100th Film Review Special! The Worst and Best So Far, Part 4

As anyone who has been following me for a significant length of time knows, I tend to be pretty stingy with 9/10s. This is because I feel many critics hand them out to every other film they like. As long as they’re consistent, that’s fine, but with my scoring system, I wanted to make creators well and truly earn every single point. You want a seven-point passing grade or better? You gotta work for it. Because of this, you won’t see me award this grade often, so when it happens, you can safely bet that I’m discussing a masterpiece.

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December 2018 in Summary: And so 2018 Comes to a Close

Hope everyone enjoyed the holiday season! As the final month of the year, December proved to be quite a hectic month. In addition to the obligatory weekly game reviews, I ended up seeing a staggering 14 films (6 in theaters and 8 at home). The good news is that I’ve found a way to manage my time better and write the film reviews without disrupting my pattern. In fact, I used the spare time I had to write two editorials. For a majority of my readers, my piece on the highly unethical viral marketing campaign of Ex Machina was the first editorial of mine they read. Then, in the spirit of Christmas, I wrote an editorial about how gamers are ahead of the curve. They’ve gotten a bad rap over the decades, so I felt they needed something to boost their self-confidence.

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The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King (Peter Jackson, 2003)

WARNING: The premise of this film contains unmarked spoilers for the story thus far.

Two hobbits, Sméagol and Déagol, were fishing in a river when the latter discovered a mysterious ring in the water. Upon seeing it, Sméagol killed his friend for the ring and retreated into the Misty Mountains. Over time, the ring’s power twisted his body and mind until he became a creature named Gollum. It was, in reality, the One Ring, an artifact forged by Sauron the Dark Lord in the Second Age of Arda in his campaign for world conquest. Many centuries have passed since that day. Gollum, having discovered that a hobbit named Frodo Baggins now bears the ring, will stop at nothing to retrieve it.

Meanwhile, Saruman, Sauron’s second-in-command has fallen, betrayed by his own servant, Gríma. At Isengard, Gandalf, Aragorn, Legolas, Gimli, and King Théoden reunite with Merry and Pippin. Gandalf retrieves Saruman’s palantír. Pippin looks into the stone as the wizard sleeps only to be telepathically assaulted by Sauron. Gandalf concludes that Sauron intends to attack Gondor in retaliation for his defeat at Helm’s Deep. Taking Pippin with him, Gandalf rides to Gondor’s capital city, Minas Tirith as his alliance prepares for one final battle against the forces of Mordor.

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The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers (Peter Jackson, 2002)

WARNING: The premise of this film contains unmarked spoilers for the story thus far.

Dire circumstances have torn the Fellowship of the Ring apart. Gandalf the Grey sacrificed himself to fend off the powerful Balrog, Boromir was mortality wounded in an Uruk-hai attack after attempting to take the One Ring in desperation, and Merry and Pippin have been taken captive. This has prompted Frodo and his friend Sam to journey alone to Mount Doom on their quest to destroy the One Ring, though they soon find that one of the ring’s previous owners is interested in reclaiming it. Meanwhile, Aragorn, Legolas, and Gimli, have happened upon the Rohirrim. Their leader, Éomer, has informed them that Saruman’s servant, Grima Wormtongue, has manipulated their king into turning a blind eye to the forces of Mordor running rampant throughout Rohan. As the One Ring draws closer to Mount Doom, the flames of war threaten to erupt in a mighty conflagration.

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The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring (Peter Jackson, 2001)

This story takes place in a world called Middle-earth. The history of this world is divided into three ages. The second age was defined by a massive conflict that threatened to reduce the world to ashes. The lords of Elves, Dwarves, and Men were given Rings of Power. However, the Dark Lord Sauron had forged the One Ring to rule them all in the fires of Mount Doom. His goal was nothing short of total world domination. An alliance of men and elves battled Sauron’s forces in the land of Mordor. In the ensuing fight, Prince Isildur of Gondor manages to sever Sauron’s hand and the ring with it, thereby causing the Dark Lord’s physical form to dissipate. With Sauron’s defeat, a new age is ushered in when Isildur, rather than destroying the One Ring, keeps it for himself. Tragically, the ring corrupts the prince, eventually leading to his downfall. The ring is lost shortly thereafter, and is found by a creature named Gollum 2,500 years later. He himself owns it for 500 years before it eventually falls under the possession of the most unlikely person imaginable: a hobbit named Bilbo Baggins.

Sixty years have passed since his grand adventure, and Bilbo is celebrating his 111th birthday in the Shire. He reunites with his old friend, the powerful wizard Gandalf the Grey. Unfortunately, the celebration is cut short when the One Ring begins to yearn for its original master. Realizing his age is starting to catch up with him, Bilbo entrusts the One Ring to his nephew, Frodo. From there, Frodo embarks on an adventure that will determine the fate of Middle-earth.

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