Lord of the Rings - Return of the King, Part 1

(319 votes, average 4.73 out of 5)
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Comments (135)
  • Blammeth
    I have yet to see a single Lord Of The Rings movie, but damn, these are great reviews!
  • sunnyl
    Good grief, visit your local video store this weekend, you have no idea what you have missed.
  • tedzey  - What WOULD he have missed?
    What would he have missed? A lot of walking?
  • buckybone
    Insert Clerks 2 reference here.
  • HoT_CaRL  - hahaha
    There's only one Return and it's of the Jedi
  • Malidictus
    Yeah, after watching Felowship of the Ring and the Two Towers, that's more or less what I got out of it.
  • robm  - Forced Peej Conflict
    This is the one LOTR movie I really can't say I like. While in the other movies the forced conflict helped or at least didn't hurt the story, here it drowns out the story. The voice of Saruman get left out (or cut down) so that Pippin can light the beacons while Denethor can shake his fist. "I'll get you Mithrandir! And your little halfling too!" And then there's the forced tension with the paths of dead. They've been cursed to living death for thousands of years but they might not fight because they're traitors (despite the fact treason landed them there in the first place)? It's ridiculous.

    Every single thing that can hinder the protagonists gets blown out of proportion and often just gets dropped or isn't really a challenge. Anyway that's my ROTK rant, looking forward to part two.
  • TheTannedOtaku
    I believe the term is "OTP" Nella...and I know those feels NChick...
  • AndrewDeLong
    I was going to agree with you, but then at 6:00-6:05 ish, I heard Wayward Son in the background.

    Now these reviews are jiving with me.
  • theSnark
    Hmm... Eowin and Merry... Holy crap, that makes so much more sense now that you point it out to me! They would have been so adorable together! :D

    And when the war is over, Merry can bring Eowin back home and be the lifelong defenders of the Shire! They can protect the Hobbits from Wormtongue and Saruman, except that was cut from the movie.
  • Furrama
    One ship to rule them all....
  • PaladinDemo
    BOYZ! Da Elf git is dissin Warboss Gothmog! Get da choppa!
  • MavenCree  - Arwen 'dying'
    Having not 'read the book', I thought that Arwen was dying because she gave her crystal/lifeforce/ evenstar thing to Arogorn and as he was loosing faith (and the war), it was draining her life with it.

    And just a note: never got 1/10th through the book. Don't care what happens in the book. Movie review, remember. You say 'in the book' almost as many times as Frodo falls down.
  • alexanderthegreat
    "Don't care what happens in the book. Movie review, remember."

    Doesn't matter to you, but considering not just fans of the book, but the filmmakers themselves make a big song and dance about its fidelity to the source material, just because *you* don't care doesn't mean no-one should. Some film adaptations don't live and die by fidelity to the source material (Blade Runner, most Stephen King and Hitchcock adaptations), but this isn't one of them.
  • Sylveria
    Adaptation, thing's change. The film-makes do not purport to have made a 100% authentic re-telling of the book.

    If you wan't something that's completely true to the book, go read the book. Better get original prints to. This is the movie, it is not a copy/paste of the book in to film script, it is an adaptation.

    Course book-hipsters are never going to be pleased. If it's a flawless retelling of the book, you're going to complain about how clumsy the movie is. If it's an adaptation to make it fit better in to film, you're going to complain that it isn't a flawless retelling.
  • alexanderthegreat
    "The film-makes do not purport to have made a 100% authentic re-telling of the book."

    Nobody said they did. They did, however, claim that this was faithful in spirit/soul/whatever to Tolkien, they did claim to be hardcore Tolkien fans, and they did claim that they were making this film FOR Tolkien fans, not the general moviegoing public.

    That you *cannot* make a 100% authentic retelling of a book by virtue of the change from medium does not automatically absolve a film from every change it makes, especially when - again - the filmmakers say this is a faithful adaptation. Ergo, when something happens that is *antithetical* to the source material's themes, I think there's good enough reason to call them out on this.

