8A - The Michigan Daily - Tuesday, January 6, 2003
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TRLoGy coNlsu)es im epic zPasl)lo '
By Ryan Lewis
Daily Film Editor
MOVIE REVEW **
The end has come. Peter Jackson's unenvi-
able task of adapting J.R.R. Tolkien's "The
Lord of the Rings" that began just two years
ago has now officially concluded with the
release of "The Return of the King." As sad
as it is to know that no more are coming,
this final chapter of the
greatest fantasy epic in
literary history now pro- The Lord of
vides the single most the Rings:
gratifying movie-going The Return
e of a- of the King
mak t, :'s
the * ~At Quality 16,
thefie y Showcase and
tar~to fiyyniNew Line
Lee's as Saruman) is ultimately forgivable,
even laudable, in light of the fantastic result.
Still, Jackson's faithfulness to the novel is on
par with the likes of "The Godfather," and his
visual poetry rivals even the most emotive
scenes in any tear-jerker in sheer poignancy.
"Return" opens in a past when Gollum
(Andy Serkis) was still Smeagol at the moment
he comes upon the Ring, or more exactly, when
his brother, Deagol, finds the Ring. After a
startling montage of Smeagol's deterioration
into the creature Gollum, the story continues
where "The Two Towers" concluded. Smeagol
has officially been taken over by his evil self-
doppelganger and leads Sam (Sean Astin) and
Frodo (Elijah Wood) into the depths of Mordor.
Though Sam suspects Gollum's disposition as a
villain, Frodo refuses to go on without him.
Outside the walls of Mordor, the rest of the
Fellowship braces the good men of Middle
Earth for war. Gandalf (Ian McKellen) rides to
Gndor and prepares Denethor, the cynical
offGondor, for the ultimate battle; King
z= en musters all his forces, and Aragorn
~(VigMortensen),,entures under the moun-
o s it an myheld to an unfulfilled oath
o .tfageAll the while, the dark lord
n sezs out 4j4g ings to besiege
Above: This day, we fight!
Right: Every day Frodo moves closer to Mordor.
Still more impressive, the acting in "Return
of the King" is by far the finest. Sam's anguish
over protecting himself and Frodo from Gol-
lum and his despair at losing the faith of his
master - not to mention his fight with Weta's
nasty giant spider Shelob - showcases Sean
Astin's talent in a manner unseen in his early-
'90s heyday. In fact, each of the hobbits has
his moment, especially Pippin (Billy Boyd) as
he sings in the great hall of kings while
Denethor's son Faramir gallops to imminent
death. Viggo Mortensen displays his finest act-
ing as he transforms himself from Aragorn, the
ranger from the north, into Elessar, King of
men, and Ian McKellen, as Gandalf, is infalli-
ble as always.
Hcvver, the cohesiveness and subtle
power of the film results from Andrew
realm of G d&m' Main' t ist ofin-s Deep, the
ental denouemenis e'ge n on iennor Fields and the
4Irse noto mention well'i .es 'f tlusacef hi' ixcssthe
d~ n idei put, more tha Ituttitate xpr i f dial effects integra-
a oToi i ftin into a mere 2$mi5' t a dng awe-inspiring seem hard-
ute bf film.' ly °hough to characterize Weta Workshop's
~Whileit in many ways has the most signifi- incredible creation. Even more notable, howev-
*ti dartures fron 'Tlken's novels, each er, tle white city/frtresof Mias Tiri -A bot
aisfoination or omni .- . ,Ct pher sift'andi is truly a sight tNAGho.
Lesnie's cinematography and the work of the
entire sound editing crew. Following the
lighting of beacons from Gondor to Rohan
and the arrival of the Rohirrim at the
foothills of Pelennor superbly visualizes
Tolkien's words. Seeing thousands of horses
lined up and striding into battle, even as
some ultra-realistically fall to their deaths, is
a sight to behold for the sake of seeing beau-
ty through a projector. And when Gandalf
rides to the aid of retreating soldiers from
Osgiliath, never have light, color and sound
mixed so perfectly. So perfect and unnotice-
able is the soundtrack that paying close atten-
tion to it makes Jackson's craftsmanship all
the more uncanny.
Somehow Jackson undertook the most
daunting task a director could and gave the
frothing masses eye candy of the highest
quality. "Return of the King" is not only the
cinematic achievement of the year but also
the crowning directorial achievement of the
decade thus far. Managing an ensemble cast
and a pseudo-period-piece to such indelibili-
ty cannot be overlooked.
Alone, "Return of the King" stands as one
of cinema's instant classics. As a single film
upwards of 12 hours combined with "Fellow-
ship" and "Two Towers," "The Lord of the
Rings" encapsulates the expression of film as
art and mass consumer culture.
The Michigan Daily's
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