Fun with Franchises: Favorite Images from The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King

One of the recurring features that we do in Fun with Franchises (a feature within a feature) is, after we finish watching a film, we go through and pick out our favorite images from that film. These images could be anything from really famous images from the film or franchise, really beautifully composed shots, shots that are funny to us because of the facial expressions being made in them or because of what we said about them in the article in which they appeared, or simply because they have boobs in them.

What we usually do is, just how we watch the films, Colin and I go in separately and pick out about ten to fifteen shots that we really liked. Then we compare lists, and whichever ones we both picked automatically go on our final list. And everything else we talk through and discuss why we like them, and eventually we’re left with a final list of ten images we liked the best, along with ten honorable mentions, which were also as good, but just missed out on making the list proper.

It’s not very complicated (like most things we do here on B+ Movie Blog), and is just a way for us to point out shots that we really liked in the films, especially since we tend to pick stuff that’s not always on the beaten path. (We also don’t officially rank the list of shots. We just put them in chronological order. Simply picking them is hard enough. We don’t want to make our lives any harder. Plus, we’re lazy.)

That said — here are our favorite images from The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King:

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“Nants ingonyama bagithi baba!!!”

All right, everyone, this is our last Rings shots article.

And since this film is like 14 hours long, and has a lot of gorgeous images, Colin and I basically said “fuck it” when we put together this article.

For an idea — Colin generally gives me a list of like… 30 shots… for a strong film… and I have like, 90. And I whittle mine down to about 45 before I see his, and then together we make up the list. This time, he had 57. And I had about… triple that.

And since this film looks good (and we’re basically making up for the next five weeks of shots articles in advance) we’re just gonna go for broke. Mike Tyson broke.

So let’s get into some intro shots that we liked (because you know I gotta do this too).

I promise I’ll be quick.

I’m a big fan of this shot, for starters, since it’s essentially the entire film in a nutshell. We have Minas Tirith in the foreground, Osgiliath in flames in the midground, and Mordor in the background. That is essentially the focus of the film. And Colin also chose a close up of Osgiliath smoldering for his shots, so we both liked it.

And then — you know I love me some Edoras. I’m a huge fan of this shot in particular, because we get a reverse angle of Edoras, which we don’t see too much of, we get a glorious composition of New Zealand in the background, and we have a nice line of people making a row for the Rohirrim to pass through right up the center. Which I really like. I like that the entire town is standing and watching these people leave. I didn’t like it in Minas Tirith so much, since that city isn’t designed for that. But this one is. It looks so much nicer here.

I like this shot, because I like the idea of people standing on top of ruins. Especially here. Isengard is just fucked up, and they’re just hanging out in a foot of water, with shit everywhere, talking to a tree. I just really like this shot and this location.

Also, I love me some pirate ships. Who doesn’t? Look how nice these shots look, too.

This shot — is just really fucking nice.

Silhouette shots are nice too. Though this one feels like it knows how good it looks, which is why it’s only going here.

I’m sorry, what about a horse running up stairs isn’t amazing to you?

Here are some shots of Minas Tirith burning, which are nice because they really evoke Rome burning. And this second one is nice because it’s also an overhead, and we get to watch the orcs storming the place.

Oh, and then Minas Morgul has some nice shots in it as well. They remind me of Oz. And that’s always a good thing.

That’s how you debark a ship.

And then, I also love this shot, since the ghosts just fucking DEMOLISH all the opposition. I love watching people storm a city. And it’s just cool to watch these guys work.

I also really like this shot because of the camera angle. I’m not sure why he chose to put the camera here, but it’s always been a really memorable shot for me because of it. I like when things obscure the frame, or mask parts of it (you know how I love those Disney shots), and this is just a really great moment where it feels like we’re observing the two of them without a story or anything. All the other shots feel like they service the story, and this one just feels like it’s observing. Normally, I would put this on the list proper, but here, we have so many shots there wasn’t any room for it, plus I’m docking it for the stupid bird costume Frodo is wearing.

Isn’t this what we all want? Plus, look at that fucking pumpkin!

Okay, and now, two final ones that I’m going to ask for Colin’s assistance on, since he did pick these shots, and I do like them, so I’d rather him talk about why they’re great than me. I’m sure he doesn’t have a problem with that.

What say you, Colin?

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First there’s this shot, which is really fucking nice. It’s a crazy high angle shot looking down over Minas Morgul, and Frodo and Sam sleeping on the edge. And then there’s Gollum looking over them, which is a nice visual callback to where we first met Gollum, and then this may or may not also be the Sprinkle Sprinkle scene, which adds to it.

