Stupid Rings Critics, Part 4:
I've been searching
for a way to undermine whatever critical
credibility I might have, and I think I've finally hit upon it.
I did not like The Retun of the King
Now before we get into it, there are a couple things you should
know. First and foremost, I did not do the required homework for
this movie. Yes, I did see the first two movies when they
originally came out (and even enjoyed the second one, more or less),
I had not watched them since then. Which means I probably forgot
a lot of details that were important for King
it means that
I didn't really see all
of the first two films, since I never
the extended versions.
Even more damning, I've never read the
books. I think I tried a couple times in high school, but I could
just never get into the stories. I know this is going to
discredit my opinion of the movie in most people's eyes, but shouldn't
the film--even if it is the third part of a trilogy--be able to stand
on its own right to a certain degree? And if we're considering
how well ROTK
worked as a movie, I really don't think
it's germane to point out that the movie was faithful to the
That's like constantly citing the Bible during an argument about the
existence of God with a nonbeliever.
I should also point out that this is by no means intended as a serious,
considered rebuttal to the legion of glowing reviews singing the
praises of this film. It can't be; I was so bored by the film
mind began to wander somewhere during the first hour. So I'll
probably make all kinds of mistakes in this rant--like mixing up Eowyn
and Arwen and Arwyn
or whoever the fuck it was--that will irritate true Tolkien fans.
I'm not claiming that I'm right and you're wrong--at least not on the
So what didn't I like? What can I remember? It's probably
helpful to start with Sean
: It might help jog my memory, and I'm sure I
hated everything on it.
- The charge of the Mumakil. If I'm remembering
correctly, this was the scene with the elephant thingies. The bit
with Legolas mounting the elephant was so obviously CGI I kept having
flashbacks to the scene of Anakin trying to ride the space-hippo in Attack
of the Clones. Legolas surfing down the trunk of the
elephant was also a bit too "Xtreme sports" for me.
- The lighting of the beacons. Wow! Those
sentries sure are alert, lighting each beacon within seconds of the
previous one being lit! Nice to see that no one was on the john
or just not paying attention after years of the beacon system going
- The Smeagol & Deagol flashback. You know what
would be nice? Some character names that were actually
distinguishable for non-LOTR purists. Smeagol, Deagol, &
Beagol: It's either a really bad law firm or a new Disney comic
featuring Pluto's mischievous nephews.
- Grond, the battering ram. What purpose did the
flames shooting out of its mouth serve? It looked like a cheesy
prop at a heavy metal concert. I guess it let those being invaded
know that it was TIME TO ROCK.
- Shelob. This is what passes for a deadly creature in
the LOTRverse? An enormous spider that can't even kill one fat
Hobbit? I kept hoping it would do something, like, you
know, maybe pounce on
Samwise. Or at least move quickly instead of lumbering
around. Christ, Sam had time to roll around, climb about, and
maybe make himself lunch while Shelob was slowly crawling around.
Poor spider. It must have been elderly or something. And
those nasty trolls weren't taking proper care of her.
- The Olog-Hai. The what now? I think Sean is
just testing me here. This didn't actually appear in the movie,
- The cries of the Nazgul. You mean the screeches of
those dragon-creatures? I suppose I have to give credit on this
one: It was a pretty smart move to work something like this into
the movie to wake the audience up every now and then.
- Minas Morgul & the Winding Stair. Or as it was
known in another, better movie, the Cliffs of Insanity.
- The Orcs. The LOTR site
tells me that "[a]n Orc's only joy is in the pain of others" and their
"blood is black in color and they are cannibals." Now, is this
true, or is this just more anti-orc propaganda put together by that
fascistic Fellowship? (It's easy to be sure of the Justness
of War when the enemy is so thoroughly dehumanized, but I truly
doubt any meaningful parallels can be drawn between events in the
pretend Tolkienverse and our real world.)
- Faramir's charge. Was this the part where scenes of
soldiers charging were intercut with scenes of a Hobbit doing karaoke
while the crazy king said, "Screw utensils! I'm the frickin'
king!"? And then the king bit into a tomato or something and it
spurted all over his mouth and hands, which was, like, all symbolic and
stuff, because the soldiers he had sent out to fight were all dying,
with their blood and guts spurting all over the king's (metaphorical)
mouth and hands? Yeah, that was really deep. And
subtle. And I think slo-mo may have been involved, because there
just wasn't enough slo-mo used in this movie to signal that really deep
and portentous things were occurring.
- The absence of "The Scouring of the Shire." I don't
know what it is, but if it shaved time off the movie length, I'm all
for its absence as well.
- The cello music at the end. I'd comment, but Sean
didn't clarify which ending he was referring to. By my count,
there were at least five endings. Eager to stretch my legs (and
relieve my bladder) I probably missed the true ending after
all the Renaissance Festival portraits were over.
Anything else? OK, since you asked:
- So sloooooooowzzzzzzzzzz. I'm pretty sure the
first hour and most of the ending were filmed in slow motion. I'm
not sure, though. I'd ask to see the replay, but I'm scared by
the thought of what watching slo-mo recaps of slo-mo scenes might do to
the very fabric of space-time.
- The arbitrariness of magic. "Wow, what a great magic
staff you have, Gandalf. Yeah, it was really cool how it was able
to repel those dragon-things when the soldiers were riding toward
the castle. Do you think that you could use your staff to do that
again now that the dragon-things have returned and are FUCKING EATING
AND GRABBING AND DROPPING ALL OF OUR MEN???"
- The brilliant strategic mind of Gandalf. Somewhat
related to the above point, but why didn't Gandalf use those giant
eagles to take the ring and simply drop it in the volcano? I
mean, half the time Gandalf is going on about how he sent Frodo to his
doom, so it sounds like even Mr. High-and-Mighty Wizard realizes it
wasn't the best plan to send a small creature over millions of miles on
foot when he had access to a fucking giant flying eagle.
- The intermittency of pure, relentless evil. "Oh,
don't worry, Mr. Frodo. The ring's not lost. I've been
holding on to it all this time. What's that? Oh yeah,
right: OOOO...THE RING IS SO EVIL...I'M ACTING ALL STONED NOW."
- The cheesiness of emotion. "I'm sorry, human lady, I
can't love you, for I hardly know you. Plus, I totally love this
hot elf chick who I hardly know."
- The Seventies Sitcom and/or Porn ending. "Hey look,
the gang's all here. Time to laugh without sound! Now
everyone climb into bed with Frodo here. Or just watch if that's
more your thing. And you know what would really help?
If the whole scene were in slo-mo and too brightly lit. That'd be
There was probably more than annoyed me, but if I go on any longer, I
run the risk of overstaying my welcome just as ROTK
did. And while it feels good to get all of this off my chest, I
really don't want to become the pariah of the comics blogosphere, at
least not over an overrated fantasy flick.
Say, how about that Mike San Giacomo guy and his outrageous
opinions about the new Catwoman artistic team
? What's up with
that??? [he asked, not at all trying to change the subject or