Tag Archives: Miranda Otto

The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King (2003) Review

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Lord of the Rings The Return of the King

Time: 201 minutes (theatrical), 252 minutes (extended)
Age Rating: 860940[1] Violence & fantasy horror
Cast:
Elijah Wood as Frodo Baggins
Sean Astin as Samwise Gamgee
Andy Serkis as Sméagol Trahald/Gollum
Ian McKellen as Gandalf the White
Viggo Mortensen as Aragorn Elessar
Cate Blanchett as Galadriel
John Rhys-Davies as Gimli
Bernard Hill as Théoden
Billy Boyd as Peregrin Took
Dominic Monaghan as Meriadoc Brandybuck
Orlando Bloom as Legolas Greenleaf
Hugo Weaving as Elrond
Liv Tyler as Arwen
Miranda Otto as Éowyn
David Wenham as Faramir
Karl Urban as Éomer
John Noble as Denethor
Ian Holm as Bilbo Baggins
Sean Bean as Boromir
Director: Peter Jackson

The Fellowship divides to conquer as Frodo (Elijah Wood) and Sam (Sean Astin), with the help and hindrance of Gollum (Andy Serkis), continue their way to Mount Doom. The members of the fellowship in Rohan are warned of the impending attack when Pippin (Billy Boyd) cannot resist looking into Saruman’s palantir and is briefly contacted by the dark lord. Gandalf (Ian McKellan) and Pippin ride to Minas Tirith to help defend Gondor when the dark lord Sauron sets his sights on Minas Tirith, the capital of Gondor, while Merry (Dominic Monaghan) remains with Eowyn (Miranda Otto) and the other Rohan fighters. The fate of every living creature in Middle Earth will be decided once and for all as the Quest of the Ringbearer reaches its climax.

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The first two entries of Lord of the Rings trilogy were really great, but it’s the conclusion with The Return of the King that’s truly outstanding, grandiose, epic and emotionally satisfying. With the performances, the writing, the direction, and some awe inspiring action, it’s a remarkable cinematic achievement and an excellent film over 17 years later.

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Like with the other Lord of the Rings movies, it’s very hard to review, they’re so ingrained in pop culture, it’s like trying to review the original Star Wars trilogy. This film successfully continues the story from the first two movies, and this one is the most engaging of the series. The first half is pretty good, but it’s the second half where it really shines, particularly the final act. I don’t have many problems with the movie, I guess it occasionally has its silly moments like the other movies, and there are some minor plot points that aren’t so clear and don’t work so well. However it doesn’t even come close to bringing down the experience. One thing that is made fun of a lot is the fact that the film has a lot of endings – the screen fades to black and continues on before fading to black again, etc. While I don’t like the fake outs, the actual endings themselves I do like, it ties up pretty much all the storylines and loose ends. The film is quite strong as its theatrical cut. However the extended cut is quite simply the definitive version of the movie, and provides so many great scenes that add a lot to the movie. An example is a certain scene with Christopher Lee’s Saruman, removing it leaves a pretty big loose end especially considering he was one of the main antagonists of the last film. While I’m not sure the movie feels butchered with the theatrical cut (I haven’t watched that version for a long time), once you see the added scenes from the extended cut, it’s hard to think of the film without it. I understand that it can be quite intimidating, instead of watching the 3 hour and 20 minute long version, watching a version that’s over 4 hours long. However, I do implore you to see the extended cuts of all 3 of the trilogies if you haven’t already, especially for Return of the King.

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The acting from its very large good cast is great as always. They’ve only improved further as the movies have progressed. The only character who got worse as the films progressed was John Rhys Davis’s Gimli. He started off alright in The Fellowship of the Rings, but unfortunately across the movies he just became goofier and goofier, and he’s worst of all in this movie. The rest of the cast on the whole with the likes of Elijah Wood, Sean Astin, Andy Serkis, Viggo Mortensen, Ian McKellan, Bernard Hill, Dominic Monaghan, Billy Boyd, Miranda Otto, David Wenham, Karl Urban, Hugo Weaving, and Cate Blanchett and others also brought it to their respective roles, giving some really great performances.

