Iron Man

Ernie and I trade blows.


  1. notrelatedtoted says

    Without reading the article, I’m going to wager you like it, Ernie does not.

    Am I right?

    And for double extra bonus points, the commentors (tormentors?) hated both the movie and the reviewers.

  2. Cubeland Mystic says


    It is the case that it is good to see you. Very astute sir–impressively astute. I have to reread it, but I think Ernesto was trying not to be grumpy about Iron Man. I skimmed though. I think he learned his lesson after I gave him that savage beatdown for talking smack about the great LOTR franchise. For weeks I would receive cards and letters from grateful Cal Catholic readers about the medieval nature of the beatdown. An anonymous reader from Agoura Hills, California wrote, “Mystic, you got downright pre-Trent all over that bastard’s weakass arguments!”

    That’s what I like about Cal Catholic, it’s so old skool. We haven’t had that spirit here since 1369. You know it’s just so exciting when the commentors get worked up into a froth over Ernie and Matt‘s heresies, and start piling up rhetorical lumber around their feet. I get so nostalgic.

    Back in the day, instead of begging alms like most mystics, the local authorities would put me to work gathering sticks and branches for the burnings. I tell you sincerely ~Ted, those were heady days! Business was on fire! I’d sit there on the street in the filth amongst my bundles of sticks with my sign, “Got Wood?”. A day wouldn’t go by when a passing inquisitor wouldn’t put me to work.

    The local townspeople loved me too. They used to call me Gotwood the stick monger after my ubiquitous sign. “Here comes old Gotwood the stick monger.” They’d call out when I’d return from the forest sporting a load of wood. “We’re going to town tonight honey, Gotwood’s putting a bit of stick about today.” They’d tell their wives. For the big burnings, thirteen or more heretics, it was like a festival. You could be sure that nine months later there wouldn’t be enough midwives in town to deliver all the babies! In time I became known as Gotwood the Fecund, and women, for good luck, would come lay their hands on me. They’d go home and wink and say “Gotwood” to their husbands, and there’d be a different kind of plowing going on that evening. Boy ~Ted, I miss being a fertility symbol.

    But there were darker euphemisms for my name, and Gotwood became synonymous with the stake. To extract a confession all an inquisitor had to do was mention that “Gotwood’s bundling sticks” and the heretic would break. The inquisitor didn’t even have to go into all the gory details. What a great time that was, I wish you could have been there with me. In the middle ages, you lived life and death everyday. It wasn’t all metrosexual like it is today. Then the renaissance came along and put an end to all that. I returned to begging alms, and we got perspective in painting. Big freaking deal! I’ll take a little more stake, and a lot less perspective.

    Cal Catholic is da bomb. That’s for sure. Well ~Ted, it is the case that it was good to chat with you again.

  3. notrelatedtoted says

    CM – thanks for the warm welcome.

    I read the article, and I guess I was way off.

  4. Ernie (Ernesto) says

    Savage Beatdown! That’s it Gotwood, it’s auto de fe time!

  5. Cubeland Mystic says

    You were not way off at all. Just kind of off. Here is an example from the current review:

    “Either the moviemakers are stupid, or they think we’re stupid.”

    This is classic Grimmonian vitriol. It boils just underneath the surface at all times. One can tell that he is trying to be positive though. Your guess was a safe bet.


    I see that your memory is still scorched by fear. Not to worry, your current review is sufficient for on going auto de fe. It is obvious that you remain chastened from my epic beatdown, and are trying to curb your negative tendencies. It may take time however for your change of heart to be realized in the broader community as demonstrated by ~Ted’s first comment. Be patient and remember your offenses against the great LOTR franchise were grave, and offended millions of Godsbody readers not to mention the tens of millions of Tolkien fans.

