It’s kind of ironic that Viggo Mortensen has become somewhat of a symbol of rugged masculinity on the screen, because his best characters often undo that image. Like Michael Douglas before him, Mortensen frequently does movies that put the modern American male through some kind of brutal morality test. He finds the bruised souls of these characters, and shines even when he’s part of a large ensemble (Lord of the Rings.) However, he is at his best when he is front in center, paired with a director like David Cronenberg who has some mischief cooked up to counter his archetypal characters.
Lord of the Rings: Return of the King
Directed by: Peter Jackson
Written by: Peter Jackson, Fran Walsh, Philippa Boyens (screenplay), J.R.R Tolkien (novel)
Starring: Elijah Wood, Ian McKellen, Viggo Mortensen, and Andy Serkis
An epic by any standard and a finale to this behemoth of an undertaking, LOTR: Return of the King continues the evolution of Peter Jackson’s vision. Bigger battles, higher stakes, and a conclusion drenched in emotion wrought the team behind this movie 11 Oscars, including Best Picture. Does this make it the best one of the trilogy? Not by a long shot.
While I wouldn’t go so far as to call Return of the King a disappointment, it is the weakest film of the three. Though it is still excellent in many ways, most notably the battle sequences, it is held back by Jackson’s refusal to end it. It essentially has an ending for each Oscar it won, also putting it in contention for the longest denouement in film history. One of the biggest strengths of the Lord of the Rings movies was Jackson’s willingness to skim it down and make it fit a movie. The last 45 minutes of this one are almost painful even if it is shorter than in the book.