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*** Official THE LORD OF THE RINGS: THE RETURN OF THE KING Review Thread


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#1 of 92 OFFLINE   Robert Crawford

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Posted December 16 2003 - 12:12 AM

This thread is now the Official Review Thread for "The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King". Please post all HTF member reviews in this thread.

Any other comments, links to other reviews, or discussion items will be deleted from this thread without warning!

If you need to discuss those type of issues then I have designated an Official Discussion Thread.



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#2 of 92 OFFLINE   Robert Anthony

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Posted December 16 2003 - 05:57 AM

What really separates "The Return of the King" from it's two predecessors--and really, from many epics that have gone before it--is that you can palpably FEEL the weight of it. And this movie weighs a ton. Some epics sweep over you, some carry you along, but this movie, because of the other two movies acting as setup for this one, because of the obvious care in the craft applied by Director Peter Jackson, screenwriters Fran Walsh and Phillipa Boyens, Cinematographer Andrew Lesnie, Howard Shore holding the baton, and the thousands upon thousands of crew, Because of the large, anguished eyes of Elijah Wood as Frodo, our tortured and withered ring-bearer, Because of the determined, fiercely loyal Samwise Gamgee, and the unending heart that Sean Astin made sure to fill every inch of the character with, this movie crawls inside, and it hurts you as it's filling you with joy. It's melancholy and longing, but comforting and reassuring at the same time. It's tears getting caught in the corner of your smile, your sniffles combining with small chuckles.

Most of our cinematic epics settle for grand spectacle, eye-popping and amazing to the senses, and emotionally grab us in easy ways: Avenging the death of the master, claiming leadership and ruling benevolenly--clean, clear-cut fairytale stuff. And yes, that happens here, as well. But it's amplified, all of it, to the 9th degree, to a point where--in lesser hands--one would feel overwhelmed, and resist the onslaught. But it's that emotion in this movie, that sense that we DO know these people, that we have journeyed with them, that they're three-dimensional, that we know them, that the 9-10 hours we spent with these people really meant something--that's what will leave many sitting through the final frame of the end credits, if only because the emotional weight of what's unfolded in front of us will keep many pinned to the back of their seats and even a little longer. I know it was the case for me. And when I left the theater, a friend asked me what I thought. And I told him:

I saw it.

I cried.

And it works. My God, does it work.

And it's a good thing that's the case, because there ARE some nitpicks to be had with this epic. When translating a monster literary classic like Lord of the Rings, there will be stumbles, and Jackson and the writers decisions have been questioned in the past two movies, and have already been questioned for this movie, before it had even seen release. Saruman and Wormtongue are mentioned, but never seen. Treebeard and the ents are given one scene, and never revisited. Faramir's storyline seems truncated: He gets his "punishment" from his father, the totally despicable Denethor, but the recovery is almost nonexistent. And if many thought Faramir's character was a little too one-sided in the theatrical Two Towers, then his father Denethor's handling will likely anger them even more. There are parts of this movie where many an audience member is going to notice that something was cut, and they're going to be pulled out of the movie momentarily, wondering about the soon to come Extended Edition DVD release that many consider THE version of these films to go down in history.

Also, Jackson seems to have returned to some of the film techniques that at times pulled me out of my first viewing of Fellowship--a few too many helicopter shots, although nothing approaching his 17 straight flybys as the Fellowship travels the river. When Pippin sneaks the Palantir out of a sleeping Gandalf's arms, the double-frame style of slo-motion almost wrecks the tension, as I'm no longer watching Lord of the Rings but a cheap made for TV Xena movie. And purists will have big troubles with this scene, as Aragorn quails, and falls to his knees, dropping the Palantir the only time in the movie that he touches it. None too kingly. Gollum's makeup work in the prologue is a little dodgy in some shots, and while the ending takes 20 minutes to wind down completely, there is still the feeling that some characters didn't get their due.

But in a 3 hour and 20 minute movie, those complaints count for a hundredth of your viewing experience, and the movie makes up for these small stumbles and then some. It's all in the details--Gandalf may be sleeping when Pippin sneaks up on him, but he sleeps with his eyes open. The weight of the ring is shown in Wood's eyes, but we see it wearing away at his neck, the red, raw skin screaming out from under his tunic. The introduction of the Army of the Dead, which might draw comparison to Disney's "Pirates of the Caribbean" (Especially since Orlando Bloom stands among ghostly sword wielders in both films) but the comparison is largely cosmetic--even the discorporate characters have a palpable weight in these movies. The prologue to the movie, showing Smeagol's transformation into Gollum, with a creepy, ethereal quality that has Jackson referencing his own sublime "Heavenly Creatures," the movie starts slowly, as Fellowship did, but the buildup is so gradual and so smooth, you find yourself leaning forward expectantly, eyes wide open, without even noticing that an hour and a half has passed, or that the movie had even picked up speed. "Return of the King" unfolds organically, so naturally, that the running time becomes totally unimportant.

