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Review from Director's Guild Screening of RETURN OF THE KING last night!

Harry here... need to see this movie now. Beware of spoilers, for you folks that don't know the novel! Here ya go...

Hey Harry --

Big fan of the site, never written before.  On this of all days, I am thankful for many things.  But what's really cause for thanksgiving is that I spent the afternoon watching The Return of the King at the DGA theater in Hollywood.  After the disappointments of of the 2nd and 3rd Matrix (not to mention SW) and given all the expectation built into the capper of this trilogy, I leaned to my wife as the lights came down in the theater and said, I'm so nervous I could throw up.  Thankfully, I kept the turkey, gravy and mashed taters down -- ROTK fulfills all expectations.  I'm not sure exactly of the spoiler ettiquette here, so I'll just give overall thoughts... 

The opening to the third movie is pretty different from that of the last two, but no less perfect for the story.  It involves the origin of Gollum/Smeagol and a live performance by the brilliant Andy Serkis.  Give that guy a special Oscar please.  Ian McKellen is great again, and even though he gives his best performance in FOTR, still think he should get a statue.  Merry and Pippen finally get to shine in this installment (even in the books I found the Treebeard story in Two Towers kind of yawn inducing) albeit in seperate ways.  The battle for Minas Tirith is the centerpiece of the film -- it literally takes up at least an hour of the films 3 hour running time -- the highlight for me was Legolas single-handedly taking down one of those huge Oliphants.  Seriously, this battle is so kick ass I wonder if Helm's Deep will now seem boring in comparison.  It's probably not necessary to tell fans to watch the extended DVD of The Two Towers before seeing ROTK but the deleted Boromir-Faramir-Denethor sequence from that film really serves to enlighten one of ROTK's main plotlines.   Shelob is great, wonderfully rendered, absolutely terrifying for those of us with arachnophobia.  Loved the Eowyn story (how great are the females in these movies -- Arwen and Galadriel too).  I guess my favorite part of the whole movie was finally getting to see Frodo and Sam make it to Mount Doom (I guess we did see a flashback in FOTR with Isildur and Elrond, but...) and the ensuing struggle to fulfil the quest. 

Most importantly, this is the end of a nine hour cinematic journey, and that ending is completely satisfying, and also heartbreaking.  It's silly, but I feel exactly how I felt when I finished the books -- I actually miss Frodo and Sam and the rest of the characters that are now so close to my heart.     

My only real complaint about the film -- the lack of closure to the Saruman story.  After all, he's the main bad guy for the first two films, and he only shows for a few short seconds.  It's a hole that I hope will be filled by the extended cut, but I can't help but think that the deletion was a mistake.  I guess we'll see next November.  Also, as I was leaving the theater I heard some folks complain that it was one of those films that had six endings.  My feeling is, at least all six were good.  I've been through nine hours with these characters -- I want to see it wrapped up well.  In fact if Jackson wanted to take an extra ten minutes to scoure The Shire, that'd've been alright with me. 

But I can't complain, from Tolkien's incredibly detailed, laborious novels, Jackson's created faithful and fascinating cinema, and in my mind, the first truly seamless film trilogy in terms of quality.  I'm gonna spend the rest of my life visiting Middle-Earth again and again.  This was a great Thanksgiving. 

If you use this, call me Jerry Aldini

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