Well. It's over.

Lord of the Rings -- Return of the King
(directed by Peter Jackson, screenplay by Fran Walsh, Philippa Boyens & Peter Jackson, novel by JRR Tolkien; 2003)

Tolkien fans the world over can resume their normal programming.

I found this review particularly hard to write. I went into Fellowship of the Ring with only moderate expectations, and came out a fan of Peter Jackson. My confidence in his genius was somewhat dented by developing a passionate hatred for his [expletive deleted] re-interpretation of various portions of The Two Towers, but my feelings coming out of Return of the King were pretty much, 'it's a film'.

There were good bits. For what it's worth, I particularly enjoyed the signal bonfires lighting up to summon Rohan, and Theoden's speech to the Rohirrim before their charge at Pelennor. Much of the film was stirring, heroic ... over-sentimental ... boring. I was beginning to feel my lack of lunch (we went to a matinee showing) before they even got back to the Shire...

Ian McKellen delivered a fine performance, as he did in the earlier two films, and Bernard Hill brought a stirring Shakespearean feel to all Theoden's lines. Andy Serkis' interpretation of Gollum, however, seemed to have lost some of its lustre, Viggo Mortensen's Aragorn edged too far towards simplistic action figure for my taste, and the less said about Orlando Bloom the better. Numerous of my favourite scenes lacked the emotional punch that they should have delivered (Eowyn's defeat of the Witch King & Denethor's suicide spring particularly to mind) or were simply omitted (too many to mention). 

It feels churlish not to appreciate the trilogy of films if only for their astounding achievement in making Middle-earth and its battles come alive ... but... for me, Minas Tirith never did come alive: it felt like a model ... a faithful, detailed model, but a model nevertheless. The changes to the timing of Frodo & Sam's journey compared with the rest of the action had the side effect of making Middle-earth seem tiny. The much-touted mumak just felt like so much CGI.

All in all, I think I won't be first in the queue to watch Jackson's interpretation of The Hobbit...

28 December 2003