LOTR… and I’m familiar enough with the effects of organized religion and blind faith to know that nothing I can say will lessen your zeal. You’ve been programed. Now you’re like one of those people who thinks God buried dinosaur bones to test our faith. And any evidence that proves that LOTR isn’t the alpha and the omega, you turn a blind eye to. So, you can go on believing that your precious LOTR trilogy is the one true fantasy epic, just don’t expect everyone else to agree with you.


  16. BTW you never actually give any real reasons why these movies are good, no evidence to support your case. You just say that they’re great. And after re-watching them, I wholeheartedly disagree.

    Oh, yes… there will be quibbling. Have you actually watched them recently? Cause they don’t stand up at all, they were worse than I remembered, especially the CGI. There are some nice moments, yes, but they are few and far-between, more often than not sullied by dated CGI that’s on par with the Star Wars prequels.

  17. I know I don’t but here was the gist

    “Looking back at the whole 11-hour journey, it’s not perfect, but it’s awesome, epic action, story, and acting, on the largest of scales and touching upon the greatest of themes.”

    Great action, great story, great acting. I wasn’t planning on going into an in depth examination of everything, but yeah, it’s a transportive fantasy/action film with big ideas done without winking to the audience.

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