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YMMV / The Return of the King

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Rankin-Bass Adaptation

  • Anvilicious: In case you miss the deeper meaning in any particular part of the movie, there's usually a song to explain it to you. Or two. Or three. See the page quote for a good example. On the other hand, some would say they're hardly bad advice.
  • Ass Pull: Éowyn, due to the compression and Rankin-Bass barely touching anything from the first two books. She appears out of nowhere with no prior set up to bump off the Witch-King and then vanishes completely with only a brief appearance at the end. More glaring since they took the time to explain Gollum.
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  • Awesome Music: The entire soundtrack, as performed by Glenn Yarbrough, and written by Jules Bass & Maury Laws.
  • Broken Base:
    • Similar to the Ralph Bakshi film, either you'll hate this film and/or watch it to snark at it, or you will be intrigued by and at least appreciative of what Rankin-Bass made.
    • Whether the Rankin-Bass versions (including The Hobbit) are better than Bakshi's, regarding the different run-times, art styles and adaptation approaches.
  • Cant Unhear It: Carried over from The Hobbit:
  • Character Rerailment: After the Ralph Bakshi movie wrote him as a dimwitted, whiny coward who hardly pays any attention to Frodo, Samwise in this movie is closer to his more badass, loyal, and heroic self from the books.
  • Cult Classic: In spite of being not as popular as its predecessor or the more successive adaptation that would come years later, this film has its fans due to the Narm Charm and its slightly Darker and Edgier tone.
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  • Designated Hero: Aragorn, again due to the compression. Apparently he was just off doing his own thing with nothing to do with the rest of the heroes until he arrives with his army at the Siege of Gondor. But here the Orcs are already in full retreat after the Witch-king's death, making it less like The Cavalry and more like mopping-up. Even afterwards, there's nothing to indicate he was ever part of a Fellowship with them. He's rude to Gandalf, sneering at him while taunting him over his reluctance to march on Mordor, a move motivated not to buy time for Frodo but because he thinks they have Sauron on the run. And despite barely doing anything to help, almost getting his army killed and being a rude prick, he's still celebrated as the savior at the end without ever acknowledging or even noticing Frodo and the hobbits. Very different from the more heroic Peter Jackson version, let alone the one from the books, to be sure.
  • Hilarious in Hindsight:
    And the very un-Tolkienesque line:
    Pippin (about Denethor): He's gone loony I tell you!:
    • The orcs' Villain Song "Where There's a Whip, There's a Way" features the lyrics "We don't want to go to war today, but the lord of the lash says nay nay nay!" Thirty-five years later, the rapper Silentó gave us the hit single "Watch Me (Whip/Nae Nae)."
  • Ho Yay: Samwise somehow manages to have this with the One Ring, of all things. "YOU! Ooo, I can feel you throbbing with anticipation!"
  • Jerkass Woobie: The orcs in the "Where there's a whip there's a way" song, who are villains but are repeatedly whipped by the lord of the lash and forced to march into war even though they don't want to.
  • Narm: The entire film, even more so than the original Hobbit. Especially the random songs.
    • It's also hard to take the Witch-King seriously when he sounds like a mix of Starscream and Mr. Slate from The Flintstones. Watch here. It's even worse if you saw The Hobbit since John Stephenson is doing the same voice he had as Dori. You half expect him to go "Bilbo!"
  • Narm Charm:
    • "BEHOLD! THE GARDENS OF MY DELIGHT!!" Aww... Dark Lord Samwise is so cute. Samwise's blackest desires of despotic tyranny involve turning the Plains of Gorgoroth into a lush garden paradise and Sauron's army of orcs into raccoons and tropical birds. Hardly the stuff to crush Middle Earth beneath his Hobbit-sized heel... which is the point - Samwise very much isn't Dark Lord material, and that's a major reason why he can resist the Ring's temptations.
    • Where There's a Whip, There's a Way. It's so hilariously catchy, it's hard not to enjoy it.
    • The friendly orcs during the dream sequence. Silly? Yes, but very endearing. The silliness is mostly justified, as it's Frodo's fantasy of the two sides being at peace.
    • The songs. For some, out of place, and overly folksy. On the other hand, they are still quite catchy and their messages and delivery may also tug at a few heartstrings.
  • Nightmare Fuel:
  • One-Scene Wonder: William Conrad as Denethor, who gives one of the best speeches in the film as he goes "loony."
  • Sequelitis: Generally considered to be not as good as The Hobbit, which was a decent Adaptation Distillation of a much shorter book while this comes off more as a Compressed Adaptation of one of three longer books, the first two not even completely covered by the earlier Bakshi film. Also the original folk-y songs fit The Hobbit better since it was a children's book to begin with, while this was based on a more complex and epic work.
  • Ugly Cute:
    • The peaceful orcs in the "Leave Tomorrow till it Comes" sequence. One of them even smiles and waves to Sam and Frodo.
    • Heck, the orcs during the "Where There's a Whip, There's a Way" song. Rather than being the remorseless monsters we typically see them as, they look more fearful and unsure, and the song makes it clear that they don't want to fight but are being forced to by their masters.
  • WTH, Casting Agency?:
    • Roddy McDowall as Samwise Gamgee!? Roddy was a fine character actor but he played Samwise with his usual posh voice instead of a more working-class accent one would accept from a humble gardener.
    • Casey Kasem as Meriadoc Brandybuck, not really for his performance but rather for his really recognizable voice as it's impossible to unhear Shaggy.
    • John Stephenson as the Witch-King of Angmar...using the same voice he did for Dori in The Hobbit. Difficult to take him seriously when he sounds like a dwarf.

The video game

  • No Problem with Licensed Games: The Electronic Arts videogame is based on the live-action film, which had been released shortly after. It was received with much praise as an Even Better Sequel to the one for The Two Towers: the levels are huge, the paths are not linear, the characters have some limited interaction with the scenery, there are no glaring bugs, the expanded story fits perfectly well with the plot and style of the original material, etc.


How well does it match the trope?

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