Patrick writes:

I’ve never written before, but LOVE your site.

BIG LoTR fan here, ever since THE HOBBIT cartoon appeared on tv in the late 70’s.

Last night I was blessed to attend an advanced screening of RETURN OF THE KING at the Director’s Guild theatre in Hollywood. This is where director’s view their films privately among their peers and to vote on Oscars, Golden Globes, etc. It is arguably the best theatre in L.A. – private – with the BEST sound and image available (and darn comfortable seats too).

The film started at 7 p.m. – we were there at 5:30. We got seventh row seats. The lights went down…

I honestly, in good conscience, don’t feel right about giving away spoilers to this film – it is right to leave surprises for yourself on this one. You must have the chance to experience it ‘clean’. But there are a few here, so read at your own risk…

I PROMISE you – you have never seen what you are going to see in this film. I work in the industry IN GRAPHICS, and my jaw was on the floor (that is, when I wasn’t saying “Oh my gosh!”). Helm’s Deep truly is now nearly dull! The film is epic, sweeping, a vast grand saga in the truest vein. I had high high hopes and expectations, and they were not only met, but SURPASSED. The balance between top-notch action and truly small, personal, touching moments makes this film an incredible narrative. It IS exhausting, but in a very very good way. It is thurough (as thurough as a film with this much in it could be). This film truly delivers, as a final film in a series never has. Not Indy, not Jedi, not Aliens, and certainly, CERTAINLY not Matrix.

I personally felt the first hour was just a little slow, but then its non-stop from there. They got so many of the scenes dead on. Eowyn/Dernhelm vs. the Witch King – awesome! (especially what happens to him when he dies). Shelob – oh boy! Every strike from Sam is right out of the book. Denethor and the pyre – greeeaat scene (his actual demise has been dramatized, but its really cool).

YES, there are many exclusions and changes that will get under the skin of us purists, but most of them were understandable and acceptable. There were a few that were NOT, however. NO MOUTH OF SAURON!? Why? That one didn’t make sense. And no House of Healing – too bad – it was a way for Aragorn to show his kinglyness in a non-fighting way. And no union of Eowyn and Faramir – no uniting of the two kingdoms – hard to accept that one. AND by the way – they TOTALLY could have kept the Sauruman scene just fine – it might have been slightly slower, but it is an interesting and exciting scene, and would have flowed okay. It felt odd not having his stoy=ryline closed correctly – too easily. And also, the passage of time in RoTK is off, but that has been a problem with all three films. Hopefully the EE will help that one some, like it did FELLOWSHIP.

By the way – If you have ever had to say goodbye to someone you dearly loved, and knew you would never see again, YOU WILL CRY in this film. Me, I’m a marshmellow, but my brother is stone stoic – and he was trying to wipe the tears without my noticing! There were sniffles in the crowd.

Also – not to offend anyone – but if you are of the Christian faith, like Tolkien was, the coronation scene can’t help but remind you of a return of Christ analogy. Aragorn looks INCREDIBLE in his Kingly garb and glory!

Also – use the restroom RIGHT BEFOREHAND, or have a big, big bladder!

Afterwards Peter Jackson took the stage to an immediate standing O. He answered questions for about 45 minutes. He spoke of the Sauruman scene ‘probably’ being on the dvd, along with a beer drinking contest between Gimli and Legolas which he said was ‘hilarious’. When asked if he thought the Fantasy genre was unjustly ignored and viewed illigimately by Hollywood, he said yes he thought it was, and that “all films are in essence fantasy anyway, aren’t they? I mean what is the difference between our scene of Eowyn cradling the dying Theoden in her arms, just because there’s a castle and an elf in our movie? We are just taking more extreme methods of conveying basic human conpcepts.”

About THE HOBBIT – he said he was definitely interested in doing it, once New Line had worked out the rights with United Artists, who he said aquired the distribution rights 20 or 30 years ago. Afterwards, when he was speaking to people personally, I asked him if he thought Hugo Weaving and Andy Serkis would be interested in reprising their roles in THE HOBBIT (I knew Ian McKellen had already said that he HAD to play Gandalf if the movie was made, and I assume they’ll get a younger, new Biblo). Peter Jackson’s answer was “Oh, I would assume they would want to. I mean, I’m sure they would.”

A point of interest – the fellow who had shot Elijah Wood’s audition video, which was sent to England and won him the role, was there and introduced himself to Jackson.

Peter stayed afterwards, until twelve o’clock, and met everybody who wanted to meet him, answered every personal question, and signed every last autograph (see attached). For someone who has been doing this project for nearly seven years, he gave interesting, excited, non-rehearsed answers, and treated every fan like they were important. And with kids, he took on a wonderful, excited, imanginative, and fun persona, teasing and treating them special. What a great guy – I’m glad that he was the one to head up our beloved novels. He is a true geek through and through.

Special thanks to my boss at work – who graciously allowed us to attend the evening in his stead.