"People aren't looking for critics, they're looking for cheerleaders."
-Alex Sandell, 12/22/01

And you can keep your pathetic Middle Earth!:
The day the geeks went home
Written by Alex Sandell and other non-geeks

I knew this would happen.  The geeks rushed out to The Lord of the Rings on Wednesday, whacked off over elves and dwarves until they got up Thursday morning, and headed back to their homegrown ISP's.  There they spent their day tattling on spammers and typing in the chatrooms and nerdgroups about The Lord of the Rings:  The Fellowship of the Ring, where they started giving the film some incredible word of mouth.  This word of mouth became so incredible, that, beginning Thursday, "normal" people decided to enter the theater and see what all the fuss was about.  They left disappointed and bored out of their minds.  Early Thursday, I was getting nothing but geekmail, regarding my mixed Lord of the Rings' review, then came a single letter agreeing with the review, and thanking me for sticking to my guns.  Then another letter came, and another.  By this morning, I was getting at least 1 letter hating the movie for every 2 that loved it.  By this afternoon, it was half and half.  As of this writing, I'm getting more letters disliking the film, than liking it.  The only email I received from someone that liked the film in the past 30 minutes was from Mr. Daniel Teasley, who, offended that I had an opinion which dared to stray from that of his own, said that he was "sorry" that I'm "a dick" and that he's "glad" my "dog died".  Someone else, presumably Mr. Teasley, using his, I'm not making this up, "Fox Mulder" hotmail address, wrote, "you go to hell you go to hell and die bitch".  That was freaky, in a laughable sort of way, but slamming my dog was low, even for a geek (although one of the MAPS' geeks has already done this to me).  If you've read my tribute to Brady, and have even half a heart, you would know how much I cared about her, and still love, and miss, her, and you would NEVER tell me that you were happy that she was dead, simply because I disagreed with you on a movie.  Brady didn't watch movies.  Even if she was alive, she wouldn't have thought one way or another about The Lord of the Rings.  Why would her premature death, 5 months ago, make anyone happy? This is the geek mentality that I despise, and this is why I'm no longer going to play the nice guy.  If anyone has any ideas about how we could teach Mr. Teasley that, even when he's hiding behind a monitor, he needs to have some semblance of manners, and that he's anything but invisible, send me an email!  Now, onto a handful of the letters from those of you with a soul, and some taste (I'm genuinely sorry I couldn't print them all): 

I can't believe the flak you've taken for giving your opinion on The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring.  I hope you will feel a little better knowing that someone out there agrees with your review 100%.  As you pointed out this movie was a special effects marvel that contained almost no compelling moments and bland characterizations.  Your comment about the faux Shakespearean dialogue also hit the mark.  The actors sounded silly at their best and pathetic at their worst.  The "romance" was cardboard cutout and seemed squeezed into the film to attract the Titanic crowd.  I think I liked it less than you, because I found nothing special about the directing.  You mention the overuse of slow motion shots in the film but go on to say that some of it has magnificent directing.  I thought the directing was hopelessly clichéd and was only saved by beautiful photography.  Where is the magnificence that you found?  This movie may work as a photo album of scenic places but as an adventure, a romance or even a D&D game (I am an avid D&D player myself, thank you very much!), it fails in every possible way.  When one of the characters we are to have an emotional bond with falls to his death and half the theater breaks out in laughter you know something isn't right.  Thanks for having the nerve to stick to your guns with this film!

Kathleen Jensen

Thanks, Kathleen.  This email was the first that I received that sided with my review, and it was really nice to discover that people paying attention could see that there was, indeed, plenty of statements to back up my critique.  The majority of geeks claimed that I never gave any reasons for why I didn't like the film.  It's obvious, from your letter, that anyone actually READING the review saw that I gave plenty of reasons for my disappointment in the movie, even though I did forget to make fun of the ridiculous "romance" they shoved down our throats.  The smart-ass in me does have to point out that, if you liked the film even less than me, you don't actually agree with my review 100%.  No offense.

