Sean Astin

The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King

Year: 2003
Directed By: Peter Jackson
Written By: J.R.R. Tolkien (novel) Fran Walsh, Phillipa Boyens, and Peter Jackson (screenplay)

RYAN’S REVIEW

Now to the final end all be all of the series.  The three year journey finally came to an end with this film and what an end it came to.  I will never forget the feeling I had leaving the theater after seeing this film.  By the time this one came out I had invested so much in the series and honestly felt like a different person after seeing the conclusion.  The film ends with some highly emotional scenes that really got to me. I felt I had learned something from these movies and my outlook on life was different.  Everyone succeeded and was acknowledged for their accomplishments.  It painted a pretty picture of how things should go in life and in my youth I bought into that idea.  Things aren’t always that simple, as I would grow to learn, but I will never forget how happy I was with the ending of this series and how much it meant to me at the time.

Something about seeing Legolas and Gimli acknowledge each other as friends right before the final battle as they looked certain death in the face really got to me.  These two men had always been at odds over ancient rivalries and in competition with one another all throughout the series.  When Gimli mentions that he never expected to die next to an elf and Legolas responds that he is going to die next to a friend it somehow gave me hope for the world.  Seeing these men finally overcome their differences and accept each other as friends made me think there was hope people in the real world could do the same.  I was young and foolish because I now know people will never be able to do such a thing.  This movie was simply a fantasy I got too invested in and misguidedly thought it could apply to real life.  I still hope for the possibility that people in all walks of life will learn to accept one another and live together peacefully but no longer believe it will happen. People are just so mean, judgmental, and selfish in general. I try to be a good person and treat all people I come across equally but still can’t help to recognize the shortcomings of others in that aspect.  Too many people will just never get it and it’s an unfortunate truth I have had to learn to accept and live with.  Would that everyone in life lived up to the same principles we see in the characters of these films but they won’t and it is simply foolish to think they ever will.

Another scene in the end that really got to me was when the hobbits prepare to bow to Aragorn and he stops them saying they will bow to no one.  When he bows to them and the entire kingdom follows him in doing so it was really inspiring.  These four little men had showed more bravery and heroism in the face of danger than anyone throughout these films.  Frodo shouldered the evilness along the way, Sam saved everyone by doing what Frodo couldn’t, and Merri and Pippen were the first to charge after Aragorn in the deciding battle.  These guys didn’t have size or skill on their side but they had courage to do whatever they needed to do.  When they get the recognition they deserve from the king it’s a really powerful moment and I thought it was awesome.  It was probably one of my favorite parts of the whole series.

The scene I probably hated most of all throughout the series was the scene in which Frodo wakes up after all is said and done.  He lays there on the bed as each of the main characters comes in and congratulates him with Sam being the final one who comes through the door.  This is bullshit, complete and utter bullshit.  They should have all turned around and praised Sam instead of Frodo and it bugs me to no end every time I see them all running to Frodo.  Frodo was a chump.  Yeah he carried that ring all the way to Mordor but he would have never made it if Sam wasn’t there pushing him along the way.  Frodo listened to Gollum and sent Sam away.  Frodo decided not to destroy the ring AFTER Sam had literally picked his ass up and carried him up Mount Doom.  Sam deserved all the credit Frodo got. If it hadn’t been for Sam all our favorite characters would have died outside of the black gates when Frodo decided to keep the ring. While all of the characters in these films are heroic I think this last movie leaves Samwise Gamgee on the highest note.  Sean Astin was great in the part and I wish it had led to more work for him.  He did rise quite a bit in popularity after this film, as all the cast members did briefly, but I haven’t seen him in quite a while.  He is still working but he hasn’t been in anything significant.  He was the voice of Special Agent OSO on Disney Junior but I’ll admit that I might have liked that show a bit more than my toddler daughter ever did. That’s silly I know but when Dora, Mickey, and Handy Manny were on the table Special Agent OSO was looking pretty good.

