Lord of the Rings Cartoon Adaptations

The Hobbit (1977)

I don’t love the animation style, but that’s completely a matter of personal preference and I can definitely see others feeling differently. An unfortunate side effect of this is that I wasn’t nearly as horny for the goblins as I otherwise would’ve been!! Despite them capturing our heroes, complete with an awesome P.O.V. shot of one holding a length of chain threateningly at the camera and laughing! I’m sorry, goblins! It’s not you, it’s just the animation style!

The music was pretty terrific, especially the stuff the goblins sang! I actually always had trouble with the songs when I read The Hobbit and Lord of the Rings because there’s no description of the inflection or anything, just suddenly italicized and indented text like

Oh I guess we’re singing now
It sure would be nice if I had any idea how to read this
But nope we’re just singing now
Make of that what you will

I still owe Jackson’s trilogy a rewatch since I’ve only seen each part once, but this has always felt closer to the tone of the book, and that matters to me because I like The Hobbit way better than Lord of the Rings when it comes to the books. Like, The Hobbit is legitimately one of my favorite books of all time and I don’t even really like the Lord of the Rings books so much as just sort of respect the amount of effort that went into crafting the world they take place in? (To be very clear, though, Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings trilogy blows everything else out of the water. Like, it’s legitimately one of my favorite pieces of media of any kind of all time.)

(B-Rank)

Lord of the Rings (1978)

This. Was. So. Bad.

I’m not even comparing it to the live action movies, just in isolation, it is so frustrating. Half of the damn movie was rotoscoped, and it wasn’t just rotoscope, it was bad rotoscope. I would rather have something like Scooby Doo where even though there’s basically no movement and it’s really crude, at least you can tell what the fuck is happening and what things are supposed to look like.

Oh, also, apparently Bakshi is salty that Peter Jackson didn’t ask for his blessing to make his version, so I guess I’m also salty about Kathleen Kennedy not asking me for permission to make new Star Wars movies when my awful fanfiction I wrote in high school was right there.

I don’t want to just bitch and moan at length, so the only other thing I’m going to say is the one part of this movie I genuinely appreciate is the score. Leonard Rosenman, who would later go on to score Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home among other things, did a fantastic job. (So, of course, Bakshi has publicly said that he hates the score. Dude… your movie has one genuinely good thing going for it. Maybe thank your lucky stars for that instead of trashing it.)

(D-Rank)

The Return of the King (1980)

Some people see this as an unofficial sequel to Bakshi’s Lord of the Rings, some even go so far as to suggest Rankin/Bass intentionally piggybacked onto Rakshi’s film. The timing is definitely striking (Rankin/Bass’s The Hobbit came out in 1977, Bakshi’s Lord of the Rings in 1978, and then Rankin/Bass came back with Return of the King in 1980), but for better or worse, it’s pretty clear that this was meant as a sequel to The Hobbit. Which is pretty damn weird when you get right down to it.

Nor is it the only weird thing about this entire venture. This not only largely glosses over or ignores entirely the events of the first two thirds of Lord of the Rings, it spends almost half an hour of its hour and a half runtime with Frodo locked in Cirith Ungol and Sam just kind of fucking around outside! And there are long, meandering musical numbers throughout the entire film that not only don’t really add much of anything, they’re not even… good musical numbers. With one absolutely phenomenal exception: “Where There’s a Whip There’s a Way.” If I could, I would give “Where There’s a Whip There’s a Way” an S-Rank and the rest of the movie a D-Rank. As it stands, I’m pretty much adding a full extra letter grade just because of how much I loved that song.

(C-Rank)


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