Specifically, he says
In one of those horrible, hideous, tragic twists of fate that can only happen when a gigantic multinational media conglomerate gets its grubby mitts on a well-loved literary property, The Lord of The Rings II has just been given the greenlight. Tolkien's ending was too darn final to be overcome — but wait, here's a new idea! How about if the One Ring was not destroyed, but merely encased in lava for a few millennia, while the seas rose, and the land fell, and the slopes of Mount Doom became a peaceful tropical island known for its papayas and black-sand beaches. And there, at the edge of the sea, the One Ring waits...
That's this week's challenge. Three sections: beginning, middle, and end; I want you to sketch out a rough outline for the screenplay of The Lord of The Rings II: The Return of The One Ring.
And so, with the deepest of apologies to Master Tolkein himself, I would like to humbly present the following...
(Roll the film!)
(You're gonna love this!)
(We got a Saruman sound-alike to voice this part!)
The Third Age was done, with the apparent end of the Ring. The Fourth Age took hold, the age of Men, as the last of the Elves departed for the West. And over the centuries, the Third Age was forgotten, or worse, relegated to the mists of time--barely remembered, and distorted in the remembering.
Without the rage and fury of Sauron to keep it alive, Mount Doom quieted, and the magma cooled. Without the hordes of Orcs to ravage and ruin the lands, plants returned, and animals of the wilderness followed the food. And without the stewardship of the Elves and the Wizards to keep the memory alive, Mordor became a forgotten relic of a lost era.
Nearly a thousand years after the apparent destruction of the Ring, a massive earthquake felled a swath of the Mountains of Shadow. (We stole footage from some old Earthquake and Avalanche disaster movies for this part). The Great River Anduin was diverted, and Mordor filled like a bowl, until finally the raging waters carved a path through to the Bay of Balfalas. (That will prove to the Tolkein Purists that we did our research and know the geography!) Over time, Mount Doom became a forgotten spot on long disintegrated maps, and the Mountains of Shadow a range of islands and rocky spires, noted for their windswept beauty, black sandy beaches, and scantily-clad natives.
Just because something has been forgotten does not mean it no longer exists. (That's the part I put in. Nice and mysteriously ominous.)
The Fourth Age was followed by the Fifth Age, more commonly known as the Enlightenment. Next came the Sixth Age, or the Industrial Revolution, followed by the Seventh Age, which was heralded by the invention of the Apple Computer. After that came the Eighth Age (which no one remembers), the Ninth Age (the era of Disco), the Tenth Age (the horrific reign of the boy bands), and the Eleventh Age (the final retirement party of the Baby Boomers).
The Twelfth Age, then, is where the Ring came to light again--it had not been destroyed, but merely encased in stone. The Twelfth Age, of powerful corporations and sun-covered beaches, of Playstation 8 and Windows Vista 73.574, when the harried and haggard programmers of New Shire Software received their annual bonus--a two week vacation to the windswept beauty of the Spire Islands...
Gilbert Smiggle, 45 year old computer geek (Smiggle? Smeagol? Get it?), comes home from the islands with a lot more than he bargained for. Overweight, with post-adolescent acne and a fear of people, Gilbert gets laughed at in a swimsuit and spends the bulk of the vacation reading tech books and ogling women. (He was going to be a surfer dude, but someone else stole that idea, so we had to do a last-minute rewrite.) On the last day of the trip, coincidentally his birthday, he foolishly accepts a dare to go para-sailing, and under the influence of one too many local drinks served in a coconut with a tiny umbrella, he soon finds himself a hundred feet over the waters of the resort. His harness fails; the rope breaks. The wing catches on the very tip of a rock spire and the glider is flung, down, into the water.
Gilbert is knocked unconscious by the impact, but washes ashore, alive and unhurt, clutching a small lava rock...and as if by magic, he can hear a voice, whispering promises...