This movie tends to get a bit long as it wraps everything up but there are plenty of thrills to keep you in your seat.  I personally like the climactic battle in the second film a bit more but the showdown between Mordor and Gondor in this movie is impressive.  The sheer size of the battle makes it exciting.  Once you add in the flying Nazgul, Elephant cavalry, and that nasty Orc General you have something that is hard to look away from no matter how many times you have seen it.  One of my favorite moments of the movie is the charge of the Riders of Rhohan.  When they finally reach the battle they can all see that they are not only outnumbered, but out of hope as the enemy has such an intimidating force.  The battle looks to be impossible to stop and you can see the fear they all have.  Then the king starts talking, he isn’t afraid, he is empowered, and with his words he empowered his people with courage.  They look their death in the face and charge right into it.  I have said before that there is nothing more inspiring than seeing people run right into death because they believe in something so greatly.  It’s an incredible show of bravery and it brings me to tears every time I see it. It’s the finest moment in the films for King Théoden and Bernard Hill gave a great performance.

There is plenty to be said about this film and I haven’t even scratched the surface of what needs to be said.  In the interest of putting this monster trilogy behind us I am going to go ahead and call it quits.  If you have your own thoughts on the movie you would like to share please leave us a comment.  Otherwise, this is my favorite trilogy of all time and possibly one of the best ever made.  As much time as it takes to get through it is without doubt worth every minute because this is exactly what movie magic is all about.

AMBER’S REVIEW

The final movie was great. The first one was still my favorite, but this one is filled with all kinds of battle scenes and wicked camera effects. I liked the way they portrayed the story, and you finally get to see what a little turd Frodo is and what an actual hero is; Sam. Let’s see about this poster.

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This one is just so much better than the first one. There is a focal point and the colorization shows emotion. It is dark and piercing, just like the end of the world would be. I really think they came a long way from the first poster. I really like this one. I also love that they continued to use the typography throughout. It became a logo for the franchise so that you always knew that this movie was party of the trilogy. I will give this one my approval.

NEXT MOVIE: Lord of War (2005)

The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring

Year: 2001
Directed By: Peter Jackson
Written By: J.R.R. Tolkien (novel) Fran Walsh, Phillipa Boyens, and Peter Jackson (screenplay)

RYAN’S REVIEW

I will never forget the first time I saw this movie.  It was probably one of the most awesome experiences I have ever had as a film viewer and I didn’t even see it on the big screen.  In fact this film had been available on video for some time before I rented it.  I had somehow made it eighteen years in life without having read the books. I also managed to work in both a theater and video store without having seen this or even paying it any attention despite how big it was.  I was young then and my choices in film had a lot to do with either who starred in the film or who had directed it.  I didn’t know Peter Jackson and there was no name in the cast that jumped out at me.  Had I even known of the books I might have felt differently but I specifically remember feeling I was above this silly movie about wizards and trolls that was based off some old book.

I had recently graduated high school when I rented this movie one day in the late summer of 2002, and I can’t express enough how much I had no idea what the movie was about.  I took it over to a friends house one day to watch it while we got high.  Shameless I know, but I was eighteen and times were different.  Amber was with me (yes, we are high school sweethearts), she was only my girlfriend then and the friend whose house we went to is one we are still close to today.  I specifically remember telling him, “I don’t know if this is going to be any good, if it sucks we can just watch something else.” Now maybe it was the weed, maybe it was the special effects, or maybe it was just that the movie was THAT damn good but I remember seeing it for the first time as practically magical.  I was interested in the movie immediately but once the wizard fight began between Gandalf and Saruman I specifically remember my jaw dropping and I don’t know that my mouth closed for the next two and a half hours. I do not know how I managed to make it so long and be so into movies and not know anything about this film before that day.  I had a good friend I worked with in the projection booth at the theater and I remember he would prattle on and on about this movie.  We usually had great conversations about films but for whatever reason when he talked about this one I would simply nod my head and work while he talked about it. Whatever the reason I am thankful for my ignorance on that day.  Not knowing what was going to happen next made this movie so incredible.  I was on the edge of my seat for the entire film and exhilarated by the experience.

