So in case you haven’t been following avidly (and if not, why not?) I recently did a marathon of ALL three Lord of the Rings extended editions. This was the first time I had seen the movies, and I knew surprising little so I thought the obvious thing to do would be to narrate my thoughts on this experience for all of the internet to enjoy (including occasional contribution from my brothers, Harry and Jack, who were also there). For the Return of the King, you join my liveblogging after seven-and-a-half hours, as I begin to lose grip of all time and reality.
19.04 All right, we’ve all recovered for 20 minutes, time to get on and finish this thing. Return of the King! Yeah! New Line Cinema logo! My old friend!
19.05 Opening shot of a maggot and a fishing hook. Going well.
19.06 Hey, this is totally Gollum’s back story! And he has his own male companion! KISS. Or fight. Fine.
19.09 Basically Gollum was always Gollum, even before he was actually Gollum. Boom.
19.11 I enjoyed that Gollum Origin story. That was fun. Now we are back to our good friends Sam and Frodo (Sodo) who are as cute as ever, but there’s already earthquakes and foreboding and so hopefully things will finally start happening.
19.14 The most dated thing about these films seems to be the cheesy opening titles.
19.15 Meanwhile, the Weasley twins are still smoking their magic weed and are high as kites when Gandalf & Crew arrive. For all we know, they are hallucinating it all. Imagine if the entire final film was just the Weasley twins tripping out, Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas style? That would be an unexpected but amazing twist.
19.17 Come on Gandalf, is reasoning with Evil Beard really your plan? Although everyone looks upset when Evil Beard suggests that Gandalf knew Sodo would never complete their mission alive. How is that a surprise to ANYBODY? Everything is stupid.
19.21 SNAPE TOTALLY JUST STABBED EVIL BEARD. I did not see that coming this soon. And then he fell on a spike and nobody laughed? That seems unlikely.
19.22 I am glad that the fellowship is already coming back together and stuff is happening though, that is a step in the right direction. But why couldn’t that happen at the end of the last film?
19.23 Also Legolas being drawn into a drinking game with Gimley is kind of hilarious, because Orlando Bloom’s confused elf face still makes me laugh.
19.26 Stryder and Gandalf FINALLY acknowledge their concern that Sodo might not complete the mission alone, but Gandalf’s wizard heart tells him they are okay, so that’ll be fine then.
19.30 Sam has figured out that Gollum is planning to kill them because OBVIOUSLY, and the whole Sodo/Gollum love triangle continues to be cute-with-a-dash-of-psychotic.
19.31 Then Stryder and Strong Female Character are having a moment and blah blah no one really cares about YOUR love triangle.
19.34 Then we learn that a) Gandalf sleeps with his eyes open and b) Fred and/or George is still really stupid and good at creating problems for people when he steals the crystal ball and it tries to kill him.
19.39 Aw no, the Weasley twins are splitting up! That’s no fun for anyone! Now one of them will definitely die.
19.40 Elves are walking slowly in the forest, including Female Character 1. Does anybody still care about Female Character 1? Oh, except now she’s turned around and is ACTUALLY doing something, that makes a nice change. But I’m pretty sure nobody cares about the love triangle. Still.
19.45 Slow-mo epic sword re-forging that requires TWO blacksmiths. YEAH, HIT THAT SWORD. HIT IT MORE.
19.47 So Gandalf and Fred are visiting Ned Stark’s douchebag father, who is still clutching his dead son’s broken horn and apparently hasn’t moved for the entirety of the last film.
19.50 Gandalf says “return of the king”. NAME OF THE FLIM IN THE FILM. Then he storms out because he all mad that a bunch of kings who didn’t do their job properly aren’t in charge any more, and Ned’s dad doesn’t think it’s too hot an idea to bring them back. Sure, Gandalf. Autocracy never has consequences.
19.55 Okay, I stopped paying attention during the last scene. It had Sodo in it. Let’s just assume there was lots of euphemisms and/or they were making out.
19.58 Gollum has FINALLY led them to the secret way into Mordor which is basically just a wall. (Harry: If only they had some kind of MAGIC ROPE.) Then Frodo wanders off AGAIN because they still haven’t got him a bell, and then the sky explodes. Or something.
20.01 The Bad Guy army goes past, and they look pretty evil, so things are not looking to good for our heroes, but JUST KEEP CLIMBING, you won’t die yet, that would be incredibly lame.
