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Lord of the Rings: Return of the King

"The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King" ... magnificent filmmaking.

IT IS without question magnificent filmmaking. Writer, director Peter Jackson has undoubtedly finished one of the most anticipated conclusion of a trilogy with such stupendous special effects and vision, that it should not disappoint fans of JRR Tolkien or newcomers to this monolith of a story.

It's a special marriage of myth and special effects, of popular literature and entertainment and of art and profitable commerce.

Many great strengths exist here. The fantastic mystical universe that has lent itself to such great film making — good performances from the cast even if it meant being part of a rich pageant, the art direction and cinematography especially the aerial shots that shock and overawes one with its spectacular quality and the New Zealand landscape that shows that this could possibly be one of the most grandly beautiful places on earth. But then there are no rules that masterpieces must be flawless. And the Return Of The King is not without its flaws.

The story for instance. When one reads the encounters and the journey of characters to their destination, fraught no doubt with several hair raising adventures, on screen it loses some of its charm — just how long can you see hobbits climb rocks? Or how long can you endure the dual nature of Gollum, which after the fourth sneer, you know this one is up to no good? And then the several false endings make one feel that both the director and all those involved with the trilogy find it really hard to say goodbye. It's a trifle long and a bit tedious!

But in the final analysis, only the breathtaking filming stays with you. You would never have thought Jackson could have improved on the Battle for Helms Deep. But the Battle of The Pelennor Fields is on such a huge scale and so well shot that it possibly puts to shade many other battle scenes done before. If Gollum was the special effects triumph in Twin Towers, then here the Elephants of Mordor are unbelievably realistic.

``Return Of The King" opens with the origin of Gollum (Andy Serkis) who murders his cousin Deagol when Deagol fishes the ring out of a riverbed. The film moves on to the present with the skeletal Gollum leading the hobbits Frodo (Elijah Wood) and Sam (Sean Astin) to Mount Doom where they hope to destroy the ring. Amid the ruins of Isengard, Pippin (Billy Boyd) is curious about the crystal ball linked to the evil Sauron. Havoc is created when he tries to take a peek into it. Wizard Gandalf (Ian Mc Kellen) with a bigger role this time takes Pippin with him on that magnificent snow white horse to Minas Tirith, capital of Gondor for safe keeping.

Faramir (David Wenhem) has to battle hostiles storming the city of Osgiliath while Aragorn (Viggio Mortensen) tries to talk King Theoden (Bernard Hill) of Rohan into helping Gondor. Imperative because Sauron's forces have attacked the capital in his final siege against mankind.

Gandalf desperately tries to move the broken forces of Gandor to act till finally Theoden unites the warriors to join in the fight. At the same time Frodo must be given a chance to complete his quest with the Ring.

All this won't make much sense to newcomers — — either to the earlier two parts of the trilogy or the book. The director is not going into that.

He has a lot to cover and he would much rather get on with the race for conclusion and pictorial depiction of events. But as the film unfolds you do forget the actual story and get caught up with the visualisation of this world called middle earth and its survival. Minas Tirith takes centre stage in the four-hour saga. And what a spectacle it is!


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