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Fun with Franchises: The Lord of the Rings – The Return of the King (2003), Part III — “I Really Want to Make a Polio Joke Right Now”

Today we continue with another entry in our Fun with Franchises series, The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King. Part III.

In case you don’t know how this works — a while back, I decided to rank my favorite Disney movies and rank my favorite James Bond movies. And the Disney ones were mostly straight synopses and not too much fun, but when I got to Bond, I enlisted the help of my friend Colin (whose blog is TokyoRemix.com. Fuck yeah, promotion!), who knows everything about the Bond franchise that I do not, for those articles, and along the way, learned how to have fun with it. And, by the end of the Bond articles, we were having so much fun that I said, “Man, we have to do this again with other stuff.” Because I spent about a straight month and a half putting together those articles. That’s how much time and effort actually goes into something like that. And not once did it feel like work. It was so much fun that I knew, as long as we were doing it for comedy purposes and able to riff off of each other — we could do pretty much any film and it would work.

And very quickly, the first ones you come up with are the major franchises, because those are not only the most fun, but also the most universally known. Everyone’s gonna understand all the jokes we make (well… most of them. Some of them might be limited to three people) about them. So that’s what we’re doing. And if you’re gonna have fun with franchises, it wouldn’t be right if you didn’t franchise it. Also, just so we’re clear, this is all for parody. We’re just messing with them because we love them.

And that’s Fun with Franchises. Right now, we’re doing the Lord of the Rings franchise, and today is the third part of The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King:

The Lord of the Rings The Return of the King - Title Card

We begin Part III outside a place that happened in book 2:

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Colin:

And again. Frodo was in this movie?

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“Master must go into the tunnel.”

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That’s not so bad.

Colin:

Another reverse tracking shot! We like those.

Perfectly getting him in the mood to be murdered.

(In the Mood to Be Murdered)

(By Wong Kar Wai)

(Colin loves that movie. He watches it all the time.)

Colin:

Goddamn it. Wong Kar why the fuck did he have to end that movie that way? Cinematic blue balls. Regular blue balls, for that movie.

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“Now that I’m here, I don’t think I want to.”

What a stupid line. “Yeah… I’ve already traveled like 80% of the way to stop the world from ending, but this cave seems pretty creepy, so… I’m just gonna head back home.”

Colin:

I don’t want no part of this shit.

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“It’s the only way. Go in, or go back.”

Really? That’s what gets him to go. “I don’t want to go.” “Well, you have to.”

Did he forget that he had to or something?

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It’s incredible that he totally trusts Gollum, someone who is only loyal to him because he swore on the fucking thing you have that he will kill you for.

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Shelob’s lair.

I want a lair.

Colin:

Ogres have lairs. And onions. And parfaits.

“O-GRRRRREAT!” — Tony the Tiger, selling out.

(What, who said it had to be relevant?)

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Wow, this shot is so dark it’s almost abstract. Big fan of that.

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Doing these articles is better than film school. I’m watching stuff so closely, I’m able to study compositions and see how they’re really using visuals to tell the story.

I’m telling you, if you want to truly be a good filmmaker, watch a lot of movies, not just all the good ones, and watch them really closely like this. But only do it if you can find a way to make it fun, because then it’s not worth it. No need to treat it like work. Find a way to make it fun, like we are. No joke, I’m learning more about composition and visual storytelling now than I ever did in college. (Which is not a knock against the film major as much as it is a recommendation for doing this.)

Colin:

And I’m getting to make a lot of dirty jokes. 

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I like scenes so dark that make it seem like there’s masking on the frame.

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I’m not really sure what he’s so freaked out about. It’s just giant spider webs.

“What the fuck is this shit?”

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“You will see. Oh yes… you will see.”

Colin:

This is never a good thing to hear unless it’s a surprise party coming. And that doesn’t look like silly string.

Everything should have the line, “That doesn’t look like silly string.” Especially pornos.

(Also, That Doesn’t Look Like Silly String.)

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“Sam…”

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Go home Frodo, you are drunk.

Colin:

Now he sees all the bones and realizes what’s up. Great timing, now that you’re right in the middle of it all.

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Jesus, Sam, stop crying like a bitch. Are you seriously climbing down the steps and crying?

Fucking follow them! You’re just gonna leave your best friend to get murdered?

Colin:

Actually, you have to wonder where he thinks he’s off to, considering that he’s got the ring right now and still needs to go destroy it. 

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Well that’s convenient.

Especially since he just slipped and fell almost all the way down. So he managed not to die and land exactly where the lembas bread landed.

Okay.

Colin:

I’m amazed that didn’t knock out Sam’s teeth.

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^ ^ ^ ^ ^

Colin:

Don’t CRUSH the bread, you ass! That was still good!

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Nice steps.

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Maybe take out a sword to cut all those webs instead of just walking through them and hoping for the best.

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Colin:

This is like in Raiders of the Lost Ark when Marion’s covered in dead guys. Lost in a copse of corpses. Which, let’s be honest — that’s a terrifying experience. Cause even if they aren’t zombies, just think of the germs.

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When all other lights go out.

Wow, that came back pretty conveniently. We haven’t seen this shit since he got it.

Hooray, plot devices!

Colin:

Right. Frodo got the same thing that Dumbledore’s going to will to Ron a few years after this movie comes out.

What do they do with this thing after this quest?

Oh, right, it only exists to show up at this exact moment.

Colin:

I bet Sam kept it and turned it on while he was plowing Rosie.

*Rosie comes home late from the bar one night. Tiptoes across the dark living room. Suddenly a light bursts from the corner in the room. There’s Sam, sitting in an arm chair, holding the phial.*

“You said you’d call.”

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Somehow he knows the incantation to make it work.

Colin:

Now was it just me, or did that incantation end with a “kali ma?”

