I remember reading Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit about 20 years ago and being entranced. Unlike some of my friends though I’ve never read it again and have no desire to. When I went to the first two Peter Jackson movies it was out of curiosity, to see our New Zealand landscape, and to see what all the fuss was about.
It was exciting that such a famous movie had been made in New Zealand, here in Wellington, where Weta Digital Studios are. It was exciting that a couple of scenes had been filmed in the Town Belt, not far from our house. And the movies are spectacular.
I felt though, on viewing the first two movies, that Tolkien’s story and his style of telling are outdated and that this was reflected in the movies. Maybe it’s just me and my own tastes, but I wasn’t enthralled, riveted. It just doesn’t capture my imagination in the way that some more modern stories do. While Tolkien is “literature” and Xena and Buffy aren’t I prefer these modern stories and their methods of telling. Joe Michael Straczynski’s Babylon 5 is a superb modern story of complexities, subtleties, good versus evil, fallibility and heroism.
Anyway, with free tickets to the 3+ hour Return of the King last night, we took the opportunity to see the final part of the trilogy. It is spectacular. The special effects are magnificent — Gollum, ghosts, flying dragons, a giant spider, huge creatures and weapons of war, cities built into rock, massed armies blackening wide plains, sweeping lines of horsemen. New Zealand’s Southern Alps feature splendidly.
Somehow the Hobbits looked smaller than in the first two parts. I had a bit of a problem with having forgotten where the story was up to and what was going on. Still, the whole thing isn’t really my favourite and by the third or fourth false ending I was well ready to see the end. The yellow door of the closing scene was a bit of a relief.
As a New Zealander I’ve now fulfilled my duty. I look forward to King Kong with much greater interest and anticipation.