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The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King
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beltmann
Studio Exec


Joined: 26 Jun 2003
Posts: 2341
Location: West Bend, WI

PostPosted: 12.26.2003 11:02 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I finally saw it this afternoon. Rambling reaction: Liked it quite a bit, but in a dispassionate, resigned way; I kept wishing the drama approached the heights of the Pre-Raphaelite visual grandeur. A few scenes really clicked for me--Aragorn's genuinely heroic recruitment of the dead dudes, Frodo's escape from the giant spider, and the exhausting climb up Mount Doom--but mostly I was wearied by all the solemn portentousness and Jackson's boyish fascination with carnage. I'd argue in defense of Jackson's decision not to leave off at the battlefield--if this story is about the restoration of good rather than the defeat of evil, then a lengthy coda is warranted. Still, I found the endless bleary-eyed endings dramatically tiresome. The problem isn't that they exist, but that they have been mishandled.

To my eyes, Two Towers remains the strongest entry in the series. Of course, time will collapse all three into one, and will also forgive (erase?) their considerable flaws. No doubt this will be remembered as one of the great trilogies, and I'd certainly concede that it's the best of its kind. Unfortunately, the universal accolades have pushed Jackson into more spectacle (King Kong and perhaps The Hobbit). I'd prefer a return to stuff like Heavenly Creatures, still his best, most perceptive film, I think. There's a set of characters and ideas I can get excited about.

Eric
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the night watchman
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PostPosted: 12.28.2003 6:46 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Because I'm irredeemably lazy, I'll just cut-and-paste the bulk of my review:

With The Return of the King writer/director Peter Jackson completes an epic saga in epic scale. No mean feat, that. The story is told in broad strokes, with room for nuance only in the subtle ways the Ring influences its bearer (and bearer-hopefuls), and characters tend to emote as hugely as the spectacle of world they inhabit and the battles in which they engage. In a time when movie heroes are typically portrayed as smart-aleck jerks -- to the approval of the audience, one assumes -- the denizens of Middle Earth often embrace one another, and regard friends and colleagues with open tenderness. It?s this compassion that grounds the grandeur of the movie?s spectacle.

In fact, everything is so big, it?s easy to miss some of Jackson?s genuine accomplishments. Consider, for instance, the fact that Frodo and Sam (Elijah Wood and Sean Astin) parted ways with Aragorn (Viggo Mortensen), Gandalf (Ian McKellen), and the rest of the Fellowship way back in the first movie. And here, a whole movie later, we still feel the unity of the group, and its endeavor, which lends meaning and significance to the battle at Minas Tirith.

Impressive, too, is Jackson?s ability to portray the Ring?s influence over those around it -- a complete abstraction, since, after all, the Ring is only an object that cannot speak or act. With adroit narrative skill, Jackson opts to backtrack at the start of The Return of the King to show Smeagol?s (Andy Serkis) initial appropriation of the Ring. His betrayal of his closest friend is authentically shocking, and his painful and lonely transformation into Gollum borders on the horrific, serving to reinforce the idea of Ring?s corruptive power and influence. Without this prologue, the impact of the final events in Mount Doom might have suffered.

Naturally, the actors the story is kindest to are Wood, Astin, and Serkis, since their characters are conflicted. The rest of the cast, particularly Mortensen as Aragorn, have the unenviable task of making valiant heroes engaging. They play people who are defined solely by their actions, and so desperately need to live in a world of polarized good and evil. During peacetime, their tales would be drudgery to hear, since nothing of interest would ever happen because none of them bear any foibles or peccadilloes. Gandalf, perhaps, is the one exception; his preternatural wisdom affords him the freedom to loose his temper.

That said, the bulk of the cast possesses enough screen presence to pull off their parts splendidly. Of special note is Hugo Weaving as the Elf king Elrond. We remember him just last month playing with aplomb the rogue computer program Agent Smith in Matrix Revolutions, who was every villain archetype rolled into one. While Elrond is not so over-the-top as Agent Smith, Weaving is afforded one grand gesture in The Return of the King when he delivers to Aragorn the sword of his ancestors by way of flourish, without provoking laughter from the audience.

If any aspect of this third installment doesn?t quite pass muster, and never really has throughout the whole tale, it?s the romance between Aragorn and the Elf maiden Arwen (Liv Taylor). While heroism and sacrifice may be told in grand strokes, romantic love, it seems, cannot; especially when the two lovers share the screen together for only about twenty minutes over the course of a nine hour running time. Even Arwen?s relinquishing of immortality to be with Aragorn is never more than an abstraction, and never really emotionally resonates. Arwen was her most impressive when she was saving Frodo from the Ringwraiths back in Fellowship. Since then, and such is Tolkien?s fault more than anyone else?s, she?s been unceremoniously dumped on the sidelines.

Any other problems are just quibbles. Suffice it to say, if you?ve been with The Lord of the Rings up until now, The Return of the King will be a satisfying conclusion.
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matt header
Studio Exec


Joined: 26 Jun 2003
Posts: 623
Location: Milwaukee, WI

PostPosted: 12.29.2003 5:33 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Right, right, right, right, and right. All the things you stated in your review are correctly and eloquently put - I especially appreciate your noticing the strength of the fellowship, still tangible although the gang has been separated for so long. I was amazed by that too. I wasn't as entranced or astounded, I think - there are lulls to the movie, and it becomes (gasp!) formulaic during the middle portion's battle sequences - but when Jackson does things right, damn, they're great.