    "If it's a flawless retelling of the book, you're going to complain about how clumsy the movie is. If it's an adaptation to make it fit better in to film, you're going to complain that it isn't a flawless retelling."

    Quite an assumption there, and reliant on a false dichotomy that a film can only be "a flaless adaptation" or "an adaptation to make it fit better into film." There are degrees of fidelity to adaptation, and just saying "you can't have a 100% adaptation" is a meaningless diversion from criticism.
  • Violetlight
    *thumbs up* After all, without the book, there would be no movie. Kind of like how without Literary Criticism, Film Criticism would also not exist, and we'd all have nothing to watch here.
  • esquared939
    So I understand why "Birthday Cake" was playing in the background during that one segment, but damn, that was distracting.
  • ShalomDove
    I can honeestly say that Eowin/Merry never occured to me, but now that you explain...it makes so much sense.
  • PaladinDemo
    Eowin is royalty while Merry is still a farmer. There's one possible reason.
  • thatchickwithlonghair
    Haha I was an EowinxAragorn shipper. I didn't really care about Arwen.

    OMG I never thought about EowinxMerry but that IS a really cute ship, Lindsay! XD

    ......and yes, I also laughed when the king jumped off the cliff ON FIRE. ._.

    ...it's seriously impossible not to....it was sooo WTF...
  • Flaregun
    It' is indeed impossible not to laugh at the image of Denothor on fire jumping off the cliff, especially because the visuals make clear that he must have been running, on fire, for *at least* ten minutes by that point.
  • 94MICK19
    Pushing 5 hrs. and this movie was still not long enough
  • nowhere
    …Eowyn… Merry… BLINDING FLASH OF INSIGHT… why, oh, why did that never occur to me before? Eowyn's part of the story was always my favourite part of the book and film (quite often the part of a story I enjoy the most is not necessarily a part that has significant payoff in terms of the entire story arc). I really should go and watch the extended cut if it gives her character more time than the theatrical release.

    I also love having some of the flaws in the movies that bothered me being summed up in the succinct and memorable phrase "Forced Peej Conflict." I really wish I had thought of it!
  • alexanderthegreat
    Good review. My altogther-far-too-long- comments:

    You mention Titanic, but there were quite a few other films over three hours long that were successful in the years leading up to LotR: The Green Mile, Braveheart, Schindler's List, Malcolm X, JFK, Dances with Wolves...

    Gothmog annoyed the hell of me: in the book it's never said what he is, but it sure can't have been an Orc. He was most likely either a Nazgul or Black Numenorean, but they could've just had him as this mysterious figure in black armour without knowing exactly *what* he was meant to be. Or, they could've done what they did in the books, and just put the Witch-King in the situations where Gothmog was.

    Faramir's best stuff - you mean only good stuff? (Sorry, I just really disliked what they did with him in the films)

    Saruman was always terribly served in the films, and frankly, I would've taken him as Gandalf rather than McKellen simply because he's Christopher Lee. The only reason I'm fine with him as Saruman is because, well, let's face it, who else could you possibly cast in the role? Love the Christopher Lee love, he's a genuinely cool, awesome person.

    Denethor was completely botched. Noble did the best he could, and I'm a fan, but they took one of the most interesting and complex characters this side of Gollum, and made him a cackling, cruel, snivelling lunatic with no implication as to *why* he's going mad, nor any suggestion of empathy, as seen when Shadowfax murders him, leading to that ludicrous run. Of course the shot got a huge laugh, it was COMPLETELY IDIOTIC.

    The genetic stuff... well, that's a complex thing, but it should be considered that there's a bit more to the idea of genetic superiority when you're talking about entirely different species who are explicitly the creation of supernatural beings. Aragorn's from a line of men who are partially descended from Elves, after all: Elves are explicitly stronger, more resilient, and generally "better" than men because they're a different species, so Aragorn really is a "better man" in terms of pure genetics than Denethor. Obviously this is problematic given how racial theories went in the 20th century, but it isn't as if Tolkien's applying this stuff to real life or anything.

