The movie is absolutely gorgeous. That is, it's well-acted and quite moving in spots, but the overwhelming thing that sticks with me is how visually stunning it is -- like a two-hour Pre-Raphaelite painting, or rather a series of paintings -- some Rossetti, some Burne-Jones, some Hunt, some Waterhouse, some some Arthur Hughes, some Parrish, some Wyeth. Jason Isaacs is wonderful, though I kept finding myself thinking about how much he reminded me of Kevin Kline; I love and adore Kevin Kline, so I mean this as a compliment, but it didn't strike me as a strikingly original creation like his Lucius Malfoy.
The kids playing Wendy and Peter are phenomenal, creepily erotic considering their ages, though it doesn't feel creepy while watching; it seems very unconscious and natural, not the artifice of something like The Blue Lagoon with its sweaty pubescent bodies. The story is very fucked up Freudian psychodrama and having Isaacs playing meek Mr. Darling and Captain Hook is hugely entertaining, and even given Tinkerbell's fits of jealousy over Peter (which made me walk out of That Robin Williams Adaptation years ago), it doesn't feel sexist at all; the roles for men in that society are just as limited and limiting as the roles for women, at least unless one manages to be born in the banker's shoes.
So some of you are probably wondering why I've been nearly totally silent about The Return of the King. Even I am wondering. Part of it, I think, is that I have been so utterly spoiled at this point by the extended editions, which in both cases I thought were vastly better adaptations than the theatrical releases. I understand why some people might argue that they're not better movies; they do drag in places, there's some redundancy, and in TTT in particular there are a couple of scenes I rather dislike and am just as happy not to have to consider canon. That said, I feel like the 1/3 of ROTK that I most want to see is missing from the current release, and knowing that I will get some of it on DVD later makes me want to wait and reserve judgment on what I liked and disliked about the film until I can see the whole picture.
The other thing that I have realized, after two readings separated by two decades and two viewings of the film, is that...I really am not a fan of the denouement of the story. At all. There, I said it, and am sure I am going to pay for this, but it's true. I've said before that I had issues with various characterizations in the novels -- like Faramir, whom I felt was a goody two-shoes, and Aragorn, whose motivations I just didn't get. I'm still not fond of the reluctant King and his nearly invisible Elf-bride and I still find Faramir and Eowyn's love story contrived, something stuck on to make that aspect of the novels come together like classical romance...but none of that is even IN the film. Galadriel departs saying that it's time for the Age of Men, but because we don't ever get to see Aragorn as a healer, his relationships with Faramir and Eowyn after the war, his friendship with Eomer, we have no sense of what kind of a leader he will be other than a reluctant one. I don't feel terribly great about the world of men from the end of the movie.
But even focusing on what is there in the movie, like Frodo and Sam's story...reading cara_chapel's explanation of why she doesn't like Rosie this morning really brought home to me how angry I get at Frodo for deciding to take off for heaven early, For all intents and purposes, he comes home wounded and then moves to an island on the far side of the world, where none of his friends can even write to him...actually it's more akin to committing suicide, since he is cut off utterly and forever from everyone and everything that mattered to him. It's bad enough that the elves leave...I think it was fileg who described the Undying Lands as a well-appointed old age home where the grandchildren never visit, and I keep hearing Merry's speech to Treebeard about the Ents being part of the world, how can their decision be to abdicate connection...Jackson has the Elves fight at Helm's Deep, which unlike book purists I really love, but then they get on the ships anyway. It's a profoundly unhappy ending in many ways: the characters we care about most are so scarred, so changed, and maybe that's supposed to lend realism, but after sitting through Stupid Elf Tricks and Gimli's jokes among the dead, I don't want to see a broken, dry-eyed Frodo grinning like a ghost back at Sam from a ship sailing away forever.
Okay, enough...I swore I wasn't going to be one of those people who ranted and ranted about being disappointed, and I really did love the movie, and loved rediscovering the books, and loved thinking about all this stuff. But the insane falling-in-love that happened to me with my third and all subsequent viewings of FOTR and every single one of my viewings of TTT, even though I think ROTK is in many ways a better movie than TTT in particular, just hasn't happened to me with the third one, even though I've been far more emotional about it while actually watching it than I was with either of the first two.
lotr100, the honesty challenge: Husbandry. And I howled at rohandove's The Day After, in which LOTR ends, well, differently. But not altogether badly. *g*
Also: the Terps won! That did not end badly either! Though I expect my father to return from the Rose Bowl as a very disappointed Michigan fan.