The Moment: Denethor turns on his son Faramir, who queries, “you wish now that our places had been exchanged… that I had died and Boromir had lived?” “Yes,” replies his father, “I wish that.” Cold.
The Awesome: John Noble’s performance as Denethor is supremely chilly, and nowhere is this more apparent than in his cruel rejection of Faramir.
The strength of men
The Moment: Elrond pours scorn upon Gandalf for suggesting that he put his faith in the strength of men. “The race of men is failing. The blood of Numenor is all but spent, its pride and dignity forgotten. It is because of men the ring survives. I was there Gandalf. I was there 3000 years ago, when Isildur took the ring. I was there the day the strength of men failed.”
The Awesome: It’s just a cracking bit of dialogue, delivered impeccably by Hugo Weaving.
Gandalf rides out
The Moment: As the Nazgul attack the retreating warriors of Osgiliath, Gandalf rides out to meet them, driving back the winged aggressors with the brilliant light of his staff.
The Awesome: Gandalf to the rescue, not for the first or indeed the last time. Never gets old though, does it?
The Dead Marshes
The Moment: Gollum leads Frodo and Sam through the Dead Marshes, where the corpses of long dead warriors linger ghoulishly below the surface…
The Awesome: It’s a pleasingly macabre sequence, made all the creepier by Gollum’s glee at the hobbits’ discomfort. “Careful now,” he sneers, “or hobbits go down to join the dead ones, and light little candles of their own.”
The Moment: Pippin sings to Denethor, as Faramir leads the men of Gondor into battle. A beautiful moment of peace amid the bombast of battle.
The Awesome: Billy Boyd has got a belting voice, and his performance is a beautiful counterpoint to the mayhem of the battlefield.
Legolas vs. Oliphaunt
The Moment: Legolas scales a marauding Oliphaunt, dispatching its riders before planting an arrow in its brain and sliding down its trunk to safety. Pretty smooth…
The Awesome: “That still only counts as one,” rages Gimli, putting the finishing touch on an excellent set-piece.
The Moment: Aragorn returns to Helm’s Deep, slinging open the wooden doors and swaggering to the aid of King Theoden.
The Awesome: The prodigal son returns, and in some style as well. The fantasy equivalent of a gunslinger bringing conversation in the local saloon to an abrupt halt.
The Moment: Bilbo and the rest of the Shire make merry at the old hobbit’s birthday celebrations, with a host of spectacular fireworks laid on by Gandalf.
The Awesome: The scene in which the dragon firework is launched by Merry and Pippin is more spectacular than most common or garden action sequences! Magical stuff.
The Moment: Gandalf reassures Pippin that death is not something to be feared: “The journey doesn’t end here,” he begins. “Death is just another path, one that we all must take. The grey rain-curtain of this world rolls back, and all turns to silver glass... And then you see it… White shores... and beyond, a far green country under a swift sunrise.”
The Awesome: Billy Boyd and Ian McKellen share a number of moving scenes in Return Of The King , and this is the pick of the bunch. McKellen really knows how to make Tolkien’s words sing.
The Moment: The magnificent Lady of Lothlorien bestows a selection of gifts upon the Fellowship. Poor Gimli is quite star-struck however, asking only for the opportunity to look upon Galadriel one last time, “for she is more fair than all the jewels beneath the earth.”
The Awesome: It’s nice to see Galadriel get a little more exposure in the extended cut, and in fairness to Gimli, she really does look radiant here!