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Frodo’s taking selfies.

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Shelob is photobombing.

Colin:

Oh FUCK that. He was screaming and flailing and it was there the whole time?

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Well you’re fucked.

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Colin:

She got a FAT ass!

How come Shelob never had any children?

Even Aragog had kids.

Maybe Aragog was her husband and ended up in London the way blacks ended up in America.

Spider Slavery.

Imagine how much cotton…

Colin:

You can do what you will with this information, but — she had kids and ate most of them.

Imagine how much cotton…

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They should put liquor in things shaped like that.

Colin:

…said Mike, pointing at nothing in particular.

I feel like most things I say end with, “Said Mike, to no one in particular.”

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Though it also looks kind of like a glass dildo.

Or a Middle Earth bong.

Holy shit, maybe Galadriel is a stoner.

Just smoking a bowl and walking around the forest.

“The world is changing. *coughs after a huge hit* I can feel it in the water. *takes another hit, telepathically orders a lembas crust pizza.”

Colin:

She’s usually a vegetarian, but when she smokes, she orders it with salted pork.

Weird how Middle Earth has no other toppings.

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Colin:

This thing really seems to hate light.

Doesn’t she remind you of Michelle Bachmann?

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This is like The Third Man with spider webs.

Colin:

I’d like to criticize Frodo for looking behind him too much, but to be perfectly honest, that’s the direction I’d probably be looking too. He has every reason to.

You can’t beat a giant spider in its natural habitat.

It’s been proven.

Colin:

Shelob’s pretty cool, actually. Just like the balrog, she’s been around for [literally] ages; she’s been living in this particular place since before Sauron first came to power and before Mordor was even settled. She’s been pretty much running her shit since the First Age (or so it’s assumed), and ever since Sauron took over, he lets her stick around because she provides him with security for one of the secret ways into his pad. He also sends fuck-ups and prisoners her way to die. But at any rate, there’s something to be said for a being whose sole existence for thousands of years has been to eat stuff indiscriminately.

Of course, having inhabited this cave for several thousand years, you’d sort of expect her to know what little holes and crevasses she fits into — I don’t know why she tries to get at Frodo through this tiny opening when it’s clearly impossible. Being that she’s used this place as her own personal fun house for literally millennia, you’d expect her to see him go through the little hole, know exactly where she was going to come out, and so instead of lunging at him, she’d get into position to head him off at the pass. One of those. Being an intelligent being. This comes off more like a fat guy trying to reach for a pizza bite that fell between the counter and the refrigerator; you can see it, but you know before you even try that your fat arms aren’t gonna get into that 1 inch-wide space.

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So apparently your sword is not out at all times? You brought this on yourself.

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Just like Jesus.

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Colin:

Gollum just HAD to reveal himself at this point, instead of letting Frodo get eaten and then getting the ring for himself. It even seems like it’s only Frodo’s intense anger at having been betrayed that allows him to chop through all these webs. That, and the fine, Elvish blade he’s got here.

The funny thing is, I remember reading that Gollum despised anything made by the elves, which explains his hatred of Sting and his faces whenever they bring up lembas bread.

Mostly I enjoy it because — even he’s racist.

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Took you long enough. Idiot.

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Colin:

Shelob could’ve had him if only she’d walked a bit faster instead of chilling in the background and creeping up slowly.

Is there anything creepier than a giant spider sneaking up on a midget?

Colin:

A giant spider sneaking up on two midgets?

Cause the creepiest part of the scenario is the midget.

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Colin:

Aw, you left Sting. That’s a good sword. I’m always that guy that’s afraid of characters losing shit. Cause what if they need it later? I like it when they have their stuff.

I Like It When They Have Their Stuff

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Colin:

He escapes the lair and Gollum’s ready to FUCK HIS SHIT UP!

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Nice place for a fight.

How come Shelob doesn’t interfere? She must be like Jabba. “No, no, let them finish. This amuses me. I will kill the loser.”

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Colin:

This pleases me greatly, though. Cause now, Frodo’s pretty far along with the ring, and he’s quite taken himself. So when he gets Gollum off, he lunges back at him. Until now, he was pretty much trying to fend off attackers. Now, he’s ready to murder this fuck.

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Colin:

He’s still innocent enough to let up on Gollum? This is like someone saying that guns don’t kill people, people kill people. You have to be like, “Yeah, but if I take away your gun, it’ll be just a bit harder to kill me, won’t it? And just a bit is all I need to justify it to myself, so fuck your gun.” Like regardless of WHY Gollum is doing what he’s doing, he’s just going to keep doing it, so you might as well off him.

Also, YOU KNOW WHERE THE FUCK YOU ARE. You don’t need him anymore! Man, Frodo is fucking up.

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“Smeagol wouldn’t hurt Master. It was the Precious! It made us do it!”

Which, again… you have the Precious. You will continue to have the Precious. He wants it. You’re going to destroy it. How the fuck do you think this is gonna turn out?

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“I have to destroy it, Smeagol. I have to destroy it for both our sake’s.”

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RAHH!

I just realized — Gollum never knew what they were going to do. So this reaction makes perfect sense. He’d have killed them weeks ago if he knew this was the end goal.

Which — why the fuck would they be going to Mordor? Why was Gollum never curious about that?

And you mean to tell me, over all that time they were walking on rocks and shit, neither Frodo nor Sam said, “I can’t wait til we destroy this fucking thing and be done with it”?

Colin:

I’m pretty sure he knew the whole time — I think this was more of a rejection of the plan. He was going along with shit this long and his good side was trying to be good. 

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You never dive on someone near the edge of a cliff.

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Colin:

He just dropped Gollum like an Alison Doody.

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“I’m so sorry, Sam.”

Colin:

“How sorry?”

*zip*

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Really nice shot.

