Let me preface this review by saying that the multiple viewings of the extended version of The Fellowship of the Ring have given me great pleasure. Also, the extended version of The Two Towers is much better than the theatrical version. I just couldn’t understand why some scenes were left in and others cut. And, because of that, I’m sure the full extended Return of the King will be much better than the film I saw today.
My biggest complaint was that this movie seemed rushed. It was a major undertaking and they were working under a deadline, but many scenes seemed hastily edited. On the other extreme, the long shots seemed exceedingly long. Also, there were moments where I just had to laugh simply because of their awkwardness.
At times the special effects were above average, even excellent, such as with Shelob. But there were other times where the blue screen usage was very obvious.
Rave reviews by fans I can understand, but what about the accolades given to this film and Peter Jackson by the mainstream film critics. Are they rewarding him for a job well done for all three movies? Am I just being too cynical?
In an earlier reply to another review I listed 30 items that I hated about ROTK. but I will only list a few of those here.
The opening sequence where the ring is found/stolen by Smeagol is not very well done, especially by an overacting Andy Sirkis. It’s an interesting backstory, but not up to par with the other opening sequences of the previous two films. I think it’s necessary, but maybe better as a flashback in the second film. What’s done is done, but a better opening might have been the Voice of Saruman at Isengard.
Another sequence I thought unnecessary and added on (for the sake of giving Pippen something to do) was the lighting of the Beacons. It also gave the director another chance show another couple of New Zealand travel log minutes and look at the pretty mountains. Why would Gondor man multiple remote outposts for the sole purpose of lighting SOS beacons when help would not arrive for days anyway?
I could write volumes about the handling of Denethor’s character, but that would take too long. But even the most loyal Jackson fan would have to snicker at Gandalf saying “And so passes Denethor….” as he passes him in flames, and then a split second later appears all the way at the end of the high lookout of the city before plunging down.
And even more could be written about Frodo sending Sam home. That one was completely unexpected. I can’t think of a decent reason for doing so, except that it fit Jackson’s view of how things should be. It doesn’t improve on the story. It doesn’t make it go faster. Somebody give me a good reason for this, ok?
Eowyn’s character was not as strong as I thought she should be. She was always begging to fight, but at the scene of the battle she was cowering like a child. She didn’t show any strength until the Witch King was wounded by Merry. In the book, through tears, she defiantly faces the enemy, ready to die for her king. In the film, she’s wide-eyed and so obviously scared. That’s the difference, and it showed.
Peter Jackson’s biggest mistake was the exclusion of the Mouth of Sauron. This contains some of the best dialog in the book. Also, some of the best tension-filled moments, such as when Frodo’s cloak and mithril vest are revealed. And then there’s such a sloppy editing job done between Mt. Doom and the battle at the gate.
One of the most difficult tasks of the film was how to make the Eye of Sauron look convincing. In the first two, it worked, but the closer we got the Mordor, the goofier that eye became. When the tower finally came down it was kind of a let down visually. The effects weren’t convincing and eye, well, pffft, there it went.
It seemed to me that there was so much care and effort done to make Fellowship of the Ring as perfect as possible, but somehow the way was lost in Two Towers. Further deviations from the Tolkien’s story and intent hampers Return of the King even more. There were so many things that could have been done differently to achieve a better result, but perhaps Jackson’s problem was that he was thinking too much about a giant ape.