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Narm / The Lord of the Rings

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The Books

  • "Praise them with great praise!"
  • Tolkien's archaic writing style lends itself to narm, especially for modern audiences.
  • "With that (Théoden) seized a great horn from Guthláf his banner-bearer, and he blew such a blast upon it that it burst asunder". It sounds good in print, but just try picturing it and it looks silly. You can imagine him staring at it in bemusement before throwing it away.
    • The sentence does sound somewhat silly in itself.
  • "Then late in the afternoon in the third day of their moot, the Ents suddenly blew up". Taken literally, and you can imagine John Cleese narrating "And here is the Ent who told us where they were... *BOOM*... and this is where he lived. *BOOM*" . Alternatively, the Bender clones exploding at the end of Futurama: "Bender's Big Score".
  • Saruman ditching his white robe for one of many colors is really silly to picture. That's probably why he stayed white in the film. In the MMO based on the book, Saruman does appear with a cloak/robe that iridesces slowly through all the colors of the rainbow, and while with a decent graphics card it's really a very nice effect, it definitely confirms that "let's just stick with white" was the right decision, because it makes him look like he's stopped by on his way to the Rainbow Pride parade.
    • The original context can probably be taken to mean that the robe shimmered as he moved. For some reason, Turbine decided to interpret it as Saruman's robe literally changing colours on its own.

Ralph Bakshi Animated Films
He's flying and he still fell off a bridge.
  • Ralph Bakshi made an Animated Adaptation of The Lord of the Rings in 1978, a time when he was in love with the technique of rotoscoping. He filmed much of the movie in live-action and then traced over it, creating an odd-looking form of animation. The result of this process is, depending on your point of view, either a cavalcade of creepiness or a perfect storm of Narm.
  • The prologue's depiction of the battle that concluded the Second Age. We've got silhouettes of warriors doing battle set against a blood-red background, which is a fairly solid artistic choice. Too bad it's completely wasted as the actors lazily swing their swords and give each other love-taps. When Isildur delivers the coup de grace on "Sore-on", the Dark Lord yanks his hand away as if he'd just broken a nail. Peter Jackson didn't come soon enough.
  • Hey, Samwise, what do you think about your portrayal in this adaptation?
    • Samwise in general. Seeing the simple yet honest and fiercely loyal Badass Normal of Tolkien's books reduced to a buck-toothed country bumpkin who looks like a potato is at once both very funny and very sad.
  • The Unscary Balrog While some of the rotoscoped aspects, such as the Ringwraiths, their horses, and even some of the orcs, do portray them as very ominous and unnatural, the Eldritch Abomination from the books that struck fear and dread into Gandalf is a hilariously bad lion costume, with butterfly wings and fuzzy boots. And it looked really unconvincing even back then; there are many other animated film monster and demon designs, even one from the 1940s that looked better than this live action rotoscoped catastrophe. Remember, they could have easily used conventional animation at any time during the production.
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  • Legolas's face when he's first introduced is supposed to be showing him beaming at finding his friends after days of searching, but the actual face he makes looks him look like he's high.
  • Whoever played Gandalf in the reference footage must have been instructed to overact as much as possible. He doesn't get through a single sentence in his monologues without flailing his arms about like a madman. Indeed, he looks like an extra in a Harold Zoid movie; and Frodo often looks like he wants to run away.
  • The armies of Orcs are photocopies of guys standing around in cheap monster masks.
  • The Nazgûl initially look scary; but once they dismount, they shuffle around moaning as if they suffer from severe arthritis.
  • In the same scene, when Gandalf falls from the bridge, it looks more than anything like the animators didn't bother to actually animate him and instead just took his previous standing cel and turned/moved it slightly relative to the background. This is really obvious in the photobook, which chose to illustrate this with a frame that looks like one of those rub-on transfer books done by a kid who didn't quite get the transfer lined up properly.
  • The magnificent Treebeard, which, also, must be seen to be believed.
  • There's Viking Boromir and Indian Aragorn (although John Hurt's performance was good) looking flashy in their miniskirts.
  • Legolas looks like he has Down's syndrome. Sam also looks mentally challenged in some unspecified way, though since he also acts mentally challenged it isn't quite as jarring.
  • Oh, hell, if you want to see all the Narm-iest moments (except for the Balrog), just look at this video. Note the appropriate music choice.
  • Aragorn looks like a Native American for some reason, Pippin looks like a junkie and Eowyn (who is only shown very briefly) looks like a tired 40-year-old housewife.
  • They forget that Saruman spells his name with an S halfway through.
    • That was Executive Meddling due to the presumption that Viewers Are Morons. Are you ready for this? They thought that people wouldn't be able to tell the difference between Sauron and Saruman. They both started with the syllable "Sa(u)r," after all. So they cut the letter S from Saruman, making half the film about stopping Aruman's (or, as some characters pronounce it, "arrow man"'s) evil plot. The only problem was, they weren't consistent. It might have worked if the S hadn't crept back in.
  • Near the end, there's a brief genuinely effective dramatic moment as Frodo wistfully looks forward to ending the quest, and wonders if he'll ever be able to have a normal life afterwards. Then Sam responds by walking off and whistling.
  • When Gandalf shows up at Frodo's doorstep earlier in the movie, Frodo starts jumping around and flailing his arms like some sort of fangirl at a concert.
  • The entire scene at The Prancing Pony. Between the rotoscoping, the Large Ham innkeeper and all the hammy extras playing the clients gleefully Chewing the Scenery, get ready for a few minutes of awkward unintentional humour.
  • The scene in which Bilbo is tempted to take back the ring at Rivendell. His awkward movements make it look like he's having a seizure.
  • While the sequence of the Orcs marching on Helm's Deep is for the most part frightening, the effect is somewhat undermined by what sounds like a kazoo on the soundtrack.

