A Return of the King Review, by a Hobbit – Late but heartfelt thoughts about the movie

by Aug 10, 2004Reviews

( Forgive me for submitting this so late; we’ve just moved across the country this year and I haven’t gotten all my bearings together quite yet, if you take my meaning! )

It all opened so rapidly, keeping the viewers tense and errect in their seats. The shadowy New Line logo that we have all grown to know like the back of our hands flew across the screen. Then, in a breathless moment, the trilogy’s title appeared in ancient, golden print: The Lord of the Rings.

It was here; the moment we’ve all been waiting for ever since the Fellowship had come out. Everyone in the theater ( even those who were obviously not obsessed fanatics like myself) seemed to freeze as the first scene opened. And it began with… a worm?

The Return of the King is clearly the most intense of all three films, leaving TTT and FotR far behind in both graphics and acting skills. The battle scenes are to die for ( a little pun there ) as are the shots of Minas Tirith. The White City is truly astounding, combining the atmosphere of Ancient Greek culture and architechture, and a Camelot dignity and virtue. The movie’s representation of it is undoubtably one that shall be type-cast for generations to come. The top courtyard with the White Tree is awesome, and Denethor’s throneroom is also incredible. This alone would make the movie worthwhile.

As for acting, the cast is at their best in this film. Pippin has some really great moments in RotK; the small Took that everyone knows for his jollity touches your heart. Here we see the childlike hobbit smile replaced with a serious yet fearful and lamenting expression as he waits upon the Steward of Gondor, a very moving alteration. Aragorn, as always, has us leave the theater singing his praise, especially now that he crowns his acheivments at the Black Gate. Arwen has some touching scenes; and Eowyn and Theoden both really come up to plate in this film. Faramir appears much more praiseworthy that in the previous film ( which, in my opinion, they had him act like a pouting whimp ); and to my great joy, Legolas and Gimli were still given time to themselves for amiable quarreling (“That still only counts as one!” . The one character that would have been nice to see more of would be Eomer, so I’m already waiting in anticipation for the Extended Edition.

However, the main struggle of course lies with Frodo, who is, as the cast would say, “brilliant”. Where Two Towers might have have lacked the moving scenes like the ones from Amon Hen or outside Moria’s Gate, Return of the King makes up for them. Nearly every shot you have of Frodo is a heartbreaking one, from the begining to his final scene. Gollum’s now unbridled hatred and jelousy is great; Andy Serkis ( the actor ) really shows his talent. But then again, there’s the real hero too…

When you reflect on the past two films ( or books ), the main character always is thought to be Frodo. Though Mr. Baggins is without a doubt the KEY character, it is brought to light in Return of the King that the hero has actually been dormant up until this point. Samwise Gamgee, who rather represents the everyday man, comes to the spotlight here. If you’re a fan of Sam, either from the movies or books, you will be elated with him in this next movie. Earlier this summer I was frightfully worried that old PJ ( Peter Jackson) was going to omit Tolkien’s perfect ending to the story, but I was overtaken with an unexpected smile to see the movie concluded the way the story was, with Sam. I don’t think there was one person who left the movie unsatisfied.

This doesn’t mean, however, that there weren’t some disapointments. There always have been; we’ve all grown to expect them. Tom Bombadil, all the changes in Two Towers from the book’s plot, and Aragorn’s mild disposition towards his Kingship have all ben let-downers. Return of the King is not excepted in these. As I had previously mentioned, Eomer has very little action. This is a bummer, since he only had twenty seconds or less to show his stuff in the last film. Saruman makes no appearance whatsoever, nor does Grima, which is really inconsistant, in my opinion. There is NO scouring of the Shire ( though that may be a good thing, the movie running well over three hours at that point), and, even though it was obvious, it was a shame to not see any rangers ride through the Paths of the Dead alongside Aragorn.