And the performances, to a man, run from heartbreaking to uplifting. Theoden actually comes off more kingly than Aragorn, especially with his dying words, but both are almost dwarfed by the heroism of Eowyn, confronting the Witch King, head of the Nazgul, on a field littered with the dead bodies of thousands. But even Eowyn's heroism is small in comparison to Sean Astin's Samwise Gamgee, who's place as the soul of this trilogy is cemented with this movie. And sheer jaw-dropping "Oh hell no he didn't" type action is once again brought to us by Orlando Bloom's Legolas, who doesn't have near as much to do in this chapter as he did the previous two, but what he DOES do had the audience cheering and clapping wildly--at least until a Gimli one-liner dwarfs it with laughter. Gimli is still mostly comedy relief, but it's more natural in this movie, less forced. And the Battle of Pelennor Fields is awe-inspiring: WETA'S effects work, it's seamless blend of model and CGI, it's thundering, trampling squad of Mumakil wreaking havoc on the Rohirrim, the camera gliding in and out of the hell unfolding onscreen, effortlessly, ducking under an Oliphaunt, flying over a soldier's corpse, weaving to dodge a Fell Beast, and the action isn't disjointed and hard to follow, either, thanks to Jamie Selkirks expert editing.

But the real tension, the fear, the buildup and release are all with Frodo, Sam and Gollum. As it should be. Jackson's greatest triumph with this adaptation is that the heart of the story, the emotional center of Lord of the Rings made it onscreen without a scratch.

Gollum is no longer the slightly sympathetic wretch that he was in Two Towers: This movie shows what a bastard Smeagol is, and the scheming, greedy, nasty nature of his is on full display as he splits Sam and Frodo, sabotaging their mission and leading them to the lair of Shelob, possibly the scariest giant spider ever realized on screen. Or maybe that's my arachnophobia speaking up. The movie becomes a suspense/horror flick at this point, and it's to Jackson's credit that it STILL fits in the framework of this epic. It's this juggling of tones and styles, from epic battle, the size of which has never been seen before, to horror movie, to personal drama so intense that the climax on Mount Doom practically forces your fingernails into the arm-rests, that makes the "Lord of the Rings" trilogy really noteworthy. The movie veers from pure elation to dark despair and back again in a tenth of a second, and manages to do it without feeling the least bit hackneyed or schizophrenic.

And then there is the ending--a 20 minute epilogue of goodbyes that wind the movie down perfectly. The sense of an age ending, of time moving on and things changing as they must is realized perfectly in this film, and the waterworks follow accordingly. The movie is a party, a funeral, a wake, a eulogy, a prayer and a long joke with the perfect punchline, all at the same time. A cinematic powerhouse that hollywood and it's audiences have not seen in a long time, and probably will not see soon again, "Return of the King" is the triumphant conclusion to one of the greatest stories ever told, and the huge payoff to the even huger gamble that New Line, Peter Jackson and all of wingnut films took to bring these books to life. Movie lovers should be thankful that they rolled the dice.


#3 of 92 OFFLINE   Ray Chuang

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Posted December 16 2003 - 02:32 PM

I can admit this now: I saw the movie at a private screening (though I can't say where :wink: ).

It is one of the most amazing films I have ever seen, no contest. Between the great storytelling, some truly flat-out GREAT acting performances, and one of the greatest battles scenes I've EVER seen, thanks to the superb work of WETA Digital's CGI department, The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King is one of the landmark movies in the history of cinema, in my humble opinion. Posted Image

This is a movie you want to see more than once just to absorb the majesty of what Peter Jackson has pulled off.

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#4 of 92 OFFLINE   David Ely

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Posted December 16 2003 - 06:31 PM

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I just came back from seeing ROTK. Overall, I found the film quite disappointing.

The first half of the movie was a complete editing disaster. There was absolutely no flow to the movie. At one point, I was about to consider the film a total write off. It really feels that a lot was cut from the film. Hopefully, this will be resolved with the extended cut.

After the half-way point, the movie gets a lot tighter. I'm not saying things are perfect from that point, but it becomes a much better film.

The ending of the film is PERFECT. There's simply no better way to end the trilogy. I just wish the rest of the movie was so solid.

All the problems aside, I still enjoyed the movie. I consider it to be the weakest of the three films.

For the record, here are my ratings for the other two films.

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#5 of 92 OFFLINE   Lou Sytsma

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Posted December 16 2003 - 06:40 PM

Place holder - it's 2:30 in the morning and I'm toast.
Too tired to do a full write up. Have to wait until later today.

Loved the movie and can't wait to see the extended edition.
As in each of the theatrical versions some characters get short shrift - this time it's Merry and Denethor.

Overall a truly great trilogy and the events after the climax are handled beautifully.
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#6 of 92 OFFLINE   Jason_Els

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Posted December 16 2003 - 07:22 PM

I'll agree with Mr. Ely, disappointing in that so much was left out but exceptional in the execution of what did make it. As a narrative you can tell there are gobs missing but once again the cast and crew create pure cinema magic to the point that you just don't care as you know it will all be addressed in the DVD. I already know what was cut and if the Danish interview with PJ is correct and there really will be an additional 1 hour and 15 minutes added then this film will nigh be perfect. Yes some people didn't get their due in the end and the finish deviates from the book but it is MAGNIFICENT cinema.