I may have had a special experience watching this movie but I am not special in feeling that connection to it.  This trilogy was one of the greatest undertakings in film history and it was very successful.  It no doubt means something to millions of people and has influenced countless viewers. The book this movie is based on was published in 1954 and already had a huge fan base before gaining a new audience through the film. To this day I have still never read the books despite how much I love the story, and it’s specifically because I love these movies so much. Books are always better.  There is just nothing a film can do to literally put you inside of the story with the thoughts and feelings of the characters.  The greatest movies find ways to convey that feeling to you, to a lesser extent, but it cannot be matched. I ruined Game of Thrones on HBO by reading the book series and I would hate to do the same to these films.  As I understand it, as far as film adaptations go, the Special Extended Cut for these movies is about as good as they get.  I hope so but will never risk finding out for sure, these movies mean too much to me.

I have always felt this movie was a glowing example of the possibilities offered by the future of film making. It was released so soon after the turn of the century when seemingly everything in the world was changing rapidly and this film was above and beyond practically everything that came before it.  It was a classic and well loved story brought to the screen with some of the greatest production work and special effects any of us had ever seen.  In some ways I don’t think it would be out of the question to put this trilogy next to Star Wars in what it did for the movie industry.  Animation used with motion capture suits was new at the time and the great lengths the production crew went through to design costumes, sets, and props were really exceptional.  The locations chosen to film in also went a long way in making the movie feel so real.  I know it has become a common dream vacation spot but for most every day people at the time New Zealand was a place many knew nothing about.  It sports incredible landscapes that really brought to world of Middle Earth to life in a way that probably couldn’t have been done anywhere else.

As great as everything looked in this movie, and as great and exciting as the story already was there is still no end to what can be said about the cast that brought the characters to life.  Elijah Wood, Sean Astin, Billy Boyd, and Dominic Monaghan were all great as the hobbits and became more and more likable as the series progressed.  Hobbits can seem pretty lame at just a glance because they’re just these little people who keep to themselves.  I  have always maintained that the hobbits are the most awesome of all the people of Middle Earth though.  The Dwarves are always bitching, the Elves are all high and mighty, the Men have a displaced sense of pride and arrogance while the Hobbits are simply happy go lucky little people who are content to eat,smoke, and drink their lives away happily.  These four Hobbits we see are the ones who get thrust into action and prove their people are more than meets the eye.  I don’t know that there was anything more uplifting in these films than seeing these Hobbits rise to action every time shit hit the fan.  These are seemingly little and defenseless people but every time the action gets going they are right there in the middle of it and throwing caution to the wind with acts of bravery that are nothing short of inspiring.

While the Hobbits might be the most unlikely badasses of all time there is no mistaking Ian McKellen as Gandalf for anything but the baddest of all badasses.  He has such a wise and grandfatherly quality to him until he throws down.  Whether he is dropping bridges with the banging of his staff or he is wielding a sword that suddenly came out of no where he is straight up the biggest badass in this movie. His battle with the demon before seemingly falling to his death is one of the most awesome scenes I have ever seen. When he stands his ground and screams “YOU SHALL NOT PASS!!” you can practically feel his intensity straight through the screen.  It convinced me right there and then that Ian McKellen was and is one of the most awesome actors out there. I knew before seeing this movie that Gandalf didn’t die because I had waited so long to see it I had already seen him in previews for the next film, but the weight of that scene was still impossible to miss. So much changes when Gandalf decides to send them on without him and nothing is lost in the power of the scene by knowing that it’s coming.

