Man, good time for Tolkien adaptations the late 70s were.
Just one year after The Hobbit, underground cult movie making machine Ralph Bakshi undertook a big task that took considerable time to cement even the production of the film, and the interesting part is this movie comprises of Fellowship Of The Ring and The Two Towers in just a bit over 2 hours. Story time! Years back when I was just a pre-teen lad with a love for the Lord Of The Rings films, I owned and watched this version many times before Return Of The King was even released so it was nice coming back to a movie my eyes have not seen for an age. My opinion hasn't changed much, but Jesus this movie moves at warp speed! By the time the Fellowship part has ended, there's only 50 odd minutes for Two Towers so as you can imagine the pacing is the biggest detriment to the whole thing. I feel you have to be incredibly well versed in the sequence of events for the story whether it be book or trilogy, just so you don't feel like you accidentaly hit the fast forward button at several points in this. Oh sure it hits all the important bullet points of the plot, but there ain't much time for character development or even characters (poor Eowyn doesn't even get a single line), extended scenes of dialogue, or neat references to the works of Tolkien all that much though hearing a bit of Beren and Luthien's story was nice. This is a strength the animated Hobbit movie had, cause it only had to contend with one simple story in a bit less than 90 minutes. Now try adapting over 700 pages and even then the movie doesn't obviously fully cover both books, in 2 hours and 15 minutes. Hell's bells that could not have been easy. But it tells it well enough and I somehow kept up with the pacing and editing flawlessly as a child. The animation is a beast of it's own, the film used traditional 2D animation but took advantage of some shiny new tech known as rotoscoping where filmed actors are drawn over to give the illusion of animation. Now in terms of the servants of Mordor, I think it's amazing because there is just this unearthly, eerie, totally unnatural look to the Ringwraiths, orcs, and so on but with the humans, elves, and dwarves not so much. It's passable but doesn't pack as much punch as these red eyed hellish riders in black and hordes of attacking orcs, which were highlights for me back then and most certainly still are now. The backgrounds are outstanding, looking absurdly picture-esque or abstract nightmare backdrops, I could admire them for some time. The cast is very good, Christopher Guard plays a much more innocent and childlike Frodo but still has some fight and power in him, William Squire as Gandalf has that wisdom filled voice and while the animation in terms of movement is over the top the voice work is tethered to the ground, of course everybody praises Sir John Hurt as Aragorn and yeah I fully adhere to that stance he just is the best of both worlds between a ranger and a king, Peter Woodthorpe as Gollum leans closer to Andy's potrayal they play up the deranged mind and addictive personality and even the design had to have influenced Peter Jackson. Well honestly this whole film inspired Jackson to one day make his own adaptation and the similarities are far from coincidental, so I have to appreciate this movie for existing even if just for that. It's a mixed bag but for me it does still come out on the positive side. I like our actors, the animation has moments of brilliance, the whole shadow play opening works super well and brings to it an atmosphere, the battle scenes are much more bloody than you would expect for an animated film and the battle of Helm's Deep goes a lot quicker with little buildup but decent payoff, the Ringwraiths are metal as hell, oh that friggin' orc war chant I know the whole thing cause I'm a f***ing neeeeeerd! It has highlights, it's not admittedly for everyone but if you're hardcore for this world like I am check it out if purely for curiosity's sake. All in all I give it 2.5 stars, 6.5/10, and if you've been keeping count and paying attention you'll know the occasion for tomorrow.