Why I Hate on Peter Jackson So Much

The-Two-Towers-The-Two-Towers-legolas-shield-surfing-1

The shield-riding is probably not a bad place to start.

In another of my popular series, “Why I Hate on Random Shit Like TV Shows and Movies That Are Not Very Important In the Big or Even Medium-Small Scheme of Things,” I have decided to answer a question posed to me by a commenter on my last blog post. Basically, it boils down to this: as a fan of Tolkien, why do I hate on Peter Jackson so much when he brought so much of Tolkien’s vision to the big screen and mass audiences, revitalizing the genre and Tolkien’s legacy and exposing an entirely new generation to the joy and wonder of Middle-Earth?

Christ, when I put it that way I make myself feel like a crotchety misanthropic asshat who would complain about the method someone used to make me a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. Of course, I am exactly the sort of person who would be disappointed if someone incorrectly assembled such a sandwich by, say, putting the jelly directly onto the other slice of bread rather than on the peanut butter, which is the proper method for creating a peanut butter and jelly sandwich and anyone who says it is the same either way is wrong and should feel bad about themselves.

But first, the obligatories. I don’t hate everything about the Lord of the Rings films. Seeing some things that heretofore I had only been able to conjure in my overwrought and fevered imagination over the years, like the golden roof of Meduseld or the charge of the Rohirrim or the claustrophobic majesty of Khazad-dum or the desperate need and tragic form of the odious Gollum – these are things I’m grateful for. (For which I am grateful. Man, proper grammar is annoying and stilted.) Those things are awesome. I don’t agree with all their art and style direction, but for the most part they are visually mind-blowing. I’m not going to bitch about that. Instead, what bothers me the most are the things that Peter Jackson and the other writers (too lazy to look up their names? You’re damn right I am.) changed for no real benefit, or indeed undermined the entire point that Tolkien was trying to make. The rank arrogance to believe that they can take one of the best stories and worlds ever created and shrug and say, eh, I can do better. So that’s what’s going to follow. Nitpicky? Yes. Pedantic? Assuredly. Childish and whiny? No doubt. To be fair, though, I’ve never claimed to not be any of those things. So fuck it.

Anyway, the following is a list of things that make it very difficult for me to rewatch the movies, at least with the sound on, in no particular order.

1. Elrond

In the books, Elrond is the wisest being in all of Middle-Earth. In the movies, he is a douchenozzle.

Seriously, I have no idea why they made Elrond seem like such a dick, especially to Aragorn. Strider’s not good enough for his daughter, he sneers at the idea of Men having a hand in the downfall of Sauron, and he basically is the most arrogant fucking being in the entire series. Which is exactly the fucking opposite of the whole existence of Elrond. Why does he have the shards of Narsil? Because he knows that it will be reforged when the time is right and the true king of the Dunedain returns. In fact, he fucking reforges it for Aragorn to take with him. Why is Aragorn around to fall in love with Arwen? Because Elrond has been sheltering and guiding the line of Isildur since the fall of Arthedain, the faded remnant of the Kingdom of Arnor, the sister-kingdom to Gondor in the South. Why was he doing this? Because he fucking knew how important Isildur’s heir was going to be. Plus, Elrond is fucking related to them through his brother Elros, first King of Numenor. Aragorn is his fucking brother’s descendant, and Elrond treats him like a fucking chump.

And the whole thing with Arwen and trying to get her to go to the West and basically trying to get between those two? What the fuck was the point of that? More drama? Elrond is half-fucking-elven. I think he gets the whole Elf-Man love concept. His own freaking brother chose a mortal life, just as Elrond chose an immortal one. Why is he trying to cockblock the whole thing?

Also, they made him utter the shittiest line in all of the films (even beating out that fucking dwarf-tossing “joke”) when he has to stiltingly say, “And you shall be known as the… Fellowship of the Ring!” Christ that line makes my soul shrivel every time I hear it. I think they should have cut to Elrond in the second movie and say “Orthanc and Minas Morgul… the Two Towers!” and then cut to him in the third movie after Aragorn enters Gondor so he can say “And now I see…. The Return of the King!” Fucking horrible.