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Note: For all purposes I only ever give five stars except for those handful of films that are, or will come to be, landmark films in the history of cinema.
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#7 of 92 OFFLINE   Morgan Jolley

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Posted December 16 2003 - 07:56 PM

The first part goes a little too fast, and yet too slow. They throw you right back into the situation the characters were in and pushes them forward, then kind of slows down. The only thing I ever didn't like about this trilogy is that they sometimes drag the dialogue on when they could make it go quicker and tighter.

Nonetheless, this film is flawless. A very bizarre opening, a great middle, the best war/action scene I've ever witnessed in a theater, and an amazing ending. Sure, it seems a lot was removed, but it's still probably the best movie of the year.

No need for a rating. See it anyway.

#8 of 92 OFFLINE   Arman

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Posted December 16 2003 - 07:58 PM

And the winner is ... Lord of The Rings: The Return of the King A+(<- want to add another + but I would more look like an e-bay reviewer than a savvy HTF film buff Posted Image). I just had a magical theatrical experience with this amazing and incredible film.

If George Lucas was the one who pioneered the great film era for sci-fi fantasy genre then if it was Steven Spielberg who revolutionized it, I would say now here, Peter Jackson has just perfected it.

Lord of The Rings series is the father of all film trilogies, in my mind, it is the greatest epic film trilogy of them all.

#9 of 92 OFFLINE   Seth Paxton

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Posted December 16 2003 - 08:38 PM

Return of the King
10 of 10

Spoiler Free - no specifics mentioned

Frankly, this film is the bomb. It truly is. There are flaws still to be found, especially when Jackson is forced to rush some of the narrative in the name of fitting it all in, but in almost every way ROTK represents everything that was good about the first two films done on a much higher level. More details, more moments than FOTR and more ups and downs than either film, perhaps saving the Moria sequence.

For example, in FOTR the book there was always a sense of tit-for-tat between safety and danger as the hobbits went on their way. They would find the safety of some shelter which you would beg them not to leave only to see them jump back into the thick of some greater danger worse than last one. However, in the film some of that feeling is lost for the sake of speed. I regretted its loss because that sort of back and forth emotional swinging was the fire that powered Tolkien's narrative and made it great.

ROTK the book features the same tit-for-tat but instead it is on the battlefield, things go well then turn dark only to turn well yet again, etc. The good news is that this film is finally able to capture that effect in one of the greatest, if not the greatest, battles ever filmed.

And that is also where ROTK is able to outshine TTT. The massive scale of war found in TTT becomes a speck in comparison to what is found in ROTK. The war machines are bigger, the monsters driving them are badder, the men are more courageous, and the destruction is tenfold.

Of course ROTK the book also features one of the greatest resolutions to a narrative arc you could imagine. For the film it is slightly altered but for all intents and purposes it is the same, and that is a great thing. It plays out on screen just as dramatically, a moment well earned in the course of 10+ hours of film.

Before that point the story features at least 5-6 other "great moments" that live just as well as they do in the book, moments that thrill you and inspire you, all the moreso because they are placed in contrast to a real sense of destruction, death, and evil.

It is only once we are inside Mordor that Jackson feels the need to hit the gas pedal and skip ahead. To the non-reader there are a few moments that are bound to feel like a cheat simply because he doesn't devote enough time to the them. For that section I assume that we can expect great improvement with yet another EE, but for now it remains a flaw.

Then there is the ending, part of which was totally removed. To that I say thank god because there is just no way it would fit without a fourth film. As it is I have heard many people complain that it goes on too long. I almost have to agree, from a film narrative standpoint it feels like the "end" comes before then. But having read the books I think that would have been a cheat and not nearly as good an ending.

The film needs the coda because it is in the coda that this story differs from almost all others. LOTR is above all else the story of innocence lost, the story of children going into the world and becoming men, only to find that home can never be the same for them and that when a journey ends we lose both the troubles and the blessings of friendship that went with it.

Ultimately this is the Best Picture of the Year. I feel confident in saying that simply because this film would be the best film of many years. It is epic, it is human, it has incredible battle scenes that both celebrate its glory and mourne its tragedy at the same time. It has a protagonist that faces overwhelming odds and reacts accordingly. It is a difficult arc for the characters to resolve which makes any resolution that can be found all the more satisifying.

Jackson and the LOTR crew may have "earned" the Best Pix simply as a reward for the entire project, but ROTK on its own merits that status even before any resolution can be found. ROTK feels like 3 or 4 hits in one, but as Gimli might say "it only counts as one". Posted Image

#10 of 92 OFFLINE   Jin E

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Posted December 16 2003 - 08:51 PM

Too tired to make a long drawn out review. I'm sure this thread will quickly fill with the deservedly great reviews. Content and excecution were top notch. If I were to find flaws in the film it would be a little gripe about the pacing, and the extra 10 minutes that could have been removed from the film if Jackson wasn't so in love with the slow-mo shots. Please... just let Frodo say the name "Sam" in under 5 seconds. It takes most anyone else less then a second to say the name. Still... truely a landmark of a film IMHO. The battle for Pelennor Fields itself was worth double the price of admition. I'm sure I won't have to twist anyone's arm to get to the theater to see the film.