    OK, I really have to take on this idea of "irredeemably irrevocably evil," since part of Tolkien's entire point is that NOBODY is irredeemable. Not even Morgoth and Sauron are inherently doomed to be evil, evil is their *choice.* It's like Satan in Paradise Lost: he COULD be forgiven, but he's so proud and arrogant that he *doesn't allow himself* to. And, indeed, a substantial reason for the fading of magic in Middle-earth is because of the Elves' actions in the First Age to begin with. The only agents that don't seem to have choice in the good/evil stakes are the orcs, and Tolkien's been wrestling with that issue all his life.
  • alexanderthegreat

    Of course the Arwen stuff was bullshit. Apparently saving the FREAKING PLANET wasn't enough to convince Aragorn to become king and defeat Sauron, OH NO, his prize elf girlfriend had to be in danger of dying - as if Sauron conquering Middle-earth wasn't ALREADY going to put Arwen in danger! Such a mindless, boneheaded change.

    "That wasn't in the book..." Heh, you could've been saying that all through this trilogy.

    But the biggest problem with Frodo sending Sam away is because they're right. In. The. Middle. Of. MORDOR. He's sending Sam home, on his own, through a hellish landscape crawling with horrors. So not only does Sam look like a violent thug with a hair-trigger, it makes Frodo look like a heartless jerk for sending his best friend away on his own through an almost literal Hell on earth.

    I could make some comment about District 9 just being a remake of Alien Nation, but that's been done. I'm just not going to touch "The Lovely Bones": suffice to say, there are some pretty damned significant divergences from book to film. Having not read the book, I'm only going on what my sister (who has read the book and seen the film) goes on, and she says it IS more faithful than LotR was to Tolkien, but not exceptionally so. So there it is.

    I wasn't a fan of Eowyn, mostly because I think she was completely miscast: Miranda Otto is an adorable little poppet, Eowyn's meant to be a formidable-looking Valkyrie who really looks like she can handle herself in a battle. Cate Blanchett would've been a better Eowyn, IMO.

    The prophecy isn't "No man CAN kill the Witch-King," it's "not by the hand of man WILL he fall": it's a prediction that when he dies, it won't be a man's doing. It's a subtle, but important difference.

    Frankly, I don't think Merry & Eowyn should've ended up together, because sometimes a bond like that is bigger than a typical heterosexual relationship. Not everything has to boil down to sex & marriage, and I think Merry & Eowyn's more like the relationship Pippin & Faramir has: fire-forged friends. That's something really special.
  • alexanderthegreat
    (Final Part)

    Overall, I've been enjoying this series, and I'm looking forward to the conclusion. I'm just wondering what's next for the NC?
  • ladydiskette
    Wow, Christopher Lee was pretty attractive as a young man. *fans herself* wooof
  • LikaLaruku
    Before LotR, the longest movie I'd seen was Gone with the Wind. That's the most loyal book adaptation I've ever seen.

    I wanted to get the extended edition boxed set to legally see all the footage I've never seen, but it's a whopping $87.

    Who's brilliant idea was it to NOT put a rail on that ledge?

    Hmm? I'm pretty sure the books said that Elves could only die by being slain. Otherwise they live forever & ever & ever until they go mad.

    The only other Peter Jackson movie I've seen is a zombie comedy called Dead Alive.

    Yeah, I believe Meridaoc had a thing for Aowen, but he's a foreigner & a commoner, so he couldn't get her even if she thought of him as more than a BFF. I also remember that in the book Gimli had a massive crush on Galadriel; basically squeeing over getting a lock of her hair. & on the other side of the spectrum, Sam was given a wife with no personality or background just to make him look less gay over Frodo, which really doesn't work at all. & Legolas? He just wants to hump the trees.

    Lol Nella said what everyone was thinking.
  • PaladinDemo
    My first was The Longest Day.
  • sunnyl
    Feanor's mother died of a spent spirit, but that's pretty much the only example.
    Luthien died, but only after she was brought back as a mortal after her first death.