Colin:

As Mike said, this is an excellent visual callback to when they first catch Gollum trying to slit their throats in the night, which sets up the shot thematically. Other than that, I’m a huge fan of high angle shots, and particularly ones that include evil cities glowing green in the dark.

And then there’s this shot, of Gollum going into the cave.

Colin:

I was absolutely struck by this image when I saw it as a still. First of all, it’s a gorgeous wide shot of the rocks and it looks like a painting. But more importantly to me, it’s the metaphor for Gollum’s transformation. This is the line of demarcation between his prior hobbithood and whatever it was he became during his love affair with the ring. He slinks away from the rays of light, and crawls into the darkness of the cave. The look back at the world is almost regretful, if you’d like to go that far. But this is the moment that he became what we know him to be, and the visual metaphor is almost as spectacular as the visual itself.

Okay, now let’s get into our list:

– – – – – – – – – –

1. Minas fucking Tirith

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Look at this fucking place. It is glorious. Hands down, the best location in the franchise, architecture-wise. Just fucking beautiful.

This place is so nice, when we pulled all the shots of it that we liked, we ended up with about 25.

And since we said “fuck it” for this article, we’re putting them all in.

We’ll just talk briefly about most of them and why they represent (from every angle) why we love this place.

But essentially this one is nothing more than a “Goddamn, Minas Tirith.”

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I like the angle, for starters. And then, look at how nicely that stone is carved. And it’s all white and shit. White is hard to pull off. Since rain makes it gray and shit, and you’re like, right up the street from evil, which also must send smog and stuff your way. So the fact that it still looks this nice is a testament to whoever built it.

But it’s very gothic, and that’s always nice-looking, architecture-wise.

Colin:

Oh dear lord, yes. I’ve been somewhat cautious about echoing Mike’s sentiments for locations like Edoras and Helm’s Deep in previous articles, but not because I don’t love them — only because this is such a masterpiece in my mind. They did it properly in miniature, but for a lot of the close ups, the CGI that they had to use is just right. But seriously, look at this angle, look at this level of detail, and tell me this isn’t an amazing location. I’m still staring at this single shot after like five minutes, and this is a frame that we were given to look at for about 1/25th of a second. The mind reels.

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I like this one because we get a side shot, which we don’t see to often, and we really get an idea of the spiral structure that goes into the city, as well as a nice look at the intricacies along the way. This is literally a city built on a spiral into a mountain, and it’s really great.

Colin:

I’d like to point out one of my favorite things about this city, which is that a lot of it is carved right out of this mountain. The huge chunk of mountain we have in the foreground has been chiseled through to make a road, and I’m an enormous fan of when architecture or infrastructure makes use of natural formations like this. Another great example of this in real life is the network of roads along the coast of South France, near Monaco. Several films (To Catch a Thief comes to mind, with Grace Kelly in her Sunbeam Alpine) have made use of these roads that sometimes cut right through outcroppings in the cliffs. The movie that we’ve covered that you’d probably remember this from is GoldenEye, as Bond and Xenia race at the beginning.

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This courtyard might be the best thing about the place. I love the quartered off grass (it is grass, right? You’d think sod, but there’s really no way they can manufacture sod in a place where they’re still eating chicken off the bone. And they got the white tree over there, and the big rounded arch (which is also really nice, since it’s indented and layered like an awesome rainbow arch). And it’s symmetrical like a motherfucker.

Colin:

A white, stone courtyard with statues and grass, paving stones and benches. This is why I couldn’t have gone to a university like Cambridge. I’d have a huge boner out on the quad cause shit was too beautiful.

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Colin:

Come the fuck on. Seriously? A time period when high-rises are nonexistent and they still get this baller ass view from the top. This is sexy as hell. I have one request for the internet: someone make a gif of this shot with like the TurboKat or the Bat Wing flying out of this church thing, down the runway, and taking off. 

I love that they have that long ass runway or whatever it is. There’s no purpose for it, but it’s a great ass balcony to have at the top of this city. And you get all the great fields down there.

The only real downside is…

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You have to look out and see evil in your front yard.

But still, this shot — glorious. The reverse angle of the courtyard, overlooking the mountains. Put me in a swivel chair on top of this thing, and I’m good.

Colin:

I’m so glad swivel chairs are a thing. 

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Even the fucking doors are nice!

Look at how perfectly crafted these things are!

These doors are so deeply crafted they have fucking STATUES in them!