Peter Jackson Films
"This one's for Tinder"
  • Sauron's depiction as a literal flaming eye on top of Barad-dûr. In the book, Sauron was stated to still be a humanoid, and "Eye of Sauron" was just a metaphor for his power; Peter Jackson's decision to basically turn Sauron into a big, scary lighthouse has been met with some derision. The Hobbit films seem to address this by indicating that Sauron's humanoid form is actually contained within the eye's pupil.
  • Certain lines, especially "Let's hunt some Orc", "Nobody tosses a dwarf!" and the all-too-obvious title drops. Not to mention how Jackson worked in some rather ham-fisted allusions to the book's chapter titles. "It was only a detour. A shortcut!" "A shortcut to what?" "Mushrooms!"
  • The Battle of the Last Alliance seems to impede the capability of Elendil's kin of articulate speech:
    Galadriel: Victory was near...

    Galadriel: It was in this noment, when all hope had faded, that Isildur, son of the king, took up his father's sword.
  • The duel between Gandalf and Saruman in Orthanc. Just everything about it.
    • For starters, the scene of Gandalf hurrying towards the chamber's door, without even putting an end to the reunion or saying goodbye to Saruman (whom he still thinks to be just a case of Good Is Not Nice), once he learns the Hobbits are in danger. Then Saruman closes the door with Mind over Matter, and Gandalf, instead of asking what he is doing, turns to another door, which also closes. Then towards another door, again fruitlessly. Then another. Only then, after four different proofs that Saruman is obstructing him, he understands that the White Wizard is up to no good.
    • The battle begins with Saruman suddenly bellowing in rage in reply to an accusation of insanity by Gandalf. Not only it is silly, it also makes it look like a Lame Comeback, as if Saruman had really no answer for such a cliche and just attacked him.
    • The entire duel being a battle of turning telekinetic pushes through their staves's tips. Not only because it seem to be the only spell they both can come up with at the moment, but also because half of pushes send them crashing against the walls, but others simply seem to trip them down, making the good Wizards fall down squealing like the old men they are (or look).
    • The duel's spectacularly anticlimactic ending. Instead of overpowering Gandalf, Saruman simply snatches his staff from his hand, leaving him with a stunned, Oh, Crap! face before throwing him down. It makes it look like Saruman, despite being the leader of Gandalf's order and a new adept of Sauron, only won because Gandalf luckily got distracted half a second.
    • Saruman making Gandalf telekinetically spin on his shoulder on the ground, for no apparent reason, before launching him up the tower's stairwell. If there were any piece of drama left in the duel, that should have killed it dead.
  • "Crebain from Dunland!" It Makes Sense in Context, but since that context isn't elaborated on in the film, it just seems like a really weird way for Legolas to yell "Uh oh, birds!"
  • "Fell voices on the wind", or Christopher Lee singing in the shower?
    • The accompanying shot of Saruman bombastically singing spells on top of Orthanc doesn't precisely help. It almost looks like created specifically for internet people to meme it and/or insert new soundtracks on it to make it look like Saruman is singing them.
  • Gimli's reaction to seeing Balin's tomb. In the book, he merely puts a hood over his face to hide his tears. In the movie, he sobs vociferously like a wino for what seems like several minutes.
  • Frodo's face when he gets impaled by the cave-troll. Especially because he's not even remotely injured thanks to his Mithril vest. You can't help but get the feeling that he's just overreacting, or he thought he's gonna die, unaware of how resilient the Mithril vest truly is.
