by Jonathan Hanie

Empress Books
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Summer/Fall 2004

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REVIEWED: LORD OF THE RINGS – the last two films of the trilogy

      This reviewer faced an interesting dilemma last year. I couldn’t decide which of the remaining LORD OF THE RINGS movies to review, so in the end, I decided to review them both. THE TWO TOWERS is probably the darkest film of the series. Many battles are fought, blood is shed, and friends are lost or killed in the world of Middle Earth. Frodo and Sam continue to Mount Doom, aided by the frog-like Gollum. (Didn’t trust him the moment I saw him....) Pippin and Merry try to make their way through Fangorn Forest, where mighty trees, mythic old souls on the side of right, walk and talk and aid the good cause. Finally, Aragorn, Gimli and Legolas met up with Gandalf again and help out with battles of epic proportion and action reminiscent of 1950s fantasy films. This second film in the trilogy is certainly a spectacle to behold. It has great special effects (who can forget Treebeard!), edge-of-your-seat warfare, and many of the characters are explored in greater depth and somewhat more fleshed out. Australian actress Miranda Otto as Eowyn delivered a truly unforgettable performance. Her strong and noble character gives courage to the cause, and the producers wisely let her live to reappear in the final film.

      In THE RETURN OF THE KING, the battles continue. Sam and Frodo, torn about their feelings toward Gollum, slowly but surely make their way to Mount Doom. The armies of darkness continue to assail the other forces of good. The only drawback to this concluding film is the absence of the Saruman character, as played by Christopher Lee. 12 minutes of footage shot for RETURN were left on the cutting room floor. It was rumoured that the 12 minutes didn’t possess the same pace as the rest of the film, so Saruman’s scenes were dropped. The DVD (and possibly video) release will supposedly contain the missing scenes, which should resolve the mystery of Saruman’s fate during the last battle of the second film.
      I have to admit that RETURN OF THE KING is the film that finally got me into the theatre again. I simply had to see this one on the big screen. Orcs, Shelob, Gollum, oh my.... They had saved the best for last! Apparently the Motion Picture Academy thought so too, as it was rightfully awarded as the Best Picture of 2002. (Other Oscars included: Art Direction, Visual Effects, Film Editing, Sound, and Sound Editing.)
      I also had to see RETURN to give closure to these questions: Can Frodo save Middle Earth? Can he and Sam ever speak to each other after their adventures? Can Minas Tirith survive? Will Gimli ever best Legolas at battle kills? And the topper -- Will that pesky once-Hobbit Gollum ever SHUT UP!

Bio: Born and raised in Albany, Georgia, Jonathan "Kibo" Hanie graduated from high school in 1989. He has since attended Valencia Community College in Orlando, and Nova University where he earned a Bachelor's in Education, and the University of Central Florida where he obtained a Master's Degree in Educational Media. Single, Hanie has lived in Orlando for the past fourteen years. His hobbies include film, travelling, reading books, cats, Falco, Krispy Kreme Doughnuts and recycling.

PHOTO CREDITS: © Copyright: MMII New Line Productions, Inc.

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