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Peter Jackson’s direction was excellent as usual, but The Return of the King really is his magnum opus. Everything from the production design, makeup, sound effects, cinematography, all outstanding on a technical level. There are a number of great action sequences in this trilogy, but The Return of the King has some of the most spectacular action in the series. They are all filmed greatly but it’s of course the big battle scenes which stand out, and they work really well. The visual effects are really good, some parts aren’t so great and are a little dated, but for a movie released in 2003, they mostly hold up well. The score by Howard Shore also works excellently, and is very memorable.

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While all 3 films are top notch, I’m pretty sure that The Return of the King is my favourite movie of the Lord of the Rings trilogy. Peter Jackson and the cast and crew have improved over the course of the series, culminating in a fantastic final film. The Lord of the Rings trilogy are some of my favourite movies, particularly the third film, and they’ll continue to stand the test of time for sure.

The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers (2002) Review

Time: 259 Minutes (theatrical cut) or 235 minutes (extended cut)
Age Rating: 860940[1] Medium level violence
Cast:
Elijah Wood as Frodo Baggins
Sean Astin as Samwise Gamgee
Viggo Mortensen as Aragorn
Ian McKellen as Gandalf
Billy Boyd as Peregrin Took
Dominic Monaghan as Meriadoc Brandybuck
John Rhys-Davies as Gimli
Orlando Bloom as Legolas Greenleaf
Andy Serkis as Gollum/Sméagol
Bernard Hill as Théoden
Miranda Otto as Éowyn
Christopher Lee as Saruman
Liv Tyler as Arwen Undómiel
Hugo Weaving as Elrond
David Wenham as Faramir
Cate Blanchett as Galadriel
Brad Dourif as Gríma Wormtongue
Karl Urban as Éomer
Craig Parker as Haldir
John Leigh as Háma
Bruce Hopkins as Gamling
John Bach as Madril
Director: Peter Jackson

The Fellowship has been broken. Boromir is dead, Frodo Baggins (Elijah Wood) and Samwise Gamgee (Sean Astin) have gone to Mordor alone to destroy the One Ring, Merry (Dominic Monaghan) and Pippin (Billy Boyd) have been captured by the Uruk-hai, and Aragorn (Viggo Mortensen), Legolas (Orlando Bloom), and Gimli (John Rhys-Davs) have made friends of the Rohan, a race of humans that are in the path of the upcoming war, led by its aging king, Théoden. The two towers between Mordor and Isengard, Barad-dúr and Orthanc, have united in their lust for destruction. The corrupt wizard Saruman (Christopher Lee), under the power of the Dark Lord Sauron, and his assistant, Gríma Wormtongue (Brad Dourif), have created a grand Uruk-hai army bent on the destruction of Man and Middle-earth. One of the Ring’s original bearers, the creature Gollum (Andy Serkis), has tracked Frodo and Sam down in search of the ring, but is captured by the Hobbits and used as a way to lead them to Mt. Doom.

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The Lord of the Rings movies are among my favourite movies of all time but reviewing them isn’t that easy. Talking about the Lord of the Rings movies is very difficult, it is so famous and well known that so much of it feels redundant talking about, and plus there is just so much that can be said about it. That can be clearly seen in my review of The Fellowship of the Ring from years ago, which is easily one of the worst reviews I ever written. Years later and after watching the Lord of the Rings movies more recently, I decided to review the rest of them the best I can. If you haven’t watched any of the Lord of the Rings movies, long story short just go and watch them. The Two Towers continues on the greatness of the previous film of The Fellowship of the Ring, and it even does a lot of things better than the first film.