2. Aragorn

I don’t hate Viggo as Aragorn. I don’t especially like him, especially how fucking strange his voice gets when he’s loudly addressing a group of people, but I don’t hate him. It’s the shit they have him do and how badass they decided they needed to make him. Take Weathertop and the encounter with the Nazgul. In the books, Aragorn and the hobbits keep the Nazgul at bay with a large fire, since the Ringwraiths fear many natural things like fire and water (since they are wholly unnatural beings). In the movie, the Nazgul are driven away because Aragorn is a fucking Hong Kong martial artist superstar, flinging torches and busting ass. Way to undermine the Nazgul and their power, P.J. After that scene, is anyone really scared of the Nazgul after that? Christ, a fucking army of Orcs is no problem for Aragorn. He should be good, sure, but he’s not that fucking good.

And the whole “wounded at the made-up fight with Warg-riding Orcs and his horse rescues him and he has a dream sequence and everyone thinks he’s dead and all sad and then he comes back and everyone is like Yay and we move on to the actual movie part of the movie while in the back of our minds we’re wondering just what the fuck was the point of all of that” scene drives me out of my fucking mind. How did that survive editing? It has zero fucking purpose and is awful and I hate it.

3. Legolas

Christ. Legolas did the least of every member of the Fellowship in the books. Why? Because he is an Elf, and the overarching theme behind the story is that this is the end of the time of Elves, and Men are going to take over completely from here on out. But Orlando Bloom is too pretty to just be an also-ran, so he becomes the bad-assingest badass of all time. Snowboard down steps on a shield while shooting Orcs? Sure. Sliding down Oliphant trunks? Why not. He can’t miss, he defies physics, he’s a fucking assassin. And don’t even get me started on the fucking Hobbit movies. With the way Peter Jackson portrays Elves, they clearly needed to make the Fellowship just Elves so they could just mow their way through fucking Mordor and shoot the Ring into Mount Doom while doing a backflip off the top tower of Barad-Dur and then surfing back out on a wave of lava before skidding to a halt in front of Aragorn and the gang at the Towers of the Teeth and asking “Why the fuck are you idiots getting to rule the world now, exactly?”

4. Gimli

Turning the fucking dwarf into comic relief. Go fuck yourself, Peter Jackson. The aforementioned dwarf-tossing line, the physical “comedy”… just fucking ridiculous. Of course he amps that bullshit up in the Hobbit movies with Bombur (IT’S FUNNY BECAUSE HE’S FAT HAHA GET IT YOU GUYS?!) but the Hobbit movie gets it’s own section.

5. Boromir

Boromir is perfect. Sean Bean is perfect. I just felt that needed to be said.

6. Faramir

When Frodo is captured by Faramir in the wilds of Ithilien, there is a tense stand-off between them when Faramir realizes who he has and what he possesses. Then Faramir “shows his quality”, resists the influence of the Ring, gets Frodo and Sam geared up, gives him the best advice he can, and sends them to their destiny while he continually labors under the shadow of his dead brother.The whole point to Faramir is that he truly is the best son of Denethor, and that despite Boromir’s prowess and renown he is too easily swayed by the Ring, but Faramir demonstrates time and again his worth, even though his father can’t see it until he believes Faramir to be dying and so plans to burn both his son and himself in the hall of the dead kings of Gondor. It gives the whole plight of his father’s blindness to his worth real weight and heft, and contrasts the death of Boromir due to his weakness in the presence of the Ring with Faramir’s strength of will and true worth as a descendant of the Numenoreans.

Of course, according to the movie Faramir is a dick and holds on to Frodo to bring him back to his dad but they escape, rendering everything in the previous paragraph worthless and totally gutting the whole point of the character. Peter Jackson changed it because he didn’t want to make it seem like anyone could resist the power of the Ring. Fuck Peter Jackson in the ear.

