Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King

Dan Movie Reviews

Ok, so here’s the deal. I saw Lord of the Rings: Return of the King on Friday with Dina at a special SCL screening, with composer Howard Shore speaking afterwards. I also saw it again tonight, and now I can put my thoughts down for you to read. Why did it take so long for me to write something about it? Because it’s such an overwhelming film that I needed a week to think about it, and see it again to confirm my thoughts.

Tonight I saw it with Matt at the Mann Culver Theaters, which is a far superior venue to the Laemelle Beverly Fairfax Theater I saw the film in a week ago. The film also broke twice there – and it wasn’t the best timing, either! I will try to keep this as spoiler-free as possible.

This is hands-down the best of all three LOTR films. It has the most character development, personal struggle, action, and jaw-dropping visual treats of the series. There are too many moments to recall, but the 3.5 hours just flew by – at least, until the end. At which point things got a little emotional, and the last 20 minutes seemed to have multiple endings… how many times were they gonna make us get all weepy?? (Answer: about 4, maybe 5.)

The acting is solid. Sean Astin (“Sam”) has some exceptionally moving moments, and the computer animation for Gollum has exceeded the mastery seen in The Two Towers. The visual effects are… well…. amazing. There are some that are only okay, but for the most part, the battle sequences were just unlike anything ever seen on film. Ever. The charge of the Riders of Rohan was simply unbelievable. Shelob wasn’t too bad (kinda Eight Legged Freaks, really), but the attack on Minas Tirith was without a doubt the most engrossing sequence I’ve seen in a while.

Musically, Howard Shore outdoes himself. There is so much good music in this film not on the album, that it’s a shame. But there’s that box set coming next year… Notable (i.e. spine-tingly) highlights include: the lighting of the Gondor beacons; the “Stewart of Gondor” song that Billy Boyd (“Pippin”)sings juxtaposed with a particular sequence (no spoilers!); the appearance of the Witch King; the first attack on Minas Tirith; the destruction of the ring. Overall, there is some seriously great musical sequences in this film. And of course it just adds to the already emotional finale. He gives it that extra “kick” to push you over the edge and reduce you into a sniffling teary-eyed baby.

Ok, you get the idea. Now what are you waiting for? Go see it!! (I will be watching the extended cut of The Two Towers on Sunday – kinda backwards, but hey – it’s all good!