20.05 Meanwhile, Robin Hood totally gives away his own position and has a battle with a bunch of orcs. I’m really not sure whether we’re supposed to be on his side or not. I mean, sure, we don’t want him to be killed by orcs, but is he completely a Good Guy? It would be nice to have a character with SOME moral ambiguity, but he will probably turn out to be fine.
20.08 MEANWHILE, Fred sets off a fire beacon and Gandalf says “Hope is kindled”. I SEE WHAT YOU DID THERE.
20.10 But apparently he was right because everyone is on the move and armies are gathering and STUFF IS HAPPENING. Although are they basically all just marching towards Gandalf? Is he in that much trouble? It kind of just looked like he was chilling on a tower. Shouldn’t they be marching towards Mordor and, I dunno, helping Sodo out?
20.12 My brothers inform me that they are going to Gandalf’s tower because that is where the orcs are also going. I completely missed that somehow, but cool, good to know.
20.16 Robin Hood and his dad have more fights and douchefather is all “But WE should have the ring. And I swear we’d never use it. You know, unless we really wanted to.” Then he hallucinates that Ned Stark is there after all. But he’s not. Cue even more daddy issues for Robin Hood.
20.20 Something happens with Sodo and Gollum, but basically they’re just still travelling a lot.
20.22 George Weasley has joined the Night’s Watch (or something) and has some bonding time (whey) with Robin Hood. And I just referenced three different things at once, none of which were Lord of the Rings.
20.25 Douchefather STILL hates Robin Hood for no discernible reason. Like, what is even his deal anyway? Did he steal from too many rich? Give to too many poor?
20.27 Someone has stolen Sodo’s bread and at first they blame it on Gollum, then Gollum blames it on Sam and everything is terrible. Let’s be honest, we all know who the real culprit probably was.
20.29 Sodo breaking up is genuinely quite sad. Poor Sam! I am hoping that Frodo is doing this to protect him, because if not I’M GOING TO BE MAD.
20.33 Douchefather: “Can you sing, Fred Weasley?” Um. Okay.
20.34 Oh but this is actually kind of moving, with the singing and the riding into battle and the single tear! (Harry: This could be a 90s music video.) Never mind.
20.37 We get distracted talking about 90s music videos for a bit, but then I pay attention just in time for Stryder to look broodingly at a haunted rock. Or something.
20.38 Strong Female Character: “Why shouldn’t George go to war, huh? Fight for those he loves? By George, I mean me.”
20.40 Just when everybody had forgotten about her, Female Character 1 comes back to … be dead? Or in a coma? Or just really sad?
20.41 The evil elf king tells Stryder that someone is going to betray them, but I’m not sure who any more. Then I think he tells Strong Female Character that he doesn’t love her? And steals off into the night with Legolas and Gimley. That is a much better solution to the love triangle.
20.49 Some stuff happens, there are some voiceovers, the three of them wander into the haunted rock which is probably important.
20.50 Despite attempts to leave them behind, Strong Female Character and George Weasley sneak into battle anyway. YEAH, equal rights for women and hobbits! Woo!
20.52 Stryder, Gimley and Legolas are battling ghosts because apparently that will help. I feel like they should have their own awesome triple act name, so let’s just call them the Avengers to get as many pop culture references into this thing as possible.
20.54 I’m not sure why the Avengers are trying to enlist dead people to help them, or why Legolas thinks shooting arrows at them will help. NOT EVERYTHING CAN BE FIXED WITH ARROWS, LEGOLAS. Although apparently everything CAN be fixed by Stryder’s fancy new sword, and that makes him king of everything.
20.57 Oh, no, avalanche of skulls, never mind. Thankfully the Avengers escape unharmed, making the whole expedition pointless. Except wait! King of the ghosts is going to fight after all, my bad! Whew, what a rollercoaster.
20.59 But Robin Hood is dead! Was he mysteriously killed offscreen, or did I just miss it?
21.00 Harry points out that one of the orcs has a skull on his helmet, names him “General Head-Hat” and everything is hilarious.
21.01 Meanwhile douchefather has lost any sanity he had left, so Gandalf hits him with a stick and now he’s in charge. Nothing in these movies really makes sense to me any more, but I’ll just roll with it. They’re using trebuchets to fire giant rocks, most of which miss their targets. Sweet.