  6. First of all, I reject the term LOTR Franchise, which is euphemism for Peter Jackson’s Orc-like Disfigurement of Tolkien’s Elfenly Beautiful Story. Peter Jackson offended tens of millions of Tolkien fans. I defended poor old J.R.R. who was, unfortunately, too dead to do so for himself. And I seem to remember a commentator named Cubeland Mystic saying, “You’re right, you’re right” when confronted with evidence I presented of Peter Jackson’s butchery of Tolkien.

    Re: Not Ted’s first comment, I’d rather be the guy who generally had a negative reaction to what’s coming out of Hollywood these days than a guy who gave two enthusiastic thumbs up to everything which seems to be what you want me to be. I’m sorry, I refuse to check my intellect at the theater door. Besides, I think Not-Ted either woke up on the wrong side of the bed, or he’s ribbing an old pal. {Or he craves a smack down from THE ENFORCER (inside joke.)}

    You used to be so nice, Cubie, but I leave the blog for a few weeks and come back to find you’ve become kind of a dick…ensian fellow. What happened in the meantime? Cat die? Your copy of the Mission get scratched? Or is it the onset of triple-digit temperatures?

  7. notrelatedtoted says

    Ernie – not to worry, just ribbing.

    And no, I don’t want you to give thumbs-up to everything. What’s enjoyable about you and Lickona discussing movies is that it brings an added dimension to the movie. Being a movie reviewer is some sort of purgatory – what is there to say about Iron Man that I don’t already know from the previews and/or the title itself?

    I’ll admit that I don’t always agree with your view – not because I think you’re incorrect, mind you. But in this instance, I found your take more compelling than Lickona’s.

    But then, Lickona is a hippie. We all know that.

  8. Cubeland Mystic says

    The beauty was there perhaps you missed it. I remember you not answering me when I brought up the notion that you have to take all aspects of the film into account. The visuals, the music, the attention to detail. I own all the full orchestral soundtracks of each movie. They sing Tolkien’s poetry in elvish. Doesn’t that count when they are singing elvish (not sure which dialect) in the film?

    I don’t remember the ugliness of the movie so much as I remember the great beauty. Words like “disfigurement” and “butchery” are so harsh. I am sure that Jackson was under tremendous pressure to bring in something that had a lucrative ROI. That requires compromise when you are in it for the money. We are lucky that Aragorn didn’t hook up with Elrond. Also the extended DVD versions had a lot more classic Tolkien than the theatrical release. That told me they intended to try, and were forced to cut. Could you have done better and still made money? How long would the audience endured Tom Bombadil? Would you have risked maybe $10 million on the Bobadil scenes? I can see your point, but to say butchery is excessive.

    Dickensian? Think of me as a sparing partner to strengthen you for your “fans” at Cal Catholic. That’s love.

    I am still nice. I was nice enough to create a little story that was based on your experiences at the site, I was nice enough to consider you a worthy opponent in a little intellectual jousting.

    I have no cat and The Mission remains in a protected place near my copies of LOTR and The Passion. It could be the triple digit temperatures. My shade tree was struck by lightning, and I now have no shade to sit and pray. The sun purges demons and causes you to see visions. But that tends to make one tired not dickensian.

  9. Gotwood,
    Maybe I did miss the beauty in Jackson’s movie. Probably because it was hiding behind long, indulgent shots of cave trolls, orc faces, Oliphants, Nazgul steeds and such. My biggest beef is not with the visuals, even though Jackson obviously favored the ugly over the beautiful. My chief beef is with his misunderstanding of the characters. Boromir, Gandalf, and Gollum were good. Sam and Frod were pretty good. Eowyn and Theoden were all right. Aragorn was okay, but not manly enough. (Remember, he’s supposed to be more like Elendil of Numenor than any man since Elendil. Viggo didn’t pull that off. Sean Bean should have played that part.) Elrond was a disaster, as were Faramir and Denethor. Treebeard was cool visually, but it was clear Jackson missed the whole point of the Ents. Legolas was reduced to action hero. Gimli was reduced to comic relief. Galadriel seemed to be on drugs of some sort. The rest of the elves seemed to be gay, or drugged or both. (And they shouldn’t have been at Helm’s deep. That was a big gaff on Jackson’s part because it indicates he didn’t know the books well enough.) And speaking of gayness, the way Frodo looked at Sam as Mount Doom exploded around them threw open the door to gay interpretations. Jackson simply missed in his assessment and portrayal of so many characters, but damned if he was going to cut a single minute of cave troll action.