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#11 of 92 OFFLINE   Brion Lydon

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Posted December 16 2003 - 09:00 PM

I just got back from the midnight showing and I think the movie is the best of the three even though I do consider all three to be just one big movie.

It has everything going for it-acting,effects,charactor developement,sound,huge battles,cool bad guys and all those moments that make you want to say "Hell yeah, that kicked so much %$#!!! that I want to see it again!"

Everyone in the theater seemed to enjoy it, also. People were clapping and cheering so many times like I've never heard before.

Bottom line is, go see it.

Brion

P.S. The Extended Edition of this will be amazing!

#12 of 92 OFFLINE   Scott Weinberg

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Posted December 16 2003 - 09:19 PM

The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King Posted ImagePosted ImagePosted ImagePosted ImagePosted Image out of 5

I've simply run out of adjectives.

What Peter Jackson and his crew of filmmakers have accomplished with Chapters 1 and 2 of his Lord of the Rings trilogy is simply unprecedented. Combine the fiscal bravery of New Line Cinema with the unwavering commitment to Tolkien that Jackson and Co. clearly possess, and you were probably looking at a pretty solid series of films. But did ANYone out there expect anything like this? The plain truth is this: The Lord of the Rings Trilogy is quite simply one of the most staggeringly impressive achievements in the long history of film...and they've saved the best movie for last.

From four distinct sources has this wondrous trilogy been born:

1. A movie studio willing to bankroll a stunningly dicey (and amazingly massive) project. Sure, with hindsight it might look like a no-brainer, but what if Fellowship had turned out popular with Tolkien fans, 15-year-olds and no one else? It would have grossed about $85 million and a lot of folks over at New Line Cinema would have been sprucing up their resumés right quick. New Line originally plopped 300 million smackers down to produce the trilogy, and that's not including reshoots, marketing, and all the other stuff we never really hear about.

2. A filmmaker so single-mindedly passionate about a book that he'd be willing to devote the better part of a decade to get his movie version done the right way...right down to the smallest tuft of pipe-weed. A guy driven by his passion for the source material and not just a simple payday. From locations to casting to screenplay (to say nothing of the myriad tough decisions and controversies) to effects work and on and on... That one director (and one not exactly known for massive epics) could rein all this together is staggering. That his films have turned out this blissfully entertaining is cause for the highest praise a filmmaker can receive.

3. Special effects outlet extraordinaire 'Weta' and all the FX artists who've come before, consistently nudging the technologies along with baby steps. We've reached an FX renaissance over the past several years, what with CGI proving to be every lazy filmmaker's favorite onscreen distraction. But such is obviously not the case here. You could have the world's most brilliant director, 500 million bucks, and the coolest adventure story of all time...but without the technology to actually CREATE an entirely new world, and to do it in a thrillingly convincing fashion, you simply don't have a movie. Let alone three. As a whole, Weta's work here is the new benchmark in special effects, a revolutionary achievement that other filmmakers won't even try to top. For a little while, anyway.

4. The man we can thank for all of it: Professor J.R.R. Tolkien. Some might say that a life spent studying languages would seem fairly dull, but seeing what Tolkien's imagination had to offer refutes that theory in short order. It's not often that the true classics are written in the Modern Era ("classics" generally need more than a few decades to ripen) and it's for this reason that Tolkien has taken on an almost mythical stature in his own right. The author's defining achievement, The Lord of the Rings, is quite simply one of the finest stories ever told. And from them came one of the finest movie experiences ever conceived.

Prior to the theatrical release of The Fellowship of the Ring, did anybody really expect that we'd be soon comparing this trilogy to those of Lucas and Coppola? (Those would be Star Wars and The Godfather, for those not paying attention...) That each film would be laden with basically everything a film needs to be loved and admired and cherished for the next hundred years? That we'd finally met a filmmaker perfectly suited to bring Tolkien's globally-adored book to the screen in such majestic and stunning fashion?

Frankly, no. We didn't. Most of us were probably quite excited for the movies, and we really hoped that they'd be worthy of the name Tolkien, to say nothing of our own nine bucks.

We expected a solid double off the wall. We would have been satisfied with a bases-clearing triple.

What we got (to complete the painful baseball analogy) was this: Three trips to the plate resulting in three home runs, the third of which comes at the bottom of the ninth was bases loaded and the World Series of Fantasy Cinema on the line.

Despite Tolkien's work being labeled as "unfilmable"; despite the fact that the Fantasy Genre is generally considered fanboy-centric and a black hole for production costs; despite a stunningly arduous 4-year production and the constant nitpicks from the Tolkien faithful....

The Lord of the Rings is indeed one of the finest achievements in this history of cinema. And that may be putting it mildly.

