Return of the King - Animated

After Bakshi's release of Lord of the Rings, which covered books 1 and 2 of JRR Tolkein's classic trilogy, Arthur Rankin, Jr. finished up the series with Return of the King. He is the director who made the Hobbit movie, and the style difference between the Hobbit/Return of the King and Lord of the Rings is quite stunning.

First, of course, the animation. Where Bakshi went for "rotoscoping" in his epic, and drew all of the characters in a very goofy and unattractive manner, Rankin went for straight animation and epic characters. The result is a movie where you really can become fond of the characters and their goals.

On the down side, the characters all sound like rejects from a Medieval Festival. Being a long-time SCA member, there's a big difference between someone who talks "elegantly" and someone who uses big words in a stilting manner in order to sound pretentious. The movie definitely had us laughing at the overblown and bizarre speech.

The casting of the voices is superb and is again mostly the same Hobbit voices. You have John Huston, Orson Bean and many others. The music is great. Just about anyone who has seen this movie can be lured into singing "Frodo of the Nine Fingers ... and the Ring of Dooooom!" or the ever-classic "Where there's a whip (pa-chiiiiish) There's a Way!" It's not quite a serious epic, but it is a rollicking adventure.

You can easily tell it's made for TV by the many obvious commercial breaks in it. And yes, there are gaps in the plot. But again, they tried to fit a very dense book into a TV show and did a pretty reasonable job. Perhaps the only glaring absense is Legolas and Gimli!! They manage to work Eowyn in and even have her with Faramir at the end, but the Elf and Dwarf have vanished from sight.

Still, a fun romp for Lord of the Rings fans, and a must-have for most DVD collections if only to show the progression of popular animation over the years.


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Screenshots from Return of the King
Samwise Gamgee

Return of the King Cast Listing
Info on Arthur Rankin, Jr.

The Hobbit - Animated
Lord of the Rings - Animated

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