  10. Cubeland Mystic says

    I promise a longer response, but I am very busy at work this week. A couple of things. I don’t understand this sentence:

    “Boromir, Gandalf, and Gollum were good. Sam and Frod were pretty good. Eowyn and Theoden were all right. Aragorn was okay, but not manly enough.”

    Are you saying the movie got these characters right in a descending scale of goodness?

    Also, I disagree with your total dismissal of the movie, and your negative exaggerations like “disfigurement” and “butchery”.

    I don’t disagree that Jackson made mistakes. I agree with that. I always have agreed with that. That doesn’t mean it is a bad movie. It is an awesome movie. I am under gun right now. I will try to reply later.

  11. Matthew Lickona says

    I don’t want to get caught in the crossfire, but I think what Ernie meant was that the films’ portrayal of Boromir, Gandalf, and Gollum was good, their portrayal of Sam and Frodo was pretty good, etc. Meaning that they got their representation of those characters right.

  12. Cubeland Mystic says

    Initial Investment $280 million

    Return of the King $1,119,263,306
    Two Towers $926,287,400
    Fellowship $871,368,364

    I’ve watched all versions (theatrical and extended) and most of the interviews and documentaries in the special features. Including interviews with the writers addressing the criticisms. I’ve read the books at least 3 times, and read or watched a ton of the Catholic stuff on Tolkien and his work. I’ve even read Children of Hurin, and pieces of the silmarillion.

    Let’s start with where we agree. The elves did not belong in Helm’s Deep. That was flat out embarrassing. Hugo Weaving didn’t do a great job as Elrond. Faramir was explained by the writers, but the actor playing Faramir did a great job.

    Here is the scoop from memory from the writers interviews on the extended versions. Two Towers was not a good fit for film. The Faramir thing was explained. It did not makes sense visually to just have Gollum and the ring walking off into Mordor while Faramir is texting Tom Bombadil how he also blew off the ring of power. It made sense in the book because Tolkien could develop Faramir, where in the film, you just had this guy who catches them, and lets them go. All Two Towers would have been with the Faramir prosthesis would have been Helm’s deep and Sam, Frodo and Gollum walking around the wastelands of Mordor. They literally had no time to develop Faramir in Two Towers, and do him justice. Not everyone who saw the movie read the books. I was the only one in my circle of friends who read the books before the movies. BTW, Faramir is the character with who identify the most. I am sad that he was shown as insecure and devious in the Two Towers, however they brought him around in ROTK. It is understandable why they did it. I think Hugo Weaving overacted Elrond, but the whole love story thing and his grumpiness about getting the heck out of Dodge kind of worked in the movie. I was really indifferent to it. I didn’t like the way they adjusted how the sword was reforged and given to Aragorn.

    The elves in the Deep was discussed and they needed something to give the elves a purpose other than these ethereal beings that lived in the woods. They felt they needed them to show up to add numbers to the men, and to keep them in the story. It didn’t work. It was silly.

    Legolas and Gimli really had a hack-an-orc contest in the book. As far as comic relief, I suspect that Gimli could have had few more scenes where her was serious.

    This is all I can do tonight. I am dead tired. My point so far is going to be it was a film adaptation which kept a great deal of the plot, and whole heck of a lot of the spirit in tact. I am also arguing to set the bar a little lower since it is a different medium and Jackson could have PC’d it a lot more. If he did a straight conversion or more scenes with Bombadil, the Barrow Downs, Bree, and the Scouring of the Shire, the movie would have cost 500 million, and been 25 hours long. Plus this thing was huge. What you intend in the beginning and what you end up with are completely different things. To blast these people for something they might not have been able to control is unfair. It could have been Red Hat Linux 4 that kept them from putting in more Treebeard, not that he didn’t understand.