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You think he feels any remorse over just “killing” Gollum or it’s just the ring doing its ring thing to him?

How much cruelty and malice is there to go around?

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And then he passes out.

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Uhh…?

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Colin:

I wish I could pass out anywhere and end up on a beautiful woodland floor of soft moss and ferns and shit.

Usually I wake up in a Korean nail salon.

Never figured out why.

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How many times in these franchises has a person passed out and woken up with someone standing or sitting over them?

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Why her?

Is she connected to that light thing? Is that it?

I feel like, if I’m Frodo, the one person who can make me feel better right now is Gandalf.

Because she talked to me through her head, woke me up in the middle of the night to make me look into a mirror, went creepy CGI and didn’t even fuck me.

And she doesn’t even have an incident with a dragon on her resume.

Colin:

I think this is an Elf Skype thing.

I didn’t hear it ring.

What if he woke up in the field and Galadriel started making the Skype ring noises. “Boop Boop Boop boop!”

Michael Winslow could do that.

Michael Winslow could do anything.

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Eww. Don’t touch someone covered in spider webs.

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But if you didn’t grab her hand, wouldn’t you still get to hang out there?

Isn’t that how that works?

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Aren’t we all really glad this wasn’t Gwyneth?

Colin:

Dream Galadriel of Ralph Lorien seems very pleased with his willingness to hold her hand.

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Colin:

This is how most of my blackouts go. Only, instead of Galadriel lifting me up by the hand, she puts two fingers down my throat and I wake up vomiting.

At least she grabbed his hand. Most people just pick up hobbits by the back of their cloak and one-hand that sumbitch.

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Catapult.

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Fire catapult.

Colin:

Something about this isn’t as exciting as that beginning battle in Gladiator. That shit was magnificent.

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Troll tug of war.

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Now that’s a battering ram.

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Little pigs, little pigs… let me come in.

If you really want to scare the shit out of people, break down their door with something exuding fire.

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Colin:

This gate is not at ALL barricaded. Weren’t they gonna add some extra timbers or something? Here’s a question — remember all the huge pieces of disused building that they were flinging earlier? Tell me, why couldn’t they stack some of that in front of this gate to block it off? It’s not like they really need to leave through it themselves at the moment. And if they can get multi-ton pieces of building into trebuchets, they can get it in front of this gate.

Because the only person leading them is Gandalf, and thees men apparently have no idea what the fuck to do.

Or because they’re too scared to think.

Colin:

I think I’d be a boss at defending my keep. Coat the surrounding area with pitch to set ablaze as they get right up to the wall, boil some oil and wait til they come back, rain down on them with rocks, barricade the doors with ANYTHING cause it’s not like we’re going outside…I’d have this battle on lock.

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See? He’s the only person keeping a level head right now.

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Denethor’s gonna burn himself and Faramir alive.

As you do.

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He thinks Faramir is dead of course, but still.

Colin:

Oh, but he’s alive and for whatever reason, this bitch ass steward refuses to see it. Maybe he’s one of those royal types who used to take a lot of arsenic so people couldn’t poison him.

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Colin:

Who would be down with this? Your city is under siege by a crazy force that seems indefatigable, and your STEWARD is trying to commit murder-suicide on/with his son without doing anything to help anyone else. I know you’re supposed to listen to him, but why would you at this point? Who’s looking over the edge of this level of the city at the tens of thousands of orcs that are attacking and thinking, “If I don’t listen to the steward and kill him and his son, I’ll be in trouble!” or something resembling that line of thought?

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That’s so cool that they’re operating this thing from on it.

What kind of orc engineers do they have, again?

Is there some orc just sitting in Mordor, with a little office in a tower, with thousands of blueprints, and glasses on his nose, just designing this shit?

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Where the fuck is the beer?!!!

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“You’re soldiers of Gondor. No matter what gets through that gate, you will stand your ground.”

Colin:

It’s probably sad that I recognize some of these soldiers at the gate from earlier scenes of them talking to Gandalf and getting severed heads rained on them, huh?

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Uh, yeah… you see what had happened was…

Colin:

Well-timed comment for THAT to come through the gate. Huge, armored trolls with enormous weapons?

Those fucking things know what time it is, too. They rush in like they mean business. Normally trolls don’t know where their fucking feet are.

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It’s the fucking Monstars.

Colin:

It’s like the 2008 Beijing Olympics when the US basketball team played China. It was HILARIOUS. Seriously my favorite non-race sporting event ever. Like, what do you really think Yao and his amateurs were going to do to Kobe, Dwayne, Lebron and Melo? The US team spent the fourth quarter showboating with spin dunks and they still won 101-70. 1.3 billion people, and not a single decent point guard in the bunch.

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Which one is the Shawn Bradley one? Save him for last. He can’t hurt you.

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Damn shame what’s happening to this city right now.

But, in a military society, the contractors must make BANK.

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Colin:

These guys are doing way better than Rohan did in the last movie, anyway.

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Hey… guys… your city is burning.

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So close to Mordor.

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Why are you just standing there?

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Is this like those guys who can’t leave prison because they’ve been in for so long? What are you nervous about? Passing someone on the stairs?

How great would that be? Him walking up the stairs and an orc going down them. And then he tips his hat as he passes and the orc stops five steps later and does a double take.

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Uh oh.

Colin:

How spiders move…is gross.

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Wouldn’t you sprint up those fucking steps, whether you know the spider was there or not?

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Maybe keep checking for the fucking spider. Just saying. It’s not like it’s not gonna keep trying to kill you.

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I like the angle. Very rarely do you get an angle quite like this.

Colin:

It’s bizarre. I’m down.

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So close.

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But uh oh…

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What was that?

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I love this shot. (Sarcastically.) The thing that was just stalking you is suddenly no longer there. Because you know it’s still right fucking there. It’s just out of frame. You gotta be really clueless to not notice that thing anywhere around you.

