Movie Diary 2003 previous • next

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Best Of 2003: Finding Nemo, Seabiscuit, LOTR: ROTK, Big Fish, and Master & Commander. Enjoy my diary!

New Year's Day 2003 • Catch Me If You Can • Randolph
Fun, slick, Hitchcockian romp. Over a year later, I listened to Frank Abagnale Jr's book (on tape, abridged), and the difference between the book and the movie was predictable. Spielberg, as usual, made the movie all about the boy growing up in a broken home. See Close Encounters, E.T. Indiana Jones & The Last Crusade, Hook, Jurassic Park, A.I., Minority Report, and War of the Worlds for other Spielberg movies about father/son dysfunction, broken homes, and struggles with parenting.

My 31st Birthday • Chicago • Loews Boston Common
Paid $10 to sit in the back row, with cold AC air on the back of my neck!

January 23, 2003 • About Schmidt • Showcase Cinemas Randolph
Wonderful cast, Jack is totally different with the comb-over...

January 27, 2003 • Rear Window • Free showing at the Wang Theater
Hitch plays audiences like a drum. It's a real treat to watch a Hitchcock film in a full house.

St. Valentine's Day • Casablanca • Brattle Theater, Cambridge
Emily and I sat in the front row (by choice)

February 21, 2003 • Confessions Of A Dangerous Mind • West Newton
A nice mix of comedy and drama. The line between fact and fiction is cleverly blurred.

March 15, 2003 • Far From Heaven • Embassy Waltham
A delightful, beautiful film (seen with Kevin, who is also delightful and beautiful ;-).

March 25, 2003 • Time Bandits & The Adventures Of Baron Munchausen • Brattle Theater
Part of a Terry Gilliam film series. I noticed, this time, how well they did making "big" movies on no budget. However, I advise never see two Terry Gilliam movies in a row- my imagination hurts! Whimsy overload!

March 30, 2003 • View From The Top • Fresh Pond
I used a $5 gift coupon, so I only paid $1 to see this. I prayed for death. It was if no human hand was involved in the creation of this abomination. It was not so much made as extruded.

March 31, 2003 • Vertigo
Beautiful, spellbinding, creepy.

Directed by Steven Spielberg • I have seen two thirds of Spielberg's movies in a movie theater, probably a larger portion than any other similarly prolific director. Spielberg films I saw in a theater include:
    NOT seen in a theater:
  • The Sugarland Express
  • Close Encounters of the Third Kind
  • 1941
  • The Color Purple
  • Empire of the Sun
  • Schindler's List
  • The Terminal

April 5, 2003 • Bend It Like Beckham • West Newton
Everything "My Big Fat Greek Wedding" should have been. Told the same story, but better, and with more respect for the characters.

April 16, 2003 • Punch-Drunk Love • Brattle Theater
Hard to believe this film was completely ignored by the Academy?

April 18, 2003 • A Mighty Wind • Loews Boston Common
Miles beyond what passes for 'comedy' these days. Very hip crowd at Boston Common for a change. I didn't expect them to appreciate this movie, but they were with it 100%.

April 27, 2003 • Laurel Canyon • Kendall Cinema
Enjoyably mellow movie about a son wound too tight (Bale) and a mother not wound at all (McDormand). It's kind of odd having two English actors (Christian Bale and Kate Beckinsale) playing Americans, while Alessandro Nivola (an American) plays a Brit?

May 3 & July 5, 2003 • X2 • Somerville Theater
Better than the first one. Very brainy superhero movie. The kid playing Iceman looks like someone ran over his cat for the whole film. The second show was an important visit to air conditioning on a humid weekend.

May 9, 2003 • Raiders of the Lost Ark • Brattle Theater
Still one of my Top Ten All-Time.

May 12, 2003 • Moonraker • Brattle Theater
It is impossible to watch this film with a straight face, esp. the scenes which inspired Dr. Evil and his lair, his henchmen, their costumes, his frickin' laser...

