Let me start by saying that Peter Jackson’s The Lord of the Rings is not only my favorite trilogy of all time, but my favorite film of all time. These movies are just about as perfect as perfect adaptations of Tolkien’s writing can get. However, Jackson and Philippa Boyens are people too, and as such, they indeed are subject to human error.
Since The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey came out, there has been a rehashing of the old debate, originating from the “How it should have ended” video and now spewed by every pretentious fanboy who thinks he’s the most clever person on Middle Earth, about why Gwaihir: The Windlord’s eagles couldn’t have just taken Frodo from Rivendell to Mordor and saved everyone the trouble of having to walk all the way there and fight all those battles. It’s a silly argument, made by people who clearly have no idea what they are talking about and need to read up on their Tolkien. Here’s why.
Just as one does not simply walk into Mordor, one does not simply fly there either. Mordor was the most well-guarded and well-fortified kingdom in all of Middle Earth. There is not only restless evil there, as well as Sauron’s eye to contend with, but there is utter blackness. The eagles would have to fly up almost into space to be able to see where they’re going. And then when they’d descend, they’d be blind from the sudden blackness. Orcs are excellent archers; if the eagles tried flying lower over the mountains, they’d have been shot down instantly, and then the Nazgul would be on them like sharks on a lion in the ocean. The eagles aren’t idiots. They would never agree to such a dangerous mission; they are friends of Gandalf but they are too powerful and too independent to be exploited. Sure, they flew to help at the black gate, when the fight was almost done, and then they flew into Mordor after the ring was destroyed, the tower of Barad-Ur had collapsed, the entire ground had caved in, and daylight was brought back to the wretched place. And they only flew the Hobbits from Mt. Doom to Minas Tirith, which are considerably close to one another. There.
Okay? Can we be done with that pointless debate now? No? Okay, well here are some ACTUAL flaws in the films that you probably didn’t take notice of. I’m here to tell you about them because…well, they’re just really really funny.
1. Apparently being risen from the dead and a slave to the will of a higher master muddles your brain because that ringwraith in Fellowship who missed the Hobbits hiding under and right up against the tree in front of him was definitely one of the dumbest henchmen ever. He stops dead in his tracks because he suspects someone might be there. He stands over the tree all menacing while the 4 hobbits cower helplessly under him. Then he hears what probably sounds to him like the ring calling. He leans in for curiosity. Then he stops hearing it so he stops leaning in. The ring was practically handed to him on a silver platter and he was like: “oh look, a backpack!”
2. When Saruman used the palantir to communicate with Sauron in Fellowship, and Sauron gave him the order to build him an army worthy of Mordor, why didn’t Sauron himself just tell the orcs he sent to Saruman what the project was in order to save them the trouble of walking all the way there just to find out from Saruman who found out basically over a phone? Sauron was willing to send a bunch of orcs to Saruman to help him carve Isengard into an Uruk-Hai breeding mine, the least he could have done was tell the orcs what they were going to do so they’d know what to bring. Was Saruman going to do all the equipment shopping too? That would have raised a few eyebrows in several places, and obviously Saruman was hoping to keep his treachery a secret at least until he was ready to strike.
3. The Watcher is clearly not very good at its job, unless part of its job description includes a mandate to destroy the Moria Gate in the event that strangers pass through, in which case it’s amazing the fellowship was the first group to pass. All it does is sit there and guard the gate, presumably for the dwarves; he doesn’t even know that Moria has been cleared out by goblins, orcs, a cave troll, and a friggin’ balrog. Why was it so quick to attack the fellowship? Or maybe it’s just really sensitive and had its feelings hurt when Merry and Pippin disturbed its erotic dream.
4. When Galadriel and Frodo were alone at her mirror, why did she suddenly switch from voice communication to telepathy? She only does that when she doesn’t want anyone else to hear it, but it’s pretty safe to assume that there was no one else there when Galadriel flipped out and professed that should she take the ring, that in place of a dark lord, you would have a QUEEN; NOT DARK BUT BEAUTIFUL AND TERRIBLE AS THE MORN, TREACHEROUS AS THE SEA, STRONGER THAN THE FOUNDATIONS OF THE EARTH! ALL SHALL LOVE ME AND DESPAIR!!!.
Thank the gods no one else was around to see that; they would have had a heart attack.