Speaking of which, I have a bone to pick about Aragorn in this film. In the movie, the fearless Ranger is still wavering over whether or not to assume his place as King of Gondor. He is still somewhat undecided when a mysterious cloaked figure comes riding to meet him and delivers the message that “Arwen is dying”. By choosing mortality, her fate is now spposedly tied with the Ring’s. At these words, Aragorn immediatly switches from the guy saying he “would not lead the Ring within a hundred leauges” of Gondor, to one who is extra enthusiatic and patriotic about the kingship. Before it was only the fate of Middle-earth at stake; NOW it’s Arwen.

Although it was good to see Aragorn finally get with the program, the movie’s motive is hardly so noble as the one of the Aragorn we knew from the book, who was compelled not so much by personnal want, but for the good of Middle-earth and destiny. True, the Lady Arwen was very dear to him, but never was she alone the motive for his actions. In the books, if you remember, Elrond basically outlawed the marriage unless Aragorn was King of Gondor AND Lord of Arnor. So then, Aragorn from the book figured to kill two birds with one stone, so to speak, and just get the whole ordeal done with or die in the process. The movie’s Aragorn almost seems soap-opera like in his immediate personality switch for the sake of his love. It came across to me that though he wouldn’t take on the duty of the King for the sake of the country of Gondor, he would if it meant he could help Arwen, which is really selfish and base. I did not agree with the movie at all on this point, and found the scene distasteful.

Don’t get me wrong; I loved the scene where Arwen envisioned her small boy ( Eldarion!) running to Aragorn’s arms! I also loved the one where she comes to Gondor at the end; that was really awesome, and I think everyone ( including my little brothers who normally hate these things) was silently going “Yeah! Way to go for Aragorn and Arwen!” I just wish that Aragorn might have had better integrity and reasons to become King.

Another thing which disapointed me was that Faramir and Eowyn ( who actually own the only romantic kiss mentioned in the book ) have no explanation of their affections. One minute Eowyn is lovelorn and grievously depressed because Aragorn has no interest in her, so she rides to battle in hopes of renown and a glorious death, defeating the Witch King. The next scene with her, she is looking on at Aragorn’s ruinion with Arwen with a smile, happy and cheerful, standing next to Faramir, who was also last seen desperatley ill and near death. This was an inconsistant problem, and everyone who has never read the books will leave wondering how Eowyn and Faramir managed to heal so quickly from their seemingly fatal positions. Veiwers will also never know that the two fell in love, which is a shame, because otherwise it appears that poor Eowyn is left high and dry with no one to comfort her.

Aside from these few diversions though, I overall loved the film and will gladly go see it again and again and again and again…
The Lord of the Rings Trilogy rocks! My personal opinion is that it will remain a classic for years to come, and that when fifty years later our grandkids ask us if we really saw The Return of the King in theaters, we’ll answer, ” Yeah; though I only got to see it three times. Not nearly so many times as Rosey…” Kids then will be amazed to know that those famous old guys Orlando Bloom and Elijah Wood used to be hearthrobs, or that we were so crazy about it even when we ONLY had DVD’s! Some even only had video cassettes! How old and low quality!

The Fellowship of the Ring is still my personal favorite, though that is just me. The Return of the King ranks second easily, though. And The Two Towers still beats the pants off everything else I’ve ever seen. The most memorable scenes in the whole trilogy ( in my opinion ) are :

(1) Frodo’s decision to move onward to Mordor at the end of the Fellowship. ” All you have to do is decide what to do with the time given to you.”

(2) The very last line of the movie, ” Well, I’m back.”

(3) The fight in Mt. Doom.

(4) Arwen’s line, “If you want him, come and claim him!”

(5) Bilbo’s Birthday speech

(6) The battle of Helm’s Deep

(7) The crowning of Aragorn

(8) The scene where ” Strider” is introduced, the smoke from his pipe sending a glow to his eyes.

(9) The “second breakfast” scene in FotR

(10) The Prologue

There are many more scenes we have all grown to know and love, but those were some of my personnal favorites.

Well, I believe this sums up my review of The Return of the King. I think we people who were priveleged to welcome such an incredible film will remember it all our lives. The tickets from those glorious nights in December shall ever sit in our drawers of
our valuables. Who knows? Perhaps one day we shall find them to be as “precious” as the Ring itself.


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