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Uh oh.

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SHIVVED!

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Stabbed face.

Colin:

THERE IT IS! This is the third time we’ve gotten to see Elijah Wood’s ‘stabbed’ face, and it is a delight! Like, I’m not saying someone should go stab him on camera, but it would certainly be advisable to put him in more film or TV roles with chances for stabbings.

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Colin:

How do people just foam at the mouth like that? Look at that! It looks like he’s been brushing his teeth! How does that work, all of a sudden?

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I like that this thing just has a stinger hanging down like a dick.

I feel like there’s at least one movie where a Japanese guy moves around like a spider and his dick falls down just like that stinger and he stabs people with it.

The funny thing is — you all know that probably exists, too.

Colin:

Which one? There are several movies here that fit that description.

This year.

I would pay to see those movies.

In cash.

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Colin:

You know what’s gross? All of this.

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Oh, look, just in time.

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Where’d he get that light, exactly?

Colin:

On the ground in the cave, I expect.

Isn’t the cave supposed to be dark as shit? Didn’t Frodo just lose it in a maze of spiderwebs? Did he seriously manage to wander through the exact place Frodo came through and find it amongst the webs and bodies? I can’t even find a fucking pen on my own desk when I want to.

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“Let him go, you filth.”

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Reaction shots are the key to comedy.

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What if she just tally ho’d onto him right now?

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Meh, I probably still would.

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If I were Shelob, I’d stay right the fuck there, because what’s he gonna do? He’s gotta go through you.

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This motherfucker just charged a giant spider.

Colin:

This is where Sam gets to really shine for a minute, and not just because of this elven bauble. He showed up just in time to fuck up Shelob, gets some badass lines in and actually fights for what’s basically the first time.

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How the fuck did you think that was gonna turn out?

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I like that the spider has enough mental faculties to know to push the light out of the way.

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Get the frying pan!

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Damn, she do got a fat ass.

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Driver’s license photo.

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You guys ever see that movie Teeth?

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There’s only so much disgusting a single shot can hold.

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I’m not sure what grosses me out more, between the two of them.

If given the choice, I’d take the seasick crocodile.

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She looks like she’s banging him up against the wall.

Colin:

Imagine this version of Atonement, with Shelob as McAvoy, Sam as Keira and Saoirse Ronan as Briony.

I’m imagining Shelob typing away at a typewriter and absolutely nothing but gibberish coming out.

“He’s a sex maniac, Precious!”

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Tally ho onto the undercarriage!

Colin:

This fight is hardcore. This is actually the baddest, most intense single fight we get in the franchise, as far as I’m concerned. They’re both pretty heated.

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Rolling down the back.

The Lord of the Rings The Return of the King - 910

Yeah, that’s probably not good.

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WHY DO YOU KEEP CHARGING THIS THING?

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Damn. He put out one of its eyeses.

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That thing’s face looks like the little voodoo mask that follows around Crash Bandicoot.

Colin:

Yeah! Aku Aku!

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I like how it took being blinded in one eye for the spider to realize, “Hey, I should knock that thing away.”

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Oh… this moment.

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Oh damn, it’s really on top of this shit.

There’s really no way Sam should beat this thing. None at all.

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Oh, but I guess it could do that.

Colin:

I don’t really buy this. Just cause you’re bigger doesn’t mean you can do this. Like, I’m WAY bigger than an ant, but you know how much it would hurt if I slammed my boner into solid earth? A lot.

Question of the day: “How much would it hurt if I slammed my boner into solid earth?”

This sounds like the lost verse of “With a Little Help from My Friends.”

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Yoink!

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Stab.

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Right in the babymaker.

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Man, I can’t count all the times I stabbed a spider in the ovaries.

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Colin:

She got stabbed pretty well in the abdomen; shouldn’t she be leaking spider juice? Professor Slughorn keeps a vial on hand for just such an occasion.

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The Lord of the Rings The Return of the King - 927

She don’t want no part of this shit.

I wish I was able to do that. When I wanted to be done with something, just have a hole of darkness to slink back into.

Colin:

You’ll always have Puerto Rico.

Here’s looking at you, niña.

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I like how he runs over and puts his sword down, like the spider won’t come back.

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Worst present ever.

What happened to all the foam?

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What the fuck is on his hands?

Colin:

Ew. He does have some green slime on his hands, which is presumably spider juice. That’s nasty.

Also, what the fuck is Limbo Mist?

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Aww… he thinks Frodo is dead.

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“Don’t worry, Mr. Frodo. We have all the time in the world.”

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“Mr. Frodo… wake up.”

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“Don’t leave me alone. Don’t go where I can’t follow.”

Colin:

Uh, if you think he’s dead, following him is pretty easy. In fact, for certain servants in Sam’s position during feudal Japan, it was almost required.

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Reaction shots are the key to comedy.

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Colin:

The oracle told Sam that he would fall in love. And that the man he loved would be the One. And so you see, Frodo can’t be dead, because Sam loves him.

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Sam does not have phoenix tears.

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This moment was sad as shit in the books. I remember him seeming dead and going, “There’s a legitimate chance he could actually be dead. This would be the right time to kill off a main character. You could easily readjust to Sam being the main character from here on out.

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Sting.

Colin:

It’s nice to have an early warning system for shit. I want something to glow blue when people I don’t like are coming.

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I like that orcs just walk around these places for like, no reason.

Maybe they’re going to have a dice game or something.

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“Man, my old lady been on my ass all week…”

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“Oh jam, it’s a fruit rolled up.”

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What if that orc just took a giant shit on Frodo’s corpse right now?

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“This fellow ain’t dead.”

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“Not dead?”

Good job, Sam. I’m sure they didn’t hear you.

