Hit-and-miss, but I suppose that's to be expected.
I've always enjoyed
behind-the-scenes looks at movies, but that's a difficult thing in a book. It's
a difficult thing even for a video special, since it has to predict what people
will want to see. And so it will rarely impress everybody at all times.
For me, the driest part of the book comes in introducing the cast. All of the
major cast members are given a one-page biography, and this necessitates listing
their filmography, as well, or at least a selected chunk of it. The best parts
of these mini-biographies come in the form of small quotes from the actors,
their reactions and ambitions for the character they play in up to three movies.
I was awe-struck concerning some other events, though. I can't believe they
used the actors themselves, along with stunt doubles, horse doubles, and
little-people doubles for the hobbits. I still don't understand why they didn't
hire little-people for the roles. There are some terrific actors that would have
shined in these roles, and made life easier for the production team. Instead,
they had to have, for example, a set of clothing for each of these doubles, to
The second half of the book is divided into short chapters, but they rarely
stick to a topic. I could have used more on models and tricks than descriptions
of CG creature sizes. Learning about the artists was neat, but some of the facts
involving Tolkien's world were just plain wrong.
But there were some really neat stories included here, which were the best
moments. They, too, however, were too short. I love stories from the set, and
probably could have used a whole book on them! I was intrigued about another
actor being hired to play Aragorn, but who left after a day of filming. Who, and
why? I was also amazed that so few of the cast members had actually read the
trilogy. But I suppose that can be expected, since they are busy being actors,
reading scripts, and so on.
The book had some nice pictures, but they could have been better. I am at a
loss to explain the two page spreads of things like the Uruk-hai soldier. There
were plenty of really cool pictures from the movie, however. I just wanted more!
Talk of adapting the book was kept short, unfortunately. I would have liked
to know why certain scenes were cut. In dealing with this, we hear nothing about
Tom Bombadil, for example. I certainly understand that some of it has to be
random, simply because of time-constraints. The beginning of the Lord of the
Rings is definitely slow-moving, when you consider the speed of the rest of the
And, of course, the book has to be necessarily vague about The Two Towers and
Return of the King. I am interested to learn that Gollum will be completely
computer generated. But I wonder why that decision was made. Surely he could
have been an actor? This is an unfortunate but understandable shortcoming of the
book, but I expect to see a second and third editions in the next couple of
years, as the movies are released.