If I ever meet Ralph Bakshi in person, I shall kick him square in the privates.
It is, perhaps, somewhat sad that Ralph Bakshi will be remembered not for the many excellent animated movies he made, but for the hideous, misguided, ill-thought-out, poorly edited, badly scored, all around putrid movie that is The Lord of the Rings.
First, let me say right up front for those of you who still don't know: the movie is incomplete. It only tells approximately half of the story that makes up Tolkien's epic work, and the half it covers it massacres. And no, Bakshi never filmed part two, so don't waste your video rental person's time asking them if they have it.
The movie uses the technique of filming live actors and lying animation over the top of them. Why this was ever thought to be a good idea is beyond me, especially when it is done this badly. It makes everything feel disjointed and unreal, especially when the live actors visibly show through the animation, as they do in so many scenes.
In order to fit even half the story into the 133 minute running time of the film, Bakshi ruthlessly cut a lot of Tolkien's material. Unfortunately, Bakshi not only managed to cut out most of the stuff that would make the movie make sense, he also added some nonsensical and counter-productive material of his own, as well. There is too much here for me to go into in depth. Let me instead point you towards this wonderful web page created by someone with much more time and space to devote to this travesty: http://flyingmoose.org/tolksarc/bakshi/bakshi.htm.
If you enjoy bad movies as much as I do, you must rent this movie. It is a classic of the "bad movie" genre. However, I must warn you, if you are, or even somewhat fancy yourself to be, a Tolkien purist, you may end up wanting to murder everyone who had anything to do with this movie before the end of the opening narration.
Scene to watch for: The Battle of Helm's Deep
Best line: "What foolishness is this? Why do you speak of hiding and destroying?"
Things that make you go "Huh?": Saruman's fireballs.