The Lord of the Rings – The Christmas Classics nobody ever expected

I want to start by saying that this is not a review, it is a discussion about what these movies mean to me, my history with them and why they remind of Christmas and are Holiday Classics for myself. I am only discussing the Peter Jackson Lord of Rings movies and not the books nor the animated version by Ralph Bakshi.

I don’t have photographs of my childhood with these films so I am using images from google, if anyone has an issue with an image I use please email me at my contact email address in the contact me section of this website and I will change it for another.

Fellowship of the Ring (2001)

Fellowship of the Ring was released in December of 2001 and I was eight years old, my grandmother had come to visit the day after her and my Grandad went to the cinema to watch a film called The Lord of the Rings.

I remember asking her to tell me about it and she told me it was load of rubbish and was so boring and stupid that she fell asleep not long into the movie, this may be surprising but keep in mind that when she was younger she grew up with the books and while I haven’t read them myself yet I am sure they are quite different to the film adaptations.

After hearing about this boring movie eight year old me left the room to play and knowing myself it was probably Crash Bandicoot on the PS1 although I cant be too sure.

One year later on Christmas day 2002 I opened up one of my presents and it was that boring movie my grandmother told me about, I left it alone for a while as I was more interested in my new toys but on Christmas it has always been tradition for my family to watch a movie together and that year my mother wanted us to watch Lord of the Rings.

I quickly became obsessed with this movie and would play the tape almost daily, I’m not sure what really got me into the films but I do know that I had recently became interested in Wizardry thanks to Harry Potter and the Philosophers Stone which was released in theatres around a year prior to when I was gifted Fellowship.

Gandalf the wizard became a favourite character of mine and even my friends, we all began quoting the famous “YOU SHALL NOT PASS” line while playing games in the garden and I we used to love re-watching his battle with the Balrog time and time again.

Another Scene I remember watching vigorously as a child was the fight with the Cave Troll, definitely one of the most intense parts of the movie and for an eight year old it was very memorable as a battle, again this may be due to Harry Potter which also had a troll fight, I dont like comparing the two but in my childhood this makes a lot of sense now that I look back almost 20 years later.

The movie ended on a fairly un-conclusive note so while young, I was still aware that there was more of the story to be told but at that age I was fairly distracted with school, video games and other hobbies so I never gave this much thought until the second movie ended up in my hands.

The Two Towers (2002)

Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers released in theatres December 2002 I remember seeing posters for the movie but I was too young to be allowed to see the movie in the cinema, instead I would have to wait until the following Christmas before the tape was finally added to my collection.

I don’t remember the Christmas that I received this very well but I do have some very fond memories of this film and this is probably the video tape out of the entire trilogy which I played the most growing up.

It was the first interaction that the hobbits had with the creature Gollum here played by Andy Serkis who voiced the character and did live action work before the animation. Gollum is easily the best part of the film, he is very funny especially when he starts arguing with his other personality Sméagol.

I always wanted a Treebeard action figure when I was younger thanks to his scenes in the Two Towers, as a nine year old I was very jealous of Merry and Pippin getting to ride in his arms, I think he was a really lovable character and to this day he is still one of my favourite parts of the film.

I could never understand the whole Gandalf the Grey turned Gandalf the White when I was a child, It’s not that I didn’t like the character It was just a little bit too complicated for me to grasp back then, re-watching the film recently I must say it is really impressive how the cinematography, clever use of lighting and editing makes it seem like its Saruman before the big reveal.

The battle scene for Helms Deep was replayed so many times on the video tape that this section began to wear out before the rest of the video did, me and friends would often rewind this part and re-watch it, it is generally a very intense and fun battle scene, the fellowship only manages to get a 300 man army to take on 10’000 orcs so your really on the edge of your seat watching this.

There is also the competition between Legolas and Ghimli which adds some comedy to the scene and of course how can you forget Legolas riding the shield down the stairs while shooting orcs.

Again the film ends on a cliff hanger leaving me only desperate to get part three with me not realising that it would be the final chapter of this story.

The Return of the King (2003)

December 2003 saw the Return of the King hitting theatres but as per usual I wouldnt see the movie until a year later.

2004 was a tough year for my family, money was running low, savings were non existent and due to the stress of making enough money to feed the family my father had to take up a job abroad. One of the most difficult losses especially for my parents was the loss of our house, we couldn’t afford the upkeep so we were forced to move to an old flat in the city.

Its fair to say that I wasn’t expecting Lord of the Rings that year so I was very happy when it was gifted to me by my Auntie on Boxing Day when we did our usual Christmas greetings of the extended family.

