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The Reviews :: Return of the King
Reviewed by Megan Larson

This is what we have been waiting for. The final chapter. The final test to see if Peter Jackson really could pull off the greatest novel adaptation of all time. The answer?

Yes, of course. The film continues to dazzle and keeps you glued to your seat, as well as touching more than one soft spot in our hearts. But what can really be said that hasnít already been said? Many of the praises from the first two films carry over here, as well as add in more elements to savor.

The film opens with a flashback of sorts, to an event that happened before the first movie began. Finally, Andy Serkis (Gollum) gets his due and we see his face uncovered by CGI. Perhaps this brief scene will be enough to have the Academy realize they really can nominate non-traditional characters for Best Supporting Actor/Actress. From there we catch up with the two groups: Frodo, Sam, and Gollum traveling to Mordor, and the remaining members of the Fellowship celebrating the victory at Helmís Deep. Ever the serious one, Aragorn reminds everyone of the impending evil, and we are plunged into more battle.

I donít want to give too much away, even though anyone who has read the book knows the story. Some might even say that Jackson remained too faithful to the original story in some areas, although there are also aspects of the book that are merely hinted at within the film. Hopefully these scenes exist and were just cut for time (the movie already runs at 3 hours and 20 minutes) and Jackson will include these in the DVD version.

The visual aspects of the film continue to impress, and those who were concerned that the simultaneous filming of the LOTR series three years ago would prove to hurt the FX of the later films are proven wrong. Seeing hordes of Gondor soldiers sweep past and around the stomping feet of oliphants, as well as the ghostly confrontation Aragorn is faced with, gives one chills. Jackson effectively uses a washed out look to the film to properly set the mood at both Mordor and Minas Tirith, emphasizing the sheer futility of it all. If you donít want to visit New Zealand after seeing these films, there is something seriously wrong with you.

While there is much drawing of swords and shooting of arrows, there are also moments tender enough to make a heart break. These moments show the depth each of our characters have been given by the actors. Perhaps one of the most poignant scenes is delivered in song by the sweet voice of Billy Boyd, whose character Pippin sings for the steward of Gondor while soldiers move to battle. All told, my eyes misted at least ten times during the course of the film.

The end of the film is a little extended for the common film, but in this reviewerís eyes it is required. While I left the theatre smiling and with a sense of peace and satisfaction at seeing this epic tale fully visualized, I am also left wondering. What can be left in terms of hurdles to be crossed in fantasy film? Perhaps Jackson has leapt all the barriers and left none for the rest of us. But given the final product, I donít think I mind.

Cast: Elijah Wood, Sean Astin, Viggo Mortensen, Miranda Otto, Ian McKellen, Orlando Bloom, John Rhys-Davies, Dominic Monaghan, Billy Boyd, Andy Serkis, Hugo Weaving, Karl Urban, John Noble, Cate Blanchett, Marton Csokas, David Wenham
Director: Peter Jackson
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Return of the King

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