Brad Wardell's views about technology, politics, religion, world affairs, and all sorts of politically incorrect topics.
The conclusion to Lord of the Rings is outstanding
Published on December 18, 2003 By Draginol In Movies & TV & Books

There are so many reviews already of Return of the King that I won't waste time going over the basic plot point. The question at the end of the day is "how good is it?"  The answer is - very good.  Now, I have some minor spoilers in here so just skip the rest if you're really paranoid. I'm not giving away anything crucial, just tidbits.

On IMDB, I gave Fellowship of the Ring a 10. It's the only movie I've ever given a 10 to.  I gave the Two Towers a 9.  I would give this a 9 also.  The movie is so well crafted that at times it almost seems like an art film.  But all goodness aside, since we've established that it's a great film that all should go and see let me focus a bit on some of the negatives that I think a lot of other people have thought of but I haven't really seen voiced:

  1. Too much melodrama.  I am so sick of "tender moments" between Frodo and Sam. I was getting pretty tired of seeing scene after scene of tear jerking due to Frodo and Sam.
  2. They took out my favorite two parts from the books: The encounter with Saruman and Gandalf's confrontation with the Witch King. 
  3. At some point I was hoping that Gandalf, the wizard, would actually do know...wizarding.
  4. I was really hoping to see Aragorn use the Palantir. It was a powerful moment in the books and would have fit in perfectly when they were hoping to convince Sauron that they were going to attack Mordor in force.
  5. Too many skirmeshes, not enough solid battling.
  6. Too much melodrama part 2: Just general tear jerking scenes. If you have too many of them, they just lose impact.
  7. Editing could have been better. The tower coming down seem to take forever.  The ship sailing into the west scene took so long that my mind started to wander.
  8. Where are the elves? They help save Rohan but in the actual battle for Middle Earth itself they're not around? They were in the book.
  9. The characterization of Denethor was poor. That is not at all what he was like. He wasn't some disgusting craven fool. He was a powerful man whose use of the Palantir crushed his mighty spirit over time.

That's pretty much it. I am already looking forward to it again.  I've gotten a lot of letters from people concerning my two articles about the world of middle earth (here and here). Yes, I'm a Tolkien fan.  So how well do the movies fit with the books? Well, significant changes were made, particularly in Return of the King. But the movies definitely capture the spirit of the books which is what mattered to me.

There were some changes and omissions that did bug me. I didn't feel the the Eowyn portion was handled very well with regards to Faramir. Those character arcs aren't really concluded satisfactory.  Eowyn does find love -- in Faramir who was a noble, gentle spirit.  I was also disappointed with the portrayal of Denethor who was, next to Aragorn, the most powerful human in the world in terms of body, mind and spirit. But he is portrayed in the move as pathetic figure worthy of scorn. Certainly the conclusion of the Gandalf and Saruman rivalry was non-existent.  So for those reasons I can't say it was a perfect movie but damn it was good. 

I knit pick this stuff because it's material I've loved and cherished for so very long. I know I couldn't have done it anywhere near as well as Peter Jackson did it though. His attention to detail was amazing.

So go see it.  And if you have any Tolkien or Middle Earth questions, just respond here and I'll try to answer as best I can.

on Dec 19, 2003
I suspect that some of your missing scenes will be in the extended edition in 9 months time. I know the saruman scenes were definitely cut. I also agree with you on the melodrama issue. A bit too much of it for my liking, and individual melodrama scenes sometimes take too long. It's like having 15 standing ovations, after the 5th it becomes boring.

Excellent film though.

on Dec 19, 2003
from what I understand they just moved the Elves part. In the books they dont help at helms deep, but they do help in the battle for Gondor. Just part of a movie adaptation to shift things and make it fit better, and be more understood by the masses.

As far as I'm concerned there couldnt be too many tender moments between Frodo and Sam. Hobbits are after all....Hobbits.
on Dec 19, 2003
Yes the movie is never quite like the book and it was for all intent and purose a great movie, but sheesh did the end drag on for another 20 minutes. Three damn times I thought I was going to end as my buttocks ached from the 3hr sit ~chuckles~ but all in all like I said I would watch it again
on Dec 19, 2003
"2. They took out my favorite two parts from the books: The encounter with Saruman and Gandalf's confrontation with the Witch King."

I haven't seen the movie yet and I haven't read the book in years, but I don't remember Gandalf ever confronting the Witch-King of Angmar. The Witch-King is killed by Merry and Eowyn. And I seem to recall that Gandalf meets with an emissary of Sauron's at the Black Gates, but it's only a messenger in black, not a Nazgul.

"3. At some point I was hoping that Gandalf, the wizard, would actually do know...wizarding."

If you listen to Peter Jackson's commentary on FotR DVD, you'll hear him say at least twice how much he hates wizard bits and overt displays of magic. He said, "I really don't like wizards in movies, I don't like the idea of old guys firing blue lightning out of their fingertips, and doing all the usual wizardry type stuff." And I believe that I read somewhere that Tolkien also didn't like to depict too much magic in his books. As for how much is too much, I don't know.

on Dec 20, 2003
From a fellow Tolkein fan, a couple comments:

1. Tender moments... definitely too many, but only because they were all an hour long.
2. They took out the entire hobbit episode at the end of the book. I understand that it was necessary for time sake, but... *sigh* I liked that part.
3. The DVD extended edition had better have some awesome deleted footage. There was a lot of stuff that wouldn't have taken much at all to put in.
4. Have you seen the Star Wars movie? Episode II, where Yoda shows his stuff, is the coolest scene in pretty much all five movie, and I think Gandalf doing something except shining light from his staff- or that cheesy scene with he and Saruman throwing each other around- would have been nice. Like candy for the special effects people, I would think.

That's it... I loved the move and definitely plan on seeing it again.

on Dec 29, 2003
Something about this movie didn't QUITE sit well with me. Perhaps because it seemed like it was ALL action, but I missed the character development that you get in the first two (particularly the extended versions). That being said, the movie, overall all, did not dissapoint, but I'm a little sad, because this was something I had been waiting for for months, and now its over, what meaning does my life have now,,,,boohoo.

Anyways, IF peter jackson doesn't get the oscar i will be pissed and never believe in the power of christmas again.
on Jan 15, 2004
Just wanted to add that the scene where Gandalf rides onto the field in front of Gondor to help the men on horses get to the gate, and he shines the light in the air to put off the Black Riders, was one of the most magical and powerful scenes I've ever seen. And plus, he had some pretty damn good scenes in parts I and II when he fights with the Balrog.

Besides, from what I know, wizards aren't really allowed to use their power so directly. Their job is to rally the people of Middle-Earth to fight and defeat Sauron, not to do it himself. I felt the movies did justice to his role as more of an organizing agent who only uses his force when it's really really necessary.

I do agree with you guys that the tender moments between Sam and Frodo were a bit too many for me. And the end just draaaaaaagged on, especially when you have to go to the bathroom but don't want to miss anything!!!