How Old Is James Bond Anyway?
James Bond has been portrayed by five* actors since his screen debut in 1962. 37-year-old Daniel Craig has just been announced as the new Agent 007 for Casino Royale, due in 2006. Take a look at this table of Bond Ages:
  • The actor portraying Bond has ranged in age from 30 (George Lazenby) to 58 (Roger Moore in View To A Kill).
  • The most recent Bond film, Die Another Day, came out in 2002. This table assumes Casino Royale will see theaters in 2006.
  • The ages below reflect how old the actor turned in the calendar year the film came out. The time of year of the birthday and precise release date are ignored.
  • *This table does not include the "unofficial" Bond film (and satire) Casino Royale (1967).
Film (Year) Age, Actor
Dr. No (1962)32, Sean Connery
From Russia With Love (1963)33, Sean Connery
Goldfinger (1964)34, Sean Connery
Thunderball (1965)35, Sean Connery
You Only Live Twice (1966)36, Sean Connery
On Her Majesty's Secret Service (1969)30, George Lazenby
Diamonds Are Forever (1971)41, Sean Connery
Live And Let Die (1973)46, Roger Moore
The Man With The Golden Gun (1974)47, Roger Moore
The Spy Who Loved Me (1977)50, Roger Moore
Moonraker (1979)52, Roger Moore
For Your Eyes Only (1981)54, Roger Moore
Octopussy (1983)56, Roger Moore
Never Say Never Again (1983)53, Sean Connery
View To A Kill (1985)58, Roger Moore
The Living Daylights (1987)41, Timothy Dalton
License To Kill (1989)43, Timothy Dalton
Goldeneye (1995)42, Pierce Brosnan
The World Is Not Enough (1997)44, Pierce Brosnan
Tomorrow Never Dies (1999)46, Pierce Brosnan
Die Another Day (2002)49, Pierce Brosnan
Casino Royale (2006)38, Daniel Craig

May 16, 2003 • The Matrix (1999) • Brattle Theater
A little preparation for the sequel tomorrow night.

The Matrix Reloaded • May 17th, 2003 • Framingham Premium Cinema (with Kevin)
June 21st, 2003 • IMAX Presentation at the New England Aquarium
Big sprawling sequel. Wonderful in many ways, although I got a bit of "kung-fu fatigue" by the end. The second show was on The IMAX screen at the New England Aquarium. Great sound, and a screen so big I was counting every pock on Laurence Fishburne's face...

The EKW Review: I liked Reloaded very much, even though (d'oh!) I ran out to the ladies' room during Cornel West's cameo, dang. I loved the way they make references in simultaneously subtle and obvious ways, and how they change elements of the material they allude to so it fits the story the Persephone character, for one. That "death by chocolate/chocolate orgasm" joke was was the "Freud is God" Architect character...everyone else thought the Zion-rave scene was too long and boring, but I loved it. I would've cut out the conversation between Neo and that folksy-leprechaun-counselor guy, with the Lucas-ian wardrobe. I loved the whole long sequence on top of the truck, such a great play on the stock "battle atop a speeding train". I just liked looking at the hem of Neo's duster, frozen in time.

N: I thought the French character (Persephone's partner, whose name I missed) was amusing, but his monologue made little sense to me.
Yeah, it was hard to pay attention with that Inspector Clouseau accent...he's The Merovingian, a reference that's both historical (post-Roman, pre-Charlemagne kings of France) and mythological (there's this whole story about how the bloodline is descended from god/jesus/atlantis, that sort of thing)...more importantly, I thought, his wife is Persephone, which would make him Hades, god of the underworld, who kidnapped Persephone and tricked her into eating six pomegranate seeds, etc., in greek mythology. In the movie, he's the liar and she's the truthteller (helpfully denoted by the respective all-black and all-white outfits, right?), which really throws off the whole question of what is "truth" in the Matrix, when everything may be preordained as part of the program, etc. The Merovingian is the one who yammers on about cause and effect, but of course in a preordained universe there is no choice and the chain of cause and effect can't be altered...anyway I think he is just an obstacle, a red herring, to throw Neo off the track, and then Persephone changes things by helping them...or maybe that was part of the plan also, who knows?

