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Reviews » Theatrical Reviews » Lord of the Rings: Return of the King
Lord of the Rings: Return of the King
New Line // PG-13 // December 17, 2003
Review by Jeffrey Robinson | posted December 19, 2003 | E-mail the Author
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The Prelude: Thoughts Before the Movie
First let me give you a little background about my history with the Lord of the Rings. I remember the first time I read the Lord of the Rings trilogy. I was a little kid, perhaps ten or eleven. We had just read The Hobbit for school and I felt like reading the trilogy, since they had been raved as classics. I read through the entire The Fellowship of the Ring and The Two Towers. I was perhaps halfway through The Return of the King, before I stopped. I can't explain how much I couldn't stand these books. It was complete nonsense to me.

The years went on and I never thought of the Lord of the Rings again. Then one day when I was visiting a friend at the University of San Diego, I was checking out new movies on the internet while he was in class. I saw this Australian website for the Lord of the Rings movie. I checked it out and a new interest sparked inside of me. Not too much later I decided to give the Lord of the Rings trilogy another try. I purchased the books from Barnes and Nobles. I read through The Hobbit in a day or two. After a bit of hard work I got through The Fellowship of the Ring. Less than halfway through The Two Towers I quit. I still couldn't stand these books. I'm not sure if it's the style of writing or just the content. It was just so stupid to me.

Despite my feelings regarding the novels, I went like the rest of the world to see the motion pictures. I fell asleep during The Fellowship of the Ring. The movie was just too slow for me. For that reason the following year when The Two Towers debuted in the theaters, I didn't bother seeing it. However there was so much hype that I picked it up the first day it came out on DVD. I loved it. In fact I can't explain how much I liked The Two Towers. It was a great movie. After The Two Towers I became intrigued to see the conclusion in this epic trilogy. I now anxiously write this prelude to my review, as in a few hours I will bear witness to the thrilling conclusion.

The Review: Thoughts After the Movie
Originally I had not intended to see this film in the theater; I was perfectly content to await its release on home video. However a friend purchased a good number of tickets and I was invited. So I figured why not? This should be a good movie. I really liked the end of The Two Towers. So there we were in an AMC theater, I was surprised to see a few kids dressed up as hobbits and that the theater wasn't even packed. Sure it seemed like a long line, but we had no problem finding good seats. I saw more people for a fourth week showing of Star Wars: Attack of the Clones than on the opening day of Return of the King.

The first half of this movie is pretty slow. I couldn't believe how long it took to build up the story. This included several character expansions that we did not see in the prior two films of the two hobbits Merry and Pippin, the devilishly corrupt Gollum/Smeagol, and some other characters. While this could have been interesting, I felt their significance to the overall story seemed pointless and added an unnecessary extra amount of time to the total runtime of the feature.

Now I won't go into the details of the film, because I just won't. Here is a very quick rundown, Frodo and Sam led by Gollum travel to Mount Doom to destroy the ring. Aragorn, Gimli, Legolas, Gandalf, the other two hobbits, and many others lead themselves into a few big battles. There are some very amazing war scenes. Finally there is a conclusion I dare not speak of. If you've read the book you know what happened, but if you never finished it (like me), it will be something entirely new to you.

Since I'm speaking about the mysterious conclusion, I have hand it to Peter Jackson. He did a wonderful job at fooling the audience. At one point myself amongst some other people in the theater were firmly convinced it was over. (Wishful thinking?) However there was still about thirty minutes left to wrap up the movie. I couldn't believe how slow this part of the movie was. It dragged on for what seemed like forever and a day. This ending could have been wrapped up in a matter of minutes, perhaps five at the most. But nearly thirty? It was just too much to handle.

Now while it seems I am bashing this feature, I'm not. Yes there were parts about this film I didn't care for (even some I've not mentioned), but really I did enjoy the movie. I thought on the whole it was quite good, not the best, but still good. One thing I really liked about the film was the comical interaction of Gimli and Legolas throughout the movie. There were times when I couldn't stop laughing. The fight scenes on the whole were really action packed and exciting. There was a lot about this movie that was entertaining.

Anyways my specific problem with this feature was the fact that it is about three and a half hours long. Quite frankly it was about two hours too long for me to sit through in a theater. Without the ability to pause the movie to grab something to eat, drink, or go to the bathroom without fear of missing part of the movie made it very difficult to sit through. So the final point I'm driving at is that if you are like me, not a die hard Lord of the Rings fan, it might just be best to wait until the feature is released on video. I know that I am really looking forward to seeing this feature in the comfort of my own home. I'm sure the viewing experience will be much more pleasurable.

Please be sure to also read Megan Denny's review of Lord of the Rings: Return of the King.

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