Return of the King is easily in my opinion the best film in the trilogy, I have a lot of memories of this movie and they start from the very beginning, the movie opens with two brothers Sméagol and Deagol fishing on a boat, Deagol falls into the water and finds the One Ring, he refuses to give it to Sméagol for his birthday so he gets strangled to death and this starts the rings corruption of Sméagol and the creation of the Gollum.

I used to hate the scene with Denethor eating as it is really gross, I had a weak stomach when I was a kid so I used to close my eyes at this part, I suppose that’s why it always stuck with me.

The army of the undead was unbelievably cool for ten year old me, I used to love the big fight in this film, it had orcs, trolls, elephants and yes even the ghosts!, even Legolas and Ghimli’s competition was continued in the film and most prominently in this scene, it was tons of fun and both my favourite part of the movie and the videogame adaptation that was released.

There is a part of the film after Frodo leaves Sam he gets tricked into entering the cave of the Spider Shelob where he gets injected with a numbing liquid and wrapped in web, this part used to scare me and is really disturbing, when Sam removes the web from Frodo’s face he looks pale and dead and it isn’t revealed until later on that he is still alive.

For many fans the scene where Sam carried Frodo up Mount Doom is one of the most beautiful and memorable and if I ever review these films I will likely fully analyse this moment.

For me one of the most memorable parts of Return of the King was when Frodo refuses to drop the ring into Mount Doom, the entire trilogy had been building up to this moment so it is difficult to see Frodo be so corrupted that he doesn’t want to let go, of course Gollum jumps on top of an invisible Frodo and bits his finger off, this moment snaps Frodo out of his control and he pushes Gollum to his death in turn destroying the ring and saving Middle Earth.

The ending where Frodo, Bilbo and Gandalf go off on the boat I didn’t fully understand when I was younger, I assumed they were going on more adventures, and while this is kind of the case I now realise that they were going to the undying lands where they would settle down until the end of time.

And that’s it, that is all of my fondest childhood memories of Lord of the Rings, as I stated this was not a review but more of my experiences with the films growing up and why I watch them every Christmas, of course they are not Christmas movies but for me they do remind of the holiday and were some of the most memorable gifts I ever received, I know I skipped over a lot of moments in the films and if I ever review them I will do them full justice in a proper review but for now it was nice for me to look back at these epics and why they mean so much to me.

Happy Holidays everybody, I know my Christmas offerings have been less than usual this year, I may try to squeeze one more review out if I am feeling up for it but if not.

Have a great holiday season and I will see you all in 2021 !!

If you would like to help support the website please use the donation button at the top of the page, your donations will help to improve the website by allowing me to afford products to review and to be able to execute any costly updates and changes, any amount in donations are welcome.

Thank You for all of your support.

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The Santa Clause (1995) Review

The Santa Clause is a Disney Christmas movie starring Tim Allen as Scott Calvin a fairly unfortunate character who wants nothing more than for his son Charlie to retain the Christmas Spirit and believe in Santa very much to the dislike of his wife.

Later on in the film after a disappointing dinner at Denny’s and Charlie still unsure about the magic of Christmas, Scott accidently spooks Santa on his roof causing to him slip and fall to his death!

Scott begins to gain excessive amounts of weight and has uncontrollable facial hair growth, no matter what he does he cannot escape turning into the new Father Christmas.

Tim Allen actually looks really good as Father Christmas, all movie Santa’s pretty look the same but I think its the curved moustache that I like the most about this version.

The movie is pretty good but I don’t love it, some of the visual effects are outdated and are bad even for the time, the visuals of him going down the chimney were particularly unimpressive.

The elves being children is something I haven’t seen much in Santa movies, it definitely feels odd having these kids playing adult roles but it works well enough.

The thing I really don’t like about this movie is actually intentional, in the films defence this is not a criticism and is just something that I dislike. The mother character (Wendy Crewson) and her psychiatrist husband Neil (Judge Reinhold) really want Charlie to stop believing in Santa even though he is just eight years old. I really feel that eight is still very young and this intention while it was supposed to be for the child’s own good came across as really cruel.

Going back to the elves, the head elf of the North Pole is a character named Bernard, at first I did not like him as I thought he came across a little bit mean but I soon warmed up to him especially near the end of the film when his snappy and commanding attitude was shown more in the light of him really caring that Christmas is able to still happen and is as magical as can be even with a brand new, last minute Santa Claus.

