Got the Return of the King Extended Edition yesterday. It's very good, although the extended scenes don't have as dramatic an effect on the overall piece, as was the case with The Two Towers. The extended Two Towers is, to me, a profoundly different and better movie than the theatrical release. The bulk of the added scenes alter the pacing and mood significantly as they have to do with quieter, less "Middle-Earth on the march!" moments. It's a richer, fuller movie.
Return of the King, however, even though there's actually more extended stuff, feels pretty much the same. Still, I'm very glad I waited for this edition to come out instead of buying the theatrical release. I do love the extra footage, and the appendices alone would be worth a good price.
Some of my favourite bits . . .
The scene of Frodo and Sam marching with the orcs. This was something I very much felt the absence of in the theatre--it felt like a scene was cut. Suddenly Frodo and Sam were dressed differently and across a vast portion of Mordor. Having the scene in is a particularly sweet bit of spackle. The inspection scene was nicely tense.
I also liked that there was a lot more of Eowyn's story. Although I'm not sure if I didn't feel Eomer barking at her something like, "Battle is the province of men!" wasn't a little too broad.
Merry's vowing of service to Theoden was good, so now there's not merely an awkward "Look, Merry's coming, too!" shot of him riding with everyone as they leave Edoras.
I've already watched most of the appendices, and they're just as fascinating as in the previous volumes. A wide range of things that get you surprisingly involved in a very human perspective of the films' makings. There's the eerie moment where Christopher Lee explains to Peter Jackson what it actually sounds like when someone gets stabbed in the back, and Jackson remembering that Lee served in a somewhat shadowy way in World War II. There's Miranda Otto starting to cry as she's remembering how hard it was to part with everyone. There's the bit about many New Zealand army personnel being employed as extras during the battle scenes and fighting just a little too real. There's the neat documentary on how the horses were trained and used--rumours that Viggo Mortensen slept with his, and the wonderful little interview with Jane, the stunt rider, who wanted desperately to buy Shadowfax, with whom she'd become quite close, but couldn't afford him. And then turning on her answering machine to hear Viggo telling her he'd purchased the animal for her.
And there was Billy Boyd and Viggo Mortensen's deep, long, passionate kiss.
Anyway . . . I recommend you all go out and buy a copy for yourselves . . .
I also picked up Tom Waits' new album, Real Gone, a few days ago. It's very nice, at times kind of making me think of David Lynch.