The $25-million stage production of J.R.R. Tolkien's The Lord Of The Rings which opened in London's West End Tuesday night was no match for Peter Jackson's film version, several London critics observed today (Wednesday). Charles Spencer in the Daily Telegraph called the production "a thumping great flop. I took my 14-year-old son along, who enjoyed Peter Jackson's epic Lord Of The Rings films and is, I would guess, exactly the age and sex this show needs to attract in order to survive. Unfortunately, he hated it even more than I did, sitting with his head in his hands in those moments when he wasn't tittering at the ponderous inanities of the script and the triteness of the lyrics." Michael Coveney on the British website commented, "The movie, irresistibly, is as much about the fight for friendship as the fight for freedom. Here, an audience is invited to share in a fight to solve a series of staging problems." Kieron Quirke in the Evening Standard described the show as "an empty-headed and messy extravaganza that will appall established fans." On the other hand, Michael Billington wrote in the Guardian, "Having dipped only briefly into the original trilogy and the Peter Jackson movies, I entered Drury Lane [theater district] as innocent as any hairy-toed hobbit. I emerged three and a quarter hours later ... hugely impressed." The London Times' critic, Sam Marlowe, wrote: "The show has charm, wit and jaw-dropping theatrical brio; crucially, it also has real emotional heft."