The Santa Clause is a good Christmas movie, It is far from one of my favourites, I think the concept is really interesting, you don’t often see Father Christmas die and have the job passed onto someone else especially in a live action feature. I didn’t like a lot of characters in this film and I also found the visual effects somewhat cringeworthy but saying that this isn’t a Christmas Classic for others is untrue. The movie is often on lists of the best Christmas films of all time and many people have fond memories of watching this, It’s just not for me and at some point perhaps I will look at the sequels to see if I enjoy those more but for now this is one Christmas Movie I will happily sit through again but not as an annual Christmas Tradition.

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The Muppet Christmas Carol (1992) Review

The Muppet Christmas Carol is a musical fantasy film starring everyone’s favourite puppet characters, Originally created by the late Jim Henson the Muppets were a huge success on Television and eventually starring in movies until Jim’s death in 1990.

This is a really good video playlist about Jim Hensons career it was made by Youtube Channel called Defunctland and is one of the best documentary series on Jim and his creations, I would highly recommend checking it out

After Jim’s passing his son Brian took the Muppets franchise under his wing and began work on the first movie that would be made after Jim Henson and this film just so happens to be a take on the Chales Dickens story A Christmas Carol.

The story is one of the most well known tales of all time but for those who may be living under a rock, A Christmas Carol is the story of a very angry and unkind man who is shown the error of his ways on one Christmas eve where three different ghosts show him his past, present and future in hopes of giving him a chance to redeem himself and avoid an eternity in Hell.

In this version of the classic story, Ebenezer Scrooge is played by academy award winner and cinema legend Micheal Cain, his performance in this is really good, in fact its my favourite performance of Scrooge in any media. The film is relatively silly as it should be, it is the Muppets after all.

The silliest moments come from Gonzo and Rizzo who are narrating the story while the movie is playing.

Another Great example of Muppet humour is the christmas party scene, it has Animal on the drums, Rolf on the Piano, Bad Jokes from Fozzy Bear and is genuinly one the most memorable parts of the film.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4jLRLwI6OdU

What makes Cain stand out so well is that he plays such a serious role when the rest of the movie is a Muppets film, his performance in this is so convincing that by the end of the film you even start to feel a little sorry for him, I really do think this is one of his best roles, the only slight issue is that he struggles to carry a tune during his song at the end of the movie and it would have been better if his singing was dubbed.

The rest of the cast is great, I felt the muppets chosen for the characters were really good, Kermit being Bob Cratchett is an obvious choice and Miss Piggy playing his wife Emily also makes sense, but we need to take time to appreciate the smaller roles, Dr Bunsen Honeydew and Beaker play the charity collectors which is seems an odd choice but it works surprisingly well but the best casting which was ingenious in my opinion was the role of Jacob Marley going to

Waldorf and Statler, I dont think anyone expected these guys to play such a large role in the film as they were mainly used for the odd funny remark in the TV show and the previous movies, they are great as Jacob Marley (now split into two brothers) and even sing a catchy musical number.

The music for the film was written and composed by Paul Williams and Miles Goodman, I have very mixed feelings on this I would argue that half of the music is phenomenal and some of the best Christmas themed music put to screen but the other half feels a little lackluster. Some highlights for me were “Scrooge”, “Marley and Marley”, It Feels Like Christmas” and even the “finale Song” was memorable but the rest is so forgettable, I couldn’t recall “One More Sleep til Christmas” or “Bless us All”, the movie had a lot of songs cut from it including songs by Beaker and Dr Honeydew, another by Sam the Eagle, these were not very good so I’m glad they weren’t kept in the film but the track “When Love is Gone” was cut from the film in releases after the theatre since it was deemed to sad and this is a shame because its a really beautiful lyrical piece that helps give more depth to Scrooge and his long lost love Belle’s character.

My favourite track is It Feels Like Christmas sang by the Ghost of Christmas Present, its a really bouncy and fun song about the meaning of Christmas but what makes it most impressive is the Puppet used for the Ghost, he was a life size Puppet made for the movie, a human actor controlled the puppet from the inside while a Puppeteer used robotics to control the eyes and mouth and did the voice acting in sync with the actors dancing and movements.

A Muppet Christmas Carol is a magical movie that is a yearly tradition for many especially Muppet fans like myself, It has a lot going for it with its impressive puppetry, charm that only these characters can bring the the screen and of course you cannot forget about Michael Cain who is just wonderful in this, this is one of the best telling’s of the classic Dickens tale but it’s not my favourite, it falls short is some places I found the commentary from Gonzo and Rizzo a little distracting at times and a few of the songs were forgettable but overall this is a still a really amazing film and it is one of the best in the Muppets library, a lot of love went into it and I have a lot of love for it and I’m sure you will too if you give it a try this Christmas.

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