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Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King, The

Reviewed By Slyder
Posted 01/06/04 08:22:51

"The final chapter, as riveting as expected, despite flaws"
5 stars (Awesome)

Well, the event that everyone was waiting for finally arrived a couple of weeks ago with the release of the final chapter of the Lord of the Rings Trilogy, and man it was SO COOL! One of the very best experiences ever, and also a relieving one; I mean how could you be if you were waiting for a WHOLE FUCKING YEAR to see the continuation of this story? A story which has taken 3 years to be told finally ended and in a very impressive wayÖ until the ending part that is. History and experience will always tell you that no franchise is perfect (show me one that is), and with the LOTR series it was no exception. Iím not denying that itís a great film, it is, and itís just that its greatness is somewhat lost with the unnecessary overlong ending.

As Frodo (Elijah Wood) and Samwise (Sean Astin) move on further and further down the dark paths towards Mordor and into Mount Doom led nefariously by Gollum (Andy Serkis), Aragorn (Viggo Mortensen), Legolas (Orlando Bloom), and Gimli (John Rhys-Davies) aided by Gandalf (Ian McKellen) and King Theoden (Bernard Hill) of Rohan must now face off the dark forces of Mordor (10,000 strong) in the crucial battle at Pelennor Fields, and most importantly, at Minas Tirith at Gondor, where the crazed King Denethor (John Noble) of Minas Tirith mourns the death of his son Boromir and blames all his troubles to his younger son, Faramir (David Wenham). During all this, Aragorn finally is given into his royal destiny as he goes into the mountains to claim the pledge of the traitors that ran when Isildur needed them. Will he get their loyalty? Will Middle-Earth be saved? Will the Ring be destroyed at last?

Alright, to say what has been said will be boring your asses out. This film is almost pure excellence. The FX is fantastic and is one of the finest examples of how to use FX in a movie. Gollum is more alive than ever and so impressive that it puts Jar Jar Fucking Binks to shame. The story is great, considering the fact that itís pretty much the 3rd installment of a film. There are a few developments in the characters here and there, but the filmís main strongpoint is the action. The battle scenes and the spider cave scenes alone are worth the admission. The mammoths were impressive though it maybe somewhat a little bit off. And the ghost fighters are also impressive though those who saw Jacksonís earlier effort The Frighteners would get a reminding chuckle or two. The final scenes at Mount Doom were impressive, and you could even feel the exhaustion of the characters, in other words, the direction is masterful. Peter Jackson is just masterful; he scores high in his direction everywhere, he is sure to be a heavy Oscar contender. THIS WHOLE MOVIE will be an Oscar contender.

But like I said: ALMOST. Unfortunately, as fate has it, it may be hampered by the malaise that it also produces. John Nobleís Denethor is completely out of place in the film, and his character has no meaning to be there, only to act crazy and try and kill his son, and when he goes out in a blaze of glory, for some instead of holding your breath, it may cause a chuckle or two. Hopefully in the Extended Edition, more depth is given to his character. The absence of Christopher Leeís Saruman may disappoint a few people. The exit of Gollum didnít work as well since it drew a few chuckles from the audience, even me, unless thatís how the director intended it, which I couldnít see why. But the thing that may hamper the film most is the aftermath. After the quest ends, the film wanted to end like 4 times, and as time passed it became very tedious and overindulgent and the sentimental scenes just didnít work like they should due to this. A narration wouldíve helped plug these holes so that it could sustain most of the momentum it was carrying before it. I am aware that this is the way how the book ends and of course one wants to be truly faithful to the book. But as a screenwriter, even in situations like this you must pause and reconsider if these scenes actually help the film and if theyíre slowing the filmís pace down, what can you do to the scenes to fix it? The Francis Ford Coppola syndrome (remember Apocalypse Now?) is sure to hit even the best filmmakers. But thankfully, the good outweighs the bad and as a whole, this film is a monumental adventure. Sure, it has its flaws, but it still kicks ass, and taking it also as a series, itís more enjoyable as a whole than each piece individually.

The performances are great, Elijah Wood is great as Frodo and all the rest deserve an honorable mention, but the guy that steals the show is Sean Astin as Samwise. This guy in the last 30 minutes before the climax is simply astounding. Hopefully, heíll be given the recognition he deserves.

In the end, go see this film. Itís simply awesome despite its flaws. Though in my opinion FOTR is still the better movie, I wait for the extended version of the film, and it may turn out and even better film than what we saw in the theaters. Congrats Peter Jackson & crew, you guys just did one of the greatest series ever put on celluloid. All hail the King, and bring back the ďauteurĒ age! 4.5-5

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