Gilbert's co-workers, especially Fred Boggs (affectionately nicknamed "Mister Fredo" by his peers) and Samantha Wise, (might as well avoid all the rumors and innuendo and just make Sam female) are mystified by the change in his demeanor after the vacation. He becomes sullen, argumentative, and downright ornery, before finally getting fired. (We're not sure what gets a programmer fired, but we'll figure something out.)
All alone in his cubicle, packing things in boxes to leave, he knocks the lava rock off the desk. It hits the ground and cracks, reavealing a gleam inside. (Just picture the golden glow lighting his face as he realizes the treasure is inside...imagine the Golden Ticket scene from Charlie and the Chocolate Factory!) He smashes it onto the ground, and discovers the One Ring. At that exact moment, a heretofore forgotten volcano erupts in the middle of the ocean.
Gilbert heads for the resort, using the ring's invisibility to gain revenge on the fools who strapped him to the parachute ("Dude! Like, those are awesome engravings on that ring! That would make an awesome tattoo! Yearrhghgh!!...Master...Dude...I will like totally destroy any who come against you.")...before striding towards Mount Doom to rebuild his master's Empire.
(Okay, now we need to ratchet up the suspense, and make sure everyone knows that the world is really in danger here!)
Floods, earthquakes, and hurricanes batter the world (like during the opening credits of Flash Gordon). Monsters crawl out of the ground to terrorize cities (Think Cloverfield, 20,000 Fathoms, Ishtar). World leaders are being eaten by dragons (fortunately, the vice president was home sick that day).
A meteor the size of a VW microbus takes out New Shire Software. Fredo and Sam survive the disaster, barely, along with Meep and Peer, a tweedle-dee tweedle-dum pair of H1B Visa programmers (clone the guy from Short Circuit). And as the four of them pick their way out of the rubble, they see a strange sight...a tall white boat gliding silently up to the shore of Lake Michigan (yeah, I know, Lake Michigan doesn't connect to the Grey Havens. It's magic, get over it.). A tall and bearded man, with a long beard and pointy hat, steps down from the boat and approaches them.
Gandalf has returned. (We haven't been able to get Ian to sign on, and figured maybe we'd do a "yeah, I died again, so I look a little different now" scene to explain the difference).
Gandalf explains the nature of the Ring to the survivors, pointing out that they are reincarnations of the original characters, and describes how they must gather a Fellowship, travel across the sea, invade Gilbert's inner sanctum, steal the Ring right off his finger, and destroy it in the lava of Mount Doom ("Dude, what have you been smoking...?").
They in turn have to explain the late 21st century to him, leading to a few humorous moments (the best of these involves the effects of various weeds and plants packed into his beloved pipe, so they DO find out what he's been smoking).
As they work their way across the planet to Mount Island Doom, they gather a motley assortment of fellow survivors.
--Harry Gordon, an Army Ranger who is the sole survivor of his unit (the rest were eaten by a dragon).
--Jim Lee, a midget with an attitude and a foul mouth.
--Brenda Legol, a man-hating female Marine (who, as time goes on, comes to develop a relationship with Jim Lee). (We're trying to line up that female space marine from Aliens for this part)
--Barry Morrow, a senior database programmer from a competitor company.
Harry, Jim, and Brenda head off to Texas, hoping to use their military contacts to find an army to invade Mordor with. Meep and Peer, through a zany set of misadventures, accidentally end up being drafted into Gilbert's army.
The remainder of the group manages to find their way to a freighter willing to take them across the sea.
The assembled heroes sneak into Gilbert's lair by hacking into his computerized security system via a wireless laptop.
Once inside, they are scattered while running from a trio of Balrogs. (Sequels have to be bigger and better than the original, so instead of just ONE Balrog, we'll have THREE!) Fredo and Sam rescue Meep and Peer from the horrors of Basic Training, saving them from having cybernetic armor welded on, futuristic weapons attached, and troublesome testosterone-producing body parts mechanically removed, and meet up with Gandalf just outside of Gilbert's penthouse office.