7. The Elves Fighting at Helm’s Deep

Where did they come from? Who sent them? How did they get to Helm’s Deep? How did they know to go to Helm’s Deep? How did the Orc army not find them? Why are they there at all? Wasn’t the Last Alliance of Elves and Men kind of a thing at the end of the Second Age, or did they just mean the Last Time The Elves and Men Allied Until the Next Time They Do? Why didn’t they have the Rangers of the North show up instead? Why is Legolas better than all of them put together? Why? WHY IS THIS IN THE MOVIE AT ALL?

8. The Hobbit Movies

The Hobbit movies are the worst pieces of shit, except for Martin Freeman. From the Glamour Shots Dwarves, to the completely changing of the history of the war of the Dwarves and Orcs, to Galadriel doing everything to Gandalf short of dry-humping, to the horrible fucking ridiculousness of the Goblin-Town escape (I’m sure they barely got Peter Jackson to not score that whole scene with Yackety Sax), to the even more ludicrous Elven fighting style with Tamriel (who?) and Legolas (why?), to…. You know, fuck it. I had enough to say about the Hobbit movies based on the trailer. These movies are the fucking worst.

There are other things I don’t like (I miss Glorfindel) and some changes that are for the best (the hobbits frolicking naked with Tom Bombadil wouldn’t translate well), but this pretty much sums up why I hate on Peter Jackson so much. Because he deserves it.

About Alan Edwards

An indie writer who does accounting full-time on the side.

Posted on November 3, 2014, in Rantin' and Bitchin' and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 15 Comments.

  1. I agree with you on all points bar probably 7. I don’t know if you’ve seen Watchmen, but the change the ending of that pretty heavily. The change is justified in that instead of bringing in someone new or unknown to the audience they relied on twisting the account to bring into play characters already known.

    Part of the reason LotR and Song of Ice and Fire are nightmares to adapt is because there are so many characters that likely could be condensed, or have their lines given to other characters to keep the plot tighter and move things along.

    If we have rangers show up we have to explain where the rangers came from, probably have to do some characterization of rangers, explain Aragorn a little bit more. I read some interviews regarding this whole choice and while I particularly dislike a number of changes, I can forgive them some of their sins in the interest of trying to tighten up storyline considerations due to time, as we’re already pushing past 3-4 hours a movie.

    I’m also one of the few people that probably read the books after I watched the movies. In that line, I actually got the gravity of the Faramir situation, largely because he was one of the short list of people that was tempted, but willingly let it go. (even if it took him a little while)

    • But that still doesn’t explain why the Elves were there. The Rangers didn’t even show up until later. I just don’t know why the Elves were added at all.

      • In the original script, from what I understand, they were written as the Rangers. Then they decided they wanted to use random elf guy from previous encounter with Galadriel for whatever reason, probably to make Elrond and the elves look more helpful. I can’t really speak to all that.

        I think it’s a good example of writers having written something they liked, then continuing to grasp to it after the idea should likely have been cut.

        I will say the movie moment, having had no prior knowledge of the book, was one of the ones that had me excited. The score for that scene, along with the demeanor of the elves, was pretty awesome considering everything up to that point was pretty bleak.

        I’m surprised Aragorn going over the ledge wasn’t one of the points you were more pissed about.

        • When I talked about that horrible scene under the Aragorn section I had to tone down the level of anger. If I unleashed the full level of my hate of that scene and the Hobbit movies in one blog post, the combined forces would unleash a reverse Big Bang and collapse all of the universe into a pinhole in the shape of my hand giving Peter Jackson the finger.

  2. You had me at “fuck Peter Jackson in the ear.”

  3. You’re not going to get into Legolas’ problem where he can’t perform when it really matters?

    Personally, I do love the films and appreciate some of the changes. I can, also, almost completely get behind all of your complaints, though. I assumed the horse that saved Aragorn was actually Hidalgo, and that the entire sequence took place solely that Aragorn could do a quality double door push scene.