  • Galadriel's rant when she is tempted by the Ring. For some, Nightmare Fuel of the High Octane variety. For others it can be cringeworthy. Galadriel on a whole can come off this way. Cate Blanchett is attempting ethereal and somewhat inhuman... it can easily come off as if she's just really really stoned and looking at Frodo like an extra-large bag of Cheetos.
  • "They're taking the hobbits to Isengard!" The real issue with this one is the Adaptation Explanation Extrication that the trio were trying to figure out if Merry and Pippin were being taken to Isengard or Mordor, leaving Legolas making this statement so dramatically come off as totally meaningless.
  • Looks like meat's back on the menu, boys! Made stranger when one realizes that this implies orc culture has menus, which implies restaurants.
  • Possessed Theoden. He looks like such a crazy, senile old man in craggy hair and beard that is hard not to find it perversely funny. Also, "Hurr hurr hurr" is possibly the least intimidating way to laugh.
  • The Orc runner who carries the torch to set off the charges that breach Helm's Deep. For one thing he's completely shirtless and running down a trench of cheering, roaring Orcs. It is not clear if it is a deliberate, twisted reference to the Olympics, but whether it is or just an unintentional resemblance (up to debate which option would be narmier), it is greatly ridiculous.
  • Gollum's Pre-Insanity Reveal has at least two:
    • When Deagol picks up the One Ring, he used his whole hand and took lots of dirt from the bottom of the river than he logically should have - he's only attracted by the Ring there, why wouldn't he just use two fingers to pick it, instead?
    • Smeagol's voice already sounded like his voice when he became Gollum, despite previous films implied his deranged and childish voice was the result of corruption and deformation from One Ring. It just looks really weird to see Andy Serkis as a relatively normal-looking Hobbit speak like that and it kinda ruins the dramatic value of his Start of Darkness.
  • Pippin's line "We are sitting on a field of victory," due to the huge hunk of bread in his mouth combining with his Scottish accent to make it sound like he's saying "We are shitting," which actually kind of fits the situation too. Rifftrax notably completely ran with this.
  • The Extended Edition reveals that the Dead Men's first answer to Aragorn's summons was an avalanche of skulls. Apparently they had been piling them up for just such an occasion??
    • Shortly followed by another scene (thankfully also deleted from the theatrical release) where Aragorn and friends make it out of the mountain. The emotion swells, Aragorn collapses to his knees in despair... only to reveal an extremely dull shot of the King of the Dead striding through the wall, blandly stating "We fight." Which makes you wonder why he tried to murder the trio a minute ago.
  • Sam being inspired to go back to save Frodo only after finding the lembas bread Gollum had thrown off the mountain. It's like he was somehow convinced that he really did eat it.
  • Again, Frodo's expression when he gets stung by Shelob can be Nightmare Retardant for some.
  • The heck was with Denethor running a whole mile while on fire just so he can go over the edge?
  • Aragorn showing himself to Sauron through the Palantir, holding the restored sword of Elendil, looks like he's just trying to take a cool selfie. (To be fair, the scene in the book wasn't much better.)
    • He holds the Palantir with one hand to show himself to Sauron while smirking looks like he's taking an edgy selfie. Seeing as the Palantir was a direct link to Sauron, the whole scene does look like an awkward video call.
  • In the Battle of Morannon, Aragorn was supposed to be fighting Sauron in person (as the dramatic buildup indicated), but this was scrapped. Instead, he spent the most climactic battle getting stepped on by a giant troll that he stabbed in the foot.
  • Frodo's giving into the power of the Ring at Mount Doom is a sight to despair at. But it also looks like he's leering at Sam while making a hand gesture implying intercourse.


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