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    Lord of The Rings: Return of The King, The [29]

    Movie Reviews
    This movie is the final installment in director Peter Jackson’s epic adaptation of The J.R.R. Tolkien masterpiece. It brings all of the plot threads to their logical conclusion. As many readers will know, Tolkien wrote the Lord of The Rings story as six smaller books. It was made available as a three-volume trilogy by the publishers. Then the movie installments also became three on a decision by Bob Shay of New line, “It's three books, isn't it? Shouldn't it be three films?”

    As I did with the Two Towers, I made Return Of The King my first calendar appointment of 2003 and eagerly anticipated the opening.

    The movie opens with the story of Smeagol, who becomes Gollum after being twisted and mutated by the One Ring. This was a nice addition to the back story for the movie goers. Now we understand better that Frodo’s struggle is to destroy the ring and not suffer Gollum’s fate. We also understand better that Frodo has compassion for Gollum, because if Gollum cannot be saved, then neither can Frodo.

    I missed seeing the disarmament of Saruman at Orthanc. This was a highly publicized cut from the theater version of the movie. Christopher Lee would have been at his finest in the final battle of wills with Gandalf.

    As forshadowed in the Two Towers, Gollum is going to lead the hobbits into Mordor, through the pass of Cirith Ungol. Gollum hopes that "she" will eat the hobbits and spit out the ring. We find out that she is Shelob, a giant spider with a wasp-like stinger. Shelob attacking Frodo was good enough to be a horror movie within the movie. Given Peter Jackson's penchant for horror films, I would not be surprised if the Shelob segment was his favorite part to direct.

    The Battle Scene
    The Battle of the Pelennor Fields is the final climactic siege of Gondor’s capital city of Minas Tirith. We had seen glimpses of the city in Fellowship of the ring and The Two Towers. Now a good part of the movie would be set within the walls. The city is constructed much as described by Tolkien, with seven levels split by the mountain crag. The citadel was on the top level. Minas Tirith has appeared in many illustrations by Tolkien Fans over the years. I think that they did a super job with the design. The top building appears much like a cathedral with the top tower looking like that from St. Vitus in Prague. Obviously, industrialization and smoke has not affected the white marble walls of the city.

    The fields themselves between Minas Tirith and Osgiliath were described as farmland. It looks more like unbroken pastureland. The level of detail can be forgiven there since the fields spend most of their time trodden underfoot by orcs.

    The siege scenes are magnificent. The siege towers and missile slings are spectacular pieces of work. We see troll-worked trebuchets bombarding the city with stones. One of the coolest scenes shows a trebuchet mounted on the city walls. The camera follows the counterweight as it drops and drives the trebuchet sling to release a house-sized piece of masonry over the battle. The camera then follows along with the block through the air down to the ground, where it pancakes a detachment of orcs with a satisfying “thud”. The orcs breach the city with Grond the battering ram, (“Morgoth’s hammer of the underworld” if you are interested). Things look pretty bleak for the men of Gondor after that.

    Just when all seems lost, the horns of the Rohirim are heard in the distance. The drama was drawn out enough for me to say, “Where the hell are those riders anyway?” The cavalry then charges the field with what must be the greatest accumulation of mounted soldiery in military history. Absolutely cool! This scene is the payoff for the hour of the Two Towers Battle for Helm’s deep and it was well worth it. However in an added touch, the rohirim have to battle the mumakil (giant elephants). One of the mumakil is manned by what looks like “The Humungus” from Max Max 2: The Road Warrior. Nice touch.

    The destruction of the Ring and the battle before the black gate
    The hobbits work their way through the land of Mordor while the men of Gondor distract Sauron at the black gate. Peter Jackson is to be commended for giving us exactly what we need in the movie. The original story is so rich; it must have been heart wrenching to decide what was in and what was out.

    The ending
    The final ending was very emotional. I suppose that since I have tied up three years of my life and hours watching the first two installments, it was hard to see it all come to an end. I got a little misty eyed in the final scenes.

    By the way, I believe Andy Serkis (Smeagol, and the voice of Gollum) gets a cameo appearance at the pub scene in Hobbiton. He is the one carrying and polishing the large pumpkin.

    This is a movie for owning and watching at leisure. It is three hours long, and the extended edition will probably be 4 hours. That is a long time to sit. I will watch it again and again during my life. This series is truly a great movie making accomplishment.

    The word on the street is that Oscar voters will richly reward this movie and have been holding back awaiting the conclusion. The Best Picture and Best Director awards will probably go to Jackson, because the work itself represents something of a scale that no other director has really accomplished.

    See it, then see it again, then buy the DVD, then buy the extended edition set. {BB}

    Added: December 26th 2003
    Reviewer: BB
    29 Point Scale Score: 29    [29]

    Related Link (IMDB): IMDB
    Hits: 3774
    Language: english


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