N: I didn't get the orgasm-via-cake joke at all.
I am really fascinated with the sexual imagery in this second movie...when I look back, the first film was filled with images of birth, or rebirth. this one is all about sex, and the double meaning of orgasm as "the little death." I predict the third movie will be, therefore, all death all the time. ;P the film opens with Neo foreshadowing Trinity's death while they are in bed, and then that same image returns as she "dies" in his arms...then of course at the end he saves her from death by literally reaching inside her, and then of course he "dies" (goes into this coma state) himself. the Merovingian scene with the dessert is a play on that same idea of the relationship between sex and death, and of course cause and effect -- didn't you think at first that the cake he gave that woman was poisoned? that he was describing how she was going to die from its effects -- pulse racing, etc? he seemed to be saying he could poison and kill her anonymously through the matrix code, an untraceable cause and effect. but no, in fact he manipulates her by giving her an orgasm from across the room -- that animated sequence of matrix code racing up her thighs (to the "door of light" -- give me a break!) totally blew my mind! I kept thinking, nobody else must get this or else this would be rated NC-17! well, that and the lipstick joke, anyway... >>:P

N: Ditto with the Architect-- I think I understand that the history of the resistance has been repeated six times - which makes it 600 years old instead of 100- and the machines allow Zion and The One to evolve each time as a pressure release for the minds which resist the Matrix? Does that agree with what you heard?
I have to see it again to understand what the hell's going on there...I was trying to look at the little TV screens in the background, plus I was chuckling over the fact that the architect looks just like Sigmund Freud, so I wasn't at my sharpest. what I took away was that everything about Neo is just part of the matrix after all, I.e. the myth that he is the savior of humanity is a flaw that is getting worked out of the system, albeit a little less successfully with each iteration of the program. george brought up an interesting point, though -- is The One always Thomas Anderson/Neo, or a different person? if it's not always him, or maybe even if it is, it may be that his radical choice (the righthand door) will change things up after all...who knows, it's all about reincarnation and how hard it is to change your fate...

N: Everything you just said is relevant and interesting and true, but most people who see this movie have no clue about any of that.
Oh i disagree -- sure, not everyone cares about the subtextual references, but that's all they are, subtextual. on the surface, the scene is about manipulating others, and it underscores how Neo and everyone else are being manipulated. if *that* is too subtle, then you can just watch monica bellucci and next time go see Bad Boys II instead. >:P

N: When Persephone deliberately puts on lipstick before kissing Neo, I assumed the lipstick was "written" as some kind of poison as well.
Yeah i thought that too...BUT i didn't mean that lipstick joke, i meant when P. tells hubby "It was the lipstick," not the lipstick on his mouth, though...heh. maybe they're supposed to be like the Clintons or something!! :D

N: When the Architect gives Neo the "choice" of the 2 doors out of the TV room, I forgot which door was which-- secondly, was it Neo's right or the Architect's right? thirdly, it didn't help that the room was round and identical all the way around?
Yeah, like i said, that scene remains a little impenetrable to me...

N: Speaking of Neo's dreams of Trinity which begin the film-- They felt out of place to me. I bet the Wachowskis placed those action-packed scenes at the beginning, because if they were not included, the first action sequence would not start until 10-20 minutes into the film, and everyone would be itchy for something to *happen*!!
I think it's helpful to think of the movie as an animated (as in brought-to-life) comic would be cool to see a flash-forward like that on a comic page, and nobody would flip ahead in the book to see what the hell it meant...movies make us impatient because they keep spelling out the story, whereas print allows you to come up with your own ideas and then slowly reveals the story. that said, while i liked the Trinity sequence in the beginning, they did NOT need to revisit it identically later on, for the idiots in the audience, "Oh I see, *that's* how she drops the motorcycle on the guard station! Woah!" sheeeesh...m.

May 19, 2003 • From Russia With Love • Brattle Theater
The fight scene on the train is the best fight scene in any Bond movie.

May 23rd and 25th, 2003 • The Godfather, Parts I and II • Brattle Theater
Funniest scene in Part I is when Michael sends his bodyguard to get Apollonia's father: he picks up his shotgun first...

May 27, 2003 • Down With Love • Loews Church St, Harvard Sq.
Funny, silly, and smart, all at once! I found the ending of the film quite tedious, but I think that was part of the point.

June 8, 2003 • Bruce Almighty • AMC Fenway
I laughed more during the opening credit sequence than I do in most other comedies altogether. Beyond the first half, a pretty pedestrian movie. Essentially a rewrite of Liar Liar, which I also enjoyed.

June 13, 2003 • The Italian Job • Showcase Cinemas Revere
If you ignore the impossibility of carrying $27 million in gold in three Mini Coopers, you'll have fun.

June 19, 2003 • Bram Stoker's Dracula • Brattle Theater
Tony Hopkins chews scenery / Gary Oldman does too / but it's Keanu's "English" accent / that makes me go "pheeeeew!"