Colin:

That’s how you know these civilizations have time on their hands. It’s like, in our civilization, we don’t do shit like this cause we know we’ll want or need a new door in like 20 years or something. But they spent the time on this shit because they knew it would last them for thousands, since technology isn’t really going anywhere. Coincidentally, the reason that technology isn’t going anywhere is that they’re spending their time on carving doors and not on inventing the cotton gin, or whatever. 

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This shot is so nice it could have been a standalone on this list. Holy fuck.

I like the wall taking up most of the frame, and then the archway focuses your attention to the center, and the doors narrow that focus even more, until you’re left with the solitary image of the lone horse and the rider being dragged by it, and evil in the background. And it’s symmetrical as fuck.

In any other film, and I mean ANY other film — this would be a top ten entry by itself.

One of my single favorite shots of the franchise.

Colin:

I really enjoy all the attention to little details, like how they have extra wood stacked there for the fires. That’s shit someone like George Lucas would NEVER think of. Other than the exceptional composition of this shot (and the faraway siege tower that looks like it’s trying to rape the horse’s mouth), it demonstrates great care. At least, more care than some Hollywood movies would commit to for this budget.

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Another courtyard shot. I like when we get different vantage points of things. And here we get the ominous looking mountain in the background, plus that other little building off to the side, which looks pretty great.

Colin:

First, this reminds me of Vader being brought in on the stretcher at the end of Revenge of the Sith. Second, I’m fascinated by how the circular steps into the hall are complementary to the cut out of the door. Like, if you were to fold the steps up into the archway, they would all fit almost exactly. That’s awesome. Who spent this much time on that shit? Cause thanks.

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I’m cheating a bit, but we had to get this shot on here. This is so much better than that Isengard shot of Saruman looking down.

Because this isn’t 10,000. This is like, 200,000. These are some fucking numbers.

And he’s chilling up on this giant courtyard, and these motherfuckers is in his front yard.

I think we all recognize why this shot is here.

Colin:

Aww, the bitch-ass steward doesn’t know what to do…ward.

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Overhead shots are amazing.

Colin:

YES MORE OF THIS

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This one stood out very strongly to both Colin and myself. We almost made it standalone until we realized how fucked we’d be if we kept pulling shots for that. But the reason this is great is because of how throwaway it is. No one really remembers this shot when they watch the movie, since we’re so focused on what’s actually happening, which is the chaos downstairs and the fact that Denethor (that bitch ass steward) is about to burn himself and his son alive.

What’s also great about this shot — well, everything. We get to see how beautiful and complex this model of Minas Tirith is, we get to see how big this place is, by how a simple wall dwarfs Pippin. (How is it I never once called him Scotty Pippin throughout all these articles?) I like that the shot is split into a left and a right area. I like the steps and archway up on the right, I like how the ground is sloped leading over to where Pippin is (because remember, it’s the top of the spiral. This is presumably the area that leads up to the courtyard), and I like how we get the deep focus and can see all the way up the hallway where Denethor is going to do the deed. (It looks like the Siena safehouse Bond drives up at the beginning of Quantum) I love that location and I love long stone hallways with arched ceilings.

Literally everything about this shot appeals to me, and this is another one — any other movie and this would be a standalone top ten.

Colin:

Everything he said. Also, fuck Mike for bringing up Quantum of Solace. All of you who read regularly should know that as a rule (or a compulsion), I have to watch the opening chase scene from that movie every time I hear it mentioned. So I love this shot, but I’m off to YouTube for awhile. I’ll be back.

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Colin:

I really love this angle. The outcropping looks like some kind of ship bearing down on us in our shitty little dinghy. Not to mention the spire of the cathedral-like building. It looks a lot taller and skinnier from this angle than we get from the other angles, which I’m down with. Mostly, though, I like how the rock wall behind the whole shot is so enveloping and enormous. It looks like they did this shot in miniature, but somehow the brownness of the stone, or how flat it all appears makes it seem much larger and more ominous than usual. Like a sort of stone tsunami.

That motherfucker is on FIRE!

Look at that bitch ass steward, falling to his death.

What an asshole.

What if that happened during a war, the leader of a country told everyone to flee, and then later on ran through the crowd, on fire?

Who do you think he fell on?

That must be an inconvenience, trying to not get killed by orcs, and then the steward of your kingdom falls on you and sets you on fire.

What if he had a bungee cord attached to him?

Or what if they attached a plank to the end of that rock formation?

Where were we, again?

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Colin wasn’t crazy about this shot (mostly because of how obvious the CG on the orcs is — but I say that every time and have made peace with it here), but it’s too nice for me to pass up. Because I ignore the CG-ness in favor of the look it gives us on Minas Tirith. First, I like that this little dock area is something we’ve never seen before. It’s not Osgiliath, since you can see where the front of Minas Tirith is from this angle. We’re over on the right side of it (I guess that would be the southern side, right?). So new location is nice.

