Review Date: December 15, 2003
Director: Peter Jackson
Writer: Fran Walsh, Peter Jackson, Philippa Boyens
Producers: Peter Jackson, Fran Walsh, Barre Osborne
Elijah Wood as Frodo
Sean Astin as Sam
Viggo Mortensen as Aragorn
Is it a good movie? Sure. I'm not going to sit here and pretend that it doesn't scream accomplishment, innovation, entertainment and epic in many senses of the words, but it's got its issues as well and they need to be acknowledged. Anyway, all that said (it needed to be), RETURN OF THE KING does continue its tradition of kickass action sequences, many characters and plotlines intertwined and continuing suspense dealt upon its fellowship of do-gooders. Frodo and Sam continue to struggle with Gollum and his antics (loved the flashback to Smeagol...nice), Legolas continues to look far into the horizon and sense danger (his elephant-beast ride was the friggin' bomb!), Gimli continues to crack wise (still feels out of place) and Aragorn continues to kick ass and look great! Arwen, on the other hand...why was she in these movies again? Gandalf continues his non-wizarding, but does have a lot more "presence" in this round and actually makes some things happen. The rest of the hobbits also had more to do here and did so effectively. The standout in the cast was Sean Astin though. His Samwise received a greater focus here and he made the best of it. Elijah Wood also continued his compelling work as Frodo, the character with whom we needed to identify with the most. The film's also packed with a number of memorable sequences, most notably the awesome spider-tunnel scene, as well as the Battle of the Pelennor Fields, with the elephant-beasts, trolls, orcs et al, looking to obliterate the good guys.
I also appreciated the inclusion of Miranda Otto's character and her fate. Girl power indeed! The ending was also nicely handled (except all the stuff AFTER the ending, which felt out of place), although I still can't say that I was emotionally attached to any of the characters. The "gay stuff" between Frodo and Samwise also continued here, with a kiss finally sealing the deal (jussa joke) In the end, I enjoyed the film, but like I said earlier, felt like a lot of it just regurgitated what we'd already experienced in the two previous installments (lots of folks preparing for battle, lots of long gazes and poetic one-liners, lots of walking, lots of Gollum drooling over the ring, etc...), but also inserted enough coolness to amaze those who didn't believe that more "oomph" was possible. Now I've said it before but I'll say it again...these "types" of movies don't do it for me in the first place. I haven't read (or care to read) the books, so if you enjoyed the previous two movies, you're likely to appreciate this finale as well, and if you didn't, well...just wait until the longer ass version comes out on DVD in a few months and watch it from the comfort of your own living room sofa, your own remote control (with stop/fast-forward buttons) and your own schedule. Gondor!!