Editor’s Notes: The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug opens wide Friday, December 13th.
And so we come to it at last - the great sequel of our time. Concluding his monumentally successful and well-received run of the trilogy, Peter Jackson certainly goes out with a bang with his final offering. The Return of the King, winner of an astounding eleven Academy Awards, is his most ambitious and impressive cinematic offering yet. There is a reason that each Lord of the Rings film is in the top 20 of IMDb’s top 250 highest rated films with the third installment even breaking into the top 10 to rub shoulders with the likes of Pulp Fiction and The Good, The Bad and The Ugly, and that reason is simply that the trilogy is no less than a monumental and historical cinematic endeavour of unimaginably ambitious and daring scale executed faultlessly by a team of dedicated and devoted enthusiasts. There is little to fault in this mammoth achievement; Return of the King is, without question, one of the greatest films ever made.
…the trilogy is no less than a monumental and historical cinematic endeavour of unimaginably ambitious and daring scale executed faultlessly by a team of dedicated and devoted enthusiasts.
Peter Jackson and his talented screenwriters, Fran Walsh and Phillipa Boyens, have seen to every last detail in Return of the King, leaving no ends untied; the scale of resolution within the concluding film is pleasantly surprising. As if we would expect any less, Jackson sees through every story thread to its bittersweet end, leaving no stone unturned, and his tendency for diligence is as resounding as ever – to use only one word, Return of the King is satisfying. Similar to The Two Towers, Return of the King wastes no time in diving into the story immediately and the audience are thrust into the fray right where the previous installment left off. And thus, the journey begins.
Jackson explores Frodo’s deterioration beautifully – no longer is he the fresh-faced, curly-haired Hobbit from the Shire; he is a shadow of his former self, spending countless hours staring at the precious Ring, mesmerized by it. His resolve is visibly weakening – and that’s where the unsung hero Samwise Gamgee comes in. Juxtaposed against Frodo’s brooding and increasingly darkening demeanor, Gamgee is the solitary light in this, for the most part, bleak film. His character and excellent portrayal by the talented Sean Astin, add a much-needed lightness to the heavy narrative that longs for buoyancy. Masterfully, Jackson addresses this need.
Return of the King also sees the introduction of Denethor, the grief-stricken father of Boromir and Faramir and Steward of Gondor. Played to maddening perfection by John Noble, Jackson uses this character as backbone to one of the many, many subplots. Though Jackson does go off on tangents with the narrative, every single story thread is developed enough to hold its own nicely against the backdrop of the bigger story – the Denethor/Faramir plot is no different. This arc in particular adds a level of humanity to the film – the cynics write the film off as far too fantasy-concerned without realizing how relatable it actually is. Denethor, the father driven to insanity by the death of his son; Faramir, the youngest child who was never as esteemed as his older brother in his father’s eyes. Jackson doesn’t forget that, alongside the trolls, elves and dwarves in Middle Earth, live humans too.
Once again, the set design in Return of the King exceeds all expectations; the exterior and interior structures of Minas Tirith are truly awe-inspiringly breathtaking and a thrill to behold.
Once again, the set design in Return of the King exceeds all expectations; the exterior and interior structures of Minas Tirith are truly awe-inspiringly breathtaking and a thrill to behold. The sheer scale of the set is commendable alone, without all of the technical flourishes and attention to detail awarded it by the immensely talented team and WETA workshop. Sir Ian McKellan himself has said on occasion that, when there was a break in filming, he would simply wander around the set and get lost in the vastness of it. But of course, Jackson needed a backdrop for which to set the single greatest battle sequence of all time: the Battle of the Pelennor Fields. The image of 200,000 orcs massed in front of the white city is simply over-whelming – there are no words that adequately describe the scale of the scenes. Jackson cuts no corners in depicting every angle of the ferocious battle that stretches almost two hours (interjected at regular intervals with updates from Frodo and Sam’s journey of course). The impossible has truly been realized and epitomized in this single achievement; the Battle of Helm’s Deep seemed impossible to top but the battle for Middle Earth simply blows it out of the water. The scene, alongside Gandalf’s ponderings and Howard Shore’s harrowing score, is pleasingly exhausting, nail-biting and mind-blowing; I dare you not to hold your breath for its entirety.
The unimaginable has been achieved with The Return of the King; there is to be no faltering at the final hurdle or cracking under the pressure. The love and care that has gone into crafting this film, and its predecessors, to unquestionable perfection emanate from the screen. Just as the Indiana Jones saga and original Star Wars trilogy have been loved by generations before, The Lord of the Rings trilogy will be among such franchises loved and cherished by many for years to come.
[notification type=”star”]100/100 ~ MASTERFUL.The unimaginable has been achieved with The Return of the King; there is to be no faltering at the final hurdle or cracking under the pressure. The love and care that has gone into crafting this film, and its predecessors, to unquestionable perfection emanate from the screen.[/notification]