"The Lord of the Rings: The
Return of the King"
Directed by Peter Jackson.
Written by Peter Jackson, Fran Walsh and Philippa Boyens.
Based on the novel by J.R.R. Tolkien.
Starring Elijah Wood, Viggo Mortenson and Ian McKellan.
Release Year: 2003
Review Date: 12/17/03
Of the 124 flicks I have seen this year,
“LOTR: ROTK” is the best of them all. This is saying a lot, I
think. Further, this is the best of the three films of the
trilogy. Further than that, this is one of the ten best films I
have ever seen, and save for the fact that director Peter Jackson
just doesn’t seem to know when to walk away—there are at least six
times when the film could have ended—it is a perfect piece of
filmmaking. And, unlike some other filmmakers this year, Jackson
understands his assets better than anyone when it comes to giving us
what we want. We get more Gollum, we get more Legolas, we get more
action, we get more beautiful castles, we get more Liv Tyler as
Arwen...hell, we even get to watch Gandalf (Ian McKellan) whoop a
little ass with a big sword.
I’m also prepared to say that Jackson should
get an award from the Academy in February for Most Incredible
Direction Ever, because this is the new gold standard. Never ever
ever ever ever has a film so large been so intimate; I haven’t cried
like this since Mom took my blanket away when I was ten years old.
Huge, ginormous, special effects-laden battle sequences are then
followed by the quietest, most sentimental of moments...then you get
terror, then you get laughs, then you get great movie moments, like
when Legolas (Orlando Bloom) finishes off a kill by sliding off of
an elephant’s trunk. I cried when the troops from Rohan showed up,
I cried when key characters died in the field, I cried when the
trilogy’s theme song came on...I think I even cried when those two
elves were hammering the legendary sword back together for Aragorn (Viggo
Mortensen). Three different times I started to get up to use the
restroom, but I just couldn’t stand the idea of missing even a frame
of this beautiful film. If you see this film in a packed house,
there will be at least 8 times when your audience will erupt in
Given the pressure that he was under, “The
Lord of the Rings” trilogy is the greatest film business achievement
ever, period. New Line Cinema was essentially out of business when
they gave Jackson more than $300 million to make three movies with
no bankable stars. $2 billion later—before the current film’s gross
is even calculated—New Line ought to buy Jackson whatever he wants
for the rest of his life, since he has saved their ass six ways to
Sunday. Oh, and the first two films were nominated for Best
Picture, and there is almost no chance that “ROTK” doesn’t get
nominated, too. And, with the DVD money that everyone will make on
the inevitable 3-disc trilogy set—which will then become the gold
standard for DVD trilogy sets, since with director’s cuts, deleted
scenes, bonus footage, commentary and other stuff we’re talking more
than 30 hours of goods, which will probably run around $100 next
summer—New Line can look to one man (and his team of minions that
worked on the trilogy) to see why they are still in operations.
And, finally, by and large Tolkien fans and fans of the books love
the movies...which may have been the toughest sell of them all.
Wow. Wow. Wow. I don’t like clichés all
that much, but even I have to say: if you only see one film this
year, see “The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King.” Rarely
do you get to see passionate filmmakers do so well with every aspect
of their work. You know what I was saying when I left the theater?
“Damn. I wonder how good the ‘Matrix’ sequels would have been if
Peter Jackson had directed them.”
Rating: Opening Weekend
Comments? Drop me a line at
Bellview Rating System:
"Opening Weekend": This is
the highest rating a movie can receive. Reserved for movies that
exhibit the highest level of acting, plot, character development,
setting...or Salma Hayek. Not necessarily in that order.
"$X.XX Show": This price
changes each year due to the inflation of movie prices; currently,
it is the $9.50 Show. While not technically perfect, this is a
movie that will still entertain you at a very high level.
"Undercover Brother" falls into this category; it's no "Casablanca",
but you'll have a great time watching. The $9.50 Show won't win any
Oscars, but you'll be quoting lines from the thing for ages (see
"Matinee": An average movie
that merits no more than a $6.50 viewing at your local theater.
Seeing it for less than $9.50 will make you feel a lot better about
yourself. A movie like "Blue Crush" fits this category; you leave
the theater saying "That wasn't too bad...man, did you see that
Lakers game last night?"
"Rental": This rating
indicates a movie that you see in the previews and say to your
friend, "I'll be sure to miss that one." Mostly forgettable, you
couldn't lose too much by going to Hollywood Video and paying $3 to
watch it with your sig other, but you would only do that if the
video store was out of copies of "Ronin." If you can, see this
movie for free. This is what your TV Guide would give "one and a
"Hard Vice": This rating is
the bottom of the barrel. A movie that only six other human beings
have witnessed, this is the worst movie I have ever seen. A Shannon
Tweed "thriller," it is so bad as to be funny during almost every
one of its 84 minutes, and includes the worst ending ever put into a
movie. Marginally worse than "Cabin Boy", "The Avengers" or
"Leonard, Part 6", this rating means that you should avoid this
movie at all costs, or no costs, EVEN IF YOU CAN SEE IT FOR FREE!
(Warning: strong profanity will be used in all reviews of "Hard