June 21, 2003 • The Hulk • AMC Fenway (with my brother)
The first 30-45 minutes of this movie are punishingly boring. The movie was so deep I felt like seeing Armageddon afterwards to let my brain rest.

July 3, 2003 • Legally Blonde 2: Red, White, and Blonde • Loews Boston Common
Funny and silly for the first 2/3rds- the last third was deadly boring.

July 8, 2003 • Charlie's Angels: Full Throttle • Loews Boston Common
It's not as charming or spontaneous as the first, and they make up for it with more action, violence, and suspension of the laws of physics. There are too many cameos which bloat the narrative.

July 25, 2003 • Adam's Rib
Delightful comedy. Forget about Ben & J.Lo-- Tracy & Hepburn are in the Cinema Dictionary under "onscreen chemistry".

July 26, 2003 • Seabiscuit • Framingham Premium Cinema
Motion pictures were invented to film horses racing. Seabiscuit is the best film of the year so far.

August 3, 2003 • The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly • Brattle Theater
I'm glad I finally saw this movie. However, the restored edition, with 20 extra minutes, was at least 20 minutes too long. Plus, the Ennio Morricone soundtrack was super-corny and distracting. Its tough when your score becomes iconic-- everyone was giggling at the famous theme music.

Pirates Of The Carribean: Curse Of The Black Pearl • August 15 (Danvers, MA) & September 27 (Showcase Cinemas Seekonk)
Finally a summer popcorn movie which delivers exactly what I was expecting. Johnny Depp and Geoffrey Rush are delightful, the effects are perfectly executed, there are a couple of truly scary scenes. But shouldn't it be called "Curse Of The Aztec Gold"? doesn't "Curse Of" mean "Curse From" not "Cursed Upon"?

August 19, 2003 • Rear Window • Brattle Theater (with Michelle)
What a treat to see this with a newbie (Michelle)- it makes the whole movie fresh. The whole audience was totally into it.

September 18, 2003 • Finding Nemo • Somerville Theater
I finally see Nemo in a movie theater, just in the nick of time, too. And I'm glad I did- it's the best movie of the year so far. Pixar has made their best-looking, funniest, and most emotional movie yet. I didn't cry at the beginning- I was in denial that the family was wiped out. I was near tears at the end, though.

Casting: Geoffrey Rush as a pelican was perfect. The voice of Bruce the Shark was Barry Humphries, aka Dame Edna Everage; Who was so brilliant to think of asking Willem Dafoe to be a voice in a fish movie? Ellen Degeneres was delightful all the way through. Allison Janney (as the starfish bought on eBay): "That was the shortest red light I've ever seen!" I think they're overusing John Ratzenberger (Hamm in Toy Story, P.T. Flea in A Bug's Life, the Yeti in Monsters, Inc, and now the Fish School). Jacques reminds me of Muppet Pepe the Prawn, okay?
Favorite animation choice: Giving the sharks eyes with whites, UNTIL Bruce smells blood, then the pupil fills the whole eyeball. Very creepy!
Favorite Bit Part: Lobsters with a Boston accent!

September 21, 2003 • Once Upon A Time In Mexico • Digital Projection, Loews Boston Common
There are too many characters, and it's impossible to tell who's zooming who. This renders the plot incomprehensible. Salma and Antonio are barely in it. Johnny Depp steals the whole show. Robert Rodriguez was the cinematographer, editor, composer, writer, producer, and director.

TRAILER NOTES: I saw the trailer for "In The Cut" - apparently Meg Ryan has a dangerous sexual tryst with a cop played by Mark Ruffalo! Who keeps casting this shambling, gnomish doofus opposite tall gazelle types? First Gwyneth, and now this? Somebody pair him up with Janeane Garofalo, quick!

October 6, 2003 • School Of Rock • Loews Boston Common
Hysterically funny. I almost passed out from laughing so hard at one point. Also sweet and heartwarming without being saccharine. Jack Black only takes his shirt off twice. The crowd at Boston Common loved every second of it.

October 10, 2003 • Intolerable Cruelty • AMC Fenway
A spot-on screwball comedy, but the Coen brothers seem to be more interested in being wry, ironic, and eccentric than showing any emotional involvement. We never feel like the characters are really in love, and we never see Catherine Zeta-Jones even pretend to fall in love. Great costumes, and wonderful supporting performances.

