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"Film Forum: Christian Critics Hail Third Rings, Harass Last Samurai"

"Christian press critics sneak a peek at The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King, charge against The Last Samurai, and dance to the beat of Honey. Plus, more reviews of 21 Grams, Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World, and Mel Gibson's The P"

Many Film Forum readers already have their tickets for the third and final film in … oh, you know what I'm talking about.

I joined several Christian press film critics in Los Angeles last week to see an early screening of The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King. The screening was an overwhelming experience—the film surpasses its predecessors in many ways, especially in the Department of Jaw-Dropping, Eye-Dazzling Spectacle. But regarding the way that Peter Jackson, Philippa Boyens, and Fran Walsh adapt this chapter of J.R.R. Tolkien's story, they have made many changes that must be discussed. Check next week's Film Forum for some in-depth debate.

The day after the screening, most of us were still a bit bewildered from having seen such an awe-inspiring work, so we had to struggle to concentrate on the job of the day: interviewing the cast and the crew. My full review will be posted at Looking Closer on Monday, and excerpts from the interviews are being added to the site over the next two weeks. Some of the best interview bits will be included in next week's Film Forum as well.

A particularly interesting aspect of the interviews: Tolkien's Christian worldview seems to have gone either ignored or almost entirely unnoticed by many of the cast and crew. In fact, the themes of the story seem to have had very little influence on their thinking. Indeed, actor Andy Serkis told CNN.com in an interview this week that if he had the Ring of Power in his grasp, "I would banish all religions first of all." In response, Steven D. Greydanus quipped, "The actor who plays Gollum thinks it would be better to be a Sauron than a Frodo."

Some of the religious press critics who saw the film have already posted their reviews. Steve Beard, for ...

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"Film Forum: Christian Critics Hail Third Rings, ...
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