THE LORD OF THE RINGS: THE RETURN OF THE KING

2 Stars
Year Released: 2003
MPAA Rating: PG-13
Running Time: 127 minutes
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Let me start off by saying that I really, really tried to like this film. But the fact is this film was a complete and utter disappointment. While some parts were very entertaining, the film as a whole was nothing more than eye candy with little substance to go with it. The film has little if any character development, and only hints at some of the book’s best parts only to deny us the enjoyment of the moment (an excellent example would be the confrontation that never happened between the Witch King and Gandalf). I really hate to be the one saying this, but “Return Of The King,” while entertaining, is not the classic so many are trying to say it is. All right, so the film has good effects… so what? That never stopped “Pearl Harbor” and “Star Wars Episode II” from blowing chunks, did it? All this film proved to me is that you need much more than stunning visual effects to produce a film worthy of greatness. “Return Of The King” isn’t great… it’s barely good. I would only recommend this film to those who liked “The Two Towers.” If that kind of all action little character development ratio is the kind of film you’re into watching, then this film will be right up your ally. If not, then I would recommend going to watch something else if you’re looking for something of substance and character.

One of the biggest problems with this film is its length. It’s not that I don’t have a problem sitting through a three and a half hour movie, but the pace makes a difference when trying to sit through it. “Fellowship” was three hours, but thanks to good editing it only felt like you were sitting through two. Yet this film was the victim of poor editing, and three hours felt like a painstaking six or seven hours. While the film did have some very stunning sequences, the movie as a whole was entirely too long. There are a lot of scenes that could have been cut out and it would have made no difference to the film at all. Another poor editing choice was the multiple endings, which were unnecessarily over the top. They should have been saved for the extended DVD version. The time saved should have been used to concentrate on the main characters that never surfaced such as a certain villain that was too large to just sweep under the rug.

There are so many characters involved, you wish they would just concentrate on them, but instead more are introduced in this chapter and the film is stretched even thinner. Great characters from the first film (Gimli and Legolas) are again reduced to nothing more than comic relief and that is just shameful. The reduction of these characters made me care less about them and what happened to them in this series. I cared so little about the characters to the point where I felt that even the ring itself was reduced to nothing more than a reason to have more battle scenes. A lot of the main characters are one-dimensional in this film, which is shocking because they were anything but in the first. Character is really given a back seat to the action, and it was an enormous mistake to make in the second film and it’s sad to see it happen again in the third. And the battle scenes, while impressive, are long and overdrawn. There were far too many quick cutaways and not as much feel of the one on one combat like we had in the first film.

The assistance from the dead is also poorly handled. They did all these great effects for the battle before it, and then just do a quick 20-second green blur to finish it off. Did the guys in special effects run out of money in their CGI budget when it came time to do this scene? The scene is just a complete waste, and to watch the others just hang around and chat makes the movie look like a comic book, not a serious motion picture. Another thing that was lacking in this film was the dialogue, which in this chapter was ultra-cheesy. Every time an Orc opened his mouth, I cringed in pain just from the cliched crap that was spewing from it. It was enough to make me want to barf in my popcorn. “The Fellowship of the Ring” was never this bad with its writing; where did everything go wrong? With the sentimental nature of these fantasy-type stories, I can understand how hard it is to keep an edge while keeping the story going and being entertaining all at the same time. While “Fellowship Of The Ring” mananged to juggle all these nicely, the other two films dropped the ball and were not able to recover.

Overall, “The Return Of The King” is eye-candy and grand events with no real substance. Why people are running around and calling this flawed film “the greatest movie ever” is shocking. It’s one thing to have an opinion, it’s another to be sheep. If you want to watch movies that are considered by many professionals as the best of all time, try watching movies like ‘”Citizen Kane,” “The Godfather” or even “Casablanca.” The Lord Of The Rings trilogy, with its talking trees, wizardry and scary-looking creatures is just too silly to hold that type of rank, and it never will. “The Fellowship of the Ring” is by far the best of the three, as it was the most cohesive and entertaining without all the slow spots. “The Two Towers” and “Return of the King” were big let downs, each of them doing a good job of tainting what could have been a really great trilogy. I realize I’ll be in the minority opinion, but I can’t stand films that are all effects and little substance. While “Return Of The King” does have its good moments, it’s nowhere near as good as it could have been.
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Posted on January 6, 2004 in Reviews by
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