Back to Reviews

Reviews Comments: Lord of the Rings-or "We must do Research" The Nostalgia Chick season review by fenrisulfur

I have been a longtime watcher of her vids, but I don't know if I'd call myself a fan. I really enjoyed her "Dark Nella Saga," which actually was one of a few webshows to actually maintain a plot. I also did like her discussion of Orson Scott Card and Ender's Game. It was a thoughtful and well planned piece.

Now there's something new on the horizon, I've seen it in a few of her vids previously but not this heavily. In her (now) most recent video Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring, she only does a partial discussion on the film and book. Here's the thing: If she wanted to discuss a film, she needs more of a focus. We have a brief discussion on the history of the film, and that's fine, but she talks about LOTR as if it was the only successful fantasy franchise, we don't get a mention of Harry Potter, or smaller but very successful franchises like Charmed or Buffy. She then discusses the genre of Fantasy and says she doesn't get the comparison of fantasy and sci fi, stating fantasy is all history based and sci fi is all future based. Okay... but what about urban fantasy, fantastic realism, steampunk, or alternate history? Lastly, she starts making comments about how the film relates to the book.

Fine, that's her prerogative as a critic, but when she says she doesn't understand why Elrond looks old, I would like to point out, that is explained in the book. The same books she just mentioned reading. In all of these instances, we have one major issue: It's a half done review. Just googling "Successful fantasy film franchises" can tell you that Harry Potter and LOTR were produced at the same time, and the HP franchise has grossed and netted far more than LOTR. Thus her statement that LOTR is the reason people think Fantasy is profitable now is a very shaky one. She could just google "Fantasy and Sci Fi" and she would have the entire theory of speculative fiction explaining why they are lumped together. Google or Tvtropes could tell her that all fantasy isn't history or sci fi is futurism.

Long story short, If all her LOTR videos have this level of research/effort, I probably pass her vids over for a better researched web show, like Brows Held High or SF Debris. I can't entertain arguments that lack the support of basic research. I think she could be truly great, but she needs to take some more time in making her episodes.


  • emeriin
  • 12th Jan 13
The character's always been a Know Nothing Know It All. Go see her review on X Men to get that aspect hammered home.
  • TomWithNoNumbers
  • 12th Jan 13
Vampires aren't really fantasy in the sense she was talking about though, they're more a thing in their own right, so I don't think Buffy really counts. I don't think Buffy could be rightly called a fantasy setting at least.

The HP thing is more valid, although Lord of the Rings had made 2.9 million world wide by 2003, compared to Harry Potter which had made 2.6 million by 2004 (and they both started off at the same time and Lord of the Rings was based on an adaptation almost half a century old whereas the Harry Potter films at the height of a social craze, with books still being released) And Loto R gathered 17 Oscars out of 30 nominations and the third film tied with Ben Hur and the Titanic on Oscar wins, whereas all 8 Harry Potter films have had a grand total of 12 nominations and no wins. By the third film they'd only garnered 5 total.

So I mean, at the time the films weren't close to the success of the Loto R films and by many measures the franchise has never come close to the Loto R films. On an intellectual level the trilogy has done far more to show that fantasty creates interesting respectable films, but I would tend to agree that Harry Potter had more influence (even though the influence came from the book series instead of the films. I don't think people really believe the films would have sold well at all or even got past the first if the books were 50 years old and the cultural phenomena had subsided), if only because, what fantasty films have their been since Lord of the Rings? Almost none of the 'create a whole new world variety' and the ones that have been made, have been fantasty books aimed at mainly teen audiences (Eragon) as opposed to primarily Loto R audiences.

But still, she's only given you a third of her argument and all of her arguments are going to be pressed into an hour and a halfs timeframe which isn't a lot. She knows her stuff about films, she got a degree in them and has presumably been following industry news for a very long time. She deserves to have the benefit of the doubt here. Just this week Extra Credits revealed how people have been calling them out on not doing the research when actually they were trying to provoke people to find very sophisticated points (although that guy is a lecturer and consultant in his topic area compressing information into 5 minute videos, which means he deserves a little more benefit than the Nostalgia Chick) but still. Wait till all three have been made and she could still very well look weak, but there's a chance she might make a strong case
  • TomWithNoNumbers
  • 12th Jan 13
Apart from anything else, she hasn't told us how they changed the industry into Hobbit type films yet, which was the central part of how Loto R changed the ballgame. We're discussing whats caused changes that she hasn't even described so far
  • fenrisulfur
  • 12th Jan 13
You might be right about her waiting to explain on the "She's going to do that later." She did however say that it is the reason we have multipart movie franchises is LOTR. This does have some credence, but considering the current splitting that has occurred since Deathly Hallows, I'd say Potter is the big trendsetter. Secondly, HP's production history from concept to stage stuck out to me more, as there was a jump from three books as one low budget animated movie (that was the original pitch) to seven movies based on a series where half the books that hadn't even been made yet. Considering Eragon was a teen aimed series based on an incomplete franchise, I think we can chalk that up to pottermainia.