5. In The Fellowship of the Ring, as Isengard is turning into a cavern of breeding orcs, you see a tree fall and land into the piles of trees they were cutting down. In The Two Towers, you see the exact same scene of the same tree falling the same way and landing in the same piles of trees. These orcs are…mechanically methodical.
6. How did the Entish dialogue proceed at the Entmoot? If it took them the whole day to say “Good Morning” and then only a couple of hours at night to decide both the fact that Merry and Pippin are not in fact orcs, as well as what their actions in war would be, how did their dialogue go?
Treebeard: Now who wants war?
Ent 1: Not me
Ent 2: Not me
Ent 3: Not me
Treebeard: Okay. I’ll tell them.
And then Treebeard would presumably invoke the hypothetical argument he pre-prepared in the eventuality of a pacifist decision. “The Ents cannot hold back this storm. We must weather such things as we have always done. This is not our war.”
The only explanation for this would be that their “Good Mornings” are extraordinarily elaborate. How would trees say good morning to each other? “Oh fellow Ent, how illustrious, fantastic, and wonderful this majestic forest looks on the dawn of this spectacular day and I indeed hope you have prospered and blossomed to the tall and shining glory our ancestors once shared so long ago.” That’s my best guess.
7. Where were the Easterlings in Return of the King? What happened to them? In Towers, they were marching to the Black Gate, clearly being part of the war effort. There were “some thousands; more come every day.” And yet, in Return of the King, there were no Easterlings anywhere, not at Pelennor nor at the Black Gate. Sure, you see the Haradrim, so in spite of the best efforts by Faramir and his rangers, there were still enough Olyphants and bowmen to reckon with.
And on that note, where the hell were those Haradrim in Towers even going? If they came from the south, and Frodo was captured in the northern end of the Ithilien forest, why are they marching to the Black Gate? Sauron’s forces in Return of the King poured out of Minas Morgul and the Haradrim presided as reinforcements at Pellenor. They must have missed the memo containing their rallying point. Oh well…sucks to be them.
8. Why were Gandalf and Aragorn so surprised to find that Sauron intends to strike at Minas Tirith? The entire 2nd movie is bent around saving Rohan and taking care of Saruman so they could help Gondor fight the war. And the entire Hobbit is about Gandalf securing the Northeast and eliminating the presence of evil there to pin Sauron at Mordor and keep the fighting in the south. Gondor was always meant to be the bait. Besides, where else is Sauron supposed to strike? Mirkwood? Dol Amorath? Lorien? Helms Deep again?
And also on that note, when Faramir said that he saw Frodo and Sam in Ithilian less than two days ago…technically that’s not accurate. It is a 3 day gallop from Edoras to Minas Tirith. Faramir and the Hobbits parted ways on the same morning that the Battle of Helms Deep ended. The slow ride through Fangorn to Isengard took a full day, and then presumably they raced back to Edoras on the same day as well, celebrating in the evening on the same night that Pippin looked into the Palantir. That means at the very least, Frodo, Sam, and Gollum left Osgilliath 4 days ago. Maybe that’s why Denethor doesn’t like Faramir…he doesn’t keep track of time very well.
9. How could Gandalf have known that Elrond was going to show up at the Rohirrim encampment with Narsil reforged – y’know, the thing that saved Aragorn’s life from the King of the Dead. Gandalf was the one who told Aragorn to go through the Paths of the Dead, but without Anduril, he’d have sent him to his death. If Aragorn had left even a day earlier than when Elrond arrived, he’d have been slain where he stood, the Battle of Pelennor Fields would have been lost, Minas Tirith would have been sacked, and the White Tree Gondor would have been burned. There was a lot riding on Aragorn taking the Paths of the Dead and Gandalf didn’t even realize that he was ill prepared to do so until Elrond showed up long after Gandalf had left for Minas Tirith in the first place. Nice save, Elrond…and Arwen for that matter. Middle Earth really dodged a bullet there.
10. Nazgul clearly need to communicate better with their boss. When that one ringwraith at Osgilliath saw Frodo walk up to him and present him the ring, only for Faramir to shoot his beast and send him back to Mordor, tail between wings, then why did Sauron suddenly think his ring was actually in Rohan when Pippin looked into the Palantir? I’m just going to assume that this Ringwraith was the same idiotic black rider who saw a backpack.
Top that, you big nerds.