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Manohla Dargis' LA Times review of ROTK

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Manohla Dargis' LA Times review of ROTK

Old 01-26-04, 11:50 AM
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Manohla Dargis' LA Times review of ROTK

Can anyone link to or post her review?

Thanks
Old 01-26-04, 01:26 PM
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Kenneth Turan reviewed ROTK for the LA Times. He gave it a very positive review.

Dargis did, however, address ROTK in her online column.

We try to split the film assignments fairly, so I took the second "Lord of the Rings" film and my colleague Kenneth Turan took the third (he took the second "Matrix" movie and I took the third). I'm very glad that I didn't review "The Return of the King," however, because I would have, with great reluctance, panned it. I logged onto www.metacritic.com and www.rottentomatoes.com and discovered that a number of women critics have succumbed to the latest installment of Peter Jackson's epic endeavor. Claudia Puig from USA Today gave "The Return of the King" four stars, Lisa Schwarzbaum from Entertainment Weekly gave it an A, and Lisa Kennedy from the Denver Post anointed it with 3 stars (out of 4). Eleanor Ringel Gillespie from the Atlanta Journal-Constitution liked the film as did Maitland McDonagh from TV Guide's Movie Guide and a handful of other women critics.

Me? It was nice to see Viggo Mortensen, Hugo Weaving and Orlando Bloom again, but mostly I was bored out of my mind while watching "The Return of the King" really, really bored. I assumed that other critics would like the film and would rightly praise Jackson for his grand cinematic ambitions, but I have to admit that I've been startled and not a little depressed by the rush to proclaim this bloated, often enervating spectacle a masterpiece. Gender doesn't have anything to do with my take, though. I love loads of traditionally "male" films and genres, including action flicks, gangster and detective movies, westerns, science fiction and horror freakouts, which is a good thing since most films are now, overwhelmingly, made by men for men. And then there's the simple fact that I've always enjoyed the sight of beautiful men doing manly things on screen, including pummeling one another to a pulp, albeit in a highbrow D.H. Lawrence kind of way.

Beautiful men are certainly one reason I loved the first "Lord of the Rings" film, although I also loved its energy and lack of irony, as well as Jackson's towering aspiration. I thought the second movie was mezzo-mezzo some of it was thrilling (Legalos lifting himself onto his horse), some of it magical (the talking and walking trees, which seemed like old hippie cousins to the trees in "The Wizard of Oz"). But the battle scenes were overlong, dull and badly choreographed a confusion of noise, CGI tricks and little else. The third film was far worse; it played like a series of sustained final chords ("ta-da...ta-da...ta-da!") mixed in with a lot of CGI gunk. I like animation as much as the next cinephile, but if I had to watch one more computer-generated oliphant crush one more computer-generated warrior, I thought I was going to scream.

And then there are the film's rather discomforting politics, which I won't bother going into since I've already received enough hate mail this month. For an interesting analysis of "The Return of the King," check out K.A. Dilday's piece at www.opendemocracy.com, which suggests that the film is "vindication and veneration of empire."
She followed up that screed with a further comment a few days later.

I don't think that people who sing the praises of "The Return of the King" are wrong; they're deluded.
Old 01-26-04, 01:44 PM
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If gender doesn't have anything to do with her take, then why is it the overriding theme of her review?
Old 01-26-04, 03:17 PM
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They're deluded.

Right, because people can't have opinions of their own.
Old 01-26-04, 03:23 PM
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Thank you Skorp. In this months Film Comment it gives a recap of her reviews and shows that she gave ROTK one star, but it did not include the review, so thank you.

I pretty much disagree with her assessment. I find I usually disagree with her.

In that review she spends far more time qualifying her position than defending it with examples.

Last edited by Pants; 01-26-04 at 04:14 PM.
Old 01-26-04, 06:24 PM
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Originally posted by Pants
I pretty much disagree with her assessment. I find I usually disagree with her.
Bah. You're just gender-biased.
Old 01-26-04, 06:54 PM
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Originally posted by the big train
If gender doesn't have anything to do with her take, then why is it the overriding theme of her review?
Just to clarify: The question she was answering had to do with whether female critics could respond to male-oriented films like ROTK. Hence the focus on gender in her response.

However, her slam that people who sing the praises of ROTK are "deluded" is pretty low and wholly inappropriate coming from a critic for a major paper.

But, then, what do I know? I'm one of those suffering from that delusion (as are the New York Film Critics, the Broadcast Film Critics, the Hollywood Foreign Press -- and millions of other people around the world).

Isn't it a good thing we have Manohla Dargis to show us all the error of our ways!
Old 01-27-04, 01:22 AM
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I first knew that I would frequently disagree with Dargis when I read her vitriolic review of Lynch's Lost Highway many years ago--basically, she picked it apart with old-hat feminist dogma.