October 18,2003 • Kill Bill & School Of Rock • Showcase Cinemas Woburn
A nearly unprecedented two-in-a-row. Kill Bill feels like it was filmed in QT's pleasure center. Too much style, not enough substance. SOR is still hilarious the second time around- I noticed some nice subtle moments from JB this time.

October 24, 2003 • Lost In Translation • Loews Church St, Harvard Sq.
Lost In Translation was exactly what I expected, and all I'd hoped for. It's a small, inconsequential movie, and I don't mean either of those adjectives in a bad way. Writer/director Sofia Coppola has captured a small, specific niche of human existence and made a thoughtful, heartfelt feature film about it. Past-peak movie star Bob Harris (Bill Murray) and just-graduated, and just-married Charlotte (Scarlett Johansson) are stuck in Tokyo, and lost in their own lives. Bob knows what he wants to do with his life but doesn't know how, and Charlotte doesn't know what she wants and doesn't know what to do about it. Coppola very effectively uses this completely foreign city as a perfect metaphor for isolation and confusion. Bob and Charlotte both need a sympathetic presence in their lives for a few days, and Coppola describes and shows us this unique three-day relationship perfectly. There's no defining what they are for each other, and neither the characters nor Coppola try to. There is only the slightest hint of sexuality in their relationship (Johansson was born around the time Murray was getting slimed in Ghostbusters), and that hint is very tastefully done. A good ending is always important to me, and I appreciated the non-Hollywood resolution.

November 1, 2003 • Alien: The Director's Cut • AMC Fenway
I went to see this with Jon, Paris, Michelle & Hal, and Todd & Danielle. The additions for the Director's Cut really enhance the film, which is rare for director's cuts, IMHO. Alien is on my list of Scary Scenes In Scary Movies.

November 5, 2003 • The Matrix Revolutions • Loews Methuen at The Loop
Read my review of this film.

November 6, 2003 • The Adventures Of Robin Hood • Brattle Theater
This film looks gorgeous, as good as the restoration of The Wizard of Oz. The movie still holds up 65 years later thanks to robust action and comedy, and an active, moving camera, many years ahead of its time.

November 7, 2003 • Mystic River • Embassy Cinema Waltham
Everything I hoped it would be. While Sean Penn is getting all the attention for his performance, I found Tim Robbins to be fantastic, and Kevin Bacon does a great job too. I found aspects of the plot a little implausible.

Master & Commander: The Far Side Of The World
November 14, 2003, Embassy Cinema Waltham • November 27, 2003, Loews Church St. Cambridge
Best movie of the year. Excting, thrilling, dramatic, emotional, authentic.

November 25, 2003 • West Side Story • Brattle Theater
Very impressive. Great music, good dancing, bad makeup, wonderful location shooting, only about 10 min too long.

Love Actually
November 29, 2003, Loews Church St, Cambridge • December 12, AMC Fenway
Romantic and emotional. All of my favorite English actors in one movie.

Evening of December 12, 2003, Midnight show • Scrooged • AMC Fenway
I have always loved this movie, and when I get a chance to see it on TV, it's always so...segmented. My love for Scrooged deserves a theatrical exhibition. When Emily and I went to see Love, Actually, I noticed that the theater was showing Scrooged at midnight that night, so I stuck around afterwards and caught the midnight show.

Return Of The Lord Of The Rings Movie

While The Divine Miss Em is going to the LOTR Marathon with Josh, Peter, and Angus in Worcester tomorrow night, I will be simultaneously attending LOTR:ROTK at a 12:10am show in Randolph. I can't go Wednesday night as I have another obligation (all the evening shows are sold out already anyway). I almost cry with awe/joy at the LOTR:ROTK commercials, so I am sure the drama will make me weepy. Best wishes to Em and her Mini-Fellowship: May their 11 hour mission be memorable, in all the right ways.
Tuesday Morning, December 16, 2003 • The King Is Returning Tonight!
The reviews are beginning to come in. By this time tomorrow, I will let you know how the movie met my impossibly high expectations. The fact that I got shivers from the TV spot, and almost cried during the theatrical trailer, means the whole shebang has a lot to live up to.

As I mentioned yesterday, I have a ticket to a 12:10am show at Randolph tonight, so after work, I'm headed home to feed and dress myself. I am considering taking what Em calls a "disco nap" (an afternoon nap in preparation for a long night). My receipt for my ticket says the movie is "The evening of Tuesday December 13th, 12:10am". I guess this is their odd way of clearing up any confusion over the date of the showing: Technically I am going to the movie on Wednesday...10 minutes into Wednesday, anyway. The theaters were also smart to start the shows at 12:05am, 12:10am, et cetera, instead of 12:00 midnight, because no one knows whether midnight is 12am or 12pm.