I do however consider Buffy fantasy because it contains ghosts, witches, magic, undead in many forms. It's as much a fantasy as Charmed or the Dresden Files, that being urban fantasy.
  • TomWithNoNumbers
  • 12th Jan 13
Urban fantasy is such a different beast though, even in Harry Potter which I consider maybe a bit fringe example you've got Hogwarts and Diagon Alley and all these wizard villages and games and tournaments. Even though technically it takes place around our world, for much of the practical purposes it's still taking place in a fantastical land. And to me the fantastical land is everything, Narnia and Middle Earth etc. There's so little relation between Narnia/His Dark Materials/Eragon/Lord of the Rings/A Song of Ice and Fire and Blade/Supernatural/Twilight/Constantine (because those are three things that go together right?). And ghosts/undead in particular isn't something I'd really associate with fantasty unless it was a small element of a larger whole. Like there are a lot of horror films with occult rites and ghosts and raising the dead etc but I wouldn't automatically connect that with fantasy. And from the account I heard Buffy took it's inspiration from stuff in the horror genre.

I guess fantasy is a bit of an all inclusive term.

I didn't know that about the publishing history, although Lord of the Rings has been through as much including actually being produced as an animated film that compressed all three and a script which involved finding the password to the mines of Moria by digging a hole, dumping Gimli in it and beating him up to unlock 'racial memories'. But reading up on it, if they pitched the idea in 1997 it's not completely surprising, because I think Harry Potter got big in 1999-2000 and so what was just scouring children's books right for a normal film suddenly became absolute gold to extract as much cash from as possible. I mean they paid just pound 1 million for the first 4 books?

I'm interested to hear whats she's going to say though, because you're right, you can point to a dozen films that are literally trying to be Harry Potter and more that copied filming idea, I can't point to one that was trying to be Lord of the Rings
  • fenrisulfur
  • 13th Jan 13
Fantasy is a what if scenario that doesn't use a scientific basis, long and short of it. You can do it as horror, mystery, or adventure, but those are tones more than settings. After watching her Two Towers video, I'd like to point out that she says that since audiences liked Gimli's jokes in the first film, they must have added more to the Two Towers, but a quick look at the Wikipedia page tells you all of the films were made contemporaneously. That was the kind of stuff I was complaining about in the first films. At least this time she referenced Harry Potter. Some of those movies she mentioned did owe a lot to the LOTR films, but the fact that the A Series of Unfortunate Events, Spiderwick, and Stardust were heavily trying the teen angle that Harry Potter used (Spiderwick and Unfortunate Events even looked like Harry Potter, not using a middle ages scenario at all).

Also, her swipes at the general public just seemed uncalled for (watching 5 movies theatrically per year doesn't mean you can't understand nuance, it means you don't want to pay ten dollars for a movie you /might/ like, and people aren't that stupid to be sad because a movie tells them to).

As to the idea that Chris Columbus is a "high paid hack," I wouldn't call a guy who directed Adventures in Babysitting, and wrote Goonies, Young Sherlock Holmes, and Gremlins a hack. I can't defend his recent movies, but I can't call someone who can do great work a hack.

  • TomWithNoNumbers
  • 14th Jan 13
Chris Columbus did fundamentally screw up the Percy Jackson series though and just went through the checklist of everything he'd done to Harry Potter to write it. Including reusing the digital affects, music and character shots from the snitch scene for the flying shoe scene. (Why was there a flying shoe scene?) But your defense of him is good.

Everything else you said is fair game. Not recognising that the films were shot at the same time is bad. Maybe she was implying they recut footage they had to add more jokes? I'm not really buying it. And all the films you mention seem far more Harry Potter than Loto R

I'll defend my fantasty thing though =D Even if all the things are technically fantasy there's so much space between them that the subdivisions become more useful than the larger divisions.
  • fenrisulfur
  • 14th Jan 13
I have to agree about what he did with PJ. That was just a disappointment.
  • maninahat
  • 15th Jan 13
Well, she's compared it to Harry Potter in the Two Towers review. Happier?

In order to post comments, you need to

Get Known