    I have an issue with hobbits. I … cannot … stand them. On rewatches now, when by myself, I just hit scene skip whenever drugged out Frodo and his quest to “simply walk into Mordor” takes place. I couldn’t stand them in the books, either, though. This, incidentally, is also how I get through Attack of the Clones (seriously, hit scene skip whenever you see Anakin and you are rewarded with more Obi-Wan).

    I think there are a couple of Tolkien-traps to deal with throughout the series and, at this point, I think Jackson spotted one, but not the other. He did get that forest-mowing the orcs in the Two Towers while showing scenes of the Ents battling it out would have made the ending a little weird. If your climax can be summarized as “then the trees got them,” you might have an issue.

    I get it though, the Elves showing up is very much a moment of “Okay, we’ll save you again, but seriously, this is the last time. Really. No more. Period.” In my head, I assumed they were Lorien elves (’cause of the different hats and the too pretty to live elf who was from Lothlorien). This makes plenty of sense, since Elrond seems to be able to skip around Middle Earth by taking over the form of any other Elf in the Matrix.

    I think all the tampering around with the Hobbit actually would have justified an adjustment to the Deus-Eagle-Machina trope. Probably should have replaced that with Rangers.

    • “This makes plenty of sense, since Elrond seems to be able to skip around Middle Earth by taking over the form of any other Elf in the Matrix.”

      This is my favorite thing ever.

  4. I do want to applaud the 50% less singing in the movies than there are in the books, though. I find it weird that we’re supposed to believe that people really used to break out into song. I even find it weird in the bible.

    • I don’t mind the songs in the books, since I can read them and don’t have to actually hear the weird sound that Viggo Mortensen makes when he tries to sing.

  5. I missed your rants. My God, I missed your rants. Bring your anger back to the web, Alan, WE NEED YOU!!!!!!!!

  6. I enjoy the irony of your calling Peter Jackson arrogant. This… This is more than childish or pedantic, it’s plain stupidity and ignorance. You show the rage of a 12-year old boy so proud to have read a book that he complains at the least change in its cinematographic adaptation, because HE KNOWS how it’s supposed to be, doesn’t he?
    You assume the changes are made out of arrogance. It is clear you have never watched the bonuses of the movies, which are more fascinating than an average film, and longer than the LOTR movies. In those you would have understood amongst many things PJ’s choices, and that his knowledge of Tolkien’s work, is, sorry, far greater than yours.

    Yes, he changed some characters’ personnality, and yes, some get to appear awesome for action shots. Now you don’t realize that for an average person, not especially into fantasy, the movies already appear gay, long, and boring to death.
    And that’s for the younger generation. Some adults not into fantasy already find it too violent (i know…), or too silly (orcs and elves! what is this sillyness?), ot simply not to their taste.

    You can’t seem to understand that without his changes, had he kept the exact same characters, the same storyline, the same everything, not a tenth of the actual spectators would have seen it. And raging fanboys like you would still have found something to criticize.
    Try to put yourself in the mind of a director, who wants his big blockbusters to impact on society as much as the Star Wars movies had, keeping in mind they have to appeal to Tolkien fans, more or less pedantic like you, to fantasy fans in general, to people who are not fantasy fans, to old people, to adults, and, that is the hardest part, to children. Not counting that it has to be a world-wide success, so appealing to every population.
    You do not see the international enterprise that were these movies, you don’t even appreciate the stunning music,…
    You don’t see what of Tolkien’s vision he struggled to keep, for example :

    1) the works are completely sex-less, and you don’t see many blockbusters without at least sexual tension, that always seems necessary to appeal to everyone. (aragorn and arwen’s scenes only show a sort of ethereal, pure love)

    2) his love of nature (trees, trees and poneys!) that brought teenage girls but left out many guys (duh, boring)

    3) yeah, friendship above all (as boring in the movies as in the book, i find)

    More that that PJ and his co-writers had to correct Tolkien’s incoherences, lack of structure, which of course a fanboy idealizing Tolkien wouldn’t acknowledge.

