Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King

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By Mark Ramsey | 2003/12/10

Ah the ring, the ring, always the ring. Everyone is seduced by this ring.

Precious is inscribed with Carmen Electra’s phone number, give it to us!” screams Gollum.

Meanwhile nobody wants the ring more than the Dark Lord Sauron himself, a putrid, decaying entity. Says Legolas, “You would think he’d take more interest in hygiene considering how much he values his jewelry.”

“Run, Shadowfax! Show us the meaning of haste!” says Gandalf to his trusty steed. At three hours and twenty minutes, Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King could learn a thing or two from that horse. I could have tossed that crazy ring into the infernal fires of Mount Doom twice and still had time for a latté at the Mordor Starbucks, because you just know there’s a Starbucks on every corner over there.

lotr_orc.jpgWhen last we met, the evil Saruman had been vanquished. Amid the ruins of Saruman’s castle sit Hobbits Merry and Pippin smoking some Shire weed and jonesing for some Elven bread and plenty of Nacho Cheese Doritos.

In the absence of a lava lamp and some black light posters, young Pippin yearns to fondle Saruman’s crystal ball. Success finally! But no sooner does he grab it when bolts of lightning shake his body collapsing him into a heap! “It’s not every man who can touch Saruman’s balls safely, let alone enthusiastically,” says Legolas wistfully, sweeping his lovely blonde hair over his graceful shoulder.

Liv Tyler once again fulfills her primary Middle Earth function: To look pretty and sincere and pretty sincere. Even with her hope for world peace fading, she’s one swimsuit competition away from a pageant win. Inevitably, Liv will hook up with Aragorn and become the Elf Queen – which means Legolas will have to abdicate.

“The board is set; the pieces are moving,” says Gandalf. But what is the game? “If it’s Jeopardy,” notes Legolas, “I’ll take Ethel Merman for a thousand!”

The forces of good are best reflected in the nature of elves: Attractive, clean, and fully versed in the history of musical theater. On the other hand, there’s evil and worse than evil: dirty evil. Slovenly and ugly and unruly and unkempt and in need of urgent dermatological assistance. “Forget the Eye of Sauron, where’s the Queer Eye of Sauron when you need it?” asks Legolas.

lotr_hobbit.jpgBeware! The dark army approaches! Fires are lit, blazing atop every hill in Middle Earth.

“The age of Men is over. The time of the Orc has come,” says the Orc leader. “If it’s the age of Orcs,” replies Legolas, “then it’s definitely the age of teeth whitening.”

So off to battle rides Merry or Pippin (I can’t tell them apart) in full war gear on the lap of lovely Eowyn or Legolas (I can’t tell them apart either).

“We must ride light and swift,” says King Theoden.

“Pack a man-bag, everybody,” suggests a helpful Legolas. “Chain mail is the new black,” he adds.

The stakes are enormous and our heroes are outnumbered. Aragorn needs more men to fight the massive shadow of evil Orcs. So into the mountains he goes. There live the restless souls of a lost army of ghosts. The way Aragorn figures it, calling on an army of the already dead is a great strategy since it seriously minimizes your downside.

“Oh cripes!,” exclaims the Evil Sauron when he discovers the plan, “an exorcist, an exorcist, my kingdom for an exorcist!”

Frodo and Sam, meanwhile, are steadily making their way up the volcanic cliffs of Mount Doom. “Dandy potential for cheap time shares up here, eh Mr. Frodo?” says Sam.

The bad guys attack – atop giant elephants. Elephants! Naturally, they’re rocking all over the place.

“It’s a good thing nobody in Middle Earth has yet invented a wheel!” says Aragorn.

“Why would you put an elephant on wheels?” asks the dwarf, Gimli.

“Not the elephant, the MEN on wheels, my altitude-challenged, panoramic-nosed, punchline-oriented little friend!” replies Aragorn.

Legolas single-handedly disarms one giant elephant, climbing up his behind and surfing down his long trunk to safety. Why so tired, Legolas? “YOU ride up an ass and go down a trunk that big and see how YOU feel,” he answers.

I don’t know if this third and final chapter is better or worse than The Two Towers or Fellowship of the Ring, but I don’t care and neither should you. It’s a glorious, crowning chapter to the ultimate gold standard in sweeping epic adventure.

And best of all, none of these three movies contains Ben Affleck!

Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King caps an extraordinary achievement in cinema history. If Oscar is for anything, it must be for this.

Heed the words of our heroic friend Gimli: “Certainty of death, small chance of success. What are we waiting for?”

What, indeed.


Photos Copyright ©2003 New Line Cinema

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