And, here I am, having just finished writing and scheduling my Two Towers review, and starting up on my Return of the King review. Well, I am a busy boy, aren’t I?
I like to call this one ROTK, so I shall. And you can’t stop me. Ha.
Yeah, well… Jackson can try to stop me…
LOTR: ROTK is the final installment in the LOTR Trilogy, and is my second favourite, mostly because Two Towers was so terrible, but thanks to the awesome scenes of violence, character development and just all round legendary-um.
Frodo, Sam and Gollum climb some stairs and try to get into Mordo’s back-door (Benny was right!), but Gollum tricks Frodo into sending Sam away, before being attacked by a spider. Frodo is captured and Sam tries to save him, before they set off towards that mountain where the ring was made. Aragorn, Legolas and Gimli visit some ghost soldiers to convince them to help stop Mordor, whilst Merry join the Rohan army in secret. Pippin, however, ends up defending the capital city of Gondor (Minas Tirith) with Gandalf. Shit goes down, and eventually, Sam gets married, Frodo, Bilbo and Gandalf sail into a sunset and the other Hobbits cry.
I like the battle for Minas Tirith, and the one at the Black Gate. Why? Because they show a lot about the people fighting in them. Let’s look at Minas Tirith first.
Merry and Pippin are the fools of the series. They get caught up in all this because they were stealing some food from a farmer, and now they find themselves separated and fighting against the same foe, in part of a united army of humans, hobbits, elves and cool ghost-people. They survive against the odds, and, arguably, help to sway things in favour of their sides. Merry weakens the big-bad boss-guy for the forces of Mordor, whilst Pippin helps to oust the corrupted steward of Gondor and save his son. All in all, score 2 for the hobbits.
Legolas and Gimli, the worst companions you could ever want, actually stop to have banter in this battle with the “it still only counts as one!” remark, and the fact that they count how many Orcs they kill, just to try to beat each other. Plus, in the next battle, they have the most beautiful exchange between disagreeing species ever:
“I never thought I’d die fighting side-by-side with an Elf”
“How about side-by-side with a friend?”
“Aye, I could do that…”
It’s the moment that their relationship was leading up to, from that first argument in Rivendell, to the most bromantic moment I’ve ever seen. It’s just beautiful.
And finally, there’s the battle at the Black Gate, where, in the name of trying to distract their enemy in the off-chance that Frodo is alive and still trying to destroy the ring – in that most unlikely of circumstances – they fight to what will most likely be their deaths.
So why is this so amazing? Two words, and three characters charging into battle before everyone else. Aragorn quietly says the two words that sum up the reason they are all still fighting in the first place – “for Frodo” – and immediately charges into battle, followed not be Gimli, or Legolas or even Gandalf, but Merry and Pippin who are next to leave their army’s ranks and head into the throng. Why them? Because they were Frodo’s friends long before everyone else knew him – except maybe Gandalf – but maybe because they have more faith in him than all the others do. They know Frodo. They know what he can do, and has done. They have faith in him, and as far as they’re concerned, if risking their lives could help Frodo, they’ll do it. Heck, they let themselves get chased by Orcs in Fellowship for exactly that.
And that’s not all – there’s one more scene I really like. Sam and Frodo are working their way towards Mordor and we find out that Sam has been rationing their food for the journey home – and it’s that exact moment that we realise that Sam has complete faith in them, even though we, the observers, find it hard to believe they can do it, and we know that they do… Of course, there’s a few bits, like where Sam saves Frodo from the Orc tower, and where they’re laying outside the volcano, just after killing Gollum and destroying the Ring – laying there and waiting to die, talking about the Shire and Rosie Cotton, who Sam later marries, probably thanks to Frodo.
So yeah, it’s got a few great bits that I can’t do justice.
And the locations – oh God the locations. Minas Tirith is spectacular. You’ve got a city, built on 7 levels, carved into a mountain, looking out towards the land of their enemies. What more could you want from that place? And Minas Morgul, the home of the Witchking of Angmar. That looks very green, which I don’t like as a colour, but also pretty cool too.
And the acting – I like John Noble’s role as Denethor, and as roles go, it’s one that’s worth watching. He plays heartless and remorseful – at the same time in places – exceptionally well. As far as acting goes, that’s not half-bad.
There’s such a contrast in this film, summed up by the music, in my opinion. One scene, near the start, has Merry and Pippin singing about their favourite pub, The Green Dragon, whilst towards the middle, we have a sad song sang by Pippin, whilst Faramir rides into battle and almost certain death. The contrast of one character’s ability to express in song just does something for me that I can’t quite explain.
But now for the film’s score. What could it be?