The film jumps between characters’ perspectives and it does it well. It mostly jumps from Frodo, Sam and Gollum to Aragon, Legolas and Gimli as well as to Merry and Pippin. Some characters and storylines are more interesting than others but all of them are done rather well. It goes even darker than the first movie and you really feel the higher stakes throughout. I generally think that the Lord of the Rings trilogy is better with the extended editions, but that’s especially the case with The Two Towers and Return of the King. The extended cut is almost an hour longer but it is worth the extra footage. Sometimes I think about the scenes that were cut from the cut and I can’t imagine the movie without them. For example, one of the scenes only in the extended cut included a flashback from Faramir (David Wenham) to his brother Boromir (Sean Bean) and his father Denethor (John Noble) and it added so much his character and what is driving him to make the decisions he made. There’s much more examples like this but that’s just one of them. The third acts of each of the Lord of the Rings movies are usually the standout of each of them, and The Two Towers is no exception, with two great battles happening at the same time. As for how it adapted the original book, I haven’t read it so I don’t have much to say regarding that.

All of the surviving characters from Fellowship of the Ring are back. Elijah Wood and Sean Astin are great as Frodo and Sam, they really do feel like best friends going on this journey. Wood also does a really good job at showing the conflict Frodo is experiencing having to bear the One Ring and with it changing him while they’re on their journey. Viggo Mortensen as Aragon, Orlando Bloom as Legolas and John Rhys-Davis as Gimli in their plotline are great, Mortensen particularly is perfectly cast as Aragon and brings a lot to his role. The only thing about Gimli that kind of got annoying was that after Fellowship of the Ring he gets cartoonishly silly and buffoonish. The same happens in reverse with Legolas, who is cartoonishly great at everything, to the point where he’s literally sliding down stairs on a shield while shooting orcs with arrows. It’s not movie breaking but it’s just a bit too much at times. There’s also a plotline focussing on Billy Boyd’s Pippin and Dominic Monaghan as Merry, and while it’s less interesting than the other plotlines, it is still done well enough. Both characters are seen as being comic relief, so it’s good that they get to have their part in what happened in the movie (though I guess it’s more of a credit to the book more than anything else). Ian McKellan is always great as Gandalf (even though instead of returning as Gandalf the Grey, he’s now Gandalf the White), flat out perfect in the role.

Christopher Lee as Saruman also gets more focus this time round as one of the main antagonists of the movie, ending up being more often than not the source of conflict in much of the plotlines here. Lee as usual is scene chewingly great as Saruman, having such a presence about him when he’s on screen. Other returning characters like Liv Tyler as Arwen, Hugo Weaving as Elrond and Cate Blanchett as Galadriel are good as always. The newer additions were also great, namely Bernard Hill as Theoden, Miranda Otto as Eowyn, David Wenham as Faramir, Karl Urban as Eomer and Brad Dourif as Grima Wormtongue. All of them did really good jobs of making themselves stand out amongst the cast. The stand out new character/performance though is from Andy Serkis as Gollum. Although it is motion capture and largely done through special effects, the way he moves, emotes and speaks all come from Serkis. They did such a fantastic job at making him one of the more complex characters in these movies, sympathetic in one scene and then treacherous in the next.

Its no surprise that Peter Jackson’s direction was great but I think he’s improved even more with his second film. The landscapes, locations and sets just feel all great, it all helps that almost all of it feels real. All the special effects are good as usual, what makes it so effective is that it mixes both practical and digital effects. Now given that its over 16 years old, some of the CGI don’t look completely fantastic and aren’t at the level of today’s CGI but most of it still holds up very well. Like Fellowship, everything feels like it’s on such a huge scale, and it feels somewhat authentic. As I said earlier when I was talking about Andy Serkis, I especially like what they did with Gollum with motion capture, it still looks seamless and real today. The action scenes are also well filmed and even better than those in The Fellowship of the Ring. The standout is the third act which consists of and cuts between the battle at Helm’s Deep and the Ents fighting against Isengard. Its just such a spectacle to watch and are amongst some of the best sequences of the whole trilogy. Directionwise, The Two Towers really was just a little better than The Fellowship of the Ring. Even little aspects are slightly improved, like I know it’s a minor thing to note but there aren’t as many awkward close up shots as in the first movie. Howard Shore’s score once again is just iconic and adds so much to the movie, I can’t imagine the Lord of the Rings movies without them.

