By now, no doubt, you've read my colleague John Dicker's inconsequential and pretentiously inept appraisal of the final installment of Peter Jackson's megalo-epic adaptation of J.R.R. Tolkien's Lord of the Rings trilogy [see page 35]. Fear not, dear readers, for I shall provide the tat for his tit.
First off, let me agree with Mr. Dicker and acknowledge that the human buttocks were in no way, shape or form designed by our Lord and Creator to retain their shape and form in the parked position over the course of three-and-a-half hours. No doubt, the unnecessarily sentimental last half hour of the film could have been cruelly beheaded, and we'd all have rubbed the pins and needles from our bums and walked away feeling mightily emboldened by the greatest cinematic fantasy since Star Wars.
Let me not indulge in further character assassinations of Mr. Dicker other than to say if he'd removed (or even loosened) his codpiece before the screening, he'd surely have found the ride more enjoyable.
Basically, Return of the King was the bizzity-fo-shizzity-biznomb, and by bizzity-fo-shizzity-biznomb, I mean totally wicked and completely awesome, and by totally wicked and completely awesome, I mean: suhweet.
Look, you know the story. The trilogy of Tolkien books stands beside Homer's Iliad and Odyssey as one of the two great epic adventures of Western literature. The fact that Jackson even dared to attempt what all Tolkien fans knew would be a cinematic betrayal of the books made him huevo-rific. The fact that he defied everyone but John Dicker by making an impossibly gorgeous, technically improbable film that not only did full justice to Tolkien's final installment of the Rings, but one that also took unthinkable liberties with its plot and still got away with it, is just ... it's just in-friggin'-comprehensibly wonderful.
Have I said anything about the movie? It's bigger than the imagination of the books. It's the first true triumph of CGI technology in the rendering of fully developed characters and creatures. Gollum is better than ever -- after his first 30 seconds on screen I'd forgotten he was digital. His amphibian face and nasty-ass yuck mouth bring his sinister doppelgnger to full flesh. The beasts -- the Nazgul, the Oliphaunts, and the trolls -- made Spielberg's Jurassic dinos and Ang Lee's Hulk look like Clay-mation. Perhaps the most spectacular visual elements of the film, however, are the panoramic shots of Minas Tirith (the white city, and seat of Gondor), the battlefield that lies before it, and the destroyed river city of Osgiliath. They are everything fantasy should be: better and more detailed than reality. The production designers should win some kind of architectural award for it all. And then there are the Orcs and the Riders of Rohan and all the dizzying, unnecessary details of their costumes you could spend months admiring in slow motion. And the digitized overhead shots of the battle ...
The acting, as in the other two films (last half hour excepted), is just as spot on as you'd expect in a good-vs.-evil epic. Ian McKellan really steals the show as the cantankerous ber-wizard, and he does a fine job opening plenty of cans of Middle Earth whoopass. Viggo Mortenson is duly heroic as Aragorn. And Orlando Bloom is sooo hot and sooo impervious.
There's no real point in reviewing a film as great as this and I would like to encourage all who see this film to berate and humiliate John Dicker (don't worry, I do it all the time) via letters to the editor (
firstname.lastname@example.org ). While you may want to bring your hemorrhoid cushion, it's a ride worth the bumps!
-- Noel Black