And then I like places like this. Reminds me of westerns, the train station in the middle of nowhere. This is almost like the beginning of Once Upon a Time in the West.

Then, I also like that the roof is caved in on that one building over there. I’m a big fan of roof cave-ins, which ties into my love of World War I and dogfighting and all that.

But, the main focus, since this is a list of why Minas Tirith is awesome — you really see here how this place, while being impeccably crafted and brilliantly designed, is also built into a fucking mountain!

That’s so incredible. Helm’s Deep is all about defense and being a stronghold. This place was built into a mountain with the sole purpose of, “I make this look good.”

Colin:

“G-P-D! Means I will GUN yo PUNKASS DOWN!”

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I love a good battle aftermath shot.

Plus here, we see a northern angle (well… we’re from the north, facing SSE), and get to see this corner of the city, which we really don’t see any of throughout the film.

Plus, like I said, we see the smoking ruins of the battle, which I’m always a fan of.

Colin:

Reason #223 why Mike is better than geese: He also has an internal compass, but isn’t nearly as full of shit.

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And finally, this shot. Which is just great. Minas Tirith is destroyed (somewhat), and here’s this long procession of men going out to fight once more. This is great. I love the single column coming from the back to the front. This is basic filmmaking. This goes all the way back to silent era filmmaking. Having people walk a slanted line toward the camera to show the depth of space. Just a great, great image and a great shot.

Colin:

You never want to go to an away game after getting pretty badly beat the fuck up on your home court. But they’re pouring out of this place all ready to go. Which — how many of these guys WERE there? I thought they were mostly dead, but they’re still coming. Apparently they had reserves.

That was the last one, I promise.

That’s how much we loved Minas Tirith.

2. This shot

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We wanted to separate this from the Minas Tirith shots, since those shots are based around how good the place looks. This one is all about the shot.

This is a shot that made both Colin and I stop and go, “Goddamn.” It’s beautiful. It’s looking up the steps, which is an amazing angle. I’ve always loved shots like this, dating back to… well, nobody will get this reference, even if I tell you what film it is. But it’s a film from 1931, and even so, nobody will remember the shot I’m talking about. But I love angles like this. And I love that the walls are framing it on either side, plus the guards standing there, providing symmetry. And then the arches on the building up atop the stairs are really good looking. And then to cap it off, the mountain behind it.

Goddamn, this shot is glorious. We had to have this as a standalone. It’s too good to not.

Colin:

I’m not even gonna talk about this shot. I’m just gonna print it out and touch myself.

3. The Many Faces of Gollum

Mostly this is a collection of all the great faces Gollum makes throughout the film (Colin and I each singled out like five), but what I really want to focus on here is the brilliant performance that Andy Serkis gives and the character he constructs. This is all a tribute to him. I’m not always the biggest supporter of motion capture acting, but there’s no denying the amazing work he did with this character.

So here are a bunch of great Gollum images from the film:

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The spittle on the chin as he “gollums” is really incredible. That’s so incredible to me. And who actually caught that while watching, either? No one was gonna catch that. It’s such a great, subtle touch that adds authenticity to the fact that this is entirely computer generated.

Colin:

Serkis was probably dribbling all over himself during this whole thing. I’m glad they left some in.

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Colin:

YOU DRANK THE LAST BEER WHAT NO

(Right, though?)

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“Oh, what? Someone took something? Huh? What? I don’t know nothing about anything, I’m not even here.”

Colin:

“Just…uh…strolling the parapet, having a look around.”

*zip*

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“What? Me? No!”

Colin:

How gross is it that his hand is bigger than his chest?

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This is the Invasion of the Body Snatchers outtake where Donald Sutherland has fun with it.

Colin:

And yet, all I can think of is when Gena Rowlands REALLY goes off the deep end in A Woman Under the Influence. Peter Falk would have made a fabulous hobbit.

“Just one more thing…” — Midget Columbo.

(Also, very glad any time a Woman Under the Influence reference is made.)

Colin:

“Little things bother me.”

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This look is amazing. “Yeah, motherfucker, you know I won.” He’s not even trying to hide his evilness to Sam anymore.

Colin:

This is just so incredibly unacceptable. This is when you whip out your gat, cap him and then yell, “SAMWISE GAM-G-UNIT!”

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This shot is terrifying as fuck. Real 180 from that Stormtrooper shot.

