A year after the final theatrical version surfaced in the cinema, the Lord Of The Rings trilogy comes to its FULL conclusion with the release of the Extended Edition of Return Of The King.
A couple of things for fans of the books to hear. Even at 4 hours running time, the Scouring Of The Shire doesn't make it into the film ... in fact the entire film from the closing scenes of Mount Doom onwards remain as they were in the cinema.. Also push aside those 'too many endings' scoffs, the story was never meant to conclude with the climax of the big battle. Delve into the appendix of Return Of The King and you find that the Fellowship's lives are documented right up to their deaths or parting from the realm of Middle Earth. The War Of The Ring was but a very small part in the history of the world and it was fitting to see in conclude back where the story began.
What a conclusion this series had too! The Two Towers saw a siege with 10,000 attackers throw themselves upon Helms Deep, Return Of The King sees 600,000 attackers in the crucial battle of the world. So many stories intertwine, with Aragorn eventually facing his destiny as the King Of Gondor, Gandalf preparing the city of Minas Tirith for the oncoming assault against the wishes of the deranged steward Dethanor, and most importantly Frodo, Sam and Gollum's final stretch to Mount Doom to destroy the Ring.
Of most interest with this DVD is whats 'new'. The best additions is the inclusion of Frodo and Sam's trek across Mordor, the section where they end up caught up in a battalion of marching orcs while in disguise makes a welcome addition from the book, as does the true ending of Sauruman (which frankly had an atrocious ending in theatrical version, merely dismissing him as 'having no power' anymore without Christopher Lee even making it on screen). A few treats for those who know what was missing. Then comes what can only be described as dodgy additions, for the first time ever. The extended scenes with the Army Of The Dead look very nice but completely ruin that air of suspense for when Aragorn finally turns up for the Battle Of Pelanor Plains. This time round you know EXACTLY who is on that boat pulling into the port near Minas Tirith. Rather than the joyous switch from 'Oh no! Its MORE bad guys! Wait a sec ... its ARAGORN!', you know that! the battle is already going to swing in the favour of good when they turn up. Also there is a suspicious scene between Gandalf and the Witch King Of Angmar which detracts from illusion of Gandalf being an all powerful wizard. A needless deviation from how that particular scene pans out in the book.
These are minor niggles from someone who loves the book, nothing can touch the book as far as I am concerned. You get to know the characters so much better and you get all those little gems which they had to cut out of the movie or alter to make the story tell well in a screenplay aspect. However, I don't think anyone else could have made as good a translation from book to film as Peter Jackson. This is one of the best series of all time, Fellowship Of The Ring still nicks it as my fave of the three movies if I was pushed to choose. You can't really detract from what he has achieved with this film, Tolkien himself gave the film rights away for practically nothing, deeming the book impossible to translate to film.
Since this is the Extended Edition DVD, this is the Extended Review. Once again the 2 DVDs of documentaries are an absolute joy. None of your usual dodgy tacked on DVD documentaries with 'deep voiced US geezer' commentary, these are superb. Cast, crew and Tolkien buffs all contribute, genuine fascinating footage to watch and such a variety and wealth of subjects to talk about. Every aspect of the movie creation is documented, right up to the final scenes of filming (bizarrely, these took place a few weeks after ROTK picked up their 11 Oscars ... nothing like an Oscar for an unfinished film!). A history of Tolkien and his inspirations, the discarded concept (thank god!) of the Aragorn vs Sauron final sword fight, the creation of the sets, costumes and the ongoing evolutionary process of the script design and editing. If you've bought these extended editions and not taken the documentaries out to have a look out, start this immediately! Hit t! hat 'Play All' button. They will enrich your viewing pleasure the next time you watch the film, and leave you thinking how lucky they all were to work on such a film when you hear their love from it and the tales from their time on it.
Heres to Peter Jackson taking on making The Simarillion into a series!