|Film Brats - Reviews|
The Lord of the Rings:
The Return of the King
Sam and Frodo are being led by Smeagol up to Mount Doom to destroy the ring. Smeagol of course, wants it for himself. Meanwhile, battles ensue and rage and the humans do all they can to try to defeat the orcs. It looks bleak for both sides. Will good prevail? If so, then at what cost?
Of course, the story is much more complex than I make is seem. The film is filled with subplots and new pieces of history to prevent anyone from thinking that this third film is just a bigger and longer version of the second. Keep in mind, though, that you should see the first two before going out to see the last part, because there is no recap. A summary would have added too much time to an already too long film.
The length of the movie is not my only problem. Let me clear that up right now. As long as what is on the screen has purpose, it’s not too long. Time management became an issue, though. The previous films jumped back and forth between characters to show what each was up to fairly regularly. Now long blocks of time were spent in one place nearly making the audience forget that anything else was even happening. Each film has had new editors; these two just never defined a decent pacing system. The length of the whole thing never bothered me that much until the end. After the climax of the picture, there’s a good forty-five minutes or so of cool down. I could have accepted this had there been epilogues for a couple different storylines, but it was just the one. There are more characters than that. Use them. We want to know what happened to the rest of them. What made it groaningly bad was the fade out/fade ins that were used to switch from one scene in a location to another scene in the same basic location. Now, I understand that the books have the long endings as well. To that I say, just because something is true to the original source does not make it good. Some things work on paper much better than they do on film. Also, in book form, you know what to expect, because you can see all the pages still left to go. In the theater, you see the fade out on what seems to be a fine ending and just when you reach for your coat, the fade in begins and you sit and watch another 15 minutes of the same story that could have been settled earlier or put on the extended edition DVD. So, that’s what I mean by time management. Either go to another character or cut some of the one-story ending.
The effects were worse in this installment as well. Smeagol still looks great and exudes wonderful emotions. His movement seems to be a little choppier, though. The real horrible stuff is the most basic. I shouldn’t be able to tell when characters are up against a green screen. Not in this special effects heavy movie. They looked so out of place with the background that it took me out of the movie somewhat. It wasn’t just with landscapes, either. When the hobbits were standing side by side with “regular” sized people, something about the way it looked was almost always off. Also, seeing the children or little people play the hobbits as they walked away also didn’t quite look right. I don’t remember that technique being used nearly as much in the first two movies.
The fight scenes, however, were stunning and exhilarating and exciting and incredible. There were plenty of incoherent shots, but overall they were still a lot of fun and worthwhile.
Consistency within trilogies is key to success. Although the editing and the special effects weren’t, many things were. The acting, the fighting, the great story, the cinematography, the production design, the costumes, the makeup (although that lead orc looked uncannily like Sloth from “The Goonies.”) and the directing all were top notch all the way through. I don’t think this one will make the top ten of the year, but it’s still a good film and worth seeing. Even if you’re a casual fan, like I am, there’s still a lot to enjoy.
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