The Return of the King debuts next Wednesday in the U.S. and the advance buzz is deafening. Variety says:
- A “King” that earns its crown, Peter Jackson’s final installment in his monumental “The Lord of the Rings” represents that filmmaking rarity — a third part of a trilogy that is decisively the best of the lot. With epic conflict, staggering battles, striking landscapes and effects, and resolved character arcs all leading to a dramatic conclusion to more than nine hours of masterful storytelling, “The Return of the King” is an urgently paced 200-minute film without an ounce of fat — until unfortunate multiple endings that go on and on, as if Jackson couldn’t bear to let go. Again unlike other trilogy finales, this one will rank with its predecessors at the box office, where the first two entries have generated $1.786 billion internationally.
….In a way new to the trilogy, the emotional momentum surges along with the physical action. After early ambivalence over his responsibility for the Ring, Frodo grows into the job; after long dodging his royal inheritance, Aragorn finally rises to the occasion; Sam, especially, emerges as a three-dimensional character of intense devotion to Frodo even after he has been tricked by the Iago-like Gollum and exiled by his closest friend; and the ineffectual Hobbits Pippin and Merry take on some size, figuratively if not literally.
….To greater effect than he has at any point in the three films, Jackson cuts among different sets of activity, the most spectacular being the battle and the most emotionally intense being Frodo’s painful, inch-by-inch journey.
….The trip, which requires perilous climbing up slippery twisting stairs, is marked by the Gollum’s frequent attempts to make off with the Ring and by the most frightening episode in the entire trilogy — Frodo’s and, subsequently, Sam’s face-offs with an enormous Spider named Shelob. The incredibly detailed and life-like arachnid succeeds in stinging Frodo, and rapidly wraps him like a mummy. Sword-in-hand, Sam then engages the beast, and the angles at which the struggle is shot are enormously impactful and unusual for shots involving so many digital and special effects. Few will watch this scene without drawing back in the theater seat.
….The siege of Minas Tirith may well be the mother of all cinematic battles; certainly no pre-CGI war film ever featured a scene involving upwards of 200,000 soldiers. But that’s how many Orcs maraud the city, and the details are extraordinary: the huge stones catapulted at the fortifications from mobile towers; the fire-breathing dragon battering ram that crashes through the main gates; the earth-shaking Mumakil that raze all before them with scythe-like tusks and carry dozens of men; the gradual movement of the battle from the ground to the upper levels of the exquisitely designed citadel. All of “The Lord of the Rings” has been building to this, and it delivers entirely.
….All the outstanding technical and craft achievements that have been duly honored in the previous installments are at least equaled and sometimes trumped here, especially in regard to how involved the creatures are this time. There has been no let-up in creativity, only intensification.
….So Jackson has done it. After seven years of work, the young New Zealander has pulled off one of the most ambitious and phenomenally successful dream projects of all time, a complete visual rendering of a 1,000-page literary classic beloved by countless readers internationally, a set of films that satisfies the Tolkien purists and, when all is said and done, will generate well upwards of $3 billion in all markets.
- An epic success and a history-making production that finishes with a masterfully entertaining final installment, New Line Cinema’s adaptation of J.R.R. Tolkien’s “The Lord of the Rings” is a soaring legend in its own day and destined to be cherished for many ages to come.
“The Return of the King” is the longest and most complicated of the three “Rings” films and probably fated to be the biggest moneymaker. Sure to be an Oscar contender in many categories and a breathtaking argument for director Peter Jackson winning every award there is to give, “King” has none of the usual deficiencies that frequently scuttle third films.
….Eventually, this Black Captain of the Nazgul, who rides one of the dragonlike beasts first seen in “Towers,” has a fight with Eowyn and Merry in the Battle of the Pelennor Fields, outside the walls of Minas Tirith, that readers have been waiting decades to see. It’s a gloriously crowd-pleasing moment, while overall the lengthy siege is tremendously exciting and visually unparalleled.
….The thunderous conclusion to the story of the Ring that includes the end of Frodo’s journey and the battle outside the Black Gate winds down to a sublime denouement, leaving only 20 minutes to wrap up when Tolkien took a hundred pages. The extended DVD should bind “King” and the other two films into one awesome movie deserving of regular revivals in theaters. But who can resist right now a classic fantasy adventure that never drags and is simply ravishing to look at thanks to the thousands of craftsmen, performers, animals and postproduction refiners?
- YES, it’s true: “The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King” is the picture to beat at this year’s Oscars.
Shown to the press this week in advance of its Dec. 17 opening, the 3 1/2-hour “Rings” exceeds its huge expectations with a more cleanly told, emotionally involving and better-acted story than its Oscar-nominated predecessors’; awesome, sweeping battle scenes; and sheer visual grandeur that could blow away the competition.
Finally, looking ahead and backward at the same time, Jackson says he’d like to film the prequel to the Rings trilogy, The Hobbit:
- New Zealand film director Peter Jackson, tipped to win an Oscar for his “The Lord of the Rings” epic, said Monday he would like to make “The Hobbit” prequel to the trilogy and work with some of the same actors again.
….Despite his exhaustion, Jackson is not resting on his laurels and said if complex rights issues can be resolved he would like to direct “The Hobbit,” J.R.R. Tolkien’s prequel to the “Rings” trilogy set some 50 years earlier.
“I’d be interested in doing it because I think it would give continuity to the overall chapter,” he said.
While many of the lead “Rings” characters do not appear in “The Hobbit” story, the wizard Gandalf, played by Ian McKellen (news), and Gollum, the cave dweller corrupted by the powerful ring, do and should make a comeback. Arwen, the elf princess played by Liv Tyler (news), could also feature again, Jackson said.
….Jackson will take a few weeks off over Christmas and then start writing the script for his next project, a remake of the classic “King Kong” which, like the “Rings,” he will also film in New Zealand, using the same team of special effects experts.
Richard Taylor, whose special effects workshop made 48,000 props for the trilogy and whose work earned two Oscars, says “King Kong” will be even better than Lord of the Rings.
“I have every aspiration to make King Kong much cooler,” he said. “It’s going to be a very beautiful film.” [Reuters]
The dude does not shy away from epics.
If the movie is as good as they say it is, I have the sense The Return of the King could be a record-beaker with fans returning again and again like to Titanic.