I thought your review of LOTR was fantastic, fantastically apt, and fantastically witty.  Most of the reviews I've read on Rotten Tomatoes are marked as "fresh", yet a lot of those reviews seem to be saying (between the lines of course) that it was really boring and long.  I saw it yesterday, was looking forward to it and am a LOTR fan, but geez it was boring.  If my husband or brother makes me sit through it again, I'm bringing a stopwatch, pen, and paper, and timing EXACTLY how much of this movie is wasted by shots of the ring  and/or close ups of people looking at each other.  Oo, and not to mention scenery shots that show us sets that look like they were rejected from movies with HALF the budget of this sleeping pill.
Not Afraid to Put My Name,
Lisa Yankey

I agree with everything you said, regarding The Fellowship of the Ring, outside of your comment about the scenery and sets.  I thought they were breathtaking.  Like you, I've noticed that a LARGE amount of the critics claiming that this film is "perfect" spent over half their reviews talking about what's wrong with it.  

Hey Alex,

Having read your review, and read the mass of e-mail from some of the stupidest people on earth, I have to say...I feel for you!!! We went and saw LOTR last night, and while entertaining to a point, I would have to agree with you. It definitely was long, the story was on the weak side, etc...etc...etc.  I just wanted to let you know that you're not alone in your thinking. I personally wouldn't care if God himself had written this book (let alone some Oxford professor), it would still be boring! So I thought I would send you this note of encouragement! Keep up the good work guy! What these asshole geeks need to realize is that a movie review is one person's opinion. If they don't like it, fine, but don't get all shitty with the person reviewing it. That's just messed up! So anyway...I just wanted to be one of, I'm sure very few, people who e-mailed you to thank you for going against the "Best movie ever" grain and reviewing what YOU saw! Thank you for your honesty! :) And good luck with all the Frodo-loving, D&D playing, internet porn looking, zit popping geeks!!

Keep up the great work!!
Greg McElroy

Most of us spend at least a portion of our day on the Internet.  That's obvious, if only because we're emailing each other, spending time at websites, etc..  I think the techies are going to find they are only in the MAJORITY when they are online.  Your average Joe isn't going to think much of The Lord of the Rings.  The film is going to have an incredible couple of weeks, as I've already said, and then it should fade fast, unless award nominations keep it going throughout  Oscar season.  Even if that does happen, it's a one time thing, and all the people grunting and groaning about how this will be the biggest trilogy ever should remember a few other critic-induced hits, which mainstream audiences hated, such as The Blair Witch Project, and what happened when its sequel came out, and the "thrill" had faded.  Part 2 and 3 of this series are going to be complete duds, outside of the opening weekend, when all the geeks will inevitably flock to the theater, looking for their fix.

Good to see someone also felt that it didn't engage them and that the battle scenes, rapturous gazings into each other eyes and silly noises were rather boring. The other critics seemed to be tip-toeing around almost afraid to put the knife in.
- Vaughan Willis

I'm always ready with the knife, just as I am ready with the praise, depending on what I, as an individual, thought of a film.  The Juicy Cerebellum is one site where you will NEVER see a copycat critic.  The majority of mainstream critics write a review based on what they think they should think about a film, and then the majority of the minority of the remaining critics write what the majority of critics initially wrote.  It's rare that one of them is actually telling the truth.  The praise heaped on this film by the mainstream critics is insane, and that was the point of my initial review, and the reason that, in said review, I included a few of the more ludicrous mainstream critic quotes.  This movie doesn't deserve to be at the top of ANY list, much less, "best movie of the year."  Critics are like high school students; they're all afraid that somebody might make fun of them if they dare to be true individuals expressing honest opinions.  It makes me sick, and I'll always tell the truth regarding what I think about a movie, even if someone might laugh at me for it.

Thank you for being honest. That's more than I can say for 99.9% of the morons who glorify that piece of shit movie in their reviews. Don't worry, there are at least a few people who are intelligent enough to see the movie for what it really is: one really big, boring, cheesy, and vomit-inducing joke.

Based on the crowd reaction the film got when I saw it (very negative), and all of the emails I'm receiving similar to yours, you can rest assured that more than a "few" people will see the movie as you do.  I actually don't think it was a "vomit-inducing joke."  I'd agree with you that it is really big (we all knew that going in), boring and does get cheesy a few too many times.  I gave it a 4, out of 10.  That's a little below average.  It doesn't mean that I HATE the movie.  There were some damn fine moments in the film.  Cut it down to 2 hours and make it a little more inclusive for the people that haven't read the books, and you could have a good, not great, film.  Instead, what you have is a fanboy's wet-dream, and nothing more.

There is a good, not great, 110 minute movie in there. Somewhere.

That's what I just said.  The guy that wrote the above statement "loved the books" and "read them twice," so I don't think he has anything against Lord of the Rings, but somehow the film left him disappointed, just like this next guy...