Colin:

I love that he rises into the frame. That’s so scary. This is the shit that makes you say ‘no’ aloud in the movie theater.

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“Ain’t nobody saw that!”

Colin:

He’s got the crazy eyes.

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This shot makes me burst out laughing every time.

What a great out of context shot.

Colin:

I think we’ve all had experiences…everyone had a girl or two in college that tried one of these.

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Colin:

Her name was probably something like Ariel, and she bit you ragged for 45 minutes until you sent her home.

She did have twenty thingamabobs, though.

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This is another shot that I love, because just look at it as an image. He’s pulling a finger out of his mouth and Frodo is screaming.

I should make this my lock screen image.

Colin:

Almost as good as getting stabbed.

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Colin and I both chose this one, and I think we all understand why this is amazing.

The framing is incredible and this is one of those shots that pretty much everyone would stop and say, “Oh, that’s a really good shot.” This is one of the most memorable images from the film, and as such, we don’t have to say as much about it. It speaks for itself.

Colin:

Holy fuck, though. Look how happy he is. You’d think it was a Red Ryder BB Gun or something.

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GPOY

Colin:

I LOVE this shot. This shot is just, “AW YEAH! SUCK! MY! DICK! BITCHES!”

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The best part about this is that he’s jumping up and down, gloating, and Frodo’s still standing there, holding his nub of a finger. That’s what makes this.

Colin:

He’s doing his spin dance and screaming, “Precious!” while Frodo turns around and heads over REAL SLOW like he means business. This shit gave me chills.

4. The Witch King

This motherfucker is a badass. Just how badass?

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The first time we see him, he’s putting his gloves on. Gloves that look like this.

This is just a great cut. Gandalf calls him out by name, and then we see him putting the gloves on, getting ready to go fuck people up. That’s awesome.

Colin:

I wish I had some gloves to put on like a badass. The only gloves I’ve put on in the past year were the type you have to blow into before you can get your fingers in.

(Just like Lana Turner.)

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This is such a badass shot. He’s just sitting on his Nazgul, on top of the wreckage of what used to be the former capital of Gondor, which is now a military garrison that he just helped take, looking at the city he’s about to take. Everything about this shot is amazing and beautiful.

And the subtitle to it should just be, “Soon.”

Colin:

And its steed is crowning. So there’s that.

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I love the wing coming in over the top of the frame. I love when things like this happen. The wing comes in over the top, adds shadow and masks part of the frame — good shit.

Colin:

I mentioned how this reminded me of a shot with the Millennium Falcon overhead in A New Hope. More things need to be framed.

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This is pretty great because he’s about to have the Nazgul eat Theoden. It’s not enough to just fuck up a king internally and drop his horse on him, but now you’re gonna go eat the motherfucker too.

That’s a true pimp, right there.

Colin:

The hands will never not be funny to me. It’s like, “Fuck! Help me! There’s a horse on top of me!” There’s so much desperation in these hands, and it’s hilarious.

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The ‘rising up into the frame’ shot is always one of my favorites. Eowyn just chopped his Nazgul’s head off. And he falls off of it. So now he just rises up into frame like, “You really shouldn’t have done that.”

Colin:

The way he rises into the frame is also unnatural, cause look at how tall his helmet’s spike is. And the whole thing comes up into the frame, like he was popping out of the ground. Awesome.

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And then he slowly head turns. “This bitch must be crazy.”

Imagine if he tilted his head sideways a bit right now.

Colin:

Slowking.

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And then this shot. She wanna get fucked.

Colin:

This flail is EPIC. And I don’t throw that word around. This thing has a ball that weighs like 800 pounds. It’s ridiculous. You can only lubricate its ball bearings with dragon cum.

(Just like…)

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Gotta love a man who plays to the crowd. This motherfucker is a top five badass of the franchise.

Colin:

“BONESAW IS REEEEADY!”

I will never get tired of that reference. Ever.

5. This shot

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Is fucking glorious. I don’t even have to say anything. This might be the most glorious shot in the entire franchise. This is so fucking beautiful.

Colin:

Wide exteriors with Minas Tirith and a long lens shot of dudes charging on horseback? Sign me up.

6. This shot

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This is such a quiet, beautiful moment in the middle of this movie, and I don’t think people will remember it all that much. Though I bet they would, since it’s one of those shots that is very memorable and beautiful and is too beautiful to not call attention to itself. But maybe that’s just me. It always reminded me of a similar shot in The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford (which I still contend is the most beautifully shot film of the last 30 years), so maybe that’s why I feel like it’s one people will remember.

