December 18, 2003

Melissa and I, along with some out-of-town "Ringers", went to see "Lord of the Rings: Return of the King" last night. Oddly enough, Melissa and "Merry" (a friend from Dragon*Con), were the only ones dressed up. I have never seen any later movie of a series become the best until now. RotK is easily the best of the three, taking the setup and momentum of the previous movies, hitting the story's full stride and never, ever letting up for a moment. The battle scenes top even "Two Towers" for sheer scale and awe. The acting is absolutely top-notch and the folks at Weta Digital have raised the bar on meshing real-life and virtual actors, making other films' digital armies look like cheap xerox copies. (If you own the DVD's, you know that this is partially due to the MASSIVE program, which instills each digital actor with a level of Artificial Intelligence. Really ground-breaking stuff.)

There was so much story to tell, so many story lines to tie up, It never felt like 3 1/2 hours. It was obvious that some scenes were cut out, like the much-publicized exclusion of Sarumon's demise altogether, but there was no room for anything short of absolutely essential scenes in that 3.5 hours. We all know it'll all be on the Extended Edition DVD next fall. With RotK seen, I can now turn to the second-highest priority of this month, namely an obscure pagan ritual called "Christmas."

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