2003 • The Lord of the Rings: Return of the King

The Lord of the Rings: Return of the KingIf you read my personal blog, you would know that in order to watch our next Best Picture winner, The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King, we first needed to watch the first two LOTR movies. We started out with Fellowship of the Ring which I enjoyed, then moved on to Two Towers, which I really hated. I think it was mostly due to us watching the extended director’s cut version which extended the already-painfully-long movie to close to five hours, but it felt like one giant segue… just a lot of setting up for the third title in the trilogy.

The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King was one of the least-anticipated movies in our project so far. I hate fantasy type movies and so does Lauren. That is a wildly popular genre, but just not my type of thing. I really prefer movies that are based in the present day, especially ones that I can potentially relate to. TLOTRROTK is quite the opposite of that.

Please, bear with me. I am not going to go into too much depth attempting to explain the plot because I kept confusing names and what was happening. BUT… in the third chapter, we find Gollum leading Frodo and Sam to Mordor to destroy the ring. Meanwhile, Gandolf, Merry, Pippin, and some other allies are fighting a war against someone. Yes, that is the best I can do explaining the premise. Sorry.

Special effects? Excellent. Acting? Pretty good. Story? Had so much potential. I would have loved the movie if it had stuck with Frodo’s journey. But the war scenes just confused me. I know I am in the microscopic minority of the people who would say that, but there was too much going on for my feeble mind. We were forced to take an hour break halfway through due to some technological misfortunes and I fell asleep at one point, none of which helped matters. But all things told, this genre just doesn’t do it for me. Period.

If I had to pick a moment of the movie that really stood out to me, it was the first five minutes where we learn how Gollum originally acquired the ring, or maybe the scene where Frodo finally knocks Gollum into the lava and destroys the ring. Though momentarily impressed with some of the characters like the ghosts or the giant beasts or the flying giant birdie, those scenes ultimately rang empty for me. Again, I know I’m speaking against a mammoth fanbase.

So where does The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King rank? I would probably put it in the lower third. Definitely we are looking forward to getting back on track with non-fantasy movies.

2 Comments

  1. Which version of ROTK were you watching? IMO for your project you needed to watch the theatrical version as that is the film that won 11 Oscars not the Extended

  2. Just as Peter Jackson felt that LOTR had to be made as one large, three-part, cinematic piece, I decided to write my IMDb review of all three movies as a single, multi-part essay. Click on my screen-name and hit “Chronological” to view my reviews of the Fellowship and Two Towers. I make no guarantees about the quality and consistence of my review, but I do guarantee that these three films offer very high and very consistent quality from beginning to end. The acting, cinematography, art, and direction simply can not be beat.

    Which of the three movies is my favorite varies with my mood – and the same holds true for Tolkien’s books. When I am immersed in the story, ROTK is my favorite. When I simply want to have fun with the whole experience, I love Fellowship. And when I want something intense, evocative and thoughtful, I go for the Two Towers.

    Frodo, Sam and Golem are on their way to Mount Doom and their bodies, nerves, and relationships have borne the greatest burden on middle earth. The rest of the fellowship is rallying to the defense of Minas Tirith, and preparing for even more deadly battles to come.

    The heroism and romance are incredibly moving – when was the last time you saw an entire audience leaving a theater after a fantasy movie rubbing their eyes? The sets are breathtaking – even moreso than in the previous two films.

    The casting and acting are superb.

    The film delivers at every level and is the jewel in the trilogy’s well-earned crown.

    Return of the King offers a resolution of all of the major story arcs in LOTR. As with the classic Tolkien trilogy, however, you may be able to predict some of what will occur, but never all of it and you’ll never guess how you will get there. The same fatalistic and paradoxically unpredictable feeling of Tolkien’s grand plots is present throughout ROTK especially. The major theme in ROTK, however, is the varied ways and means of heroism – both intentional and unintended, and Tolkien’s examination of sacrifice and heroism is as inspiring as it is subtle. Amazingly, it all comes through in the films.

    Even more than the previous two films, Jackson and his writers took liberties with the story-line. Like the others, however, this serves the film better than simple adaptation from one medium to another. By reordering some of the chronology and adding scenes and plot devices which are consistent with Tolkien’s world and characterizations, the film-makers actually do a better job of preserving the concepts and themes of the story than they could have with a pure adaptation. The lengthy epilogue in Tolkien’s book is greatly reduced, reordered, and somewhat changed in order to work in the film. Some parts actually appear very early in ROTK. And some aspects of Tolkien’s epilogue are disclosed in the Two Towers, though not directly depicted. But all of the really important components of the epilogue are, at least strongly implied if not well illustrated in ROTK.


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