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December 17, 2003 - 11:58 p.m.

A “No Spoilers” Review

Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King

In a word: “Yes!

Yes, Peter Jackson got it right, but once again he managed to nail it without really being absolutely “true” in detail to the books. Jackson’s Return of the King (ROTK) held faithfully to the spirit of Tolkein’s epic novel*, although many fans will nitpick the details.

Hey, it’s what we do.

However, hardcore fans like myself and my 2 buddies from this morning’s showing knew going into these flicks that it just couldn’t be done faithfully in three movies. To do Tolkien right, we would have needed 7 four-hour movies (The Hobbit plus the 2 “books” of each of the three volumes), and there still would have been some trimming!

So we griped about missing Tom Bombadil & The Old Forest, Glorfindel, Ted Sandyman & Bill Ferny; we worried about the (false) rumors such as the “Arwen Warrior Princess” scenes; we griped about Elves at Helm’s Deep, Eomer’s minimized story arc and the buffooning of the proud dwarf Gimli.

There are plenty of nitpicks to ROTK too, I’ll probably post mine plus other spoilers in a month or so, but none of these nitpicks are really worth a damn, because, Yes, Peter Jackson’s movie is very much The Lord of the Rings (Ooohhh that Eowyn!!!)

Leaving the theater sometime after 3:30 am (Yes, I was one of the geeks who went to a midnight premier but, No I was not one of the losers in costume) we put aside the nitpicks and started discussing what omissions might make its way into the extended version of the DVD. My 2 buddies and I agreed that many of the nitpicked omissions may very well make it in after all, except of course that the “lesser’ ending can obviously not be turned into the “greater” ending, for those out there who know what we mean.

I knew going in the movie would have to end differently than the book, because that would mean after the obvious “big finale” you’d still have an hour or more of movie! Fine for us hardcore fans, but we have to acknowledge even the current ending might be tough for the non-book-fans to deal with (am I being cryptic enough?)

Hey, does anyone else out there think Peter Jackson himself would have made a great Ghan-buri-ghan? Although the ultimate Ghan-buri-ghan would have been late great hawaiian singer Iz Kamakawiwo'ole.

*One important nitpick that I’ve mentioned elsewhere: Tolkein always intended LOTR to be one novel, and said it was not a trilogy. Against his initial wishes, he eventually reluctantly agreed to publish his story in three parts, but it is very much one novel published in three parts, and not a first book plus two sequels.

Similarly, Peter Jackson honored Tolkein’s vision by releasing the three movies close together (only a year apart in Hollywood terms is virtually unheard of) and telling the story as if it is one film shown in three parts. Fellowship just stops (as well it should!), while Two Towers has closure to the Rohan arc but also pretty much just stops. Also, Jackson didn’t go crazy with recaps but just started the second and third films where he left off; you had to see the other two movies, if you didn’t don’t bother seeing ROTK!!!

Lord of the Rings: Extended DVD’s

Now, you all do have the extended versions of Fellowship and Two Towers, right?

For the Tolkein Fanboys and Fanbabes out there, well, what the hell are you waiting for, you purist you, these are substantially better versions of the films!

For those of you who haven’t read the books but loved the movies, hell, it’s even better for you guys because the extended versions really fill in the blanks; they explain a lot of the motivations and certainly fine-tune the characterizations. It’s all stuff that shouldn’t have been left out but couldn’t have been included. Average theater-goers just won’t sit through a long epic like these extended versions, while you can either sit through it in your own home or at least watch them in measured bites.

There’s no way around it, very long movies, no matter how well crafted, can have a soporific effect on anyone. The beauty of the extended DVD’s is that you can go back and pick up where you fell asleep!

The Lord of the Rings

Yes, Peter Jackson really did a great job with LOTR! It’s the real thing! (Don’t sue me, Coca Cola!!!)

My buddy D. turned to me while the end credits were rolling “I’m kind of disappointed that it’s all finally over.

To which I replied “But it’s not over, we still have a (rumored) hour and fifteen more movie to watch next fall when the extended DVD of ROTK comes out!!!

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