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The personal rantings of an avowed Conservative, Linux-loving Christian .



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Thursday, December 18, 2003


Return of the King
My wife, 5 friends and I viewed RotK at the local cinema house last night 'twixt the hours of 7 and 11 in the evening. I must say that my feelings on the movie are decidedly mixed.

As Jonah Goldberg noted in his review of the film, it does stay true to the overarching themes of the book. However, I was apparently bothered far more by the differences that Peter Jackson allowed to creep into the film. Having viewed the extras from the first two Extended Edition DVDs, I lay these changes solely at the feet of Phillipa Boyen. It was incredibly evident that, of the primary script writers, she least understood what the book was all about and had the least trouble, therefore, in deviating from it. I blame Jackson for allowing such idiocy to appear in his otherwise wonderful work.



Several of the reviews that I've read have mentioned that, even at 3.5 and change hours, Return of the King somehow feels rushed. I concur.

My wife also noted that the sense of Man's fate hanging by a thread was conspicuously absent. There was a great lack of dramatic tension; Man's victory over Evil was assured and, when pressed, the cavalry (literally!) rode to the rescue (or, the Dead hovered quickly to the rescue). While a fairly major point, I feel it can safely be overlooked.

What I found to be unconscionable was not the deletions (confronting Saruman, Scouring of the Shire, no unfurling of the white sails on the ships from the South, Sam not donning the One Ring, no Houses of Healing, and on and on) but the additions. Gandalf riding to Sam and Frodo's rescue on the back of an eagle. Merry riding in to battle before the Black Gate (he was in the Houses of the Healing, dangnabbit!). The King of the Dead speaking. The "searchlight" aspect of the Eye. Arwen "dying" unless Aragorn can defeat Sauron. And there were others that escape me at the moment. (Don't worry. I'll see it again in Texas and they'll come to me then, have no fear).

I was also bothered by the liberties they took with Denethor's death scene. As Glenn Reynolds put it: "if fictional characters could sue for libel, Denethor would have a case".

Other than that, it was a great movie, just, somehow, not what I was looking for. I must say it was my least favorite of the three.


I've continued to ponder the movie and I re-viewed the trailer and it has begun to dawn on me just how short-changed the characters of Aragorn and Faramir really were. The most compelling speech was delivered by Theoden, not Aragorn. Aragorn's seemed listless by comparison. Faramir (whose character was previously assasinated in The Two Towers. What does Phillipa Boyen have agains the Stewards of Gondor anyhow?). Eowyn gets to slay the Witch King, but then there's no recovery scenes in the HoH for her and Faramir to get chummy. They merely get to look at each other with arched eyebrows at Aragorn's coronation.

As has been pointed out to me, Gandalf did in fact ride Gwaihir to rescue Sam and Frodo, so strike that from my list of complaints.

The rest still stand, though.

posted by ZaMoose at 12/18/2003 11:04:00 AM