21.05 More fantasy battle scenes! MORE Gandalf wielding his stick like a ninja!
21.07 Giant wolf battering ram thing shows up, it is the end of disc one, and that means it’s time to order Dominos.
21.21 Okay so pizza is here I am typing largely one-handed. I hope that my dedication to this project does not go unnoticed. So. Ghost army has arrived! Unsure how non-corporeal beings will be any use at all, but great.
21.24 Back in the caves, Frodo is lonely and there are spiderwebs everywhere! Spiderman crossover time?
21.26 The magic perfume bottle from ten hours ago is finally back! Basically it is a torch but then Frodo gets trapped in one of the webs, which was actually spun by a giant spider, and not spiderman. Way to be PREDICTABLE, Tolkein.
21.28 A deathmatch between Gollum, Frodo and Gollum finally happens, after three films’ worth of build up. It ends with Gollum/Gollum falling down a hole. Lame. Can’t help feeling that is not actually the end of either Gollum.
21.31 Blonde Elf Lady is back for a dream sequence (I guess?) and I don’t think I’ve mentioned how creepy it is that she keeps talking without moving her lips yet. But it is.
21.32 This pizza is awesome.
21.33 Also, George Weasley and Strong Female Character and wandering round without any form of disguise, but apparently no one has noticed.
21.34 Then a flower is symbolic of hope blah blah SYMBOLISM blah.
21.37 And Frodo is stabbed. Again. This time by spiderman. Until SAM ARRIVES with the MAGIC PERFUME apparently now in his possession. Seriously, as if Frodo is the hero, Sam is the only one who gets anything done and avoids BEING STABBED ALL THE TIME.
21.39 AND he kills Spiderman while Frodo just lies there all spider-mummy.
21.40 Sam is the best.
21.41 Orcs show up to explain that Frodo is not dead, just paralysed, and they are going to take him to a tower. Cue SAM IS BETTER THAN EVERYONE rescue mission!
21.42 Also Robin Hood = not dead after all. Douchefather = still all kinds of cray cray and going to burn him anyway.
21.44 Oh no! It seems like Gandalf is about to be killed! If only this wasn’t quite obviously not the end!
21.45 Yup. Army shows up in the distance, and this is enough to completely distract the dementor and stop him from killing Gandalf like he was just about to.
21.48 Charge charge, battle battle, rising music etc.
21.50 Elaborate non-consensual suicide fire pact thing with douchefather and Robin Hood. Until Gandalf and Magic Horse save the day!
21.51 Getting kicked in the face by a horse, landing on some fire, then running around until you fall off a cliff is not the most dramatic death ever for douchefather. It’s mostly just really funny.
21.52 Charging at the giant elephants goes pretty badly for someone, but I’m not entirely certain whose side they’re on.
21.54 Oh, okay, elephants are bad guys and George Weasely/Strong Female Character make a pretty sweet team battling them until they don’t any more.
21.58 Strong Female Character totally just TOOK OUT A DRAGON, YEAH FEMINISM.
21.59 Then General Head-Hat is back and then SO ARE THE AVENGERS AND THEIR ARMY OF GHOSTS. Which apparently can kill things. Still no explanation why that’s the case.
22.00 Strong Female Character gets around “no man shall kill me” because she’s a woman (Harry: “Totally invoking the Macbeth Clause there.” I am mad he made this joke before I got the chance).
22.02 Legolas makes an appearance and so does the Wilhelm scream. Legolas surfs some elephants. All right, Legolas, settle down.
22.03 Strong Female Character’s father dies and that’s kinda sad I guess.
22.06 So the battle is over now I think? Seems sort of over.
22.07 Strong Female Character lets the side down by fainting but then Stryder is there for sexy slow-motion healing times.
22.09 And the Weasley twins are reunited too! Everything is great. Now to destroy the stupid ring and get this over with. Speaking of which. Why did the orcs not untie Frodo, yet still manage to steal his clothes?
22.10 Fortunately for Hero Sam, the orcs guarding Frodo randomly all turn on each other so he doesn’t have to fight so many of them. We are running out of time I suppose, we’ve gotta wrap this up pretty quickly now.
22.13 Sodo are reunited! And Sam mysteriously has the ring now! And Frodo is still shirtless!
22.16 Once again, everyone stands around talking about how difficult it will be for Frodo to do this alone, but don’t actually do anything. Except apparently Stryder’s plan is to have a staring contest with the Giant Fiery Eye until Frodo sneaks past. It’s about as good as all the other plans these idiots have had I suppose.
