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Rankin-Bass Adaptation

  • Anvilicious: In case you miss the deeper meaning in any particular part of the movie, there's usually a song to explain it to you. Or two. Or three. See the page quote for a good example.
  • Ass Pull: Éowyn, due to the compression and Rankin-Bass barely touching anything from the first two books. She appears out of nowhere with no prior set up to bump off the Witch-King and then vanishes completely with only a brief appearance at the end. More glaring since they took the time to explain Gollum.
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  • Awesome Music: The entire soundtrack, as performed by Glenn Yarbrough, and written by Jules Bass & Maury Laws.
  • Broken Base:
    • Similar to the Ralph Bakshi film, either you'll hate this film and/or watch it to snark at it, or you will be intrigued by and at least appreciative of what Rankin-Bass made.
    • Whether the Rankin-Bass versions (including The Hobbit) are better than Bakshi's, regarding the different run-times, art styles and adaptation approaches.
  • Can't Un-Hear It: Carried over from The Hobbit:
  • Character Rerailment: After the Ralph Bakshi movie wrote him as a dimwitted, whiny coward, Samwise in this movie is closer to his more badass and heroic characterization from the books.
  • Cult Classic: Almost in spite of itself.
  • Designated Hero: Aragorn, again due to the compression. Apparently he was just off doing his own thing with nothing to do with the rest of the heroes until he arrives with his army at the Siege of Gondor. But here the Orcs are already in full retreat after the Witch-king's death, making it less like The Cavalry and more like mopping-up. Even afterwards, there's nothing to indicate he was ever part of a Fellowship with them. He's rude to Gandalf, sneering at him while taunting him over his reluctance to march on Mordor, a move motivated not to buy time for Frodo but because he thinks they have Sauron on the run. He's also needlessly rude to the Mouth of Sauron, who doesn't taunt them about Frodo's supposed capture and actually acts like a proper herald. And despite barely doing anything to help, almost getting his army killed and being a rude prick, he's still celebrated as the savior at the end without ever acknowledging or even noticing Frodo and the hobbits. Very different from the more heroic Peter Jackson version, let alone the one from the books, to be sure.
  • Hilarious in Hindsight:
    And the very un-Tolkienesque line:
    Pippin (about Denethor): He's gone loony I tell you!:
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    • The orcs' Villain Song "Where There's a Whip, There's a Way" features the lyrics "We don't want to go to war today, but the lord of the lash says nay nay nay!" Thirty-five years later, the rapper Silentó gave us the hit single "Watch Me (Whip/Nae Nae)."
  • Ho Yay: Some. But with Frodo and Samwise, can you expect anything less?
  • Narm:
    • The entire film, even more so than the original Hobbit. Especially the songs. It's also hard to take the Witch-King seriously when he sounds like a mix of Starscream and Mr. Slate from The Flintstones. Watch here.
  • Narm Charm:
    • "BEHOLD! THE GARDENS OF MY DELIGHT!!" Aww... Dark Lord Samwise is so cute. Samwise's blackest desires of despotic tyranny involve turning the Plains of Gorgoroth into a lush garden paradise and Sauron's army of orcs into raccoons and tropical birds. Hardly the stuff to crush Middle Earth beneath his Hobbit-sized heel... which is the point - Samwise very much isn't Dark Lord material, and that's a major reason why he can resist the Ring's temptations.
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    • Where There's a Whip, There's a Way. It's so hilariously catchy, it's hard not to enjoy it.
    • The friendly orcs during the dream sequence. Silly? Yes, but very endearing. The silliness is mostly justified, as it's Samwise's fantasy of the two sides being at peace.
    • The songs. For some, out of place, and overly folksy. On the other hand, they are still quite catchy and their messages and delivery may also tug at a few heartstrings.
  • Nightmare Fuel:
    • The battering ram, Grond, looks like a wolf instead of a mechanical dragon, and actually seems to be alive as seen with its red salivanote .
    • The Witch-King's voice. Imagine watching this scene without any prior knowledge about how Skeletor sounds. A harsh, mechanical grate grinding out in conjunction with a manic, high-pitched squeaky voice. The overall effect somewhere between Darth Vader and Judge Doom. Then again, if the viewer is familiar with Skeletor, the scene can become downright hilarious.
    • There is also Samwise's fantasy with the ring that grows more intense and twisted by the second until he comes within a hairsbreadth of donning and being consumed by the Ring.
  • Sequelitis: Generally considered to be not as good as The Hobbit, which was a decent Adaptation Distillation of a much shorter book while this comes off more as a Compressed Adaptation of one of three longer books, the first two not even completely covered by the earlier Bakshi film. Also the original folk-y songs fit The Hobbit better since it was a children's book to begin with, while this was based on a more complex and epic work.
  • Ugly Cute:
    • The peaceful orcs in the "Leave Tomorrow till it Comes" sequence. One of them even smiles and waves to Sam and Frodo.
    • Heck, the orcs during the "Where There's a Whip, There's a Way" song. Rather than being the remorseless monsters we typically see them as, they look more fearful and unsure, and the song makes it clear that they don't want to fight but are being forced to by their masters.
  • WTH, Casting Agency?:
    • Roddy McDowall as Samwise Gamgee!? Roddy was a fine character actor but he played Samwise with his usual posh voice instead of a more working-class accent one would accept from a humble gardener.
    • Casey Kasem as Meriadoc Brandybuck, not really for his performance but rather for his really recognizable voice as it's impossible to unhear Shaggy.

The video game

  • No Problem with Licensed Games: The Electronic Arts videogame is based on the live-action film, which had been released shortly after. It was received with much praise as an Even Better Sequel to the one for The Two Towers: the levels are huge, the paths are not linear, the characters have some limited interaction with the scenery, there are no glaring bugs, the expanded story fits perfectly well with the plot and style of the original material, etc.

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