I got some complaints about The Return of the King. I got to express them before I go to film school and gain an appreciation for how hard it is to make a movie and what a prissy whiny Tolkien pedant I am for complaining about the most epic epic that ever epicked.
What was missing:
- 1) Saruman. Sooooo lemme get this straight. You have one human Big Bad that kicks Gandalf’s ass, drives the Fellowship into Moria, possesses the King of Rohan and manufactures an army “bred for a single purpose: to destroy the world of men” and in the end he receives his comeuppance *off-screen*? Move along, nothing to see here, Ents got it under control — oh, but Pippin, it looks like a Palantir got magically swept out of the top of the tower — pick that up for me won’t you?
Pfft. I didn’t need a Shire-scouring, but a little closure with Saruman and Grima would have been nice kthx.
Screw you guys, I`m going back to Star Wars.
- 2) Eowyn and Faramir. Was anybody satisfied with this resolution?
Eowyn: Wow, I sure was in love with Aragorn but ever since I was spurned and then suicidally heroic I just feel like a new woman — no need to show you though! I`ll just hold Faramir’s hand at the end though you never saw us so much as go to Applebee’s together.
Faramir: Wow, I was totally going to bring home a three-movie subplot about how I could never live up to my brother in my father’s eyes, and you`d think after not taking the Ring for myself (tho not as heroically as in the book) and nearly getting immolated by my dad I would get a little more satisfaction. But I guess I`ll just hold Eowyn’s hand and there’s really no need to show you why.
They did WHAT to my story arc?
Before I saw the movie I saw a publicity still of Eowyn and Aragorn in the Houses of Healing, and I was all like YAY for closure and moping and reconciliation, not to mention Aragorn’s acceptance as king by his people, which is nice. BUT NO. And apparently having your arm shattered by a Nazgul doesn’t mess up your stuff at all.
- 3) Sam and the Grey Havens. COME ON, JACKSON, THROW ME A FRIPPIN` BONE HERE. Even MAD Magazine caught how random and slapdash the Grey Havens stuff was — gotta go, can’t explain, smell you later. What this moment needed for extra special poignancy and tragedy (not that I didn’t cry like a first-grader anyway) was the realization that Sam will go too someday. Even Sam, the uber-Hobbit, who came back and got a wife and kids and got everything back to normal, will NEVER be like the other Hobbits, will ALWAYS be marked by his experience. SO Last Unicorn.
Of course, you`d have to give the fact that he was a ring-bearer more than the fleeting glimpse it got, but it would be worth it. I read that Tolkien’s stories are little more than a series of episodes that reassert the fundamental nature of each character. And it’s true that not one character changes from beginning to end — not even Eowyn, Lord love her. So I`m thinking the one profundity that comes of all this you-are-what-you-are is that even though Sam has carried The One Ring and even though he will have immortality in return he will always be Sam. I am dying of poignant
All this and no Oscar nom? Pwned.
What could have been cut to make room for it:
- Invasion of that guard post. You know, that one place? That the orcs took by river? That one time? Didn’t need to see it, should have been trimmed up, would have increased the impact of the last battle. Show the boats arriving, Faramir leaving. Maybe emphasize carnage of invasion when he leads the cavalry back. Trim up resulting battle. Done and done.
- Some of the Denethor stuff. It’s not as important and it doesn’t come to much. All you need is half of his talk with Gandalf and the dismissal/eating scene with Faramir and Pippin.
- Some of the Gates of Doom buildup and battle. Aragorn is kingly and heroic. Got it. The emphasis should be on the hobbits at this point.
- Everything with Frodo and Sam until Shelob. Gollum is duplicitous; Frodo is tormented; Samwise is loyal. I get it. I can understand catching up the audience, but once you’re on a third installment you’re punishing viewers who’ve seen the first two more than your helping viewers that haven’t. If they`d left in the scene at the end of Two Towers where Sam semi-apologizes to Gollum, and Gollum seems to accept it but really doesn’t, that’s all you need.
Hey, you know what else I would have changed?
4) The explanation of what was going on with Arwen. I can understand, OK, you need some reason for Elrond to suddenly take an interest and give Aragorn his sword. But wouldn’t it be enough that Arwen misses her boat and proves to Elrond that she ain’t going? So if Sauron wins, oh well, guess she’s pwned, too. Maybe that’s what Elrond meant with his “Arwen’s life is now tied to the fate of the Ring” stuff, but in that case why is she all loafed out on her fainting couch? Can’t get much sewing done when you’re unconscious.