Maybe try facial acting next time.

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He looks pretty dead to me.

“She jabs him with her stinger, and he goes as limp as a bonefish.”

Colin:

This orc is giving out way too much exposition.

I don’t know what a bonefish is, but I hope my dick never goes limp like it.

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“Then, she has her way with them.”

That sounds creepy.

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This is all second book, by the way. I’m pretty sure the books are split in half, too. The first half of the book is all the Rohan stuff, and the second half is all the Frodo and Sam and Gollum stuff. But, I remember this being the last part of “Two Towers,” since the last line was like, “Frodo was alive, but taken by the enemy.” And it was some tense shit. But I remember watching the second movie for the first time and being like, “Wait… so this isn’t gonna be in it?” And then I realized, there isn’t much of a Frodo plotline for the third book, so they just condensed it all to give him something to do. The third book is literally almost all of the other people. And then they end it with Mount Doom and all that. It’s weird how Tolkien didn’t merge the storylines and kept them separate.

Colin:

How awkward is it when they leave? He does an aside, like he’s clearly not talking to the other orcs. And he scans the whole area dramatically before following them. This is weird, vaguely Shakespearean stuff.

Exeunt orcs.

(But really, though, he does look like sasquatch.)

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So now it’s up to you, Samwise.

I remember this part in the book. I was tense as hell, reading it. Because I was like, “Shit, now he’s taken, and you’re pretty fucked.” I figured Sam had the ring (though maybe they tell you straight out), but I just remember being on edge this entire time.

Would have made a nice little cliffhanger for the second movie.

But I guess cutting it out gave us more opportunities for war, and more things to show for Frodo and Sam in this movie.

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Oh, right, this is happening.

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Colin:

He’s got some good color for a half-dead guy.

I always noticed that too. Someone with that much color in his face is clearly not dead.

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Wow. Really nice shot.

Apparently he has a dungeon down by the front door where he has ritual murder/suicides.

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Those are some chiseled marble columns.

Colin:

I bet you say that to all the marble columns.

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“He’s not dead!”

Colin:

All the other guys listening to this just arent’t paying attention to Pippin, I guess? Cause one of them could check his pulse and be like, “Oh…no. He’s not dead.”

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Denethor releases Pippin from his service.

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Forcibly.

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“Go now and die in what way seems best to you.”

Colin:

Admittedly, that is a pretty cool line. I want to break up with a girl with that line. That would be COLD-BLOODED!

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Maybe if you want this to go without a hitch, lock that door.

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Stone fireplace.

Colin:

Some of these guys have bandages and slings and stuff. Is there a forward medical station? Like a Gondor MASH unit?

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This looks like Rome.

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Colin:

THAT’S how you do cities, though. The SECOND LEVEL. Minas Tirith has seven levels, each blocked by a gate, and the best part is that you can’t just head through one gate and get to the next. The Main Gate is in the east, but the next gate requires you to zig zag through the streets. So the whole time, the people on the next level are shooting down at you and stuff. Clever business. It’s a city, not even a dedicated fortress, and it still makes Helm’s Deep look like a Fisher Price playhouse.

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They’re in.

And the property value is going down.

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Gandalf’s been doing this a lot in the past few scenes.

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Rohan, motherfucker.

Colin:

I bet the Spartans could do better than this. Forget Theoden, you should have called Leonidas.

I disapprove of this. Leonidas is way overrated because of that movie.

And typically the people who make references to that movie in this sense (about how badass Leonidas is) are people who have barely seen other movies.

You know… V for Vendetta people.

Colin:

He’s still better than Theoden. I’d take the sultan from Aladdin over Theoden.

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Colin:

Oh. That IS a lotta horsemasters, though.

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Colin:

Theoden’s now thinking about how easy he had it with only 10,000 orcs, which wasn’t shit. This is 200,000 orcs, plus trolls, thousands of bad men from the South, all that business.

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If you have to go, you just go on the horse, right?

Colin:

Eowyn’s rethinking her decision to join the battle.

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“Arise, riders of Theodon. Spears will be shaken. Shields will be splintered. A sore day. A red day. Ere the sun rises!”

I want to see people shaking spears.

Because why aren’t they stabbing people with them?

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Glorious shot.

Colin:

I love that they have groups of riders called Eoreds. The ‘Eo’ means ‘horse,’ which is why Eomer and Eowyn are named that way. But since the name for the battalion sounds so much like his name that I wanted it to be a special thing. Like Roosevelt’s Rough Riders, or something. They are sorta rough riders.

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“Ride now!”

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“Ride now!”

Colin:

As he rides by all these guys screaming, “RIDE NOW!” it comes off like he’s telling them to go. Like when he hits your spear with his sword, you’re supposed to charge. What if one dude did, and everyone else thought they were supposed to go to, and so they just stampeded?

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At what point do you decide, “I’ve told enough people to ride”? And how many people do you think actually hear him? Poor organization, especially since they seem to have excellent organization in like, five minutes.

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“Ride to ruin, and the world’s ending!”

I like how after a while, you just run out of speeches. He literally just stops and shouts death three times here. And there’s a key change on the third one. That’s his speech. “We’re gonna fight, we’re gonna die, hooray, death!”

Colin:

Not sure that’s the pep talk they were all looking for, but okay. I’m not into it unless there’s cursing and trash talk.

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Colin:

That’s a crazy number of horses though, seriously. Imagine how much shit that many horses must produce in a day. How about they fling that at the orcs? I wonder if orcs are prone to illness.

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That’s a fucking charge.

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There’s a face.

Colin:

Karl Urban tosses his spear up and catches it in throwing position before launching it. Someone does that while bearing down on me, I’m GONE.

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Uruk-hai be scared.

Colin:

What, did you seriously think this little volley would stop THOUSANDS of riders? He looks all self assured before the first and second volleys.