Either way, this is a beautiful moment in the film and is easily one of the most gorgeous images that the film provides us.

Even the initial close up in this scene is worth entry on this list.

Colin:

This was a total surprise, because I didn’t remember it at ALL before coming back to watch the film and take notes. And then it happened and…whoa. Like, whoa. This is so beautiful and pensive. I think what really makes it for me is that it’s Gandalf sitting quietly by himself, which is not something we’ve seen. Like, shit’s too real for Gandalf at the moment. And that’s saying something, when Gandalf needs to collect himself.

7. Y’all Are Surrounded

It didn’t make a shots list for this franchise, and this is the franchise we used to reference this type of shot when we first talked about it. It felt like it needed to get a shout out.

When you think “y’all are surrounded,” you think this franchise.

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First — this one. Y’all are spectrally surrounded.

Which is funny, since — in a way, they’re not surrounded at all.

Colin:

Surrounded by radioactivity, more likely.

(Gondor Mon Amour?)

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This is y’all about to be surrounded. I love this shot of Mordor emptying out and circling them. Sure it’s all computer generated, but the image itself is still nice.

Colin:

I really liked the edge of this shot, where you see how the gate extends into a wall that then goes up the side of the mountain. I love it when stuff is incorporated into mountains, as we’ve discussed.

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And finally, “y’all are surrounded.” Because they’re really surrounded.

It’s also pretty funny that they put so few guys on the top there, since that’s the direction they’d retreat toward. So you’re giving them the option of retreating, which is weird, but also fits with Sauron’s general scheme. Find the ring, and try to kill them all, but don’t go too crazy, since we can always kill them when we have the ring. So I guess it works.

But either way — this is the widest possible “y’all are surrounded” shot there can really be. (You’d think.)

Colin:

Mmmm…anybody else getting a hankering for some Spaghetti-Os?

8. The Battle

Here are some badass shots of the Minas Tirith battle after Rohan shows up.

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Thousands of horses coming up over a ridge is fucking beautiful.

I like seeing any row of things come up over a ridge.

Even in The Patriot when Tavington’s men show up during that bridge ambush, it still looked nice as they all appeared over the top like that.

Colin:

Things coming over a ridge are “cresting.” Which I think is a funny word.

Cresting sounds like something a fetus or a shit does.

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This shot is bananas crisp. I know the people and orcs are all CG, but still. This is great. Plus, it’s just full scale war happening. I like that.

Colin:

So much bigger than Helm’s Deep. And a Nazgul.

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And this is basically a combination of the two previous shots. Why the fuck wouldn’t I include that as well?

Colin:

Cause we have too many shots. But what’s the B+ Movie Blog motto? Actually, I don’t think there is one, but if there was it would probably be something along the lines of, “Fuck it,” or, “Reaction shots are the key to comedy.”

I don’t have mottos, I just drink.

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Look at all those fucking horsemasters.

Colin:

I like to look at this image and think about how many of the horses in this shot are shitting at this very moment.

Now you know what I do during high school movies.

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Goddamn, son, this is nice. Them charging in super wide shot, the camera placement on this particular side of the city, not to mention — FLYING V!

Colin:

Oh no. It’s them.

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This shot might be my favorite of the bunch. It’s complete fucking chaos. This is the kind of shot I gravitate to most. Because I’m seeing full scale chaos everywhere, and can see it all in a single image, but then I’m also thinking about what’s happening in each little pocket of the frame, and thinking about how that’s contributing to the giant ball of chaos that’s going on. It’s just terrific.

I like war on this scale.

Colin:

Best part of all is, about 50 pixels below and 70 to the right of the big column of smoke and fire on the left — that’s Waldo!

9. These moments

I wanted to single out these moments in the top ten, because I felt like we typically went for sheer beauty in a lot of the top ten shots in this franchise, and I wanted to talk about a few character moments.

Since it’s the character moments that build up over the course of this franchise and allow for these moments to be as powerful and as emotional as they are.

These don’t work as well if we don’t care about the characters and aren’t completely invested in this story. So I wanted to shout out the great character development we have over the course of this franchise. It’s actually kind of rare to be this invested in characters.

The first moment is: “For Frodo.”

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Which somehow still works even though they cut out the reason for him being so emotional.

I guess that speaks to the power of the moment that you can cut out motivation and still have it work.

Colin:

#YOLO

And then the second moment is, “My friends, you bow for no one.”

