A RoTK Review – A book-fan’s review of the movie

by Apr 3, 2004Reviews

How shall I say this? After watching FoTR and TTT, I read the books, and was deeply enthralled by their magic. Compared to the real books, FoTR the Movie lost its lure. TTT went down the same road, being (in my opinion) worse that the first movie. But I could take these lightly; after all, I had been measuring the books by the movies, and I was by no means disappointed.

Return of the King, however, was a completely different matter. With RoTK, I had actually read the books before seeing the movies, and the book was the most beautiful, action-filled and awesomely glorious book it has ever been my pleasure to read. Would the movie measure up to those standards?

It was with slight doubt that I made my way into the theatre, and sat down in a seat. As the lights went dim, I saw my first view of RoTK. I didn’t think much of the Smeagol/Deagol scene, but I must say that the party in the Hall of Meduseld was altogether fun. Rohan’s scenery was beautiful, the halls and land recalling scenes in Beowulf. As displeased as I was by Saruman not throwing the Palantir, I was fairly pleased with the thing. But it was the first sight of Minas Tirith that made me go “wow”. It was beautiful beyond even what I had imagined, the walls of white shining in the morning. I can truly say that it made me want to cry at the enormous beauty, in a way that neither Rivendell nor Lothorien ever did. With Rivendell and Lothlorien, I had a shiver down my spine; no more. With Minas Tirith, I truly felt awe. The music was also beautiful, recalling horns, making me think of deeds of glory. The subsequent part was wonderful.

However, I was very disappointed with what was going on in Rohan, and Frodo and Sam’s journey to Mordor. In Rohan, the most prominent thing is Eowyn and the Rangers of the North; instead of being disguised from the start, Eowyn goes to Dunharrow along with the other men. In other words, all that happened in Edoras was shifted to Dunharrow. Subsequently, the arrival of Elrond strikes me as highly improbable. A journey that took Boromir months only takes Elrond a few days. Wonderful. The entire disappearance of the Rangers of the North also is very disturbing to the story; that three people would tread the Paths of the Dead alone, while possible, is not very practical. Thirty-three people riding to Gondor’s aid was little enough, let alone three. While Aragorn was probably expecting the Dead to help, he could not be absolutely sure that they would. Barring that, we have Eowyn’s personality as Dernhelm betrayed from the start. Merry says, “My lady” at once when Eowyn scoops him up, and Theoden is considerably less courteous in his refusal.

As to Frodo, Sam and Gollum, most people will know what the problem is here; that the Ring seems to have an effect on Frodo that makes Frodo distrust Sam, of all people. While in the books, Frodo does act up in Cirith Ungol, he thought that Sam was an Orc. Not so here; he actually calls Sam by name, and tells him to leave. Humph.

As to the Death of Denethor, it was even worse. In the books, Denethor at least had dignity in death; he laid down and let himself be burned. Crazy, yes, but dignified. Here, we have him rush around like a true madman, and fall off the stone bastion like a torch someone dropped. Very demeaning.

I personally think that the Battle of the Pelennor was well done, with the Rohirrim glorious in the sunrise, except for the fact that the Witch-king struck several times, and missed, while in the books, Nazgul aim is deadly. And then, as always, there is the matter of canon. Here, Theoden knew Eowyn was there, and Eomer was not there to receive the banner. But overall, it was good.

Now comes the bit that still makes me mad at the moviemakers. They cut out the whole Houses of Healing, cutting off the whole romance of Faramir and Eowyn, which was the true romance in the books, and not Aragorn and Arwen. I am an Eowyn fan, and I am very, very upset about this; the courtliness of Faramir, the coldness but eventual love of Eowyn, and their fairy-tale romance. How could they leave it out? This, in my opinion, was the biggest flaw in the movie.

And finally we come to the last bit, the battle before the Black Gate, and the destruction of the Ring. First, I’ll talk about the Frodo and Sam’s mission. The whole trip across Gorgoroth was good; canonical if not beautiful (who would expect Mordor to be beautiful?). It was at the very end that inconsistencies appeared. Frodo actually falls off the brink, and has to climb back up: very unrealistic. I’d like to ask you if you feel like letting someone grab your hand, that has just had a finger bitten off. While in the books Frodo does have an “elvish air”, he is not particularly strong of body; I doubt he could have hung on so long, or if he could, that he would have the will to do so, after being tormented by the burden of the Ring.

And now for the last battle before the Black Gate: Here, I find little wrong, save that the Mouth of Sauron is missing, and Aragorn is worsted by a troll. In Aragorn’s state then, I doubt that any creature of darkness would have dared to assail him. Besides, the men of Gondor would have defended him to the death. Other than that, I find nothing.

And now for the end: The crowning was splendid, as well as Arwen coming, save that the whole wedding was condensed into a kiss. But the Scouring of the Shire was missing entirely, taking away much of the “reality” of LoTR, the “anticlimax”, as it is. However, this is understandable, since adding it would make the thing too long.

So overall, what do I think? In my opinion, the scenery is beautiful, as is the movie in itself. But when compared to the books, I find inconsistancies. Despite the fact that I get annoyed at that, despite the fact that I am outraged and can hardly speak clearly when someone asks me whether the books were a novelization of the movie, or who Glorfindel was, I still say that RoTK the movie is wonderful. Need I say more? The Academy Awards speak for themselves.


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