Lest you attribute these enthusiastic ravings to someone knee-deep in Tolkien Love and relatively unable to keep a certain objectivity, let me clarify: I'm certainly no sort of expert on Middle-Earth. The only reason I finally picked up the books and read them was because I was so wholly blown away by Jackson's brilliant first film, and the excitement spilled over into my stack of reading materials. My passion lies within the world of movies. And when I finally got to see the first installment of Jackson's adaptation...I was hooked. I knew I was in the middle of something unique and historical. And all I could do was sit back, enjoy the ride, and feel nothing but admiration and gratitude for Mr. Jackson and his army of filmmakers.

So clearly I'm a fan. Who isn't?

But fan or not, there's simply no denying that The Return of the King is a history-making film for several reasons. It's easily the finest "Part 3" to ever complete a trilogy; it's one of the most emotionally powerful and thrilling war movies ever produced; it's a sweet-natured juggernaut that reminds us about loyalty and friendship and love; and it's nothing less than a powerful new statement regarding the blissful magic of movies.

Like I said last December: These movies are just that grand.

What's most impressive about Jackson's trilogy (and The Return of the King in particular) is that several key elements of storytelling (characterization, drama, tension, sincere emotion) are what tower over the astonishing collections of production design and stellar visual effects. The Lord of the Rings, as a whole, shows that flash and glitz can work wonders in a movie...if they're used in the service of a worthwhile story. It's amazing how few filmmakers seem to understand this simple concept.

The plot reads like a delicious soap opera from another dimension:
Sam, Frodo and Gollum are slowly trekking closer to the malevolent Mt. Doom, while Aragorn, Legolas, Gimli and Gandalf (now reunited with hobbits Merry and Pippin) return to Rohan for a small sort of 'calm before the storm' celebration. There's also the issue of Aragorn and Arwen's doomed love affair to contend with, the rugged Rohirrim (led by King Theoden) who need some convincing to join yet another massive battle, the Shakespearean melancholy between the admirable Faramir and his hateful father Denethor, and more fascinating little subplots to keep things moving along. (Part 3 also has undead soldiers!!)

It also has the single most amazing battle sequence yet committed to film. I hate to harp on the visuals of a film so steeped in honest emotion, but it's not every day you get to see 200,000 monsters sweeping across the plains as stadium-sized elephants trample everything in their path while a dozen distinctive heroes cling desperately to one final hope. Rare is the film that features a giant spider this horrifying, a mountainside castle this achingly beautiful, a musical score this inspiring, and four or five scenes guaranteed to jam a few lumps into your throat as you applaud from your seat.

Your eyes will dazzle at the majesty of Gandalf's arrival at Minas Tirith, your spirit will soar at a simple sequence involving fire beacons, your mind will barely be able to comprehend the scope of the action scenes, and your heart will ache at the touchingly bittersweet character moments strewn throughout this massive 3+ hour masterpiece.

Simply put, this is what we go to the movies for. Period.

But, really, who needs plot synopses? Seemingly everyone and their grandmother has been bitten by the Rings bug over the past few years, and it's a resoundingly well-deserved popularity. And let's face it: given the sheer excellence of the first two installments, what were the odds that our final portion would prove to be anything other than completely magical? (The third slice from a filet mignon often tastes exactly like the first one.)

If there are two performers who truly come into their own in this third chapter, it must be Sir Ian McKellen as the kind-hearted (yet amazingly butt-kicking) old wizard and Sean Astin as the ever-loyal and surprisingly brave little "sidekick" hobbit. Frankly there's not a single sour note to be found among the expansive cast, though McKellen and Astin really manage to shine. And Viggo Mortensen takes his final step towards stardom with his humanely commanding performance as the previously reluctant royalty who learns to assume his responsibilities...and then some. (Jackson must be thanking his lucky stars that Mortensen was able to step into the role a few years back...at the very last minute.)

Sure there are a few rough edges, editorially, if you're looking real closely. But given the overwhelming popularity of the Rings Extended Editions, one is willing to forgive a few dangling plot threads - secure in the knowledge that we'll get to see 'em by next November. The few subplots that feel shoe-horned and/or truncated do absolutely nothing to detract from the King's overall impact.

So I say Thank You to Peter Jackson and his Rings co-creators - from the producers and the screenwriters to the gaffers and the costume designers and everyone in between. Thank you for giving the passionate (albeit jaded) fans of 'fantastical filmmaking' a trilogy to enjoy and embrace. Thank you for never losing sight of the vaunted source material, for treating your audience like an intelligent group, for giving us an alternate universe so full and rich and believable that it nearly defies description.

Come next February you'll see the latest Oscars telecast, and the world of fanboys and movie loons will join together in joyous glee as they see their beloved trilogy earn the highest accolades under the cinematic sun:

The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King - Academy Award for Best Picture

And let the world of passionate Tolkien geeks and hardcore movie freaks rejoice. Not a dry dreary costume drama, not a glorified TV-movie-of-the-week, not a weepy yawnfest. A rousing adventure epic full of heart and soul and thrills and chills, a movie that showcases the finest sort of epic sensibilities ever caught on celluloid, a movie that people cheer at and cry over and discuss for hours and enjoy over the course of three consecutive years, a trilogy that's dazzled everyone from the haughtiest film critics to the widest-eyed young kids... That's the movie that will grab the Gold Ring come next February.