Her pan of ROTK holds absolutely no weight with me. As far as I am concerned we didn't even see the same movie.
Old 01-29-04, 08:29 PM
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I like animation as much as the next cinephile, but if I had to watch one more computer-generated oliphant crush one more computer-generated warrior, I thought I was going to scream.
Yeah! Why the heck didn't Peter Jackson get a Real oliphaunt to really crush a real warrior actor to death?

He should also have gotten a real winged creature from middle earth for the Nazgul to ride on instead of using CG.

Shame on you PJ!

Last edited by Hobgoblin; 01-29-04 at 08:31 PM.
Old 01-30-04, 12:38 PM
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Originally posted by Hobgoblin
Yeah! Why the heck didn't Peter Jackson get a Real oliphaunt to really crush a real warrior actor to death?

He should also have gotten a real winged creature from middle earth for the Nazgul to ride on instead of using CG.

Shame on you PJ!
I don't like her article either, but it's pretty obvious you missed her point there.
Old 01-31-04, 06:07 AM
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^^^
and how do you propose they put the mumakil on screen? and the warriors that they kill?

why do film critics have such a nostalgic love for old fashioned sfx? the only thing that should matter is what looks the best. cgi CAN certainly look cartoonish, but when used wisely it is excellent and indistinguishable from the real elements.
Old 01-31-04, 05:26 PM
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Originally posted by TCG
^^^
and how do you propose they put the mumakil on screen? and the warriors that they kill?

why do film critics have such a nostalgic love for old fashioned sfx? the only thing that should matter is what looks the best. cgi CAN certainly look cartoonish, but when used wisely it is excellent and indistinguishable from the real elements.
I think her point wasn't about how the effects were done, just that she was tired of seeing them at all. Granted I don't agree with her, but I guess I can understand...there are lots of CGI shots of things that aren't real...and when you're a miserable bore like this woman, yeah perhaps it's not her cup o tea.
Old 02-01-04, 08:15 AM
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Originally posted by Pants
I don't like her article either, but it's pretty obvious you missed her point there.
Being a cinephile myself, I do know about alternate techniques like animatronics, Harryhausen type of stop-motion techniques, miniatures, or a guy dressed up like a oliphaunt etc. My point is that all of these being fake, CGI is the best looking fake. If she does not like fake things at all, then what she wants are real creatures and real deaths.
Old 02-01-04, 12:14 PM
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What the hell is wrong with you people?

See the above post by jaeufraser and then learn to read. She isn't asking for another form of special effect to be used, she wants less Oliphaunt period.
Old 02-01-04, 04:37 PM
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Originally posted by TCG
why do film critics have such a nostalgic love for old fashioned sfx?
But they really don't. The just bemoan CGI because it makes them look like they know more about film than you do. It's the trendy thing for the "black and white hippie movies about gay cowboys eating pudding" crowd to bitch about, mainly because independent filmmakers are too poor to afford CGI effects.

Dig back through the archives to any successful and well made sfx movie (Empire Strikes Back, Aliens, Star Trek IV). They were panned just as hard as movies are today for relying on special effects. Now we're supposed to do a 180 and think those movies are better because they had rubber suits instead of CGI monsters?

Granted, those are all great movies, but so are movies like the LOTR trilogy, and LOTR looks even better, because they can immerse you so much deeper into that alternate world.

CGI can definitely be overused. The Matrix Reloaded and Blade II spring to mind, but any cinematic technique or trick can be overused. Movies should be judged on how they work as a whole, not how "pure" the picture on the screen is.
Old 02-01-04, 04:38 PM
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Originally posted by Pants
She isn't asking for another form of special effect to be used, she wants less Oliphaunt period.
Maybe she should go watch "Cold Mountain" again. I think there's only one oliphant in that.
Old 02-01-04, 04:56 PM
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Originally posted by Jason
Maybe she should go watch "Cold Mountain" again. I think there's only one oliphant in that.
I definately counted three in Cold Mountain. I think you're thinking of "You Got Served," which sports only a fleeting scene of an oliphant dancin with some streetwise youngsters.
Old 02-01-04, 05:19 PM
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Originally posted by Pants
What the hell is wrong with you people?

See the above post by jaeufraser and then learn to read. She isn't asking for another form of special effect to be used, she wants less Oliphaunt period.
What is wrong with showing oliphaunts? Is she a member of some "Society for the prevention of cruelty to CG Animals"?
Old 02-01-04, 05:35 PM
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Originally posted by Hobgoblin
What is wrong with showing oliphaunts? Is she a member of some "Society for the prevention of cruelty to CG Animals"?
I don't know dude, and I don't really care. I don't agree with her review at all. I'm just explaining what she meant to those of who can't seem to understand what she's talking about.

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