  13. I don’t care about the Bombadil ommission. Had to be done.

    Re: Faramir, the theme Jackson et al missed is that Faramir and Aragorn are throwbacks to the High Men of Numenor. They’re men whose high level of virtue makes them nearly impervious to the lure of the Ring. Though they got that right with Aragorn, NONE of that came through with Faramir. When you say, “They literally had no time to develop Faramir in Two Towers, and do him justice,” I disagree. It was a 13-hour movie, Cubester! There was plenty of time. Just in the time they did allott to Faramir, they could have done better. All they had to to was follow the book, for crying out loud.

    I’m starting to feel like someone trying convince a man that his wife (whom he loves) is ugly. Love is blind, and you love these movies. I love the books and have read them through something like ten times in my life. I’ve read the Silmarillion three or four times. Tolkien is wonderful, and I resent the fact that “Lord of the Rings” is now a reference to those movies instead of his books.

  14. notrelatedtoted says

    Nerd fight!

  15. Cubeland Mystic says

    Still working. I am toiling in the orc pit right now night and day.

    It’s part of my broader argument, but what do you think Mordor represents? One area where I am weak in Tolkienology is what the man said himself about his work. I know bits and pieces.

  16. Cubeland Mystic says

    Why don’t you join the nerd fight ~Ted? It’s fun.

    Let’s break it down more.

    They risked $280 Million. Keep that in mind. Also please keep in mind that my criticism is that your conclusions are unfairly harsh and critical of Jackson and the whole effort. In the Special Features of the movies. The writers address their rationale for what they did. IF MEMORY serves, they said the Two Towers was the toughest of the 3. It lent itself least to film. They felt that without manufacturing a crisis with Farmir and the ring, they had no story with Frodo, Sam, and Gollum. As you recall we meet Faramir as we meet him in the book. If they reproduce Faramir, he blows off the Ring, and sends the boys on their way. They felt they did not have a movie. They felt that Two Towers needed closure as its own entity and you didn’t get that as a book. They need a reason to drag the boys to Osgiliath, to have the silly ending with the Wraith on the roof. If they didn’t manufacture this, they felt that all the book could give them was scenes of the boys walking to Mordor. No movie, wasted millions of dollars on scenes of walking in barren lands.

    Let’s look at the book. If my herb lore serves, Tolkien treated it as one story. The separation into three books was an artificial construct imposed on him by the publishers. In other words they wanted lucrative ROI too, so they broke the books up into manageable less risky chunks. Sounds like a familiar tale from the real world.

    The Two Towers was the least good of the three movies. The writers’ arguments seemed reasonable given the constructs of the book, and huge financial pressures. I am disappointed. Faramir is my FAVORITE character. I am willing to take one for the team, because Jackson made a film that clearly delineates between good and evil, and it so happens that in the case Mordor, it clearly represents the same enemies that we have (i.e. materialism.) I think the elves marching into the Deep is embarrassing, it really is. What happened to Faramir is somewhat mitigated in ROTK. He nobly takes one for the team.

    It is totally unfair to use terms like “butchery” to describe this film. If you look at it as a whole it is awesome.

    I am a little fresher this morning, but I am still being whipped mercilessly by my overseer Bill Ferny.

  17. cubeland mystic says

    Also consider the technical scope of the project. It took close to 8 years. In the documentaries of the extended versions the writers struggled with adapting he book to film. They admit that they had to deviate in ways that they did not wish too. They also said that they wished they could have put more into the film. I take them at their word, they wanted more of the book.