And more importantly, these three movies will hold up. 75 years from now, people will mention The Lord of the Rings in the same breath as The Godfather and The Wizard of Oz and Citizen Kane and 2001: A Space Odyssey. It's a revolutionary trilogy of films, the sweetest treat imaginable for those who devour movies as if they were candy, and a true milestone in the history of movie-making.

Haven't sold you yet?

The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King is one of the finest things I've ever seen. And that includes stuff like sunrises and babies and the original, unaltered Star Wars.

Enjoy.

#13 of 92 OFFLINE   ThomasC

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Posted December 16 2003 - 09:26 PM

A masterpiece.

9.8/10

The Fellowship of the Ring: 7.1/10
The Two Towers: 7.8/10

#14 of 92 OFFLINE   MikeRS

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Posted December 16 2003 - 10:48 PM

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From the ride of the Rohirrim till Aragorn's coronation, we are talking about the series' finest hour. The most emotional, most moving, and most thrilling hour and forty minutes of the series. I was glowing in a way I haven't since FOTR. I felt the sorrow and melancholy of the last days of the 3rd age. I was viscerally transported through avatars of good carrying an immense burden into EVIL realms. Elemental emotions were wrung out of me and PJ pulled it off majestically. My spirit was lifted experiencing this affecting journey.

Sean Astin touched me deeply. He can stand toe to toe with any great audience surrogate in all of cinema history. His smile when Frodo wakes up at the end of the film flooded me with his character arc throughout the entire series. What a feeling!!! He will be nominated for Best supporting actor. Bank on it.

But the trek to Mordor was not a one hobbit show. Wood's Frodo is more subdued than Sam or Gollum in ROTK (until the pivotal climax in Mount Doom), but that takes nothing away from the sheer believability of his descent into hell. Internalizing is the toughest form of acting and the kid pulls it off like gangbusters. Amazing.

Bernard Hill's Theoden was so kingly and majestic that he might have just overshadowed the "Return Of The King" of the very title.
His last moment with Eowyn was (again) incredibly moving. And Eowyn and Merry's confrontation with the Witch King was like something out of a dream. Powerful and surreal, you can't believe you're experiencing these moments in the cinema. BUT YOU ARE. Merry and Pippin are unsung heroes in this tale. Two of my very favorites scenes in the whole film are with them in the first act: Smoking at Isengard and their separation.

And Gollum's
final moments are brilliant. From his loving "ring dance" (Screw you naysayers, PJ pulled that moment off Posted Image) to his melancholic death, it was everything I could have ever imagined. What a tragic creation. Bilbo's last moment with Frodo added just the right grace note to Gollum's pitiful end. Truly sad and poetic.

The Mumakil rock. Just utter propulsive chaos. In daylight! With tons of wide shots allowing us to soak in the the chaotic splendor in all it's glory. I've got a smile just thinking about them. Also really loved "Army of the dead" and had no problems with their visualization whatsoever. Shelob was a wonderfully crafted creature, oozing dread and a diabolical intelligence. Everything I hoped.

This is far and away Howard Shore's best score of the series. It's on another level. The film's emotional grandeur must have raised his game because this is the first time in the series that I was in awe of his work on first listen/viewing.

About the "multiple endings"......

Shockingly, the "The Grey Havens" is not the emotional highpoint of the denouement. I think this is why people are grumbling about "multiple ending syndrome". You can't get higher than Frodo waking up to see the Fellowship after Mount Doom (especially Sam's entrance) or Aragorn's "You bow to no one." On paper, these moments should not whip Grey Havens on an emotional level. But they do.

The first hour and half was a little choppy due to
the Denethor and Faramir subplot being gutted slightly.
I think it will be similar to TTT theatrical where less nuance and texture in a story thread, led to an inconsistent narrative flow due to the audience not having enough of a *hook* to hold a consistent interest. Knowing how great the narrative gets will allow me not to be as antsy about this first act on repeat viewings, but I look forward to the EE fleshing out Gondor's steward and his son, just the same.

After seeing ROTK, I realize that the film Aragorn (and Gimli and Legolas) will always own is TTT. And that's cool.

#15 of 92 OFFLINE   Holadem

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Posted December 16 2003 - 11:38 PM

Well, it's too early to tell, but this may be the best movie I have ever seen.

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--
H

#16 of 92 OFFLINE   Adam_S

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Posted December 17 2003 - 12:26 AM

The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King - Posted ImagePosted ImagePosted ImagePosted Image (out of four) Spoilers everywhere

Return of the King has so many amazing and wonderful qualities that I'd hate to nitpick at some of the flaws. But there are flaws, these are all very minor things I"m going to be listing but they are things that annoyed me.

The beginning seemed very sloppy,
Gollum's background felt tacked on, and it wasn't incorporated/transistioned into the actual film very well.
The tone of this seemed off too. I understand they were recreating the hobbiton tone, but I can't imagine any of Gollum/Smeagol's memories being that BRIGHT. I was further annoyed by the horrible, grainy photography of Legolas and Gimli heading to Isengard, and the 'crane' up to the Ents and flooded Isengard seemed the most cgi of anything in any of the movies. The cut from facing down saruman to riding into Minas tirith was very abrupt, no transistion there at all--just a straight, temporary lift until the EE comes out, sloppy edits like this make me disbelieve Peter Jackson, I don't think ROTK is as much a director's cut as the other two theatrical versions were.

