Review Detail

9.3 15 10
(Updated: September 17, 2012)
Enjoyment
 
8.0
Review by Brumous — June 11, 2011 @ 4:43 pm

Book III is a mixed bag. There are some changed scenes that are big improvements over the original, but other alterations are less successful. Overall, I cannot say this Book III edit is an improvement over the original.

The reassembling of Merry and Pippin’s abduction and escape, and the tracking by Aragorn & co., is marvelous. Instead of rapid intercuts, we get a more continuous story flow. It makes more sense and the emotional beats are strengthened.

However, cutting Merry and Pippin’s encounter with the White Wizard in Fangorn was a mistake IMO. It has so many repercussions on characters and motives, and cutting it makes several following scenes more confusing and less satisfying. The consolidation of the Ent scenes does not work so well either. It plays like a random montage instead of an involving progression.

I found the Rohan sequence difficult to watch. It is filmed in desaturated browns and grays; the mood is unrelieved poverty and grief. The original provided a lot of needed breaks from that by intercutting among five or so different story lines. Cutting most of those storylines is an improvement, but I think keeping the intercuts with the Ent sequence would have helped both threads.

The Helms Deep battle is significantly reduced, and the silliest comedy lines are cut, which gets the sequence closer to the spirit of the book. But Tolkien only spent 10 pages on the battle; it’s an important event but not a central climax. So I would have liked to see the battle cut more, especially to make the two sides a little more even so that the humans could plausibly defend against the orc army.

Kerr’s choice of ending is good, highlighting the final loss of innocence and ending on a note of suspense. Technically the edit looks great and I cannot detect any flaws. Rating: 8/10 based mainly on the “improvement over the original” factor.
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