Return of the King

culture

It's Christmas, so it must be time for another Lord of the Rings film! We've just got back from seeing Return of the King, and we are still stretching out our cramped legs. Overall, I think it was a fantastic film–indeed, the whole trilogy has been superb. Naturally, some bits have been left out, other bits aren't as you imagined from the books (can anyone take Elrond seriously?), but it would have been impossible to make the films into everyone's vision of the book. Peter Jackson did a wonderful job. Even the long battle scenes–which bored me rigid in the books (on both readings)–were exciting and spectacular. Some of the problems with the films are in fact problems with the book, most notably Tolkien's almost complete lack of plausible female characters. There wasn't much that Jackson could do about that.

While watching the battle scene at Minas Tirith, you suddenly think, "Flamin' Nora! Look at all those CGI troops — they're all doing something different!" But you don't think that right away — it only occurs to you when you realise that there probably aren't that many people in the whole of New Zealand, so most of those combatants must be pixels.

Despite the fact that I loved the film, there were still plenty of scenes to take the mickey out of. So, without further ado, here are my thoughts on a couple of the more ludicrous passages (some spoilers may be involved, though if you've read the book, it won't come as much of a surprise).

  • That gap in the parapet of the leaf-shaped open area at the top of Minas Tirith was extremely conveniently placed for the insane steward of Gondor to hurl himself through, thus plunging himself to a fiery and rather spectacular death. I'm sure that it must be marked on the architect's plans as "Insane Steward's Fiery Death Plunge Gap" (Health and Safety regulations state that this gap must be kept clear at all times, and the quickest routes from the Citadel to the gap should be clearly marked with illuminated signs)'. While I'm on the subject, what was that large open area — an eagle landing pad?
  • Evil-doers are just too literal-minded. If you go around proudly spouting some prophecy that "no living man may hinder me", then you are — quite frankly — just asking for some woman to do away with you, and to do so with some irritatingly triumphant pay-off line, to boot. Unless you have a sub-clause in the prophecy to the effect that by 'Man' you mean any person, being, dwarf, elf, chicken, living or non-living thing — in fact anything at all — you only have yourself to blame for an embarrassing end. It's the Macbeth incident all over again.
  • Legolas is a show-off–someone should tell him that swinging about on deadly oliphants isn't big or clever.
  • I can't help thinking that having dead people fighting on your side is cheating. What's the worst that can happen to them? And shouldn't they be unable to kill living people?
  • Elrond wears a corset! Been eating too much elven bread, eh Elrond?
  • Evil-doers also have a poor eye for detail. So, you know that someone is wandering about with the ring that — if destroyed — will bring down your evil empire. You also know that said ring can only be destroyed by throwing it in the volcano inside your citadel. So, do you station twenty or so crack Orc troops to guard the entrance to the volcano? Or do you throw every single Orc at the rather obvious enemy diversionary force at your gates? Of course, you do the latter. And that, my friend, is why good will always triumph over evil. No eye for detail — not even an all-seeing one.
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