I can tell you this much: 3 hours and 28 minutes of enhanced and expanded storytelling in the limited theatrical re-release of The Fellowship of the Ring is plenty minutes too many. Apart from the odd glimpse of the occasional unfamiliar CGI location (“Oooooh”) which might or might not have appeared in the original version, the extra 30 minutes consist entirely of various characters staring soulfully off into the great distance, sometimes with tears in their eyes, often with dirt on their faces. New Zealand swoons around them. The music simpers. It’s downright painful.
Fellowship earned a lot of good will when it first came out by being competent and coherent. We’ll put up with a lot when you’re compressing hundreds of pages into a few hours at 24 FPS for us, with brownie points for not being insulting or just plain dumb.
All that good will is in jeopardy now. With long bouts of seasick camera, cloying characterizations, and leaden and fraught-with-import whispered deadpan acting, this “special” version is in theatres, in theory, for only about five days. This is a good thing, since you can pretty easily avoid it. I’m worried now that “The Two Towers” was an accurate read of the level these films are on, rather than charitably being that middle boring bit of the trilogy. We’ll find out in a couple of weeks, but with a cleaner insight into Part One, my expectations for Part Three have dipped pretty low.
The enhanced cut of “The Two Towers” will be out next week. It promises an excruciating 43 minutes’ worth of new footage. Yes, of course I’ll be there. I’m thick like that. One last question, though, unchanged from my first viewing: what on earth was Cate Blanchett thinking when she did that absurd job as Galadriel?
Of course it could be worse. The DVD box set of the Alien quadrilogy contains an intimidating 45 hours of new material. I’m tempted to go kill someone hateful, so I can watch the 9-disc set while doing federal time. But then I think I’d have to gouge my eyes out with a spork over prison cafeteria food, and it just gets ugly.
I went in to the new Loews E-Walk theatre on the north side of 42nd Street (note to manager: if you are going to have a Starbucks in your lobby, and if you are going to have 15 signs saying that no Starbucks products can be brought into the theatre, then YOU MUST HAVE COFFEE READY at 11:00 a.m. when the movie starts, and “Oh sorry they didn’t make it yet” is not an acceptable answer) with snow swirling down outside. Two hundred and eight fairly excruciating minutes later the city was staggering under heavy accumulation and visibility was down to nothing.
I headed off to Ninth Avenue in search of Chinese food. At the corner of 46th and 8th my feet shot up, my head shot down, bright white light exploded behind my eyes, and a loud crunch eclipsed the traffic noise. I was suddenly on my back with a frightened young couple leaning over me, asking if I could get up. My glasses were over there –> and my feet were over there <– and by the time I got all the pieces of me in place and vertical I was mush.
It’s interesting how scattered and yet mundane your thoughts are when you’re lying on your back on the sidewalk wondering if this is going to be big trouble. The main thing I was realizing was that I don’t recall ever falling down in my entire adult life. First time for everything. But apparently I’m not dead yet.