Counting Down to The Hobbit, Part 2: Faramir and Fangorn

Posted on December 13, 2012

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Following up with my Lego Lord of the Rings trek through Middle Earth prior to the December 14th release of The Hobbit, I decided to revisit the Two Towers and finally getting around the building Battle of Helm’s Deep. As anyone with even a passing interest in Lord of the Rings could likely surmise, the Lego set is a build of the Rohan fortress where the conclusion of the second film takes place.

I wish I could say that my initial experience with The Two Towers was as powerful as Fellowship of the Ring, but it wasn’t. I think I made the mistake of seeing it with other people, and I don’t care who you are or who you go with, the company you’re in will effect how you view a movie.

First off, let me say something controversial: I actually prefer the Lord of the Rings films to the books. Blasphemy, I know. The books are incredibly rich, and they are most certainly masterpieces. I certainly don’t dismiss them as literary achievements. But they also get a bit bogged down in lengthy descriptions and some characters have aged better than others. Tom Bombadil, for example, was a character a lot of fans lamented not being in the movies, but I, for one, was glad he never made the cut. Frankly, I think he would’ve had to been a giant singing Muppet to fulfil the role as I viewed him in the book.

This is about how I imagine Tom Bombadil would be portrayed...

This is about how I imagine Tom Bombadil would be portrayed…

So, in terms of staying on point and fleshing out the relevant details, I prefer the movie’s portrayal of the story. These mooks who always arbitrarily say the books are better than the movie or discount a movie because it isn’t wholly accurate to the book bother me a little. Movies based on other media should be represented differently, even another visual medium, such as video games. (Sidenote: it seriously cracks me up when people complain that the Resident Evil movies don’t follow the plot of the games, as if the games were Oscar caliber material. Zombies get their heads rocked, shut up.)

That said, the changes made to The Two Towers, especially in the second half of the movie drastically diminished my first impression of this film.

Now, don’t get me wrong, we start off well enough. Gandalf’s aerial battle with the Balrog was a pretty awesome way to start the film. Gollum was absolutely an achievement in film-making in terms of how credible a CG character could really be. I remember at the time, going back and watching prequel trilogy Star Wars (bleh), and it was so obvious Yoda wasn’t nearly as sophisticated as a CG character as Gollum was. I don’t think any other movie since has really set the standard in quite the same way, except perhaps Avatar.

Plenty of new characters are introduced, and as with the first movie, I don’t think the casting, overall, could have been better. In fact, I think Miranda Otto was probably too good as Eowyn; if the fate of the world relied on me leaving Miranda for Liv Tyler, y’all would have to deal with a dark lord marching across your lawn with his orcs, trolls and nazgul, oh my. That is a good looking lady. The only issue with the casting, for me, is Hugo Weaving; I think the trilogy would have been better with a different actor with a less annoyingly distracting delivery. (Don’t tell me you don’t hear Agent Smith or V with every line he says.)

So then we get near the end of the film where Sam and Frodo meet Faramir. Now, one of my favorite lines from the book is from Faramir, referring to the One Ring:

I would not take this thing, if it lay by the highway. Not were Minas Tirith falling in ruin and I alone could save her, so, using the weapon of the Dark Lord for her good and my glory. No, I do not wish for such triumphs, Frodo son of Drogo.

Stark difference between that quote and his movie representation who not only takes the Ring but the Hobbits as prisoners as well. This royally bothered me. Also, the Ents in the movie were represented as dimwits who have to be tricked into helping destroy Isengard by the Hobbits, which was also in contrast to their portrayal in the book. In the narrative, they recognize that they need to participate in the war, possibly as the last act taken on behalf of this world.

Commentaries and interviews have since persuaded me that they made the right decision. It really wouldn’t have been as interesting had Faramir simply let them go and it would have contradicted what they had already worked to establish so far had he been so blissfully immune to a Ring that had an obvious sway over even the most powerful beings in Middle Earth. And Merry and Pippen needed a “moment” to call their own in the film, to have some kind of tangible contribution to the plot. So yeah, I have since forgiven these intrusions on the original narrative, but it somewhat lessed my immediate experience.

So on to the Legos! Click on the images to see the larger iterations.

This is actually the biggest build I have done so far. It wasn’t actually just the one set; I included the 250+ piece set “Uruk Hai Army”, which is meant to be an optional add on to the larger Battle for Helm’s Deep set. Altogether, this was a 1625 piece build, including 14 minifigures total. (My previous largest build was set 8086, the Clone Turbo Tank at 1100+ pieces.)

Battle for Helm's Deep, 1368 pieces, 9 bags, 4 instruction books.

Battle for Helm’s Deep, 1368 pieces, 9 bags, 4 instruction books.

Bag #1, the main gate starts to take shape.

Bag #1, the main gate starts to take shape.

Bag #2, fleshing out the gate

Bag #2, fleshing out the gate

Bag #3, stairs and wall start to take shape

Bag #3, stairs and wall start to take shape

Bag #4, second wall is added, with siege ladder

Bag #4, second wall is added, with siege ladder

Bags #5 and 6 construct the tower that leads to the Horn of Helm Hammerhand

Bags #5 and 6 construct the tower that leads to the Horn of Helm Hammerhand

 

Bag #7 adds the wall with the drainage ditch

Bag #7 adds the wall with the drainage ditch

Bags #8 and 9 build the Keep, with a lovely Rohan flag

Bags #8 and 9 build the Keep, with a lovely Rohan flag

Set 9471, optional addition to the fortress

Set 9471, optional addition to the fortress

 

The completed product

The completed product

King Theoden, Eomer, Rohan soldier, Aragorn, Gimli and Haldir

King Theoden, Eomer, Rohan soldier, Aragorn, Gimli and Haldir

Uruk Hai Commander, 6 Uruk rank and file types and an Uruk berserker with torch

Uruk Hai Commander, 6 Uruk rank and file types and an Uruk berserker with torch

Overall, this is a nice set; I like that they offered an additional side set to round it out a bit more. You get a good number of minis you can’t get elsewhere, though the only two Fellowship members offered are repeats of other sets (Aragorn and Gimli) without any variation. Not a fan of exact duplication. The wall with the drainage ditch does actually explode, just like in the film…

Should've stopped that berserker!

Should’ve stopped that berserker!

It would have been nice if you could more easily recreate the scene where Theoden and Aragorn storm the ramp on horseback from the Keep, but there really is no direct path to the main gate from the Keep. There is a bridge to connect walkways, but that is about it. A minor complaint; this build was a lot of fun. Once I have all of my miniatures unbagged and available, I am going to likely use this set as the scene of Lego Armageddeon, with an unlikely nerdgasm battle to end all battles will be fought. Stay tuned!

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