Too many flashbacks, but I can understand their use, not everyone has seen fellowship 8 times and TTT 4 times as I have.

The film really takes off with
Pippen's oath to Denethor, the first really good scene. The first great scene was the lighting of the torches, but even that seemed a bit long, and by the end of it, somewhat cgiish (not to mention having the torches all at the very peaks of the mountain made me wonder of the logistics of maintaining and constructing all those waystations).

I was disapointed in
Gollum's reflecting pool speech, it seemed like it got too modern at the end, just the sort of tiny thing I noticed.

Sean Astin gives the best performance of the movie, followed closely by Theoden and Denethor.

Theoden. WOW! He emanates leadership, I would follow such a leader into battle. Aragorn and Gandalf on the other hand, were more aloof it seemed in their speeches and rallyings. WOW. what a great thing

Eowyn!
just incredible, they handled this absolutely perfectly! I was so worried about her showdown with the witch king because the way the story has been changed by dropping tom bombadil, but they absolutely nailed it. Major annoyance number one is that she and faramir just disapear from the rest of the movie, that's just not fair to the girl that kicked so much ass. Another annoying lift, I almost wish the extended editions hadn't yet come out, because maybe the film would be a bit tighter and even more perfect than it is.

I fully expected to dislike the way
the Dead were incorporated, but they hit this so absolutely perfectly it was downright beautiful.

The Shelob sequence
was absolutely excellent, with the exception of major deus ex machina number one in Samwise somehow getting the light of erindian and sting and showing up just in the nick of time.

gollum/smeagol, I was astonished at how much better then effects were in this film! They had me convinced in many moments that it was a real person. there's one shot of just his hands, that just absolutely stunned me, fantastic work on gollum.
Unfortunately he's also deus ex machina number two.


The eagles, or deus ex machina number three. At least for the people who haven't read the books. I have and understand the history and importance of the eagles, but I worry that the constant deus ex machinas in the film may hurt it with casual spectators.

I'd always envisioned Frodo and gollum rolling all about, I'd never thought of gollum

floating in the air like a genie.

the films' biggest misstep was the
laughing slooooo motion reunion inside Minas Tirith, the whole sequence recieved riotus, nonstop derisive laughter in our audience.

I didn't like
the length of the fade to black. there is no reason to completely stop transistions or try to fill them in with narration, the way the endings sewed together just felt slightly sloppy and rushed.

There is absolutely no need to have
Frodo narrate over the real ending (sam's return) and there is even less need to annoy the audience by using a fade to white after the ships sails. That really lessened the power of Sam's return, in my opinion. In fact they probably didn't need Sam's return since the whole conception of Sam as the real hero of the story is lost/muddled in the film. and his return didn't play out quite right, it's too bright and happy. I expected something a little slower, Sam walking into his den settling into a chair and sit there quietly thinking while pain and sadness are on his face as the camera slowly pushes in. Then a kid runs by and he looks up to see his wife standing behind him. the pain leaves his face, but there is still sadness in him as he says to her, Well. I'm Back. The End.

These are all little bitty things, this does feel a little more sloppy and rushed than the other two, but it still is such an incredible experience that I look forward to seeing it a few more times in the theatre. The best film of the year so far.

I loved
Aragorn's song, and Pippen's, why the heck wasn't the music and poetry that well incorporated in the first two!

The ring in mount doom, man that scene played so perfectly.

Adam
 

#17 of 92 OFFLINE   Brian W.

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Posted December 17 2003 - 01:01 AM

Okay, just got back from the midnight showing, and I feel as I haven't felt coming out of a movie in two years -- since coming out of my first viewing of Fellowship of the Ring. The feeling is overwhelmed, trying to digest what the hell I just saw? Speechless.

I have some complaints, but I thought the film was phenomenal. At least as good as Fellowship, and far better than Two Towers, better even than the Extended Two Towers.

I sobbed openly twice -- at...

When Frodo tells Sam he can't follow him anymore, and at "I can't carry it for you, but I can carry you."


and got a tear in my eye at least three other times:

at Theoden's death, the lighting of the beacons, and Frodo's last look back at the hobbits as he's about to sail away


That's over twice as much as I cried in the first two films put together.

For all the complaints about the length, I sincerely felt it was the shortest of the three films. I don't think it dragged AT ALL. I could have stood at least another ten minutes of it. I completely lost track of time. In fact, twice I tried to guess where we were in the film -- when they came to the Paths of the Dead sequence, since that's where Jackson specified the intermission should be if theaters chose to have one, and after the Minas Tirith battle, since it seemed like a bit climax had passed. I thought, "Now, where are we? How far are we into the film?" I honestly couldn't even guess how much time had passed.

I only felt there were two big missteps by Jackson, things I just didn't like the way he handled. I haven't heard anyone else complain about these.

