Peter Jackson's LORD OF THE RINGS: RETURN OF THE KING
A movie review by Dennis D. McDonald
Review of DVD of Theatrical Version
Many of the scenes in the Theatrical Return beg for more exposition. I don’t know if that’s because the story has been too highly compressed, or if I’m just aware that an Extended Edition is due out in a couple of months. Probably a bit of both.
I do know that the first third or so of the movie rushes by. We must get to the grand battle and some of the story detail gets lost in the shuffle. But overall I think this movie is a crowning achievement of cinema that balances the thunderous battle in front of the city Minas Tirith with Frodo and Sam’s agonizing crawl up Mt. Doom. Amazing and memorable scenes are constant; it’s hard to know where to start. The lighting of the towers, for example, is a tour-de-force of motion, music, and photography.
Most of the documentaries on this DVD are perfunctory – we’ve seen much of this before. The web featurettes are perhaps the best and most informative, and they’re also the shortest. So we must wait for the Extended Edition for the really good stuff. The “super-trailer” that summarizes the story and characters of all three films, too, is extraordinarily well edited.
But what keeps me coming back to this film is the emotional involvement we have developed with these characters who play out their struggles against the fantastic backdrop of Middle Earth. Even more than with the two earlier films, Jackson’s decision to treat this world and its characters as “real” helps draw us in and involve us with the fantastic story. The emotional core of this story is still Frodo’s quest, and in the final sequence of the movie, post-destruction-of-the-ring, we see how the incredible struggles have indelibly changed the Hobbits. Most telling is the scene in the tavern where the four friends sit around with tankards full and hanging in the air is the almost palpable feeling that, for them, Things Will Never Again Be The Same.
Copyright (c) 2004 by Dennis D. McDonald