Return of the King review by Matt Fuerst


Calling The Lords of the Rings a trilogy makes the hardcore nerds furious. "It's one story, just broken into three parts!" they wimper. Do you really care? I know I don't, but going in on opening night, I knew I was ready to see how all the threads of the Lord of the Rings trilogy were going to be tied up from filmgoers favorite fuzzy New Zealander director.

And boy are there some serious plotlines. You have got to admire Jackson for the the size of the undertaking. There is just a ton of story all crammed in here, really a ridiculous amount. I wasn't paying too close of attention, but at the very least, at the end of The Two Towers, we've got Sam and Frodo heading towards Mordor, the Humans barely surviving a massive fight against the Orcs, the walking talking trees and humans taking the fight to Isengard, Arwen and Aragorn in love, Eowyn in love with Aragorn, Gollum being sneaky... the list goes on. Now, having spent 3 plus hours of my life taking in Return of the King last evening, I could summarize the events for you, but really, there isn't much need. If you've seen the first two flicks, take whichever plotline of your choosing, imagine what would be the, dare I say it, prototypical ending to that plotline, and that is exactly what happens. It's not possible to fault Jackson for this level of predictabilty, he's working with the material that he's given, and I don't know if I really fault Tolkein either for it. This is a fantasy tale of love, righteousness, and good so we know from the get go what kind of bounds we are working with. Evil can't conquer. Love cannot falter. Darkness cannot descend. Mayve the reason I like film noir, and in general dark films, is because I believe in just the opposite. Bad things happen to good people, and there isn't a happy ending. Too much of the happy stuff isn't always a good thing.

Thus far I've put a pretty negative spin on things, and I think that is well deserved. There is oh so much to praise however. I can't think of a single thing to really fault Jackson on in the film. Yes it runs long and I admit I did check my watch more than once. However I am not sure what could have been cut, all was essential. The special effects are marvelous as ever and well integrated. I didn't have a problem with any of the sequences, which is a lot more than I can say about most films. There can be no argument that Weta does good work. I think the effects shots of Lord work so well since almost the entirety of each shot is completely digital. Working within a completely digital fantasy landscape allows for a lot more freedom. Not having to integrate "real life" items captured on film with CG I think makes the process much easier. Back to Jackson, he handles all the goings on masterfully. Once again, the hardcore nerds, given any reason to bitch and complain, can always bitch about the additions, subtractions, substitutions and rearrangements that Jackason made adapting the books to screens. Really, these people must get over themselves. I have never read the books, nor do I plan to. Personally I find the thought of hundreds of pages of dry descriptions, poetry and song to be my idea of a nightmare. However, from what I know of the changes from the book to screen, all were done gracefully and with purpose.

Far and away, the most irritating part of Return is what I have diagnosed as a serious case of "miracle-itis". Both Fellowship and Two Towers had their very fair share of moments when all hope seemed lost, and yet a miracle saved the day. Hey, I'm all for the feel good moment, the glimmer of hope, which I guess is really a major point of the entire series. But things went overboard in Return of the King. We've just finished a massive battle in Two Towers where all hope was lost, yet the elves finally showed up and saved the day. However, since one big human versus orc battle isn't enough, we're set up almost immediately for another one.

Hey, I understand this is the realm of fantasy and a mystical tale of good and evil and all the accompanying jazz, but I'd say Tolkein read one too many teen melodramas before trying to build the tension in this battle. It's just way over the top.

Random Thoughts
For a title of Return of the King that sure does play a backseat role. What's the deal? Shouldn't the title of this one be Short People Are People Too or something? Is this a story of the hobbits or not?
Talking trees are ridiculous. I can accept most stuff. I love talking animals. I can accept half humans, elves, dwarves, hobbits. I cannot accept trees that talk.
Huge flying birds with saddles are dumb.

Looking at my little bitch list there, I guess I see why I would propose that Fellowship is the best flick of the bunch. No ridiculous birds, talking trees and the "miracle-itis" is at a minimum compared to Two Towers and Return. Ah well, the world of Middle Earth is saved, I'm a grumpy bastard, and I have my abestos suit on, prepared to get flamed. Let me have your best people.

6 out of 10 Jackasses
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