Tuesday, December 17, 2013

The Final Chapter From Middle Earth

When the first two installments of the "Lord of the Rings" trilogy were released at the movie theaters in 2001 and 2002, neither went on to win any major Oscars although both received nominations.

The general consensus among most moviegoers was that the third and final installment, which was released 10 years ago today, would be the big payoff for director Peter Jackson's achievement. Was it ever. "Return of the King" swept all 11 Oscars for which it was nominated including Best Picture, Best Director and Best Adapted Screenplay.

"Return of the King" gave audiences the chance to see Gollum (Andy Serkis) at length. He was merely a shadowy figure in the first movie, as he was in the book, and more visible in the second. People who read the original J.R.R. Tolkien books already knew of Gollum's treachery; I can only imagine what that revelation was like for people who hadn't read the books.
Sam (Sean Astin): I heard it from his own mouth! He means to murder us!

Gollum/Smeagol (Andy Serkis): Never! Smeagol wouldn't hurt a fly!

Sam: What are you up to? Sneaking off, are we?

Gollum: Sneaking? Sneaking? Fat Hobbit is always so polite. Smeagol shows them secret ways that nobody else could find, and they say 'sneak!' Sneak? Very nice friend. Oh, yes, my precious. Very nice, very nice.

Sam: All right, all right! You just startled me is all. What were you doing?

Gollum: Sneaking.

The movie started with a distant flashback to when Smeagol (Gollum's original name) first came to possess the ring, and audiences got their first real glimpse of the actor who played him. In the earlier movies, only Andy Serkis' voice was heard. He performed the movements that served as the basis for the computer–generated imagery (CGI) of the Gollum character.

The opening flashback showed Smeagol killing to possess the ring, then withdrawing into exile. It was a not–so–subtle reminder to viewers who hadn't read the books (as well as those who had) that the ring would corrupt anyone who possessed it. That was why Frodo (Elijah Wood) and the other Hobbits and members of the Fellowship had embarked on the journey to Mount Doom in the first place.

In many ways, "Return of the King" was more majestic than its two predecessors. The battle of Helm's Deep in "The Two Towers" was impressive, but the action sequences in "Return of the King" were as good as, if not better than, such sequences in the first two movies.

As the climactic battle approached in "Return of the King," I felt as if I was catching a glimpse of the fruition of the biblical prophecy of Armageddon.

Many film trilogies seem to run out of gas by the time the third and final installment hits the big screen. But Peter Jackson's "Return of the King" went into a higher gear. I suppose it had to. There were several stories that were wrapping up in it, not just the one about Frodo and Sam and Gollum, although that certainly formed the heart of the movie.

The "Lord of the Rings" trilogy was a triumph, and "Return of the King" was a worthy finale.