Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Movie #374: Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King

Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King is the final movie in the trilogy, and stars everybody from the first two, plus we get a lot more of

Frodo and Sam are being led by Gollum up to Mount Doom, by way of the tunnel of Shelob, the spider-queen. Legolas, Aragorn, and Gimli head for the city of Minas Tirith with the soldiers of Rohan, but stop along the way to rouse an army of ghosts from a mountain. They arrive and wipe out Sauron's mercenary reinforcements, and help win the day Gondor.

Meanwhile, though, it's all about Frodo and Sam, who manage to limp up the mountain, whereupon Frodo finally succumbs to the ring and puts it on. Gollum, though, jumps on him, bites of his finger, and is promptly knocked into the lava. The ring melts, Sauron is defeated, all the orcs run away (we don't find out where they go, but one assumes Tolkein gave each of their addresses in an appendix or something), and then we get the epilogue. Which lasts an hour or so.

Life goes back more or less to normal in the Shire, but Frodo is still wounded from his stab on Weathertop, and never really recovers from his time as Ring-Bearer. Sam marries Rosie (Sarah McLeod) and has a couple of hobbit children, and then accompanies Merry, Pippin, and Frodo to the harbor to see Bilbo (Ian Holm, remember) off to the Gray Havens. Frodo, of course, decides to go as well, as does Gandalf, and the movie ends with Sam going home to his family.

So, I can only imagine what it must have been like filming that scene, after so many years of shooting together. I hope the actors were really close and not just sick of each other. In any case, though, the feeling of this movie is just weary. Everything is coming down, and while the scope of the movie is just as spectacular as the rest, it's another huge battle, another majestic cityscape, another battle of wills over the Ring. The best parts of the movie are probably with the hobbits and Gollum, because Sean Astin really gets a chance to shine as Sam. At the same time, though, you can see the end coming, and the movie is so long and has so many apparent end-points that you just wind up wanting to jump ahead maybe a little.

With all that said, the effects hold up really well, the performances are fine for the most part ("A diversion!"), and the ending, taking us back where we began to the Shire, is sweet and simple. I still think Fellowship is the best of the trilogy, but you really have to take the trilogy as a whole.

My grade: B+
Rewatch Value: Low

Next up: Lost Boys