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This, like the previous moment, is a moment that is totally earned through story and through character. We are fully invested in these characters and their story. We’ve gone through everything with them. And it’s just such a beautiful moment, where they’re doing the custom of bowing for the king, and now this guy is like, “No, no, you guys don’t bow for anybody,” and now the entire fucking city is bowing for these four midgets. It’s just an absolute beautiful moment that gets me every single time I see it, even if I watch a clip of it alone from the movie.

Colin:

But the shitty people who were clapping a minute ago are probably wondering who these midgets are. Cause let’s face it, nobody even knew about the ring or what happened with that shit. Was there a newsletter to explain it? I bet there was a newsletter.

10. This shot

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I put them both because — they’re essentially the same image, for starters. And, while I’m partial to the first one, because it looks more like a painting (and legit like a Gustave Doré painting — look him up if you don’t know what I’m talking about), the second one is the one that’s the actual image. And the image is really what we’re in love with here. Frodo, standing at the edge of Mount Doom — this is a poster, right here. This is fucking beautiful. It’s a perfect image. It really is.

Colin:

That dude’s paintings always remind me of some creepy ass Seventh Seal shit. But then, that’d make sense, since that movie was directed by the Witch King of Ingmar Bergman.

– – – – – – – – – – –

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Goddamnit, Frodo, stop taking selfies. This is serious.

– – – – – – – – – – –

Honorable Mentions:

  • Merry. Pippin. Booze.

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The first shot is great. Just sitting on some rocks, smoking weed, drinking beer and eating salted pork. And then that pose. Which is the ultimate, “I’m wasted and people I like just showed up” pose.

And the second — that’s how you finish a beer.

Booze is my Schindler’s list.

Colin

The first shot is just correct. We boozin’ and smokin’ and I know you bitches are jealous. The second one…I’m sorry, but midgets downing a drink is an instant hit for me. Put that in your movie and I’ll give it 2 stars minimum. “Well, the script was a disaster, the direction was…nonexistent, it looked like it was shot on a Motorola RAZR…but did you see the midget polish off that shandy? 2 stars.”

  • This shot

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I love this shot for several reasons. First, because — it’s The Searchers. The doors are masking part of the frame, and it’s clearly The Searchers. Second, it’s at night. You don’t get too many night shots in this franchises that are just regular night. And then, third, it’s basically a “Goddamn, New Zealand” on top of all that. You get the nice field, the nice shot of the mountain, and I really like the pile of wood at the bottom. I can’t explain it, but I really like it there, and I think it’s the perfect thing to have in that portion of the frame. That’s what makes it such a beautiful shot for me. Because if that isn’t there, then it’s just field and mountain. Here, you have a third thing to almost anchor you within the frame. Because without it, your eyes aren’t really looking at much of anything, there’s really no focus. But here, that wood pile is basically your bottom. Your eyes are looking right on top of it, almost the way you look at something on top of a table without really noticing the tabletop.

Really nice shot.

Colin:

They’re good on firewood for awhile.

  • Faces

Now, this segment I’m calling “Faces,” and it’s basically a collection of stupid and/or hilarious faces people make over the course of the film.

Not all of them, because we don’t have that kind of time, but a nice amount of them.

And we start, of course, with the master of all facial expressions, Frodo being stabbed.

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Frodo being stabbed is the Hermione’s Reactions of this franchise.

Colin:

He’s frothing like a beer! Look at this midget froth! I’m so sad that we’re done with Elijah Wood’s stabbed faces. If you’re out there, Elijah — you have a gift. Please do more things that require you to be stabbed, cause it’s a joy every time.

Wouldn’t it be funny if a foam scraper came into frame and wiped it off?

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This face.

I laugh every time I see it.

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EWW TOMATO JIZZ

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How many virgins do you think Minas Tirith has?

Colin:

All of them. But that’s the problem with having virgins. Once they’ve been HAD, you don’t have them anymore.

Oh, right. Because you throw them out on the street like Grima Wormtongue.

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What is wrong with your face?

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Suspicion.

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Premature ejaculation.

Colin:

This is the look that fat people give cake.

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This is basically a dick slap.

Colin:

Aww, I miss the Hobknoblin.

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This.

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This might be my best pause work in the movie.

Colin:

TO! THE! HEART! He’s not gonna make a SOUND.

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This motherfucker is awesome.

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“Goddamn, son, you almost got crushed.”

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“Ahhh.”

Colin:

What is wrong with your FACE?

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“Goddamnit…”

Every time he gets happy. Every time.

Colin:

I’m so excited for this.

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“I just took down an oliphaunt, bitch, AND WHAT?!”

Colin:

I do like a little sass from my blond elves.

Legolas is a bag o’ sass.

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“Are there really no more people left to kill?”