My favorite moment (I've decided after seeing it twice, once again this morning): after all is said and done when Aragorn meets Arwen after his coronation. The shy silent flirtation followed by a momentous kiss is grandly romantic, and perhaps more than any other emotional scene in "Return of the King," this one pushed my buttons.
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Danny Baldwin
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Joined: 26 Jun 2003
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Location: San Diego, CA

PostPosted: 12.29.2003 6:08 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I'm not sure what it is, but I'm the most detatched from Aragorn, and even though he's one of the most important characters in the whole trilogy, hardly any of the clips that he stars in get to me. His support is astounding and the films would not be the same without him (that's a given), but I can respond to the actions of all of the hobbits a lot more. I think that the best moment of the entire movie is when Sam comes back for Frodo and finds him wrapped up in the spider's web.
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The Third M?n
Studio Exec


Joined: 09 Sep 2003
Posts: 575
Location: Chasing Stef around post-war Vienna

PostPosted: 01.10.2004 8:23 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

So it has come to an end. And in what a way. Peter Jackson has created a film that?s passionate, colossal, monumental, overwhelming, flattering, deeply emotional, unrepeatable and gargantuan in every sense. I just can?t imagine that it exceeded my expectations (and how!); there is so much to see, so much to hear and so much to devour it becomes incredibly difficult to do it all in just one viewing. I can?t easily put my feelings into words, but I have to say that I was utterly enthralled by it from beginning to end. Some things to point out:

- Peter Jackson?s direction is more than admirable ? it?s majestic.

- Gollum looks as impressive as ever, and his death is memorable.

- Howard Shore?s score (I have the CD) surpasses anything he?s done before: it?s a symphony for the ages. Absolute brilliance.

- The actors all do a terrific job, especially Sean Astin (Sam), whose role not only flourishes immensely but it also makes him mature. And, like Tolkien once said in one of his many letters, he?s the true leader of it all. Without his persistence and determination, just where would have Frodo gone?

- The Battle of the Pelennor Fields is, simply put, the grandest and the most epic to have ever been put on celluloid. What a spectacle.

- The reference to Sloth from The Goonies had me laughing inside. It was truly great, and the orc really did look like him, what with the terribly amorphous face and all. It can?t have been a coincidence.

- The cinematography is superior to the one in the first two. There are some aerial shots of Minas Tirith that are truly breathtaking.

- There are scenes so emotional that I almost cried.

- Shelob is stunning!

- Aragorn?s speech is spine-tingling.

- The Witch King rules.

- The ending (or rather, the epilogue) is magnificent. Peter Jackson ties all the loose ends in a fascinating way, while at the same time remaining loyal to the book. Thank God the line, ?Well I?m back.? was the last one.

- The film is a MASTERPIECE and without a doubt the best in the best trilogy ever made. Now let?s just hope this time it gets the Oscar?

[97]
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Danny Baldwin
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PostPosted: 01.10.2004 11:57 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

The Third M?n wrote:
- Gollum looks as impressive as ever, and his death is memorable.


Even though I assume we've all read the books, ya gotta include spoiler warnings, Mr. Lime.
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The Third M?n
Studio Exec


Joined: 09 Sep 2003
Posts: 575
Location: Chasing Stef around post-war Vienna

PostPosted: 01.15.2004 7:02 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Danny Baldwin wrote:


Even though I assume we've all read the books, ya gotta include spoiler warnings, Mr. Lime.


Oops, my bad. Laughing
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Hawkwing74
Camera Operator


Joined: 29 Mar 2004
Posts: 51
Location: Schaumburg, IL

PostPosted: 03.30.2004 5:43 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Though I'm a latecomer to this site, I also adore the Peter Jackson films. Some of the more "enthuisiastic" Tolkien fans decry any changes in the movies that weren't in the books, but I am, overall, satisfied with the scripts.



I'm happy that the crew received the Oscar accolades they hopefully deserved.



Now when does that extended edition DVD come out Very Happy
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mfritschel
Cinematographer


Joined: 27 Jun 2003
Posts: 143
Location: Port Washington, WI

PostPosted: 04.01.2004 3:37 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

So can Elijiah Wood ever de-Frotozied himself? After seeing Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind whenever he talked or especially screamed all I could hear was his crying ouf for Sam at the the end of the movie.
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Hawkwing74
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PostPosted: 04.01.2004 5:31 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

mfritschel wrote:
So can Elijiah Wood ever de-Frotozied himself? After seeing Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind whenever he talked or especially screamed all I could hear was his crying ouf for Sam at the the end of the movie.


I didn't get that impression. I think he's a talented enough actor to pull it off. His character in ESoSM was a prick anyway.
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filmhobbit
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Joined: 08 Aug 2003
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PostPosted: 04.01.2004 7:36 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Elijah proves to have great talent at playing freakishly disturbing weiners, at least if Eternal Sunshine is any judge. I'd say he has a bright future playing stalkers.
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Tooky Cat
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PostPosted: 04.02.2004 3:30 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I think the thing I liked most about this series is the character of Frodo. How the ring was visibly corrupting him, and he became less and less likeable as the story went on, yet he weas still the hero that you had to root for.
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