Projections - Movie Reviews

Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King
Lord of the Rings: Return of the King
Starring Elijah Wood, Ian McKellen, Viggo Mortensen, Liv Tyler, Sean Astin, Cate Blanchett,
Orlando Bloom, Dominic Monaghan, Billy Boyd, John Rhys-Davies, Liv Tyler, Christopher Lee

Rated PG-13 - for intense epic battle sequences and frightening images
Reviewed by: Chris
Release Date: December 17, 2003 Released by: New Line Cinema

The fans have been waiting, and Peter Jackson doesn't disappoint, as he saves the best for last. The third and last segment of J.R.R. Tolkien's trilogy is terrifically exciting and magnificently told.

All of the characters return, each one performing a task vital to the success of the mission. As the story continues, Hobbits Frodo (Elijah Wood) and his loyal friend Sam (Sean Astin) are on their journey to bring the Ring to Mount Doom. Along with them is the annoying Gollum, who one minute acts as a guide and the next plots their death, so he can reclaim the Ring.

The Middle Earth characters, including Aragon (Viggo Mortensen), elf Legolas (Orlando Bloom) and dwarf Gimli (John Rhys-Davies) are going into battle against a multitude of Orcs...and throughout it all, the all-knowing Gandalf (Ian McKellen) spouts words of wisdom and encouragement. He even takes up his sword to lead when the King becomes unable to carry out his duties.

The best thing about Jackson's direction is the smooth transition he makes from war scenes involving thousands, to intimate conversations between father and daughter. Its almost as if he wants the audience to catch their breath before another onslaught of brutal fighting continues, it works beautifully. He's a master of action sequences, be it live or computer generated. My favorite scene has no characters in it, it's a panoramic view of fires lit to alert folks near and far to join the battle. Each one lit in sequence until the mountain tops are blazing with a call to arms. The scene is both moving and beautiful.

Each battle (there are several) is jam packed with unusual and frightening ogres. Grotesque and monstrous, their numbers appear unending. It's good against evil and the odds are almost insurmountable. But, the cheerful, brave and idealistic heroes keep plucking away, and little by little, the flying dragons swooping overhead, the giant elephant-like creatures crush dozens beneath each footstep, and the multitude of killing machines are eventually beaten down.

To emphasize the small and powerless getting the upper hand, the four Hobbits are a pivotal part of the story. Frodo, of course, is still in charge of the Ring, Pippin (Bily Boyd) and Merry (Dominic Monaghan) are thrown into the midst of war in which they prove to be brave and honorable, and Sam is the strong, reliable protector, proving that nice guys don't always finish last.

Rarely does a saga get better as the series winds down. It is to Jackson's credit that the film remains so cohesive and to the cast's credit, that we care so much about the fate of their characters.

Return of the King, has everything that a fantasy/adventure should have. Its breathtakingly beautiful, the special effects are unbelievable, the characters are funny, smart, tragic, scary and totally involving. Jackson wraps up the series by tying up all the loose ends and presents it to his fans like a big holiday gift.

 
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Lord of the Rings:
Return of the King
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