Fun with Franchises: Final Thoughts on The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King
All right… we’ve watched the film, talked about it, had fun with it, and then we went and listed our favorite images from the film yesterday. Now all that’s left is to finish up with what we actually thought about the film as a whole.
This is our space to go over what we liked and didn’t like about each film we watch for Fun with Franchises. We talk about specific things as we get to them during the articles, and we’ll mention our general thoughts during them, but we don’t really ever get to sit and do broad strokes during the articles. So this is why we do these Final Thoughts. We get to take a step back and talk about the films as a whole, rather than discussing specific scenes or images. We’ll talk about how we felt about the film, how we liked it as a film, how we liked it as a member of its franchise, and where we think it falls within that franchise.
Again, it’s not very complicated, but it is a place to find out what we actually thought about certain movies, since, while we’re having fun with them in the articles, it may get difficult to tell sometimes. Because we’ll just rip things to shreds for fun, even if we love them.
So here are our final thoughts on The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King:
Final Thoughts on The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King:
Well, that was a movie.
I definitely have a different opinion of this movie now than I did when I saw it for the first few times.
My grievances at the time concerned pacing. Coming off of Two Towers, I couldn’t imagine anything bigger than that. Of course, I’d read the books, but the Minas Tirith fight looked like it would be the focus and play out sort of like the Helm’s Deep battle in terms of how epic it was an how it played out. When I saw it, I was thoroughly disappointed. Just like with Helm’s Deep, it looks like all is lost when all of a sudden someone miraculously shows up and ends things instantly. This fight had been built up for well over an hour and had numbers that made Helm’s Deep look like a garden party, but then Aragorn shows up with some green guys and it’s done in all of thirty seconds. If it was the end of the movie, I could see that, I guess. But it ends abruptly and they’re all just sitting around. Gimli’s even lounging on the steward’s stoop. This fight I was amped up about ended in the blink of an eye, and I’m left there going, “O…kay?” Then, instead of at least making the best of their deus ex green ghosts, they let them go and decide to set themselves up to be horribly outnumbered for yet another battle that they almost lose and end up “winning” because of weird magic again. So you have to understand that when this came out, I was pissed because it was TWO battles that were built up, almost lost and then won at the last minute by some supernatural influence, followed by about sixteen separate epilogues. And when you think about that as the premise for a 200 minute finale of the most epic literary franchise ever, it’s sort of disappointing. Now that I go back and look at some critics’ takes, this pacing issue is the only thing they picked up on, too.
However — and it is a BIG ‘however’ — pretty much everything else about this movie rocks your socks. It looks spectacular. There are more excellent shots in this one than in either of the other two. It seems like they got all the weird shots out of their system, too, cause everything here seems to work.
I enjoy that Theoden dies, cause I never liked him.
Also, the bitch ass steward.
We’ve also got our reunion of the Fellowship. Aragorn and his pals finally meet up with Merry and Pippin, who basically took a film off. Frodo and Sam even meet up with some dudes who then meet up with everyone else, so pretty much everyone’s accounted for by the middle of the film. Two Towers was a bit too all over the place for my tastes. At the very least, we now how our separate plot points converging on the same spot, like some sort of screwball comedy about midgets and evil.
This movie also gets to be about the important people being bosses when it counts, and I recognize three characters in this franchise (particularly in this film) as being major bosses who run their shit: Gandalf, Aragorn, and Samwise Danger Gamgee. Gandalf sort of ran his shit in the last movie, when we saw him fight the balrog and then save the day with Eomer at the end, but he’s gone for most of the film. This time around, he’s in the fray, smacking bitches with his pimp stick and knocking out stewards. Aragorn is clearly a boss because he summons a supernatural army to roll with him (repping Grove with the colors, I might add), takes up command of the world’s forces to go off to fight evil and quite possibly die (an honor usually associated with Bill Pullman), and then becomes the king of the most badass kingdom in the realm by restoring the monarchy after 3000 years, all before waxing that Evenstar. Sam is the one who really takes care of business, in terms of saving the quest. He vanquishes a spider the size of a mastodon, kills a bunch of orcs by himself, carries Frodo through Mordor and up the mountain, then fights Gollum and saves Frodo’s life. And that’s only the shit he did after his best friend shat all over him. One of the best things he does is stealing the ring at the opportune moment and having it when Frodo gets paralyzed and captured. I never had that much respect for Sam and always thought of him as the guy that was always with Frodo, cooking or something. But he makes everything happen and then goes home to have 13 kids with the sexy pub midget.
