Saturday, 3 October 2015

Film Review: The Return of the King, Part 3

Last Saturday I finally finished watching The Return of the King, so I now know that this review is going to run to six (possibly seven) parts. It's such a long film that after an hour I checked to see how much more there was still to go and it was still another hour and fifteen minutes (though twenty minutes of that is just end credits).

Last week Pippin got itchy fingers and alerted Sauron to where at least one Hobbit could be found, so he was carted off on a road trip with Gandalf. It was a time of education for Arwen as well as she learned that her father had actually seen a child in her future, a future that wouldn't come to pass if she headed off to the Undying Lands like he wanted. And Sam worried that there wouldn't be enough food to see them through on the return journey; that'll be the least of his worries this week!

94. The Witch-King of Angmar is getting dressed. Those gloves do not look comfortable.

95. By now it's been two years since the first film came out (if you were watching it in the cinema) so we need a little flashback to remind us of Frodo getting stabbed in the first film.

96. Frodo, Sam and Gollum are on the doorstep of the host of Mordor. This is one bit I struggled to picture as I read the book for the first time. Now I don't picture it quite like this, but it helped straighten things out in my head.

97. Frodo's kind of possessed and has decided to just go straight in the front door, rather than climb up the stairs as suggested by Gollum. Neither options are particularly enticing but considering the way there's a sort of explosion of light, a Nazgul appears and all these Orcs start pouring out the tower, I'd guess the staircase is the lesser of two evils.

98. We get the reactions of people in Gondor to this and Gandalf gives Pippin a little hug. Aww, he's not such a bad old guy really.

99. I love that all these bad guys are just marching past the Ring, they could save themselves a bit of a march if they knew it was there!

100. Gandalf's making chess allusions. Does Middle-earth have chess?

101. Gandalf's decided that rather than waiting for Denethor to make a decision, he's just going to go ahead and get Pippin to light the beacon.

102. The guys in Osgiliath are about to get a nasty surprise. They're kind of tempting fate by discussing how quiet it is on the other side of the river. They don't have films in Middle-earth otherwise they'd know that saying things like that is exactly how you go about provoking an attack!

103. Sure enough, they Orcs are crossing the river in boats and launching a stealth attack on Faramir and his guys.

104. And so we have a bit of fighting. Well, rather more than a bit. There are a lot of people being bashed about with even more Orcs coming across over a bridge. Doesn't look good for the good guys.

105. Hobbits are apparently part gecko because Pippin's managed to climb right up onto the massive pile of wood where he spills some oil and sets it all alight before realising that maybe this isn't the safest place to stand.

106. And look, one of the Gondorian guards up there not paying attention is one of the behind the scenes guys. I don't remember what he does but he looks much older in the behind the scenes features on the Hobbit films.

107. So there's a chain reaction of beacons being lit. I wonder how some of those guys survive living up on those snow covered mountain tops. I want to read a fanfiction about what they get up to. On some of them they don't even seem to have accommodation or shelter. Are they like lighthouse keepers or do they just hang out somewhere else and then climb up to set fire to stuff?

108. Aragorn is thrilled to see the beacons are alight and rushes to tell Théoden who replies with an awesome 'Rohan will answer'. So it's off to war again.

109. Théoden's even got his armour on again. He sounds really up for it this time.

110. Aragorn seems kind of impressed to hear that Éowyn is riding along to the encampment to see them off. He also spots that she's got her sword with her. Looks like she plans to do more than just wave goodbye to them all.

111. Merry's not wanting to be left out, so he does a Pippin and pledges his sword to Théoden. Unfortunately he's not too good at driving a horse.

112. Éomer gives his men a stirring speech and then they all ride off. They fit an awful lot of people and horses into Rohan.

113. Back to Osgiliath where they've been fighting all night. The Orcs are getting uglier and more Gondorians seem to be falling over. This obviously means that the battle is not going well.

114. Faramir concurs and so the decision is made to retreat, just as the Nazgul join the fray.

115. As they ride across the field the wraiths are just picking men off their horses. Luckily Gandalf is coming out to met them. For some reason he's decided to take Pippin with him on this little excursion. I'm not sure why.

116. He turns on the torch at the top of his staff to drive away the Nazgul and together with some of the army they make it back to Minas Tirith in safety.

117. Faramir's updating Gandalf on what's going on with the enemy but then he spots Pippin and talk turns to Frodo and Sam instead. Gandalf doesn't seem impressed with the route they were heading on. But he never gave them any actual route to aim for so I'm not sure what he was expecting. If Gollum hadn't been with them, they would've just strolled in at the front gate!

118. Denethor's not pleased with Faramir's news though. He wanted the Ring for himself, of course. At least now we can see where Boromir got it from.

119. Faramir's still being all noble about not using the Ring. This does nothing to endear him to his father.

120. Denethor gets a bit het up at this, yelling at his younger son and falling over. Then he has a vision of Boromir being back. Clearly getting a bit cuckoo. And he's in charge of the whole country! Aragorn cannot get here soon enough!

121. Meanwhile, on the staircase into Mordor; Frodo, Sam and Gollum are still climbing. It's not so much of a staircase as a ladder. It's virtually horizontal.

122. Gollum spots the Ring as Frodo struggles to get over the edge of a ledge and reaches out for it. If Sam hadn't of drawn his sword then, Gollum would've grabbed for it. Of course, Frodo doesn't see this, he just sees Sam drawing his sword on Gollum. Again.

123. Gollum's also auditioning for his role as devil on Frodo's shoulder, whispering lies into his ears about how Sam will want to take the Ring.

124. Back in Gondor, war is ramping up and Pippin is talking to himself. Faramir overhears him and compliments him on his soldier's outfit; it was made for him as a young boy.

125. Faramir and Pippin seem to understand each other well. It's a sweet moment.

126. And now Pippin is swearing himself into the service of the Steward of Gondor. Then Denethor sits down to eat. He's a messy eater and he's perfectly happy to send his son back out into battle to take back Osgiliath, even if it means certain death for Faramir and his men.

127. It's ironic that Faramir volunteered to go to Rivendell and Denethor insisted Boromir should go, which led to his death. Of course, if Faramir had gone, he probably wouldn't have been as tempted by the Ring and chances are things would've gone differently for both brothers.

128. Up on a ledge, the trio and the Ring are taking a nap. Well, Gollum's pretending to. He's got a plan which'll get rid of Sam once and for all. It involves a bunch of lembas crummies which he sprinkles on Sam's shoulder before disposing of the rest of the food over the edge.

129. Sam would be as messy an eater as Denethor if when he eats he gets crumbs on his shoulder!

130. Would things have been different if Sam had been nicer to Gollum? Probably not.

131. And now all the lembas is gone. Gollum points out that he couldn't eat the stuff and then 'discovers' the crumbs on Sam. Frodo might have felt differently about this accusation if Sam hadn't started beating the crap out of Gollum.

132. Just as Gollum predicted, Sam offers to carry the Ring. And now all of a sudden it's Frodo and Gollum against Sam. Poor Sam. I feel so sorry for him and the fact his face is so dirty so the tear tracks really stand out against it just makes it all the sadder.

133. Frodo's all 'just go home'. The Ring's turning him into a real jerk.

Next week we'll get to hear Billy Boyd Pippin singing a sad song, see Elrond bringing Aragorn a gift, and prepare to tread the Paths of the Dead.

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