I knew absolutely nothing about Viggo Mortensen prior to his role in this series and I would argue that without this series his career offers very little.  I think he was great in A History of Violence and he has made a couple other noteworthy movies but without playing Aragorn none of that would have ever happened. This was probably the best it will ever get for him but there is nothing wrong with that.  These movies will live on forever in popularity and he was absolutely incredible in all three of them.  The same can be said for Orlando Bloom although his efforts to make more of himself didn’t come with any lack of opportunity.  He got more roles thrown his way than any of the other actors yet still manages to be unsuccessful outside this franchise.  You can say that he had something going with Pirates of the Carribean, but I won’t. I attribute the success of that franchise to the child audience that loves pirates and it did nothing to prevent him from being typecast into that type of sword weilding character.  In truth I cannot stand Orlando Bloom but I never see Orlando Bloom in this movie, only Legolas, and Legolas was awesome. I like John Rhys-Davies and have since seeing him in Raiders of the Lost Ark as a child but I never really cared for him in this role.  He plays the Gimli the Dwarf, and as I mentioned in my review of The Hobbit, Dwarves blow.  They might bring their A-game to battle but otherwise all I hear them doing is bitching about everything under the sun.  

My favorite character in the film, after Gandalf of course, is that of Boromir.  Boromir was a man, altogether different from the kind of man that Aragorn was because Aragorn was a Dunedain.  Borormir could help but fall victim to the problems that plague regular men, being greed and arrogance.  He faltered a bit at the end and spend most of the journey under the suspicious eye of Gandalf and others but he was a man without fear.  He lost it altogether when he tried to take the ring from Frodo but the ring had managed somehow to poison his mind.  All that meant nothing when he joined the climactic battle and fought as bravely as any man in the entire series.  All these guys had great moments in battle but Boromir put his life on the line to single handedly take on a never ending assault from Uruk-hai warriors. He wasn’t just fighting off orcs to protect the Hobbits, he was fighting the biggest meanest enemies in the world and doing it despite taking arrows to the chest and stomach.  Boromir’s final fight to the death has always been one of my favorite scenes of the movie because it captures what so much of what this movie is about, being bravery and heroism. This all makes Boromir an awesome character, but I think what made him so great in the movie was the fact that he was played by Sean Bean.  Bean is a great actor but is really at his best in this kind of role.  He was exceptional as Eddard Stark in HBO’s Game of Thrones

I have gone on forever about this movie that…well goes on forever but there are still a few to cover.  It would be unfair to discuss this movie without mentioning some of the great performances in smaller roles.  Christopher Lee is like a machine when it comes to acting, continuing to act into his 80s without slowing down at all. He was a perfect fit for the villainous wizard Saruman and it is probably the role I will most remember him for when his career is finally at an end.  I have never thought Liv Tyler was a very good actress but she just looks the part so well for this movie.  She actually has really elvish features and the role didn’t call for her to really do too much acting.  Cate Blanchette on the other hand is a terrific actress and brought skills as well as beauty to her part.  She has a very graceful and angelic look.  Hugo Weaving was a rising star around the time this movie came out because he was part of The Matrix franchise.  When this movie hit the screen The Matrix had not yet destroyed its popularity with those horrible sequels.  I have liked Weaving in nearly everything I have seen him in and I think he was great as the most powerful Elf in this movie.

This is a great coming of age film that I watched during a time when I was coming of age.  It had a significant influence on me during a time when significant influences had the greatest impact.  From this film and series I learned about honor, bravery, and perseverance.  I consider the lessons I learned from these movies to be invaluable and I try to keep them close to heart at all times. I think this is the type of movie that touched many people in a similar way and will continue to do so for years to come.

This movie kicked off an incredible adventure that gave viewers three years worth of excitement.  I think this movie is far and away the best complete film of the series.  I think there is plenty to enjoy from both of the sequels but the intensity isn’t there throughout as it is in this one.  The second film has an incredibly long retarding point in the middle as it takes them forever to reach Helm’s Deep.  The third movie might have been the greatest but it just took so long to reach that epic battle in the end, and then the movie drags on forever afterwards.  This movie might have left us all hanging at a critical juncture but when all these films are put together I think it stands above the others.

These are incredible films that were popular all over the world. The adventure all started with this one and I think it started everything off perfectly.  I think this is an awesome movie and even though it demands so much time to watch it I think it is worth every minute of that time.  If you haven’t seen these movies then you have missed out and have a lot to look forward to. If you somehow missed these movies then I would suggest watching the special extended cuts.  They add about three hours to the series collectively but that extra time makes the story so much better and more complete.