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Colin:

It’s nice how this one rider at the front is already at a full gallop but decides that just isn’t fast enough and turns his horse up to 11 so he can get there first. Whoever that was gets a medal. All the orcs saw that and crapped themselves.

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They just fucking run over them too.

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“Gandalf! Denethor’s lost his mind. He’s burning Faramir alive!”

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I believe that face is, “Mithran-dear god!”

Colin:

I don’t really understand what this is about. I mean, it does suck that Denethor is burning Faramir alive, and all, but the whole battle kind of hinges on Gandalf leading the men and coming through in a pinch. Now he’s gonna leave all that to go save one dude who can’t even fight now? It’s admirable, but it feels like an investment for after the battle — saving him so he can be a good ruler later on. But now that he’s about to take off with Pippin, just think of how many soldiers are gonna bite it as a result. I have no idea why he didn’t delegate this shit or something.

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Scratch that – THERE’S a face!

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This shit looks INCREDIBLE.

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Colin:

Gatorade commercial.

He’s nowhere near as good as this kid:

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If someone told me I’d randomly wake up doused in kerosene, I’d say there was a 0% chance it wasn’t being done by a woman.

And if I were Faramir right now, I’d be wrong.

Colin:

I had to read that like three times before I got what was going on. Maybe it’s just been a really long day, but to me that was Mike’s version of Bilbo saying stuff too cleverly for the other hobbits to understand.

Never mind. I’m drunk. False alarm.

The Lord of the Rings The Return of the King - 999

Colin:

They come from all four sides. How is this rehearsed? He even said before that this hasn’t been done for a super long time. Did they have a powwow a few minutes ago in preparation so they could bang out a routine for how to BURN this guy?

The Lord of the Rings The Return of the King - 1000

Weird how this is something people never question. “I am your king. Burn me.”

“Oh—kay.”

Colin:

Well, that totally is the pose that you’d strike on this particular occasion.

This is the same pose Theoden had when he was being dressed, but without the crazy eyes.

The Lord of the Rings The Return of the King - 1001

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“LET A WIZARD IN!!”

Colin:

The Lord of All Horses is automatically granted entry to any rooms, clubs, or halls. #ShadowfaxIDidn’tFactCheck

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“You will not take my son from me!”

The Lord of the Rings The Return of the King - 1004

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Colin:

It’s kinda great how the men never know if they should listen to Gandalf or Denethor. They all lift their torches when he tells them to, and then this one even lets Gandalf run away with his spear.

The Lord of the Rings The Return of the King - 1008

This is what polo is, right?

(Really want to make a polio joke here, but can’t think of one.)

Colin:

(ME NEITHER)

I want to keep going with this synopsis, but right now, I really want to make a polio joke.

Colin:

Right Now I Really Want to Make a Polio Joke

Chapter 9 of “Maybe We Were Always Assholes.”

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The Lord of the Rings The Return of the King - 1011

He’s tally ho’ing onto the fire.

But not dancing into it.

(Of all the movies in that franchise, it’s pretty great how this is the one that gets the most links featured in these articles.)

The Lord of the Rings The Return of the King - 1012

Colin:

It’s good that Pippin pushed him off the pyre, but in the shot before he actually does it, you see that he’s starting to roll him over into a wall of flame that’s then gone when they cut to him actually rolling off. According to that first shot, Faramir just got Dented. Faramir al Dente.

The Lord of the Rings The Return of the King - 1013

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The Lord of the Rings The Return of the King - 1016

He just shadowFUCKED you up!

Colin:

SHADOWFAX WILL FUCK YOU UP, SON!

I like how this went from being suicide to a prevented suicide to actual murder. Gandalf is murdering Denethor right now. He could have knocked him over, saved Faramir, and that’s the end of it. You’re literally killing the guy by doing this.

The Lord of the Rings The Return of the King - 1017

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“Faramir… (you’re alive).”

Fitting last words for a bitch ass steward.

The Lord of the Rings The Return of the King - 1021

Well, I guess technically his last words are, “AHHHHHHHH!!!!” but you know.

Colin:

That’s great. He sees his son’s alive, and then remembers he’s on fire.

The Lord of the Rings The Return of the King - 1022

Stop drop and roll, motherfucker.

The Lord of the Rings The Return of the King - 1023

“So passes, Denethor, son of Ecthelion.”

Which is pretty great, since he’s not dead yet.

(Also, remember this face for the next franchise. Trust me. It’ll be worth it when I bring it up again.)

The Lord of the Rings The Return of the King - 1024

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The Lord of the Rings The Return of the King - 1029

So who does he land on?

Also, was that a premeditated move, or what? Was he just running around like a chicken with its head cut off, or was he like, “Fuck, I gotta stop the burning, maybe if I jump off this tower the fall will kill me quicker”?

Colin:

Was that his idea? I think this guy is just crazy. Let’s jump off this huge cliff while on fire. Let’s see his organ sac light up and his eyes shoot flame. Still, when I see him running out the door and jumping off the cliff, I see that as what his ghost is going to do for centuries to come. You can just imagine his spirit seeing that Faramir is alive, catching fire and running off the cliff countless times in a Sisyphean way. Like some shit out of The Real Adventures of Johnny Quest. 

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This is how you can tell this battle is going well – they’re yelling out strategies. “Drive them to the river!” You don’t do that shit unless you’re sufficiently in command of the battle enough to do that.

Colin:

Eomer’s yelling orders and then Theoden’s yelling orders, and I’m pretty sure nobody can hear shit.

The Lord of the Rings The Return of the King - 1031

Isn’t it great that every time Theoden smiles or feels confident, you know something is about to happen to fuck his day up?

The Lord of the Rings The Return of the King - 1032

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There it is.