The Two Towers is for me even better than The Fellowship of the Ring. Some of it as to do with preference with regard to the story and all that, not to mention the large scale sequences, especially the Helm’s Deep battle, are among some of the stand out moments in the movie series. However I also think that Peter Jackson’s direction has even improved, and would only continue to improve with Return of the King. Each Lord of the Rings movie is better than the last one, but all 3 of them are excellent.

Annabelle: Creation (2017) Review

Time: 109 Minutes
Age Rating: 860949[1] Contains violence and horror
Cast
Stephanie Sigman as Sister Charlotte
Talitha Bateman as Janice
Lulu Wilson as Linda
Anthony LaPaglia as Samuel Mullins
Miranda Otto as Esther Mullins
Director: David F. Sandberg

Former toy maker Sam Mullins (Anthony LaPaglia) and his wife, Esther (Miranda Otto), are happy to welcome a nun and six orphaned girls into their California farmhouse. Years earlier, the couple’s 7-year-old daughter Annabelle died in a tragic car accident. Terror soon strikes when one child sneaks into a forbidden room and finds a seemingly innocent doll that appears to have a life of its own.

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I wasn’t really excited for Annabelle Creation. This was a horror prequel to a horror prequel, and the first prequel was Annabelle. Although I hadn’t seen it, I’ve heard nothing but terrible things about it. I had no hype for Annabelle Creation and yet, it was actually pretty good. The story was pretty good, I could care about what was going on, the direction was very good and there were some effective scares.

Annabelle Creation is a solid horror movie, the story is nothing spectacular and there’s honestly not a lot to sat about it but it is good for what it was going for. The runningtime is around an hour and 50 minutes and that was an appropriate time, the pacing was done well and never dragged at any point. Normally, an origin of a horror monster/villain really feels unnecessary and detracts from the character. However, Annabelle’s creation was actually done well, even if it wasn’t necessary. Without spoiling anything it does tie into the original Annabelle at one aspect, so if you haven’t seen the original you will be a little confused (I only know about this from looking it up). There was also another reference that tied into the Conjuring-verse that I loved. With that said, you can still like Annabelle Creation on its own without seeing the original Annabelle, or even The Conjuring movies.

The two lead girls, played by Talitha Bateman and Lulu Wilson were great. They play friends who are at an orphanage. That aspect with their relationship and chemistry really helped make me care about them and therefore the story, I wasn’t just watching people go through the motions and getting scared. The supporting cast with Stephanie Sigman, Anthony LaPaglia and Miranda Otto were good in the movie. The actresses who play the other girls are fine I guess, but they didn’t receive a whole lot of development or have some character, so they didn’t really leave that much of an impression on me.

David F. Sandberg directed this movie, I liked his work on Lights Out quite a bit and he once again proved himself to be a great director. This film looks great, the cinematography was really solid. Everything from the lighting, to the visual effects and the sound effects are done very well. The scares were quite effective, yes, there are some jump scares but they are done very well when they do happen.

Annabelle Creation is not as good as The Conjuring movies and its not one of the greatest horror movies ever made, but it is a solid horror movie. You don’t necessarily have to have watched the original Annabelle to enjoy this movie, there’s an aspect you may be confused about but that’s it really. With the effective story and direction, Annabelle Creation is one of the most surprising movies of 2017. I find it weird that a Conjuring Cinematic Universe is happening, along with Conjuring 3 there will be a Nun movie and a Crooked Man movie based from characters from Conjuring 2. However with 3 out of their 4 movies being quite good, I’m very curious to see how this will go and I’m on board with whatever direction they take.