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Movie: Return of the King

I'm going to keep this review short for three reasons:
1) Some of my friends haven't seen it yet, and anything I might say could be construed as a spoiler, such as the scene where Saruman reveals to Frodo that he is in fact his long-lost father, and that he was hidden with Bilbo in order that some day he might learn to use the ring and restore good to the universe.

2) I had very little sleep, as a result of the fact that the movie ended at 4am.

3) Related to (2), I don't think I enjoyed the movie as much as I would have had the climax of the movie not occured ~3:30am, after I had been at the theater since 10pm.

My current impression is that I liked the movie, though I think I liked TTT the best. TTT has the benefit (or detriment to some) that it occurs in the middle, so it isn't burdened with all the setup of FotR, nor does it have to wrap up every loose end of the story. It is also the first movie in which we get to know Gollum, so all the beautiful surprises of his character are revealed in that movie, whereas in RotK his character is very familiar.

At least until I see the movie again, I think this will be my current theory on the trilogy: TTT best, RotK second, FotR third, all great movies, and will all have honored positions on my bookshelf in their extra long extended versions.

Comments (4)

kenji:

i think you need to see it again during normal waking hours. upon initial reflection, i think that this one is probably the best of the three. it had all the action of the second, and all the story of the first. and it was done very well.

i just wish the speakers weren't screwed up in my theatre!

Actually, I think Gollum got much more in-depth treatment in this movie. In TTT, you get to know him a little bit, he has some funny and sad moments, and he's a cool character. In RotK, I'd say he's the key character, and learning about his background sort of gives him this pathos so you can't totally hate him even though he's become incredibly manipulative.

Ken:

I'll definitely schedule in some repeat viewings to see if my opinion changes. TTT benefits from the fact that I've seen it many times, so why shouldn't RotK get the same benefit?

I did feel with RotK that Jackson was struggling at the beginning to get Gandalf/Aragorn/Merry/Pippin into place, and I can see why he cut Saruman out. The pacing of their arc felt a little strange to me, because first it's very frenetic in constrast to the slow plodding of Gollum/Frodo/Sam, but then it slows down once Minas Tirith comes into the picture. At this point was where I felt that the movie was starting to find it's groove.

Gollum was pushed more to the forefront of this movie and delivers some cool parts, but IMHO he doesn't have a scene (except perhaps Smeagol/Deagol) that's as striking as his multiple personality dialogue in the TTT where you just say, "wow, I can't believe they pulled that off." In other words, the TTT had already done such a great job of raising the bar. Also, I think TTT had already done a lot of legwork to make Gollum endearing, especially if you watch the extended cut.

One character that I thought got most interesting in this movie was Sam - we got to see a broader range of his character which really filled out his role in the story.

Sian:

They are all incredible films. Hard core Tolkien fans grumble about the chops, changes and re-writes but as someone who hasn't read the books (yet) they made sense to me. I just can't wait to buy the box set.

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