The greatest story of good and evil ever told is the one presented in The Lord of the Rings trilogy by J. R. R. Tolkien. Peter Jackson revolutionized cinema with his adaptation of this historic literary work of gigantic proportions, surprising its viewers and completely catching off-guard those who work in the medium.
The Lord of the Rings
Being an incredible total of 11 epic hours prepared, directed, produced and edited over a span of 3 years, this majestic work of 7th art forever changed the way I looked at movies. As the teenager I was, witnessing such a majestic tale with no end in sight in the big screen, allowed me to realize that the way to hide from reality and refuge from society, even if for a short while, was through the movies.
I can't express in words the feelings I had when watching the beginning of The Fellowship of the Ring in the cinema. The atmosphere, the scenarios, the music, it was all so incredible that I quickly fell in love with the story. This incredible movie manages to make you feel all these emotions, fears and excitement due to its realistic presentation and the likeable characters. Scenes like the Hobbits' encounters with black hooded knights mounted in hellish horses, or the encounters with huge trolls and hordes of bloodthirsty orcs can really capture your total attention in the screen.
So here I am telling you of my experience with The Lord of the Rings, one of my most favorite stories of all time.
The Fellowship of the Ring
The beginning of a journey
After an incredible intro, the movie shows us Frodo Baggins (Elijah Wood), our main character, a hobbit who lives in the Shire, a beautiful and peaceful land where everything seems so normal and so quiet. He expects someone by the name of Gandalf (Ian McKellen), an always-late wizard who arrives precisely when he means to! There is also Frodo's Uncle Bilbo Baggins (Ian Holm), who possesses a peculiar ring, and their gardener Samwise Gamgee (Sean Austin), a loyal friend.
When you are introduced to the main characters, you already have some knowledge of the world they live in. You know it's a story in the realm of the fantastic, set in a peaceful era, but somehow you can't help but have this feeling of uncertainty, a feeling that at some point, something unexpected will happen. And it does. Peter Jackson crafts the beginning of this story so well that you can't help but focus on every little detail.
You learn that the ring Bilbo possesses is a long lost artifact of destruction, forged in the fires of Mount Doom by the dark lord Sauron himself. Sauron in an entity of fear and repression of the past who tried to dominate all the free peoples of Middle-earth. The ring was his weapon, a fiendish and deceiving tool capable of controlling all other magical rings and spread chaos and destruction. When Gandalf discovers that the ring Bilbo possesses is The One Ring, he sends Frodo and Sam into a mission, the mission to destroy the ring before Sauron's forces of evil can reclaim it for himself. And thus, our quest begin.
I won't tell you the whole story that you probably already know, but our heroes, with the additional aid of their roguish friends Merry and Pippin, end up in the sacred city of the Elves and gain the trust of 4 brave warriors. Aragon (Viggo Mortensen), Boromir (Sean Bean), Legolas (Orlando Bloom) and Gimli (John Rhys-Davies). With the aim of destroying the ring, together with Gandalf, they part in the direction of Mordor, the dark land of Sauron.
At this point the fellowship is pretty much part of your family. You fear for their falling and rejoice with their victories! Seeing your beloved fellowship struggling against giant lake monsters; fighting head to head with huge and menacing trolls; running from supernatural demonic entities of fire and darkness; and trying to escape numbers far superior to their owns, is just too exciting! It's so mesmerizing that you will eventually have re-watch the whole thing! Certainly it's one incredible adventure, but it suddenly stops.
The Two Towers
Finding your place
Then we have The Two Towers. After the abrupt ending of The Fellowship of the Ring, I eagerly awaited for its conclusion, and even if this second installment didn't have as much impact on me as the beginning of the journey, it's still an achievement of epic proportions.
This is the part of the journey where our heroes find their place in their quest. The events and tragedies that happened before changed every and each one of the members of the fellowship, and everything that happens makes their character grow and understand its purpose. The Two Towers is the movie of the trilogy that delves more into character development and narrative.
For this evolution to happen, the movie at parts may feel tiring due to so much dialogue. It sacrifices action and adventures to go deeper into the characters. There is a great scene where Aragon and Arwen (Liv Tyler), his forbidden elvish love, have a deep and romantic conversation in a dream sequence that lasts for several minutes. However, these scenes are important, as they make you understand what goes inside the character's minds and what are their reasons for doing what they do.
The Two Towers also introduces many new characters that will have their impact on the story. There is Gollum, the twisted creature that initially found the ring and that will be an integrant part of Frodo and Sam's journey; There is also a very peculiar creature of the forest that will affect Merry and Pippins' lives; and we are also introduced to King Theoden of Rohan (Philip Stone), his daughter Eowyn (Miranda Otto) and his knights, who will all be very important to Aragorn and the overall denouement of the story.
All these introductions and developments build up and eventually lead into the climax of the movie and one of the highest points of the trilogy. An all-or-nothing battle of unimaginable proportions that will decide the fate of our beloved characters and the new found ones, in a scenario so dark and so hopeless, that it makes you doubt the capacity of the director of ending up doing things right. But things happen, and the way everything slowly falls into place goes beyond anything that I've ever seen in a fantasy or epic war movie.
The Return of the King
Ending your epic quest
And thus, my biggest anticipation for a movie happened, the anticipation for the third and final installment of The Lord of the Rings. And what can I say? Watching this movie in the big screen was one of those great moments in life! I watched the conclusion of one of the greatest tales ever told through a screen, or any other format for that matter. Or should I say, I ended my journey that had started 2 years ago?
The Return of the King picks up pretty nicely from where The Two Towers ended, but not before giving us a glimpse of a very interesting scene in the past regarding the ring and two Hobbits. After this we understand that the characters are getting closer and closer to their goals. However, everything seems so hopeless, as if it were an impossible mission. You can't help but watch in awe, how every character will use every tool and surroundings available to reach their goal, or how someone or something might appear to give them a hand.
This part of the story shows Aragorn, Legolas and Gimli in different roles now. They are not alone anymore, but at the same time they are. All resources and all help they could find are not enough to go through with the quest. And so they have to venture into sub-quests in order to up their chances against the forces of evil. This is where I had problems with The Lord of the Rings. The resources that Aragorn finds to aid the battle are too forced and unreal. I know this is a fictional tale, but I think there's still the need to respect the nature of the story and not go overboard with the fantasy and supernatural elements. If you've watched the movie you know of what I speak, I am simply trying to avoid big spoilers for people who might read this review before watching the movies.
Minor issues aside, The Return of the King focus heavily on the war aspect of the story. And I mean heavily! The battles in this movie are simply out of this world, I've never seen something like it, not even more than 10 years later! The dimensions of the scenarios, the intensity of the war and all the different angles we are shown make for one exhilarating experience. The cries of charging cavalry; huge armed trolls breaking through gates; gigantic creatures smashing soldiers; flying dragons striking fear from above and so much more. It's breathtaking.
But alas, every story and every quest must have an end, and The Return of the King does it nicely. While the ending was pretty rewarding, maybe it stretches things a little too much. But I understand, after the intensity of the final battles, the stretched peaceful scenes serve to give a sense of tranquility and serenity, to show the viewer that there was a purpose behind all that had happened. I won't go into details here, it's up to you to have your own feelings about the ending of such an epic journey, or witness it if you haven't yet!
Amazon Price: $119.98 $57.99 Buy Now
(price as of Aug 17, 2013)