    Elves don't get sick, the whole thing was a complete contrivance in order to send Elendil across 2000 miles in a couple of days to give Aragorn the sword he should have taken himself from Rivendell.
    All to facilitate a Forced Peej Conflict in the form of Aragorn's self doubt.

    Why couldn't he just send it with his sons and the Grey Company if it has to be that way? Jeesh.
  • sunnyl
    Sorry, Elrond, not Elendil.
  • BigMac90
    I love all the Lord of the Rings movies (including The Hobbit)! I could watch them over and over and not really get tired of them. Fellowship is probably my favourite, but only by a tiny bit.

    Your reviews are very good! Your analysis of these movies is quite interesting, and while I may not agree with 100% of what you say, I can definitely see where you're coming from.

    Keep up the good work! I look forward to Part 2!
  • LikaLaruku
    Hehehe, after I saw The Hobbit with a friend, this was our conversation:

    Me: "Everyone said it was too long, but I could have sat here for another hour."

    Randy: "Yeah. Let's see it again next week."
    Totally! I saw it 3 times on the theater.
  • Zihon  - you think this movie its long...
    here in chile tnt put the LOTR are showing in some channels at 1 am... WITH COMERCIALS!you want to sleep? jajajaj you fool... nice review :)
  • Talvrae
    Can I say that George R.R. Martin A Song of Ice and Fire blow J.R.R. Tolkien away... I mean it's so good, characters are so much more developed and nuanced.... Just saying
  • Yukon7698  - Steward
  • lithiumgreen
    Did you just make a Code Geass reference, Lindsay? Hah!

    I gotta say, the forced Peej moments in RotK are actually quite well done, even though they greatly outnumbered the forced moments in the other movies combined. Give or take, I didn't find any that were too objectionable.
  • Archenson  - Code Geass
    A Code Geass reference? Where?

    Also, I seem to recall Lindsey saying she doesn't like/care for anime so it's unlikely and the reason why I didn't pick up on it because she didn't mean it, even though I would've like to.
  • Silvershadowfire
    I have to agree that the Forced Peej Conflicts in all three movies really bother me, but then I have an admitted bias against what I call 'manufactured conflict'. If you need to put forced conflict to the point that you mutilate the characters, then go back to the computer and write that again. it's not good

    Again, I admit to some bias here. Sam is my favorite character and RotK is my favorite of the three movies, except that one part, that ONE PART where Frodo sends Sam away. When I saw it in theater I had a total BSOD that threw me completely out of the movie, just saying "no" over and over because I just could -not- believe it.

    Shoulda stuck with the book there, Peter.

    I mean, I know why they did it from a theatrical standpoint; they wanted to separate Frodo and Sam going into Shelob's lair without making Frodo look like a goober by running for the exit like he did in the book.

    But why did they have to do it like that? I can think of a half dozen better ways to go about it that would have been just as dramatic without adding a completely extra conflict in there.

    -cough- Anyway, end rant.
  • Lord Moe
    I think it's fine. Frodo obviously shares a strange connection with Gollum, as they are both ring bearers. Perhaps Frodo sees Smeagol and, perhaps, sees what he could become. He deeply pities him, much more than even Bilbo did, and, as he said, has a small hope that he can "come back."

    Combine that with the fact that the ring is taking a heavy toll on his psyche. Right from the get-go of RotK, we see how battered, both mentally and physically, the hobbits are. A momentary lapse of reason isn't hard to believe at all.

    Sure, it's not accurate to the book, but I don't think it detracts from the movie at all. We can feel heartbroken for Sam and also see how much the responsibility of the ring has affected Frodo.
  • Lord Moe
    gonna have to disagree with you on the violent Sam, note. sure, it wasn't in the book, but I think it's built up fine in the movie.

