Friday, December 5, 2014

The Return Of The King (1980) - Jennifer Gualdoni

The Return Of The King
Director: Jules Bass, Arthur Rankin Jr
Starring:  Orson Bean, John Huston, Roddy McDowall, Casey Kasem, Theodore Bikel, William Conrad, Nellie Bellflower
Not Rated

Oh Sam, what have I said? What have I done?
       ~Frodo Baggins

Today my guest is Jennifer Gualdoni, or "Jen G" as I tend to refer to her.  She's the biggest X-Men fan I know, so of course I bring her on here to do a piece on Lord Of The Rings, right?  Anywho, enjoy!  And be sure to check out her book reviews on her site !

Hello, Faithful Naptown Nerd Readers!

My name is Jennifer Gualdoni, and I am happy to present to you my thoughts on the cartoon adaptation of The Return of the King from 1980.  Just a quick background about me: I’m a life-long comic book reader and Marvel girl.  Ten years ago while in college I worked at the local comic book and video rental store (remember those?)  I’ve seen all the movies multiple times and even the extended cuts.  Literally, I’ve lost enough hours of my life watching these movies.  The family joke is if you want to go to sleep, go put in some LOTR: Fellowship of the Ring on in the basement and be prepared to go to sleep.  I am a bit ashamed to say I have never read any of the books, but I was told in 7th grade that these books were for “BOYS ONLY” and I shouldn’t waste my time.  (True story).

Ironically, my husband received The Hobbit cartoon movie for his 34th birthday a few weeks ago, so I was very familiar with these cartoons.  My first realization was that The Return of the King/ROTK was done by Rankin/Bass, which is the same company that created one of my favorite childhood shows, Thundercats.  In fact, the artists for Thundercats stole some of the creature art for the villains. 

The gate has two gargoyles, but they look like Vulture Man to me. 

Also, Gollum and the Orcs look like Slythe. 

I can see why kids would love this show back in the early 80’s because there are a ton of catchy (yet horrible) minstrel songs.  Don’t expect to get them out of your head anytime soon.  My favorites had to be “Frodo of the Nine Fingers….and the ring of DOOM” and “When there’s a whip…. There’s a way!”  I can also see how this movie could completely scare the hell out of you since you witness Gollum biting off Frodo’s finger at the end.  For some reason, the movie starts off with the ending at the beginning.  That’s right, Gandalf reveals the entire end of the movie that the ring has been destroyed and Frodo lost a finger while celebrating Bilbo’s 129th birthday.  Pretty weird to me, but I guess the 80’s realized kids had short attention spans, so they needed to know the ending within the first 5 minutes.

Of course, there is the usual Hobbit happenings of homo-erotic shirtless Frodo cuddling with Samwise while on their mission, Gandalf riding horses, and Orcs marching about being silly.  (No Gimli or Legolas though)  Then we get to the best part (and most underutilized character in the movie) Eowyn.  I think the Peter Jackson ROTK did a better job of making it more movie magical by having her stab the Lord of the Nazgul while saying “I AM NO MAN” but whatever.  You can definitely tell that things have changed (for the better I might add) since cartoons now have way more strong female characters in them compared to the token chick (which in this movie isn’t revealed until over an hour into the movie).  As I mentioned before, I was told that Tolkein was pretty much for boys while growing up, and it isn’t very girl friendly since Eowyn is the only girl, but at least she is a great and important character.  If I had seen this as a kid, I know for a fact I would have wanted to dress up as Eowyn for Halloween but I digress.  I just wish she had been in the movie a little bit longer.

Overall, I didn’t hate the movie, but I didn’t love it either.  The songs were catchy enough for my liking.  The art was dark and grim, which is pretty accurate for Modor.  When Aragorn speaks, I swear, he sounds exactly like Viggo Mortensen.  I’d say I’d give this 2.5 Stars out of 5.

Thanks for reading!  You can enjoy my book reviews on my website:

NEXT TIME:  There and back at The Hobbit again!  You'll see!

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