I don’t know if I can call this a full-fledged review, but it’s more my impressions upon seeing it.
First, all the best lines belong to Gimli, just like in the book. And I could swear that John Rhy-Davies does the voice of Treebeard too, but I couldn’t find a credit for it on The Internet Movie Database.
Anyway, TT has the unenviable task of being the middle movie of a trilogy. Like The Empire Strikes Back, it’s a very good film on its own, but has to also be a bridge between what comes before and what comes after. Fellowship had the glory of being the first visual taste of Middle Earth and of being new and fresh and still full of hope. Return of the King will be the climax and the triumph of good over evil. (I hope I didn’t ruin the end for you.) But TT begins on a grim note and ends on a grim note.
My first thought as the credits rolled was, “That was a great film. Now I have to wait a year to see the next one.” It seems like forever from this point, but then it felt like this past year would be forever.
Much has been made over the additions to the story. Peter Jackson himself admits that he fiddled with the story in TT more than he did in the other films. There are added scenes involving Arwen and Elrond and her decision about heading West over the sea, a battle in which Aragorn appears to be killed, but isn’t. But the one thing I disliked was the change to Faramir’s character. In the book, Faramir is the opposite of his brother Boromir, and immediately rejects the idea of using the Ring. In the movie, he takes Frodo and heads back toward Minas Tirith to bring the Ring to his father, Denethor. It’s an interesting departure that comes back to Tolkienesque themes, because Faramir is confronted with a choice, like his brother was, and rather than succumb to those temptations, he does the right thing.
And that to me was what tempered the additions and changes. Jackson’s addition of Arwen-Aragorn-Elrond scenes helps to expand the history of their relationship some more because most of it is revealed only in parts of the book that wouldn’t take well to filming. Aragorn’s near-death experience highlights his motivation (his love for Arwen keeps him alive) and adds a twist to the relationship with Eowyn. And Faramir’s temptation expands on the theme that good and evil live in the hearts of men, that redemption is possible, and that wars that course across the face of the world can be decided by the choice of one man to do good.
Once again, Peter Jackson has produced a superb movie faithful to Tolkien in more than just narrative, but also in concept.
Oh yeah, I loved Treebeard!