Return Of The King Now Playing; All Other Cinema Ceases To Matter

I guess I'll go join the seminary now", a tearful Martin Scorsese reports

Tuesday Evening, December 16, 2003 • The Lord Of The Rings: Return Of The King • Showcase Cinemas Randolph
I never thought I'd say this, but whoever handled the crowds at the theater did a fantastic job. They seemed to reserve at least one more theater than they *technically* needed to hold everyone who bought a ticket (I think there were six theaters showing ROTK). They herded everyone into TensaBarrier pens (you could almost hear the mooing and bleating). Then, they filled a theater to mostly-full (the front 2 rows were vacant) and then started directing the next pen to the next vacant theater. It didn't matter which showtime or theater number was printed on your ticket. Long-story-short: I sat exactly where I wanted to, and I had an empty seat next to me.

The best movie of the year by a long trebuchet shot, and the finest battle sequences ever filmed. The movie was as good as a non-mind-reading movie director could make. What I mean is, one key sequence was not shot the way I imagined it, and he made several choices that I would not have, but Peter Jackson is a magician and a hobbit, not a clarivoyant. However, the second-most critical scene was shot exactly the way I imagined: possibly the scariest monster sequence I have ever seen. My right thumb is beyond the nail, down to the bone thanks to Shelob.

Some critics have complained that the dénouement is waayyy to long. I disagree- when you're dealing with an epic story, it takes more than 30 seconds to wrap things up. I am a firm believer in not telling audiences too much, and I love ambiguity, but there is no place for ambiguity in the end of The Lord Of The Rings.

SIDE NOTE: I still haven't figured out one possible gaffe-- How does Shelob stab/poison Frodo through his special Elven vest (whose name I've forgotten)? I'll have to rewatch ROTK and try and see where the stinger goes in, and if the vest is damaged. We see the orcs examine his possessions, including the vest, while he's comatose. I guess it's possible that the end of the stinger is so sharp, that it would pass between the links of the vest?

My Father Reviews The Return Of The King

I'm sorry to say we were disappointed. The special effects are wonderful, but the acting was wooden, and a lot of the details were strange (e.g. -- in the days of swords and castles, you couldn't make large holes in the wall with a ballista or catapult, or even, in 1812, with big cannon, and, if you could, why bother to break down the gates?

You wouldn't even think about charging the elephant beasts with light cavalry. Cavalry is effective against infantry because of its shock value, as the first charge proved -- you can ride through and over an infantry line that an opposing infantry couldn't touch. You wouldn't, however, charge the elephants -- you'd use the speed and mobility of the light cavalry to harass them from the rear. As Legolas showed, subtlety wins over them, not brute force. This is not just Dad having his usual suspension of disbelief issues -- I'm happy to suspend disbelief and have the dead walking, Mordor drowning in lava, and everything else -- but I don't see a dramatic necessity for being stupid with real technology -- you simply wouldn't build castle walls that could be knocked down by the first shot from an existing weapon

I also missed the whole scouring of the Shire at the end -- the movie seems to believe that the Shire managed to go through these difficult times with absolutely no changes - the book did it much better. Also disappointing was the Merry/Pippin comedy team. While the book shows them as a little impulsive, they were never the low comedy they become in the movie.

So, I will be surprised if it does much at the Oscars, except for the ancillary awards. Certainly none of the acting awards; while Elijah Wood did a creditable job, I can't see the Academy giving Best Actor to a Hobbit, and none of the other people deserve it.

All I'll say in response to Dad's points on the technology of warfare is: Drama is more important than accuracy.

I will agree that the scouring of the Shire would have been good to include, but once you add that, you're increasing the length of ROTK to 4 hours, and that's too long. Plus, people who haven't read the books are expecting the movie to end promptly after the ring is destroyed. All the complaints about the multiple endings are proof it's already too long for restless viewers who haven't read the books. Remember, the films have to be entertaining movies first, and faithful adaptations second.

On the Merry/Pippin issue, I thought the scene on the toppled wall of Isengard, with the silly welcomes, and Gimli's ire, was right on target. I remember laughing out loud at that passage in the book- all that running in Two Towers, all for nothing!

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