I first read the Lord of the Rings trilogy when I was 15. Read it again a few years later. Never read the Hobbit, though...just felt like it wasn't necessary, and besides it was recapped often in the books of the Trilogy. Like everybody else, I had my own ideas in my head about what Aragorn aka Strider, Gandalf, and company should look like. I always thought that it would be next to impossible to film the entire trilogy intact, if nothing else than due to the sheer enormity of it all. Thought it a Quixotic task at best.
Then along came Peter Jackson, and aided by today's special effects magicians he has proven himself to be the one man with enough of a poetic vision coexisting side-by-side with pragmatic realism to pull it off and pull it off with panache. The first movie was amazing, and I think that the sequel, The Two Towers, is even better. Whereas the first film (like the book) bogged down a bit with its endless journeys here and there (although I really didn't mind all that much), this film pretty much stays in three or four central locales and lets its stories unfold. The rendition of the Gollum character using a blend of actor and computer effects was nothing short of amazing. Of course, I could nitpick- and most of my complaints would be with the tinkering around Jackson and his scriptwriters did to beef up the love triangle and (out of necessity) condense some events and it is true that the film as a whole has no real beginning or end- but given the sheer overall excellence in acting, direction, and effects, and successful realization of most people's vision of the books, my quibbling is pointless. Can't wait till December 2003 and the Return of the King.
Another thought I had while watching the film was that the Happiest Man Alive right now is probably Brad Dourif, who was impressive as Grima Wormtongue in Towers. It looked like he would be relegated to B movies and straight to cable/video schlock for the rest of his career. But here he is, in one of the biggest films of recent memory, and he gave a great performance. I'd think his career might be looking up!
Also took a few minutes last night and watched Ice Age, which was a pleasant enough time-filler. Occasionally amusing, but nothing that really blew me away and I found myself getting restless before it was over.
There are several movies out right now I'd love to see. It's been quite some time since I've said that! Gangs of New York, Catch Me If You Can and Chicago are looking mighty interesting...