Once inside, they discover they have been betrayed, as Barry wants the ring for himself. He disarms the fellowship, and Gilbert prepares to blast them. But, before the execution, explosions rattle the mountain. Aircraft and parachutes fill the sky. Troops on surfboards come flooding over the horizon. The reinforcements have arrived!
The climax is a massive battle scene (on the same scale as Gondor, Saving Private Ryan, the Matrix's Burly Brawl, or maybe even the animated Hobbit), as combined forces from the United States and a dozen other countries ravaged by Gilbert's magic descend upon Mount Doom. They are confronted by cybernetically-enhanced, armor-wearing, laser-firing Neo-Orc Borg, specially bred for just this sort of combat...and the humans are hopelessly outmatched. (Remember on one of those extra DVDs that came with the Lord of the Rings, didn't they say something, somewhere, about Sauron representing technology, or something like that...? No? Okay, never mind.)
Just as the battle seems lost...another White Ship pulls up. Hundreds of Elven warriors leap ashore, led by Elrond (played by Hugo Weaving, reprising his role from the original. Hey, if he'll spend an entire movie behind the mask of a guy who's been dead a thousand years, he'll sign up for pretty much anything.). Their rapid-fire armor-piercing magical arrows (they've had several thousand years to improve on the original, after all) slowly but surely begin to turn the tide of battle. (Everyone knows the impossibly huge battle scenes are what sold the original, so ours will be even more impossibly huge!)
In one particularly exciting scene, Brenda Legol tight-rope walks across a lava-filled chasm, ducks the swing of a flaming sword, and stands on the burning head of a Balrog, before flinging two foam-filled fire extinguishers down it's throat, causing it to swell up and explode in a deluge of brimstone and shaving cream. (We needed some way to show that she really *was* the reincarnation, you know? Every movie had one of those impossible scenes, and she's got to be just as good as the original!)
With the Armies of Good taking the upper hand in The Battle of the Fifteen Armies, the Fellowship surrounds Gilbert and Barry on the bridge high over the river of lava. Gandalf and Elrond engage in a wizard's duel with Gilbert, and the humans can do little more than hide. (We're talking a REAL Wizard's Duel here, none of this hokey telekinesis stuff like the original had. Lightning bolts, fireballs, dragons made of smoke, the works!) Meep gets blasted against a wall, and Peer, in a fit of foolhardy rage, leaps on Gilbert's back. That gives Barry the opening he needs to grab for the Ring. It bounces free, all three men fight for it, swatting it around and across the bridge...and all three of them topple over the edge.
Barry catches hold of the rocks with one hand, and saves Peer with the other, redeeming himself. (See? Just like the original, only better, because he doesn't get killed!) Gilbert sees the ring tumbling down the rocks, grabs for it, almost catches it--and loses his grip on the rocks in the process. He and the Ring fall screaming into the lava while Barry and Peer are pulled up to safety. (And the bad guy gets what's coming to him!)
Gandalf strides to the lava's edge, reaches in with his bare hand, and pulls out the Ring. He buries it in the lava again, and mutters a magic spell, which causes the lava to heat to nova temperature; all the Fellowship hide their eyes from the light. He pulls out a mangled lump of metal, dripping gold into the lava. "It's finally done," he says. "Sauron is no more." (But we can cut this scene, save it for the Director's Cut or something, to leave room for another sequel).
In a tearful departure, Gandalf, Elrond, the surviving elves, Harry, Jim, and Brenda, all pile onto the White Boats and head off for parts unknown, leaving Fredo, Sam, Meep, and Peer surrounded by dead cyber-orcs and wondering how they're ever going to get off Island Mount Doom...before being greeted as saviors by bikini-clad natives and deciding to stay put. (And we thought about putting in a scene where Gandalf dashes back to shore to pick up some island pipe-weed to take with him, but we weren't sure if that would be over the top or not).
(So...boss...what do you think...?)