Devin Grant writes: I see you posted Michael Marano’s review and I wanted to give you guys my take.

While I didn’t cry during the opening scenes of The Fellowship of the Ring that showed the Shire, I did have an epiphany. “Holy crap, Jackson actually gets it,” I thought. I hoped and prayed that Jackson’s vision would stretch past those well thought-out opening scenes, and I’m pretty much still waiting to be disappointed.

Sure, this film trilogy hasn’t been perfect, but despite tinkering with the timeline and replacing what many feel are key events in the books with ones of his own imagining (or else simply leaving events out altogether), Jackson has succeeded in doing what no one else has. By that, I mean that Jackson has managed to make a film trilogy stay engaging, exciting, and, most importantly, relevant to the very end. This has not been the case with other cinematic trilogies. The third Star Wars film was hindered by those damn walking teddy bears, the Ewoks, as well as plot holes so big you could fly the Millennium Falcon through them (don’t even get me started on the new batch Star Wars films – George Lucas is now Peter Jackson’s bitch). The third Back to the Future flick got mired down in the muck of the Old West, forcing it to limp to its conclusion. Even The Godfather series, which boasted the only sequel (Godfather II) ever to win the Oscar for Best Picture, found its legacy cheapened by a sub par third installment. Oh, and then there is The Matrix trilogy, which was kind enough to save us a little time by imploding during the second film.

But not only did Jackson keep the momentum going through all three films, the guy actually saved the best for last. I must admit that it has been more than a decade since I last read the books. I pondered rereading them before the films were released, but decided not to because I wanted to (hopefully) appreciate the films for what they were. I feel that I made the right choice. I have read the Lord of the Rings trilogy twice in my life – once at the age of about 12, and again in one long marathon session while I was sitting out in the middle of the Saudi Arabian desert during the first Gulf War back in 1991. Did I notice things missing from the film? Sure, but I didn’t fret about them. I’m a fan of the books, but I don’t know them by heart.

IR17;m hesitant to even talk about what actually happens in The Return of the King, because let’s face it – if you’ve come this far and seen the other two films, then you’re in for the long haul (and if you haven’t, well, you’re missing out on three of the best films of the last 20 years). The best thing that I can tell you going into The Return of the King is that you can set your expectations as high as you want, and you are still going to be blown away. I promise.

So what struck me most about the film? The battle for Pelennor Field is, quite simply, the most spectacular battle sequence ever put on film. The dead army is every bit as cool as you are hoping it will be, and Frodo’s encounter with Shelob made me all but curl up in my seat in the fetal position. Of the characters in this film, it is Sean Astin as Sam, Frodo’s humble companion, who really stands out here. I’ll go so far as to say that Astin deserves a Best Supporting Actor nomination. Oh, and just wait until you hear Billy Boyd’s character Pippin sing during a key scene. I dare you not to get emotional. But what makes this film so spectacular is the fact that everyone and everything, down to the last tiny CGI soldier in the background, clicks and makes this film a miracle to behold.

I remember seeing the trailers for The Lord of the Rings back in 2000, the ones where it was explained that the three films would be released in 2001, 2002 and 2003 respectively. At the time I thought to myself, “Man, I won’t see The Return of the King for three years. It seemed like such a long way off. Last year when I exited the theater after seeing The Two Towers, still high on how perfectly they nailed the Gollum character, I was like a heroin junkie who realized it would be a year before he’d get his next fix. So now, with the whole shebang finally over, I’m once again experiencing the symptoms. Let’s call them the LOTR DTs. I just keep telling myself that everything is going to be alright because A) I can see this film in the theater several more times, and B) that in a year or so there will be an extended version DVD that will stretch an already almost 3 ½ hour film to well past four hours. Don’t expect to see me out much next November.

Devin Grant doesn’t speak Orc, but he has been known to smell like one at times.