    Not only do Sam and Gollum start off on a bad note of distrust, but Frodo and Sam go through a lot through Two Towers and the beginning of Return of the King. Right from the beginning of Return of the King, you can tell how battered and tired Frodo and Sam are. Frodo is obviously bogged down by the responsibility of the ring, and Sam is tired from having to be Frodo's shoulder to lean on. Sam is, also, probably doing a lot of the "housekeeping" so to say, as we see he has rationed the food out and cooks for them. We can assume that he does more stuff like that, as well as planning, since Frodo is dealing with the ring, but that's up for debate. Then Sam hears Gollum plotting their death, so he is on edge from then on (you say he is "completely defenseless" but come on let's be real here). I know you have a thing for Gollum, but Sam literally overhears Gollum talking to himself about his plans on killing them and taking the ring.

    So let's look at what we have: we have a Sam that is tired from travel, weakened by the rough terrain (not to mention the huge stairway he has to deal with). psychologically worn out by the responsibility of taking care of Frodo (something he promised Gandalf he would do, who he still thinks to be dead) and being the backbone for the psychologically scarred Frodo, and having to take directions from Gollum who he overheard, with his own ears, plans on how he would kill the Hobbits. You are being really hard on Sam. Again, I know you like Gollum, but let's try to be honest here.
  • HellbirdIV  - "Arwen is dying."
    It actually makes sense with the source material;

    Elves, unlike Men, can literally die of grief. A "broken heart" if you will. (Presumably George Lucas figured that applied to women in general)
  • sunnyl
    what do you mean unlike men?
  • Floweramon
    Actually, people can. Check number two: http://www.cracked.com/ article_18673_6- scientific-reasons- breakups-suck-worse-than- you-think_p2.html
  • RustyTim
    Ha! So I'm not the only one who thought Eowyn and Merry should have been together in the end! I guess I'm not crazy!
  • venkarl
    Adding to the "Christopher Lee is a badass" thing, I think somewhere on the DVD they talk about how they were trying to direct him in the scene where he gets stabbed (in the extended cut, of course) and he basically said, "No, I've seen people get stabbed. I know how to act it out." And they were like, "OK, then we'll just shut up and also never, ever fuck with you."

    I consider this one my second favorite of the films, close behind Fellowship. The only things that really bug me about it are 1) that bit where Denethor somehow runs across the entire courtyard while on fire, and 2) the forced conflict between Sam and Gollum. You already hit those, so I won't add much (although I'll point out that Sam did beat up Gollum in the books, it just happened later after Gollum had already betrayed them)

    Also, I liked that closing gag. Cracked me up.
  • pomaflah
    He's SEEN people be STABBED? Wow.
  • Sabreman
    Not only has he seen people be stabbed, he very probably did some of the stabbing. Dude worked with Ian Fleming during World War 2 and was no kidding one of the inspirations for JAMES! FREAKING! BOND!

    (Skyfall ruined my dream of seeing the series eventually acknowledge the fan theory that all the movies are canonical and sequential, and that all the 007 agents are like the Phantom, using the identity of "James Bond", which is why they don't usually give a damn about telling people who they are. In an alternate universe, Skyfall was actually about the original James Bond, played by Christopher Lee, who has long since become a benevolent version of a Bond villain, being framed for hunting all the surviving previous Bonds, who team up out of retirement to put the stomp on Quantum or something of that sort. Alas. Great movie, but alas...)
  • OldAndNew
    watch the EE bonus material; it's all in there(and i do mean 'all').
  • pomaflah
    What about Faramir and Eowyn? Their romance was virtually cut! I HATE them for doing that! Excuse me while I go cry about them cutting that scene.
  • JLone  - Dammit Lindsay
    Now I can't unsee your it. Your OTP has become mine. Resistance is useless. :I
  • SetzyTB
    I can't wait till we get to the deus ex machina evil green ghost cloud of doom that saves everyone!
  • Lord Moe
    that is not really a deus ex machina. DEM is something that comes up abruptly, whereas the ghosts are established rather early on in this 3hr+ movie
  • SetzyTB
    Considering they were never supposed to be there in the first place and never had that significant power in the books, I consider it a Deus Ex Machina for the films. It was wholly undeeded and goofy as hell.
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