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Mid-Week Review (12/17):

The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King




Rated PG-13 | 201 mins


     Being a diehard fan of the Lord of the Rings trilogy, the first hour of The Return of the King had me worried. It’s a bit different, to say the least, in comparison to The Fellowship of the Ring and The Two Towers. Nothing really happens during the opening sixty minutes; director Peter Jackson plunges right into the story, but not in an eventful way. In fact, it isn’t until later on in the film until we realize what he’s setting up. This movie is one of Hollywood's greatest gifts to all of mankind. The odds are against Jackson—there are countless aspects of this picture that could’ve gone desperately wrong—but he pulls everything off. This flick is easily the best one of the year so far, and the trilogy in its entirety ranks as one of my favorites of all-time. There’s something to be said here, and it’s really powerful.

     This something is more than just “Look at me! I know how to make some grand looking special effects!” even though that’s part of it. In these three motion pictures, there is a story, and there is emotion—two characteristics that most adventure epics lack. While they're much more prevalent in the extended editions of the movies, which can be purchased on DVD, I still found them to be abundant in the theatrical versions. We feel attached to the characters and understand what they’re trying to accomplish. Sure, on the cover, all they’ve set out to do is destroy a dangerous ring of power, but looking beyond the surface, this honorable bunch of personalities is doing a lot more. Sam, played by Sean Astin, brings most of this to the table and, in my opinion, is the best part of all three movies. The competition is tough; in the cast, we have the CGI masterpiece, Gollum (Andy Serkis), and the wise white-wizard Gandalf (Ian McKellen), as well as the two jolly hobbits, Merry (Dominic Monaghan) and Pippin (Billy Boyd), and our ring-bearer, Frodo (Elijah Wood). The threesome of Aragorn (Viggo Mortenson), Legolas (Orlando Bloom), and Gimli (John Rhys-Davies) is also a spectacular group of characters. However, it’s Sam who holds everything together. Astin portrays him in a human and emotional way that’s beyond the power of words. All of the actors are fabulous, but he takes the crown, for the best performance.

     The visuals in The Return of the King are absolutely mind-blowing. While I know many of the tricks used in creating special effects, there are times when I have absolutely no clue as to how the crew of a film has crafted something so insanely beautiful. This is one of those times. Literally everything in the mystical fight scenes in this movie is painted into the video, on a computer, frame by frame. In such a small period of time, technology has grown unbelievably, and allowed us to mold products, such as this one. The truly miraculous thing about The Return of the King is that it looks and feels real, even though we are fully aware that it’s not, for obvious reasons. The only movies that have a chance of competing with this one for the Visual Effects award at the Oscars are the last two Matrixes, which aren’t even half the movies that this one is, combined. At one point or another, I doubted The Lord of the Rings series, for a second or two. Now I realize that I was absolutely wrong in doing so. Instantly after the credits of The Return of the King began to roll, I wanted to embrace it, and still do, without any hesitation, whatsoever. Call me an insane fan-boy, but it’s really that great.

     When you jump into Return of the King, be certain that you remember every detail of Fellowship and Towers, for Jackson takes no prisoners, and plunges right into the action, with literally no introduction. I like his style; he’s always eager to move on, for the better. Once everything is set up, he wastes no time furthering the plot. The Return of the King may be nearly three hours and thirty minutes, but it only feels like one. It’s a raging and roaring epic comprised of hope, journey, emotion, and the will to do what’s right.


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