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"The board is set. The pieces are moving." The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King looks poised to conquer box office records, and it may be on a path that leads to Oscars. Judging from the euphoric praise offered up by mainstream press critics, it looks like director Peter Jackson has triumphantly completed the greatest adventure film trilogy ever made.

Many of you—perhaps most of you—will be seeing the movie this week. (I've got a hunch a good number of you have already seen it.) When you do, let me know your opinions: Do you agree with those religious press film critics who are heaping superlatives on Jackson's effort? Do you think it is as successful an adaptation as The Fellowship of the Ring or The Two Towers? Do you have any complaints? Further, why do you think the trilogy is striking such a chord with viewers, and what sets it apart from other films in this season saturated with epics? Send me an e-mail.

The film follows the last days of the quest of Frodo Baggins (Elijah Wood) across the span of Middle-Earth. This hobbit from the quiet and innocent region called the Shire has been beaten down and nearly destroyed, sapped by the wicked and alluring power of the One Ring he is seeking to destroy. Helped by his faithful friend Samwise Gamgee (Sean Astin), Frodo has arrived at last in the blasted wasteland of Mordor. Within shouting distance of Mount Doom's destructive lava flow, the only force that can destroy the Ring and prevent the dark lord Sauron from ruling Middle-Earth, Frodo finds himself facing both his own weakness and the malevolent designs of the Ring-obsessed wretch called Gollum. Gollum has devised plans for foiling Frodo's quest. They include deceit, violence, and a particularly nasty spider.

Meanwhile, ...

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December 2003

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