The Lord of the Rings The Return of the King - 1034

Xerxes is here.

Colin:

War elephants. This dude who’s riding the lead elephant is awesome. He has some of the best facial expressions in the whole franchise. Someone put him in a circus.

The Lord of the Rings The Return of the King - 1035

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Where does one get evil elephants?

Colin:

At the Evil Elephant Store. Duh.

I only have an Evil Giraffe store near me.

Fucking useless.

The Lord of the Rings The Return of the King - 1038

Also, you know Lucas took this exact battle for Empire. There’s no way these things weren’t the models for the AT-ATs.

Colin:

Why has nobody studied ancient wars? Battle of Zama, anyone? You don’t charge a line of war elephants. You let them pass between your ranks and have your reserve cohorts dispatch them. Your cavalry leads theirs off the field, and you surround and decimate the enemy. We have a thing in these articles where we’ll joke that something is just like such and such a war, but in this case I’m dead serious about it. This is just like the Second Punic War. Do it right, you morons.

The Lord of the Rings The Return of the King - 1039

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I like that the elephants know who to attack.

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Well that horse is no good.

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There’s that little toss up thing again.

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This is a great shot if you don’t know he dies after this.

Colin:

Holy shit, that’s an incredible screenshot. I can’t believe you got this exactly right. 

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Does that elephant have a tramp stamp?

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Elephant down.

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This is my favorite part of the shot. They run a guy across the frame to cover any rendering difficulties they may have had. Because you know whatever’s behind him would have looked awful. That’s the only reason you run that guy into the frame at that exact moment.

So maybe Lucas had a point.

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Let’s get an elephant drunk.

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Colin:

This is good with the elephants, but I still prefer the Hoth battle from Empire Strikes Back.

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Naturally Eowyn has to take down an elephant now, because why couldn’t she just fight like a regular person?

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Yoink!

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I love that the elephants have hundreds of arrows sticking out of their legs.

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I only noticed this shot after we got done with the articles and were pulling shots for that article. This fucking horse face is incredible.

I can’t stop laughing at this horse face.

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Also, she just sliced an elephant’s Achilles tendon.

Colin:

These things have hides that are barely penetrable by even powerfully fired arrows. How did her little sword just take that down? That’s like a few paper cuts to this thing. Did she cut the Achilles’ tendon? Jeremy.

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Colin:

Spear to the calf. Now we’re doing work. This is why you don’t charge them. Once their momentum has been eliminated and they’re just sort of standing or walking, you can take them out. Could have left that to your reserve cohorts, but you decided instead to sacrifice like half of your front line. Okay.

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Also, a bunch of arrows don’t do it, but that does? Pretty sure you need to cut a lot more than that. But all right. We’ll go with it.

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We’re getting such great angles of this city.

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HA HA. There’s a troll ringing the doorbell.

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“WILMA!!!”

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Maybe you should have kept some of those rocks.

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Just chilling, waiting to be killed.

Because why not?

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“I didn’t think it would end this way.” He said, with 70 minutes left to go.

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“End? No, the journey doesn’t end here. Death is just another path. One that we all must take.”

Colin:

I don’t like the sound of that. I hope death doesn’t involve paths. 

Like Snake Way?

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“The grey rain-curtain of this world rolls back, and all turns he grey rain-curtain of this world rolls back, and all turns to silver glass. And then you see it… White shores. And beyond. The far green country, into a swift sunrise.”

Colin:

Hooray for religious bullshit.

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“Well that’s not so bad.”

Colin:

Goddamn religious people.

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“No. No it isn’t. Now get ready to have your bowels pulled out while you’re still alive to see it.”

This is like that moment in The Grey when Liam Neeson talks to the dying guy.

Colin:

Pippin should just slit his own throat right now.

That’s what you say about every scene he’s in.

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Tag team!

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“Goddamnit…”

Colin:

This really is the, “Oh, fuck me…” face.

I guess it runs in the family.

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Well that’s a fun thing to see flying toward you.

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Colin:

This is like when you’re about to start your pep talk and you get hit by a bus. Which, c’mon — HILARIOUS.

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Nice shot. The wing coming over the frame.

Colin:

Reminds me of a shot I loved from A New Hope when the stormtroopers are coming into the hangar to blast the Millennium Falcon, and it’s shot from under the ship with part of the hull taking up the top part of the frame. Looked awesome.

Isn’t it awesome how we, or anyone else who wishes to, can go back and find a shot or SEVERAL from just about any moment they want in any of these movies by looking through this feature? This blog has done the internet a service.

Someday, and that day may never come, I may call on the internet to do a service for me. But until that day, accept these screenshots as a gift.

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Nazgul western.

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Colin:

That’s pretty great that the Witch King is gonna have his mount eat Theoden. I’d watch that.

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Not if she has anything to do with it.

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“I will kill you if you touch him.”

What if he touches you?

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“Do not come between the Nazgul and his prey.”

Isn’t it funny that he’s talking about both himself and the…thing.

Pretty great that you can do that, refer to something and yourself at the same time in the third person.

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She’s got balls, I’ll give her that.

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Well that was quick.

See, this is why I don’t think we needed her and the elephants. We could have just had this, and this could be her big moment. It fits the character so much better – she wants to fight, but she’s not really ready to fight, but she manages to pull some badass shit anyway and show she is capable of baller status. The elephant bit is superfluous.

Not to mention, she had to fucking hack away at that thing, and yet, one slice to an elephant’s achilles and it goes down?

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“I can’t believe I just fucking did that.”

Somebody better pick up that head. They’re a delicacy in mainland China.

Colin:

Oh, ew. Probably true, but ew.

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I love people rising up into the frame.

Colin:

“Look, sir — droids!”

What if they tracked into him and he just said, “Let Us Fuck!!”?

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And the slow turn.