One, I think it was a mistake to have Gollum on Frodo's shoulders while they're fighting at the Crack of Doom. It looked silly. I almost laughed. It actually took me out of the film and ruined a key dramatic moment for me. I also didn't like Gollum sinking into the lava... He doesn't even notice he's burning? Also, I thought it looked very CG. Ever since FOTR was released, I've worried how Gollum's battle with the invisible Frodo would look, as I was aware it could appear ridiculous, and I'm sad to say the finished film in my opinion substantiated that fear.

In addition, the slight slow motion effect at the Grey Havens. I didn't notice it till Frodo's goodbye speech to Sam. I could HEAR Elijah Wood trying to slow down his speech to sync with the slowed-down film. It sounded unnatural, devoid of the emotion that I'm sure was in his original performance, and ruined another key dramatic scene for me. I should have been sobbing at that point, and I didn't shed a tear until his final look on the boat.


Now, I had simliar complaints about FOTR -- I didn't like the way Sam drowning was handled at all. So these things may not bother me on future viewings. This is part of the reason that I really feel EXACTLY as I felt when I came out of my first viewing of FOTR. Never felt like this after TTT.

Other very minor complaints: Should have been more of an introduction to Faramir. Legolas was not in it enough. He had, what, five lines in the whole movie?

But, oh, so much remains that is wonderful. Virtually every other dramatic scene is written and played to perfection, PERFECTION. I was a bit worried after Two Towers because I felt that several dramatic scenes in it simply fell flat, but not here. The pyre of Denethor did not move me, but I suspect that's because necessary setup was omitted... There was not a transition into madness for Denethor.

And Shelob! I really didn't think that scene would geniuinely scare me, but, my God, I was cringing in my seat. Her STINGER! Jesus Christ! That was scary.

Favorite scenes: Any of the Sam/Frodo/Gollum scenes -- take your pick. Shelob. The lighting of the signal fires. And I don't know what else -- I'm still just trying to sort it out in my mind.

My rating for all the films, on a scale of 1 to 10:

FOTR - 9
FOTR:EE - 9
TTT - 8
TTT:EE - 8.5
ROTK - 9.5

#18 of 92 OFFLINE   David Lawson

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Posted December 17 2003 - 01:16 AM

While I can appreciate everyone's zeal for this film, I find it amusing that most of the reviews proclaim it "perfect" and then proceed to list its myriad flaws. I'm not quite so forgiving, but I agree that this film is quite the spectacle, and that alone will be enough to win it Best Picture.

As noted above, editing is extremely poor once Smeagol's history is out of the way, and those who aren't familiar with the books will be at least somewhat confused by Saruman, Wormtongue, and the Ents being summarily dismissed. The tone and pace of the film do improve once preparations for battle begin, and it then becomes one hell of a ride until the end.

Quote:
There is absolutely no need to have Frodo narrate over the real ending (sam's return) and there is even less need to annoy the audience by using a fade to white after the ships sails. That really lessened the power of Sam's return, in my opinion. In fact they probably didn't need Sam's return since the whole conception of Sam as the real hero of the story is lost/muddled in the film.

This cannot be emphasized enough.
Sam's return feels "tacked on" in the film, and does indeed lessen the emotional impact of the previous scene. The fade to white would have been the "perfect" ending for the film
, in my opinion. 7/10.
He obviously misinterpreted what it means to "be bullish."

#19 of 92 OFFLINE   Tino

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Posted December 17 2003 - 01:22 AM

Posted ImagePosted ImagePosted ImagePosted Image

Let me repeat....

Posted ImagePosted ImagePosted ImagePosted Image

Magnificent!

More later...too tiredPosted Image

BTW, what's with all the Spoilers in this REVIEW thread??? Isn't that what the DISCUSSION thread is for??
It's gonna be a hell of a ride. I'm ready. .

#20 of 92 OFFLINE   Ronald Epstein

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Posted December 17 2003 - 02:18 AM

Let me add a few short words about what I thought
of this film.

I went to the midnight premiere last night.

I am not quite sure how I feel about ROTK.

On the one hand, I was greatly impressed by the
grandeur of it all. This is a triumphant ending
to what will be considered the "Star Wars" of our
time. For what it is, it is as good as it gets.

On the other hand, I was put off by the melodrama.
There are just too many "do it for the gipper"
speeches that weigh the film down.

I also was very put off by the Wizard of Oz finale
and the fact that the film just wouldn't end.


The end of the film contains too many goodbyes,
hugs and speeches. There are too many fade-outs
where you hope the film is over with only to be
greeted with more scenes.

I wanted to get choked up at the end, but I just
felt it got way too sappy for that to happen.

The film felt quite long at 3.5 hours, and I can
imagine how much more weight the viewer will feel
when the 4+ hour version reaches DVD.

You may think I am trashing this film. I'm not.
I actually enjoyed ROTK, but felt that it
came up short in my expectations.

If Jackson doesn't receive a Best Director for
this, he will be robbed. There is no question that
he deserves an Oscar for what he has done with this
trilogy.

 

Ronald J Epstein
Home Theater Forum co-owner

 

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