22.19 Strong Female Character has given up on Stryder in favour of Robin Hood. Which kind of came out of nowhere but no one really cares about the romantic outcomes of these characters anyway, so sure, Robin Hood also has a beard and floppy hair, that’ll do.
22.22 Apparently even orcs are subject to inspections. The more organised and sentient these things become, the less they are actually scary. There is nothing threatening about inspections.
22.24 Sodo throw away all their supplies and armour and stuff, which also makes perfect sense, then start shivering because it’s cold, despite all of the fire. Ugh, whatever Lord of the Rings, I’m kind of done with you now.
22.27 Stop, drop and roll apparently tricks Fire Eye into not realising Sodo is about to destroy the source of all his power.
22.33 Stryder leads the armies into battle, Sodo are so close to the volcano but not quite there, things are definitely coming along nicely.
22.34 Legolas to Gimley: “What about side by side with a FRIEND?” Hahahahahahaha, lame. After 11 hours, I am running out of ability to actually form jokes.
22.35 Hero Sam is carrying Useless Frodo the rest of the way because you know what? HE IS THE HERO. Frodo has done nothing but get into trouble.
22.37 Oh look, Gollum isn’t dead! Surprise! And Sam is the one actually fighting him. Not a surprise!
22.39 Eagles arrive to save the day for Avengers & Co. (Harry: For AMERICA.)
22.41 Useless Frodo cannot destroy the ring, because Useless Frodo is an idiot. Gollum biting off his finger is kind of gross though. But look how happy he is now he’s got his ring back! Aww!
22.42 Yup, now he’s dead.
22.45 And Giant Fire Eye is dead too. Awesome. And everything conveniently stops caving in just where the Good Guys are standing. Of course.
22.48 Does this film ever end? Now they have to outrun lava. “I’m glad to be with you Samwise Ghandi.” KISS.
22.49 Okay maybe not. Screen goes black! Maybe Sodo actually do die? That would be kind of cool … Oh, no, Gandalf saves them with flying eagles, of course. Movie still not over.
22.51 Then Frodo and Gandalf just sit about laughing, although for all Frodo knows, Gandalf was dead and this is heaven. Until everyone else turns up for a big slow motion group hug pillow fight! (In heaven?)
22.52 Screen fades. WAIT NO, BACK TO STRYDER’S CORONATION.
22.54 NOW STRYDER IS SINGING WHAT IS HAPPENING SO CONFUSED. And it is not even an N-Dubz cover. WHAT.
22.56 And he and Female Character 1 or 2 or whatever I called her are back together, despite a lack of any chemistry or personality.
22.57 And everyone bows to the hobbits and Hero Sam looks super awkward.
22.58 And everyone’s back in the Shire and it’s all come full circle and the movie still isn’t over how cute.
22.59 And Sam marries a barmaid, and not Frodo? Boo.
23.00 And Frodo is STILL NARRATING STILL NOT OVER COME ON GUYS, IT’S 11PM.
23.02 Bilbo is back and super old now, and the movie is still going this is touching but ridiculous.
23.06 So Frodo’s also getting on the Death Boat despite no actual motivation to do so? And do we really need the goodbye hugs in slow motion too? REALLY?
23.08 This makes no sense to me.
23.09 Even the screen fading to WHITE doesn’t make the film over. We have Sam with his tiny children first. In slow motion. Of course.
23.10 AND THEN HIS DOOR SHUTS AND IT’S FINALLY OVER THANK GOD.
Final thoughts: It has been twelve hours. I want to go home. Also, I see why these are the extended versions. I would have cut some of that stuff too. Buy anyway, serious thoughts, the third film certainly had a lot more in it than the second which I’m happy about. Not really sure how I feel about Frodo not dying in his pursuit to destroy the ring, but just deciding to sail off into the distance? Is the boat even supposed to be death? I thought the boat was supposed to be death, but I really just don’t know any more. I suppose it’s better than Frodo living out his days in the Shire with a bunch of kids, although that ending does suit Sam quite nicely.
Final thoughts on the entire trilogy: I feel bad it took me this long to watch it. No, really, I do. It was good. Even if it was kind of stupid and over-reliant on slow motion. But it didn’t look out-of-date and I enjoyed it a lot. Although I’m still kind of disappointed that Stryder never did a rap.