The Lord of the Rings: Return Of The King

Review Date:
Director: Peter Jackson
Writer: Fran Walsh, Peter Jackson, Philippa Boyens
Producers: Peter Jackson, Fran Walsh, Barre Osborne
Elijah Wood as Frodo
Sean Astin as Sam
Viggo Mortensen as Aragorn
The boys are back in town. Frodo still has a ring to deliver to the bottom of Mount Doom and his trusty sidekick Sam is helping him along the way. Gollum is also back for the ride, but continues to stir shit up. In the meantime, Aragorn, Legolas and Gimli are preparing for battle. Gandalf and Pippin are also riding along, warning and protecting others. All in all, everyone is ready to rock and to roll over the greatest battle that Middle-Earth, or any CGI programmer, has ever seen!! Gandalf…use your powers already, you jerk!
What can I say about this movie that hasn’t already been said? Well actually…quite a bit! How about the fact that it’s a decent film, but overrated…at least by all those who deem it to be “perfect”. I’m sorry, but this film — as great as its battles are, and as entertaining as its denouement is — has its share of problems. Am I the only one who felt like it went on way past its bedtime? There was at least one full hour of stuff that could have been cut from this picture and I would not even have blinked an eye. Did they really need to include a lame subplot about a nutty king and his son? It dragged the story down, cut into the action and to be honest, added yet another part to an epic that already had too many balls in the air to begin with. The film’s 3-4 different endings were also ridiculously out of line. Dude, we’ve traveled all this way with these folks, the deeds are done…end it already! Why drag things out for scene upon scene upon scene, many of which would have been better left to the audience’s imagination. Remember: this is the movie…NOT the book. I love Peter Jackson. I think he’s a genius and I doubt that anyone else could have done such a great job with these three films, but this final episode is…let’s face it, a little self-indulgent. The studio allowed him free reign (and rightfully so, to a certain extent), he let himself go (although strangely didn’t think we needed to actually see Saruman’s fate) and the movie got a little bloated and redundant because of that.

Is it a good movie? Sure. I’m not going to sit here and pretend that it doesn’t scream accomplishment, innovation, entertainment and epic in many senses of the words, but it’s got its issues as well and they need to be acknowledged. Anyway, all that said (it needed to be), RETURN OF THE KING does continue its tradition of kickass action sequences, many characters and plotlines intertwined and continuing suspense dealt upon its fellowship of do-gooders. Frodo and Sam continue to struggle with Gollum and his antics (loved the flashback to Smeagol…nice), Legolas continues to look far into the horizon and sense danger (his elephant-beast ride was the friggin’ bomb!), Gimli continues to crack wise (still feels out of place) and Aragorn continues to kick ass and look great! Arwen, on the other hand…why was she in these movies again? Gandalf continues his non-wizarding, but does have a lot more “presence” in this round and actually makes some things happen. The rest of the hobbits also had more to do here and did so effectively. The standout in the cast was Sean Astin though. His Samwise received a greater focus here and he made the best of it. Elijah Wood also continued his compelling work as Frodo, the character with whom we needed to identify with the most. The film’s also packed with a number of memorable sequences, most notably the awesome spider-tunnel scene, as well as the Battle of the Pelennor Fields, with the elephant-beasts, trolls, orcs et al, looking to obliterate the good guys.

I also appreciated the inclusion of Miranda Otto’s character and her fate. Girl power indeed! The ending was also nicely handled (except all the stuff AFTER the ending, which felt out of place), although I still can’t say that I was emotionally attached to any of the characters. The “gay stuff” between Frodo and Samwise also continued here, with a kiss finally sealing the deal (jussa joke) In the end, I enjoyed the film, but like I said earlier, felt like a lot of it just regurgitated what we’d already experienced in the two previous installments (lots of folks preparing for battle, lots of long gazes and poetic one-liners, lots of walking, lots of Gollum drooling over the ring, etc…), but also inserted enough coolness to amaze those who didn’t believe that more “oomph” was possible. Now I’ve said it before but I’ll say it again…these “types” of movies don’t do it for me in the first place. I haven’t read (or care to read) the books, so if you enjoyed the previous two movies, you’re likely to appreciate this finale as well, and if you didn’t, well…just wait until the longer ass version comes out on DVD in a few months and watch it from the comfort of your own living room sofa, your own remote control (with stop/fast-forward buttons) and your own schedule. Gondor!!

(c) 2021 Berge Garabedian

The Lord of the Rings: Return Of The King