So because of all that, I’m now inclined to call it the best film of the three, and my favorite overall. Which — fucking really? It won 11 oscars out of 11 nominations, which gives it a better record than Titanic (11/14) or Ben-Hur (11/12) and gives it the best sweep ever. It’s the first fantasy film to with Best Picture and the second sequel to win Best Picture, after Godfather Part II. So yeah, this may well be the single greatest FILM that we cover in the Fun with Franchises articles. Cause…holy fuck.
My Final Thoughts:
Just so we’re clear, Colin brought up Oscar statistics and I did not.
That feels pretty bizarre to me.
Not that he’s doing it, that I’m not the one to be doing it, for a change.
That said — it’s Return of the King — what the fuck is there to say about this?
It’s hard for me to separate these films as a trilogy.
That is, I really can’t pick a favorite amongst the bunch. I would probably just watch them in order.
I don’t really have too much negative to say about the film. I do agree that the pacing is weird at some points, and I think (carrying over my sentiment from the last movie) that we spend too much time with Sam and Frodo and Shelob and all that, and not enough time with Sam and Frodo in Mordor. They basically just cut to them in Mordor, after the race war with the orcs, Sam says he doesn’t think they’re gonna make it home, and boom, they’re at Mount Doom. I’d have liked a little more of that and a little less Sam crying because Frodo sent him away.
I also agree with Colin that we also rush through the end of the Minas Tirith battle just to slow down again. I mean, you do kind of need this, but on the other hand, I really liked the Minas Tirith battle. And I think it’s just that we don’t ever get to see enough of it at one time to really get into it the way we get so fully immersed into Helm’s Deep. We only ever see it from the angle of whatever we’re focusing on. Like, we’ll see Gandalf fighting, but that’s because Merry has to tell him that Denethor is about to be a bitch ass like he is. And then we cut away to that. And we get a few cuts outside to the orcs, but nothing too substantial. And then Rohan shows up, and they kick ass, but then we cut immediately to Eowyn and the Witch King. We get some stuff with the elephants, but again, we cut away from it REAL FAST.
So the pacing is also a bit of an issue for me, but it amounts to the fact that this is an amazing movie and I just want to see more of it. I’m pretty sure this is the only movie and only franchise where I can honestly say, “I want to see more.” With the Potter movies, I wanted to see more, but I wouldn’t necessarily say, “I’m down for another 30 minutes of screen time.” Here, I could go for that, but only if it was meaningful screen time, and not Hobbit screen time. Lawrence of Arabia is 4 hours, but you wouldn’t notice it while watching. This could also be four hours, and I honestly wouldn’t notice if the extra stuff was layered in correctly.
So that’s my ultimate review of this movie — it’s so good it makes me want more.
Of the three franchises we’ve done so far, this is definitely the one I watch the most. Universe-wise, I’d probably stick with Potter, but I’d say, jokes-wise, it’s between this and Potter for how much and how long I could just keep talking about it. Though it’s probably still Potter on that account. The amount of “what if” scenarios we had in those articles dwarfs (sorry, Gimli) the ones we had here.
But, overall, these movies are better, so, there’s that.
And, of course, the biggest thing to take out of these movies — Goddamn, New Zealand.
– – – – – – – – – –
And that’s the end of this franchise.
Tomorrow we start our next franchise, which — I won’t beat around the bush. It’s Twilight.
We’re gonna watch Twilight.
Colin and I had not watched a single frame of any of those movies until we watched them for these articles. And we watched them completely separately and did not compare notes until they went into the articles.
So this is gonna be good.
(See the rest of the Fun with Franchises articles here.)