    So let’s see for example some of your points :
    -the Faramir thing is just plain wrong. you seem to be mistaking the books for the movies. in the books he does not reach his decision after long consideration, showing his value, he does not show an evolution. in the movies they don’t escape, you must have missed the scene where he let them go. (seriously, don’t criticize movies you don’t even remember properly)
    You will hear in the bonuses PJ explaining the lack of depth in Faramir’s development in the books, forcing him to alter his storyline a bit.

    -the elves at Helm’ deep. your reaction is typical of that category of butthurt fanboys.
    Yes, it’s not in the books. And so what? Are they so sacred you can’t possibly add something to them? Especially if what you add is as heart-wrenching, so strikingly beautiful as their arrival and presence? I am not the only one to cry like a baby at this moment. Yes, I have read the books, I know they weren’t there in it, but I like it that way. No, I prefer it that way. You don’t understand that even great, blessed Tolkien might have loved too. Were he alive, he who thought his works were too great and complex to be made into movies, he would certainly LOVE to see the movies actually be made. He always said that he saw his works as a basis, which he hoped anyone would add layers to. He was disappointed to see that instead they became sacred and untouchable to the fans community. So to come back to the elves, how can you deny the beauty of their decision to renew this man-elves alliance one last time, even if they know they are bound to die? This is their last sacrifice, to simply not be ‘running like thieves’ when everything goes down. Yes, it’s not in the books, but it doesn’t matter.

    Apart from that I agree that he made Legolas and Gimli appear too much like Aragorn’s monkeys, and the actor playing Elrond is just… just… AAAAAH i want to kill him! I’m sure with a better actor his character and his lines wouldn’t have seemed so stupid or stern. His meddling in his daughter’s affairs doesn’t make much sense too, but the simple love and concern of a father for his daughter’s life seems a good enough explanation to me.
    Finally I agree, just WHY? WHY would Galadriel hit on Gandalf like that? It’s not even consistent with her character in the LOTR movies, so indeed to her character in the books, the nonsense is unbearable. By the way, I think Beorn was a great success.

    • First off, thank you. Your comment was at times insulting, often condescending, and yet also at times agrees with me. A couple of things, first off: your assumption that Peter Jackson’s knowledge of the work is greater than mine is a pretty large assumption to make, since you have zero idea of my knowledge of the works themselves. I have seen the bonus material, several times. I didn’t mention many of the positive things you mentioned, like the music, because… that’s not why I HATE ON (notice that this turn of phrase is different than hate, and is also different than “hate the movies”) Peter Jackson. The music is amazing. Am I glad the movies exist? Most certainly. Are they beautiful? Absolutely. Did I cry at the end? You’re goddamn right I did. Did they make a bajillion dollars and spawn an inferior and stretched version of The Hobbit? No arguments there.

      Howevah….

      There is a reason why I call my own post childish and whiny in the beginning – because it is. To then accurately call what follows after as childish and whiny is an acknowledgement. I certainly appreciate your opinion and your counterargument. I generally prefer that someone doing so does so without insult (ha! I am ever an optimist about the internet) and perhaps can read into the subtext of the post itself – acknowledging that the use of hyperbole indicates that perhaps this writing is intended to be taken at somewhat less than face value, especially when it begins by insulting itself – and can follow in like spirit. I disagree with you (and PJ) about Faramir still, which is fine, we can agree to disagree, and I’m glad that you find the Elves at Helm’s Deep moving – I still cannot for the life of me figure out the logistics behind their arrival which niggles at my brain constantly no matter how much I try to let it go which is my own personal failing and I recognize it as such – but I myself would have preferred to at least have some kind of indication or display of the battles the Elves (and Dwarves, for that matter) actually did fight in the books, because I think it would have broadened the scope and showed how truly titanic the struggle really was. But that’s just me.

      Thank you for taking the time to read the post, and also going so far as to respond, which 99.99% of people never bother to do, even if you think I am a pedantic, arrogant, ignorant, butthurt child. 🙂

      Not like I can argue with you about that.

  1. Pingback: My Top Eight Favorite Fantasy Authors of All Time | Me and My Shovel

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