You are completely correct. I am a LOTR fan but don't hold that against me. I tried desperately to like the film, but it just stank. The stunning visuals could not compensate for the almost criminal changes in plot, character development and tone from the book. The only good thing was the enhancement of Arwen. It might as well have been called 'Planet of the Apes' or 'Wuthering Heights' because it certainly wasn't the LOTR I know. Much more like D&D than LOTR. Judged by itself, without reference to the book, its probably okay, but certainly not great. Oh well, I suppose in 30 years time someone else will have a go.

Being that I haven't read the book for nearly 15 years, I am unable to give you much of a response, regarding changes in plot.  I do know that the film was faithful to the novel in its excessive boringness.  I thought The Fellowship of the Ring was one yawn-inducing read, although I remember it having far better character development (there is essentially none in the film version).  I expected more out of the movie than I got from the book, but, if anything, received less.  The Hobbit was a pretty good read, so at least all is not lost in the fantasy world of Tolkien.

Lord of the Rings sucked!  I completely agree with the review, and I'm not sure why so many people seem to be entranced with it (the film)...  Every emotion in the film seemed to be contrived, and no character development whatsoever was made for anyone it seemed--why should the audience be upset when Boromir dies?  Did they know anything about him?  And Arwen rescuing Frodo?  Can we say "agenda"?  Jesus Christ.

Nick Becker

So much of the film seemed sickeningly contrived.  How about the two dorkier Hobbits ALWAYS making some noise, or doing something stupid, like lighting a fire, to draw some monster, or another's, attention?  Are the bad guys really this incompetent?  I thought this took a large bite out of the film's thrill factor.  *Highlight Nick's letter, and my response, to read the "invisible words," if you've already watched the movie, or don't mind spoilers.*  

Agree with you for the most part. Would give it a 6. Enjoyed books big time, but the movie left me flat. Think you are right. After Christmas it will fade quickly.

Appreciate the letter.  Sounds like telegram.  Glad to post it.  Hope you're right about my being right.

I must complement you for your review of Lord of the Rings. Your honesty was the thing this movie really needed. I often write reviews on a Icelandic site. When I reviewed LotR and only gave it 3 out of 4 stars (i liked it more then you) I was flooded by people, cursing me and telling me to go watch Mighty Morphin Power Rangers: The Movie. Many of the people on the site said it was the greatest movie ever made, I asked them if they had seen Citizen Kane, 2001, Fargo or even any of the Star Wars or Indiana Jones movies, they didnt answer that question. But I just cant understand why people are so defensive about their movies or that we are reviewing the book or insulting their precious Tolkien.
-Stefan Birgir Stefansson

Sorry about removing the name of the site you write for.  I haven't had a chance to check it out yet, and I don't want to link to something I have yet to peruse.  As far as the list of movies you brought up, they are very similar to mine (every film you named is in my top 50 movies of all time list), and I identify completely with your frustration over people claiming The Lord of the Rings is actually a better film.  I honestly think some people were so determined to love this film, that they were able to overlook its flaws, and convince themselves that it was the best thing ever made.  I think the reason critics "daring" to go against the grain and give it a negative review are being bombarded with hate mail is because we expose the aforementioned flaws, and it makes it that much harder for these people to continue living inside their shell of delusions.  And, speaking of critics daring to go against the grain . . .

I found your review of Lord of the Rings and I agree whole heartily.  I work for a small paper in Cleveland, Tennessee and I was given the gallant task of tackling the box office smash Lord of the Rings.  Three and a half hours later my eyes were weeping with boredom.  I managed to scribble down my disgust for the film and now I am being ridiculed for "going against the grindstone."  Well, I say to hell with the grindstone.  I'm glad I'm not the only one who saw through Lord of the Rings.  If you want a copy of my review, let me know.

Ryan Harris

I've never heard the expression, "going against the grindstone."  Must be a Tennessee thing.  Did you know there's a Prince song where he says, "I'm gonna drive her . . . to Tennessee"?  I love that song.  I'd also love a copy of your review.  Feel free to send me one, or send me a link to it, if it's online.  Oh, and remember, you're not the only critic being ridiculed for expressing your true feelings over the film.  Could this be why the mainstream critics all copy each other?  I suppose my refusal to "play the game" will forever prevent me from getting that job as a mainstream critic that I was searching for.  People aren't looking for critics, they're looking for cheerleaders.  Damn.

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