    I work with the same level of technology that special effects companies use to produce the effects used in the films. It really does have a life of its own. LOTR requires effects. You don’t really know how much of the cosmetic changes were due to technology forcing them into that specific change. Treebeard being less Entian than we would have liked. You claim Jackson doesn’t get treebeard, how much of the Old Entish, and Ents must be in the film, do you introduce to the audience? If I were Jackson in 1997, I might have considered replacing them with the dwarves from the Iron Hills to attack Sarumon. But then he opens himself to severe criticism for adulterating the story even more. Ents and Entmoots don’t lend themselves to film very well. It takes a very long time just to say hello. On the bright side, there is more Treebeard in the extended version including Treebeard reciting a poem or a song, I can’t remember.

    They discussed some of the difficulties in one of the documentaries in the extended version. Galadriel’s (who I thought was excellent BTW not on drugs) gift to Gimli. They could not make the shot happen. Three fine hairs. Do you show her plucking them? Putting them into Gimli’s big clunky glove was a challenge. Then what does Gimli do with the hairs, does one dedicate two minutes of film for Gimli taking off his gloves and putting the hairs in some container etc. If I calculated correctly the film averages about $350K per minute. They talked about Galadriel giving him a gift that the technology could handle, but rather than go off the reservation they fought for the 3 hairs. I think the result was wonderful how they pulled it off.

    You talk about all the manufactured drama in the film. How far do you think Jackson would have got with the language from the book? Sometimes Tolkien’s language is a little stilted. I love Tolkien’s use of language. I love that he created a mythology for us, but you have a lot of mythologically correct characters in the books. That is NOT a criticism, I love it. Some of Treebeard’s poetry is extremely moving. I cannot remember if it was in the theatrical release or not, but Treebeard is definitely reciting for Hobbits. Check out the extended version.

    I don’t have a problem with humanizing the characters. I see your point here. I think the writers were trying to show that Aragorn was a humble noble reluctant man. They did this by making him hesitant to take the throne. You have a lot of back story to give the audience if you introduce Strider the Númenorian. A man on noble quest takes more work. It is a lot less work to give the viewer Strider the dirty ranger reluctant to become the king because he is Isildur‘s heir, and may be subject to the same error that introduced the ring into current history. Jackson does give him a chance to take the ring, he closes Frodo’s hand around the ring in FOTR. He did what Boramir could not. Again Aragorn was not portrayed as a great king, but a hesitant ex-patriot with a little self doubt. There was even a little hint of anti-hero. Even a little hint goes a long way. At 350K a minute do you risk a lot of references and back story that might be lost on a modern audience less familiar with kingly rule? At $280 million dollars are you going to risk a more faithful adaptation which might be a commercial failure.– a Golden Compass or A Gospel of John?

    As far as craftsmanship the movie was brilliant. The sets were stunning, the effects were remarkable, the costumes were amazing, the acting was terrific, and the music was timeless. This all has to be considered not just the deviations. I should say considered deviations. Tolkien’s poetry is in the music. You have to listen to it.

    What do I have with the film? I feel it in the water. Those were Treebeard’s lines but Galadriel said them in the prologue of FOTR. I like it there. After my children have read the books, they can watch the movies. For me Mordor represents the evil of materialism. Basically to objectify humanity, and justify the philosophies that would reduce us to animals. Perhaps because I work in the BIG corporate world, I feel it in the waters a bit more keenly as a Catholic. I see how rapidly the world is changing, and how we are out of touch with the changes. I can use all of this film because there is no ambiguities. There are not multi-culti orc lovers. There’s no Fistorak the sensitive Orc who joined the fellowship in Moria trying to escape the oppression of the more “orthodox” orcs. There was good and evil. Sauron remained formless, as Tolkien wanted. I will use this film to teach my children.

    I think your criticisms are unfair, and borderline elitist. They did not butcher LOTR. They tried and succeeded in making a magnificent film. It was complex, heavily funded, technology dependent, and a lot was bleeding edge. I work with bleeding edge everyday, and you are practically improvising. There is no manual, and if you f k up, your reputation is shot. They took a risk and they gave us a magnificent piece of art. But we cannot say that it was butchered, because that is an unjust assessment.

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