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For more movie summaries, see Kam's Kapsules.

photo caption:
SEARCHING FOR THE CRACKS OF DOOM: The pair of brave and gallant hobbits, Sam (Sean Astin, right) and the ring-bearer Frodo (Elijah Wood), forge onward in their search for the Cracks of Doom hidden in Mordor's mountains which, when reached, will bring them to the end of their epic quest..end caption.


The Lord of the Rings 3: The Return of the King: Tolkien Trilogy Concludes with Fitting Finale to an Epic Fable

At a total of 3 hours and 20 minutes (not counting the 15 minutes or so of trailers immediately preceding the "feature presentation"), The Lord of the Rings 3: The Return of the King is a full-length picture in the truest sense of the term. Any review of this protracted conclusion of the Tolkien trilogy really ought to start with the movie's rather high squirm index. An unfortunate by-product of the protracted time commitment, is an unusually restless audience as evidenced by the distracting traffic to the concession counter and restrooms during the movie.

Nonetheless, The Lord of the Rings 3, is still highly recommended as a wondrous, worthwhile spectacle, a fitting finale to the J.R.R. Tolkien epic. Thus, another round of Oscar accolades are in order for the final installment, this after the first garnered 13 Academy Award nominations (winning 4), while the second landed a half-dozen (winning twice). Director Peter Jackson deserves some special sort of acknowledgment for having had the foresight to film all three episodes simultaneously. This enabled him to sew 9+ hours of celluloid seamlessly into a magnificent fantasy faithful to the vision of Tolkien's source material.

The Return of the King's stellar cast includes Elijah Wood as Frodo the Hobbit, Sean Astin as his best friend Sam, Ian McKellen as Gandalf the Wizard, Viggo Mortensen as heir-apparent Aragorn, Liv Tyler as Arwen, his love interest, Cate Blanchett as Galadriel, Hugo Weaving as Elrond, Orlando Bloom as Legolas the Elf, John Rhys-Davies as Gimli the Dwarf, and Andy Serkis as the mercurial Gollum. Of equal importance is the cutting-edge technology employed to breathe life into the computer-generated characters and other images also sharing the screen.

Taking up where The Two Towers left off, the finale unfolds as a pair of parallel dramas which imperceptibly coalesce. One branch follows Gandalf's attempt to rally Gondor's dispirited, rag-tag army and other brave forces for a final showdown with the legions of darkness. The other, traces fearless Frodo's perilous trek with loyal Sam and the mysterious Gollum across treacherous enemy environs in order to toss the ring into the fires of Mount Doom.

The elaborate battle scenes, replete with sweeping vistas of castles, moats, and endless legions of foot soldiers being dispatched in hand-to-hand combat, stand in sharp contrast with Frodo's terrible quest. Somehow the constant shifting between wholesale bloodletting and Frodo's intimate terror makes for an absolutely absorbing adventure which establishes the Lord of the Rings saga as perhaps the best mythic fable ever brought to the big screen.

Excellent (4 stars). Rated PG-13 for epic battle sequences and frightening images.

end of review.

For more movie summaries, see Kam's Kapsules.


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