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Movies: Return of the King
Monday, 2004 January 5 - 12:44 pm
The final installment of the "Lord of the Rings" trilogy is true to the book in most respects. Is that really such a good thing?

"The Lord of the Rings: Return of the King", the much-anticipated ending to the trilogy, is chock full of lavish battle scenes, mystical drama, and archaic dialogue. That's just as we've come to expect from the previous two movies, or from reading Tolkien's books. And really, that's the stuff we all wanted to see.

But with this final movie, which runs well over three hours (plus previews and commercials), something unfortunate happens... the movie is played out just like the book. And for those of you who haven't read Return of the King, it means that some of the most dramatic parts of the movie (the big battle scenes, for instance), come early in the story; and after reaching a stirring climactic moment, we have to rebuild towards another one. And then another one. And then another one. And then there's a long drawn-out closing sequence. That's not terrible for a book, which can be read over the course of days and weeks; but for a single four-hour sitting, it became mind-numbing. I started looking at my watch and groaning over how much time I had left to sit there.

In this movie in particular, we could have used a little Hollywood-ization, a little dramatic license. The film editors and directors should have resequenced some of the scenes and taken some liberties with the plot, such that the movie kept building towards the end. The pace of the movie could have been quickened; we don't always need long, sweeping, dramatic panoramas.

What ever happened to editing? James Cameron's "Titanic" suffered from this same sort of in-love-with-itself narcissism and still won the Best Editing Oscar. What were people thinking?

You'll still appreciate the movie if you're a Tolkien fan; you'll like the stunning special effects, the costumes, and the overall look of the film. Otherwise, you'll find yourself noticing how stilted the dialogue is, and how one-dimensional the acting is; and you may find yourself bored to tears.

Rating: 2.5 / 5 (as a fan)
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Posted by Ken in: moviesreviews

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