Science fiction and fantasy                                            



The Lord of The Rings: The Return of the King

directed by Peter Jackson

The Lord of The Rings: The Return of the King poster  
Hyped to the skies, the third installment in The Lord of the Rings trilogy of films has a lot to live up to. Frodo and Sam are approaching Mount Doom, whilst war is coming to Gondor. The forces of good are outnumbered, the ring is closer than ever to the enemy, but we know it all goes well because this is the final chapter.

The film begins with the story of Smeagol and Deagol. This aside happened hundreds of years before the events in The Lord of the Rings unfold, but it goes some way to explain how Smeagol came to be the creature known as Gollum. Unfortunately they could have chosen an actor with more facial ressemblance to the CGI Gollum, or made a CGI Gollum with a certain actor in mind in the first place. Smeagol is shown as he ages and turns into Gollum, but the bone structures of the two faces don't match up at all.

By now most viewers will be prepared to forgive Jackson his deviations from the authorised version of Tolkien's epic. Again in this film he makes a few slight changes for the sake of clarity, pace and drama. On the whole though Peter Jackson has been more faithful to the original in this film than he has in the rest of the trilogy.

Melodramatic at every moment, the final movie ought to be the best because it has all the climactic scenes. Jackson has chosen to play this film more straight-faces than the other two. Some of the more emotional scenes, particularly the battles, are real hanky-soakers. These moments are milked for all they are worth with heroic gestures and an atmospheric score.

The sets of Osgiliath and Gondor are stunning, sheer magic in CGI. Oliphants storm through the battle scene at Gondor, looking terrific as they trample everything in their path. It's a good bet that some of this would have been impossible, or at least highly improbable, just five years ago. I'd like to say that all the special effects are this good but there's a lapse when the hobbits are finally reunited and we see them together against a backdrop of humans. The cut-out is so obvious you can almost see the scissor snips.

The Return of the King is a tremendous film until the last half hour, when everything starts to come to pieces. At this point the maudlin score is getting repetitive, and you start to wonder how long it will take to wind up. It's not the sheer length of the movie that's at fault as much as the failure to find a change of tone. The ending is overly weepy, and it drags. It could have done with more humour, and more weddings. After making so much of the romance between Arwen and Aragorn it is odd not to see that to its conclusion and show their wedding.

John Noble plays Denethor, the mad Steward of Gondor, as a sort of Nero figure, eating fruit and listening to songs whilst the city burns. The Return of the King has too large a cast to be able to pick out one star. One performance that stands out is Éowyn (Miranda Otto) facing up to the Witch King of Angmar, who can't be killed by any man. She manages to look so very earnest when she says "I am no man!" and sticks it to him.

For the first three hours of this film audiences will get more than their money's worth, and this remains one of 2003's most enjoyable movies. However it is let down by an ending that lacks balance and focuses on tearful goodbyes to the point of nausea.

Film Details

Year: 2003

Categories: Films

  Fantasy

Classification: 12

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The Children Of Hurin cover    

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4 star rating

Review © Ros Jackson
More about Peter Jackson

Comments

Johnny Pom. again     19th October, 2004 21:56pm

A very good version of tolkiens mega waffle. Peter Jackson has cut out most of the boring bits about the snargelkin of raventhorpe. To me Tolkien is like a douglas adams who takes himself seriously. Mind you, tolkien did probably have a good collection of train numbers. and a nice anorak.

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