AMBER’S REVIEW

The first time we ever watched this I was in a fun, teenager state of mind and I was absolutely blown away. I never even wanted to watch the movie originally. I thought it looked uninteresting to me from the trailers. One day at a friends house we all got completely sucked in and watched the entire thing. It was also one of those first movies that really took cinematography to a whole new level. Remember this movie was before Avatar. I think I still really like this movie, because as much as I dreaded watching it for the blog (only because it is a never ending movie) I found myself getting re-sucked into it. It is a good movie about perseverance for the good of people you don’t even know.

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NOOOOOOOOO! Group shot. Let’s see how many characters we can fit on the poster! I will say this is the best job I have seen at putting this many people on a poster, but I do not like it. The fade is seriously abrupt at the end of the photography where the title starts. And also, Frodo is like a deer in headlights on this poster. And it just makes me mad. More at Tolkien, because the real hero has and always will be Sam. Not a fan of the poster, but I do however like the typography of the title. It is recognizable and you know what movie this is just by seeing it. That’s what makes the title so strong. Otherwise, boo. They broke my poster code so I can’t give this one my praise.

NEXT MOVIE: The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers (2002)

The Goonies

Year: 1985
Directed By: Richard Donner
Written By: Steven Spielberg (story) and Chris Columbus (screenplay)

RYAN’S REVIEW

What’s funny is that Amber and I didn’t plan on watching this movie tonight.  We both had bad days at work though and this movie seemed like just the thing to salvage the day. This is a feel good movie if there ever was one and it is beloved by our generation as well as others.  It’s funny and exciting with a story that can hold the interest of anyone. It’s one of those movies where a lot of talented people came together to make something great, and it will probably live on forever.

Spielberg is a kid at heart and has an incredible ability to relate to children and get the most out of them as actors.   He has been renowned for his work with children for his entire career and movies like this give him the reputation he enjoys today.  He served as Producer for this movie after writing the story for it.  He gave the directing job and screenwriting job to Richard Donner and Chris Columbus respectively. The cast was made up of mostly children but they all brought great personalities to the story.  Sean Astin was great taking on the most responsibility he had ever had acting.  He has gone on to have a fantastic career as an adult actor appearing in many memorable films including the Lord of the Rings trilogy. This was the film debut for Josh Brolin and he was great as the older brother.  I have always thought it was weird how his career remained practically dormant for the next twenty years and then he suddenly blew up and is in seemingly everything now. This movie also sports one of the many memorable roles Corey Feldman turned in as a young child actor.  I liked many of the movies he was in throughout the 80s.

I also love all three of the Fratellis and the actors that played the parts.  Joe Pantoliano is typically great in everything he does but he specifically thrives in this kind of role.  He has a villainous quality to him but can also be really light-hearted and humorous when he needs to be.  In my mind though, no matter how many memorable characters he plays, he will always be “Guido the killer pimp.” Robert Davi has a real nasty look to him that makes him great for roles playing bad guys or cops.  Anne Ramsey as Mama Fratelli was great.  She looks the part playing a wicked and intimidating woman.  She really put on a memorable performance in this movie and instilled in me a fear of older rough looking women.

This movie takes me back because it was one I fell in love with at a really young age of 5 or 6.  It’s a movie that makes us all wish we were young again.  It fills us with unrealistic desires for what our childhoods could have been and warms our hearts by inspiring our own memories from that age.  This is a great movie that is timeless and can be enjoyed by all generations.  If you have not seen it I would suggest you check it out, it is worth your time to see.

AMBER’S REVIEW

The Goonies is one of the best movies and one of those movies that almost everyone I know has seen and can quote. I can’t say a bad thing about it.

The movie poster is to the left. It isn’t one of my favorites, yet it sticks to the style of the times. I think it is very much like Steven Spieldberg to do an illustration like cover and it reminds me a lot of Indiana Jones in some ways. Check out that sweet gradient in the typography.

NEXT MOVIE: Gran Torino (2008)