This motherfucker gets all badass shots in this entire franchise.

Colin:

His helmet has pointy bits like a Slowking. Still badass, but…Slowking.

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Great framing.

Colin:

Oh, you done fucked up now.

Also, this.

Colin:

I love Chiaki Kuriyama so much. Plus, I see high school girls dressed like this every day.

I do too.

From 101 yards away, of course.

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“Goddamn, look at the size of that thing.”

Colin:

Look at that flail! That this is enormous! And Eowyn’s making a face like, “Goddddddd DAMN! I wanna get FUCKED!”

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Shall I describe it to you, Theoden, or would you like me to find you some legs?

Colin:

I really want to make a polio joke right now.

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I also like the fact that no one comes near them. This would make sense. Ain’t no one gonna fuck with the Witch King. You give him some space.

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I also like how you just feel the weight of that thing by the way he swings it. You know that thing will fuck you up.

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Good job. You just landed on your uncle.

Colin:

That broke her shield and tossed her back a few feet. It should have tossed her back like 100 feet. In 42 pieces.

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Colin:

We’re back to the WWF. Look at the Witch King playing to the crowd!

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Interesting time to cut away.

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But who cares, the pirate ships are here.

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Nice scar.

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Colin:

Let’s take a second to acknowledge the skull that this orc has on top of his helmet. He’s like the Mordor equivalent of Camilla Parker-Bowles.

I like how he’s like, “Come on, you assholes. You’re fucking late. We got bitches to kill.”

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Tally ho!

Colin:

This is the correct way to disembark from a ship.

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I love how Legolas does it. Just completely vertical.

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Colin:

I don’t get why the orc gets upset and then excited like he wants to fight them. He seemed like a busy administrator a second ago — shouldn’t he be more concerned with the whereabouts of the corsairs he was expecting?

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Aragorn’s got a baller ass walk here.

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And wouldn’t you when you had ghosts behind you like that?

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This is fucking badass.

Also not the only movie that came out this year with a scene like this.

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Colin:

They don’t even need land? That’s fucked up.

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I love this. Just flat out proper fucked.

Not sure why anyone didn’t think of this sooner. I guess cause Elrond Hubbard was dragging his feet about putting the sword back together. “Nah, nah, they’re fucked.” “Oh, well, they might not be. And my daughter’s staying, so I guess I’ll tell him.”

That motherfucker was just ready to let him die.

Wasn’t even gonna give him the sword before he left.

Elrond Hubbard is a dick.

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You ready, you ready?

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“You fool. No man can kill me.”

Colin:

Got her by the throat. Nice. He should just choke her out. Don’t even worry about stabbing her or (whatever.)

I’m picturing the (whatever.)

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“Die now.”

Which I like to think is a douchebag play on words to what her father said earlier.

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I want to glow when I get stabbed.

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Colin:

Apparently stabbing him hurts you?

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“I am no man.”

Which is a really badass moment in the books and the movie. This is a moment you stand up and cheer.

But like I said – the elephant bit kind of dilutes it.

Colin:

I hate such obvious girl-power moments. It would be more badass if she just DID it. A strong female character is so much more convincing when she just acts without having to remind you that she is indeed a girl. Not to mention that the line is just bait for the audience. This was this franchise’s “Not my daughter, you bitch!”

You know… I don’t have a problem with it. Because it’s more of a ‘fuck you’ to him than anything. Because think about what a woman’s place is in this society. That’s the biggest fuck you that you can give to him.

So I’m cool with it. Though yes, I do have a problem with the obvious girl power moments. The elephant was just unnecessary.

And, to be fair, she did try to tell the Rohirrim about her lead on the Witch King’s courier for like, two hours.

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Always twist the blade.

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Apparently stabbing him hurts people.

That’s a nice ability to have.

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I love this shot. Because it’s a combination of, “Oww, my hands fucking hurt,” “My hands did that?” “My hands just fucking did that!” and, “Goddamnit, I broke a nail!”

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“I’m melting! What a world, what a world!”

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How does that work? I don’t get how he can die. What was he before this? Alive? I guess he was. We only really saw him in shadow. It just would have been nice to know what his state was and that he could be killed. Because I just assumed he was sort of mortal.

I mean, I’m totally willing to go along with it, because it’s a cool moment, but I’m just not sure what his deal is, because the movies don’t really go into too much detail.

Colin:

Yeah, I don’t get how this works either. Cause in Fellowship, one of them got a torch to the face, and it STUCK IN HIS FACE without him holding it there. So unless it went RIGHT in his mouth, it pieced his face…business. Whatever they have under there. And HE didn’t die.

So maybe only a woman actually can kill these things.

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So she kills him and then sits down and cries?

Aragorn did that too, right?

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Oh, back to this part of the battle.

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I just want to point out this series of shots, since Legolas counts fifteen and sixteen kills here. And – I’m pretty certain there’s no way he could have shot an arrow on that second one. The first one looks like horrible form, but I can buy that, if you’re in tight quarters during a battle. But that second one – you know they had to run a guy in front of the frame because that looked awful. There is no way he got a shot off based on the placement of the bow in those shots.

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Colin:

Aragorn, Legolas and Gimli take out orcs with such ease now that it’s not even important to watch.

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I like how he turns, sees the elephant and goes, “Wow, an elephant,” and then charges it.

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Colin:

Legolas climbing up the elephant is neat. Cause elves don’t really weight anything, so he can climb on the arrows. And then he goes back to counting.

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Eww… elephant hair.

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Just counting kills all over the place.

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Good job. Jump INTO the arrow.

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Wilhelm scream!

Colin:

The best is when the guy jumps at him and he just dodges it without fighting him.

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Colin:

This part with him hanging by the side is 100 percent Luke on the AT-AT.

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Hooray, computers!

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