I’ve reviewed the movie The Return of the King two and a half times already—once for the first time I saw it and noted all the plot problems, once for my second viewing where I appreciated the scenery, and half a time when I discussed M. Garcia’s opinion that heroic fantasy is becoming unfilmable.
I saw the movie again tonight; I think it was the final Noreascon event, though the con officially ended at 3pm. Some of the major plot changes still bothered me, especially Theoden’s “what has Gondor done for me lately?” line, the absence of Sam’s moment of decision over Frodo’s jaundiced body, and Denethor’s overdone insanity. I also had problems with Jackson’s horror style in the flaming palantir scene, the rotting, glowing green Dead scenes, and the unexplained pillar of light over Minas Morgul.
On the other hand, I thought Shelob was great. The “As you know, Smeagol” scene between Slinker and Stinker (Gollum’s two personalities) amused me as infodump, and I thought Gollum came off very well. I’ve heard that Elijah Wood can act, so I’m transferring blame for the failure of Frodo as a character from the pretty face to the script and the director.
But the little glimpses of the unfilmable heroic fantasy that wormed their way into the movie outweighed all the problems. Theoden’s “Death!” speech and Aragorn’s “not this day” speech are lovely. Even Gandalf’s speech to Pippin about heaven (which, in the LotR universe, he’s actually seen) is nice, mainly because those lines were stolen from an actual description of the way to Aman. Mainly, though, what appeals to me is the fighting and dying for a hopeless cause; the world is coming to an end and honorable men (not to mention the occasional honorable shieldmaiden and shield-hobbit) go out there and fight the overwhelming hordes of orcs and trolls and oliphaunts despite the futility of the endeavor. In fact, the Rohirrim seem to be enjoying it because it’s hopeless.
Hope is for wimps.