Well, after three years, the journey is over. Peter Jackson has completed his opus, the cast have moved on, the unthinkable has been achieved- THE LORD OF THE RINGS, the most popular and ambitious fantasy work in history has been made into a spectacular trilogy. I as a viewer can now feel a true sense of closure- because when I saw RETURN OF THE KING in the cinema, I was aware of what was missing- so much so it ever so slightly sullied my enjoyment of the movie. I wanted to see Saruman’s demise, I wanted to see Frodo and Sam encounter the Orcs in Mordor, I wanted to see the Houses of Healing and the Mouth Of Sauron dammit! What was all the more frustrating was that I knew all this material had been filmed, I knew the film would be a better one for having the footage integrated back in. So when I sat and watched ROTK in the cinema, I secretly regarded it as a taster for the true finale that would come now, a year after the films theatrical bow. I was waiting for the Extended Cut.
So when my girlfriend again got me the collectors boxed set, with Minas Tirith polystone model and ‘Howard Shore: Creating the Lord Of The Rings Symphony’ she knew she was making me one very happy bunny (thank you Stacey!). The film in its extended format whips the behind of its predecessor in every single way. It gives us more of Tolkien’s world and language, most importantly of all. But it gives the film a new life that lifts it above the completely inferior theatrical cut. We do need to see Saruman die- it ends his character arc so much better than the one off comment made about him in the original. The film is richer, with more action, and more of the vital character moments- Eowyn and Faramir now get conclusions to their respective tales with a real sense of hope. Oh, and the Mouth Of Sauron rules. The only gripe I can make is that other filmed scenes- containing epilogues for Legolas and Gimli were not added in- something I would have liked, but, we cant have it all. Yet.
Overall THE RETURN OF THE KING is finally completed. This is an incredible movie, more epic than THE TWO TOWERS, more emotionally complex than FELLOWSHIP. This is a truly memorable series of films, one that Jackson and company can be truly proud of. LORD OF THE RINGS gave me and others in my generation their own STAR WARS experience, and that is something to treasure. Finally though, I can watch the true versions of the trilogy at home, and stick it on my shelf when I’m finished with them. Don’t even bother with the theatrical cuts- throw them out! These extended DVDs are the one, true RINGS.
THE EXTRAS: The Appendices, parts V and VI spread across two discs, contain roughly six hours worth of documentary material all together. There is an incredible wealth of information to bask in- however it never feels overcooked, there is not a moment of filler here- this is 100% gold. Filled with trivia and anecdotes, the docs expand our knowledge of the making of moments, showing everything from footage of the Sauron’s Emissary with a sideways mouth- trippy to be sure- to Viggo Mortensen kissing Billy Boyd full on the lips during Sam’s wedding. Oh, how I laughed. The package also comes with all sorts of bells and whistles, several hundred production sketches, pre-viz abandoned concept ideas and more. You can pick the lone four disc set up for around ?3 at the moment- go and buy it now- these are truly incredible extras, that highlight how much of a slog ROTK was to get ready into the cinemas. Trust me, those guys deserved all of their Oscars- every single one. Goodbye LOTR, hello KING KONG….
FIVE OUT OF FIVE