(I also love that the ghosts are taking down elephants in the back.)

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“YEAH SON WE KILLING EVERYBODY EEEEEHEHEHEHEEHHE!”

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Colin:

“I think I left the stove on!”

I’m still laughing at that horse face. Holy shit, I’m so glad I found that one.

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Gimli is awesome.

Colin:

When I see this as a still, I imagine that Gimli’s sharing the first item on a list. “Drink beer.” The second item is “Fuck bitches.” No, no, that’s the whole list.

And finally.

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Contemplate, drink.

The best is that he basically told his son he’d rather he died in the place of his other son before doing this.

“I never loved you.” *DRINK*

Colin:

Always contemplate, drink. Never contemplate drinking.

  • This shot

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I love military assembly areas, high angle shots, and organization. I love when tents and shit are organized like this. I like seeing a city from above, looking at how all the roads and buildings and stuff are organized. That shit fascinates me. This is the total package, in terms of stuff I like. Plus, trees.

Colin:

It’s like playing Age of Empires or some shit. Looking down at your forces as your dick swings.

We have more subtitles in this article than we do for some actual articles.

  • Ghost hideout

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This is such a baller ass hideout. First you got the big door just there inside the mountain. I’d live in a place like this in a second. Build me a home inside a hill and also build the house inside the mountain. Imagine having to walk in a mountain and then not even be inside my property. That’s so great.

And then this second one — they still got GHOST houses on top of that! It’s a legit house in here, AND A GHOST CITY!

These motherfuckers are straight ballers. Why would you need to fulfill your promise and go to “rest” or whatever? You got a nice ass spread right here.

Colin:

How does a ghost city work? Wouldn’t the city still be there? I guess it’s all gone, but if it’s the image of what it used to look like when it was still good, wouldn’t it be a nice city? Anyway, it looks good, so I’m down.

I think they made it after they were dead. Ghost carpenters and shit. So it’s only there in ghost form.

  • This shot

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I love that it’s so dark it basically obscures everything except this little… well, vaginal opening, of the frame. It’s just Frodo, walking through the dark and spider webs. It’s a great image. Again this goes back to my love of things masking the frame. But here it’s darkness. I love when people play with darkness. Great shot.

Colin:

Let it be known that I dislike light.

  • This shot

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I love that the camera keeps tilting. How many films can you think of have the balls to mess with camera angles and perception? It almost makes you queasy. Ever go into the city and look up at skyscrapers? Just stand there and look up? You start to get lightheaded and almost fall backward. That’s almost what this is doing. I love the crazy high angle here and it makes me wonder why I don’t see this shot more often. (This franchise makes me wonder why I don’t see a lot of shots more often.)

Colin:

That midget’s got a jaw like Greta Van Susteren.

  • This

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This shot is amazing. Imagine this running at you — a dude and several hundred ghost warriors.

You’re fucked. You’re absolutely fucked.

Colin:

Spectrally fucked, as you once put it.

Also, I’d like to mention this shot, just because it always stood out to me. Plus I really like him with the sword and the ghosts taking up the rest of the frame. It would be a cool shot without the ghosts. The ghosts just make it cooler.

  • The Black Gate

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We didn’t really get to shout out the Black Gate, but I wanted to, since I really like it. I think it’s a cool location and all the shots of it look really terrific. The first one is just a really crisp shot of it, the second I love because it’s clearly a model and gives you an idea of the scale of it. And the third one is just a beautiful shot on its own. Them riding back, all of Mordor behind the gate, waiting to be unleashed, and Sauron’s eye just watching all this go down. And the gates are open at just the right angle to frame Sauron’s eye right in the center. I really like this one.

Colin:

And let’s be honest, we all sorta want to go fuck up North Korea. Are you guys as excited as I am for when that happens?

  • Mount Doom

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Colin:

#YOLT

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Love this shot. Them tiny in the frame, the giant cliff, and the giant flaming rock coming down. Gorgeous image.

Colin:

It’s disconcerting that there are bits of lava raining down. I’d be a bit worried about that.

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Volcanos are great.

Colin:

No they’re not. I mean, they are, but only in this context. In real life, volcanoes are awful.

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Seriously, though. Volcanos.

Colin:

Who built this metal thing? Who’s working on an active volcano?

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OVERHEAD SHOT INSIDE A VOLCANO. My dick just went full stalactite.

Colin:

Gotta go see the doctor about these stalagmites.

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Nice and crisp. We’ve basically had this shot before, but I don’t care. It looks incredible.

Colin:

That’s a good shaped mountain. I like a mountain that isn’t too gradually sloped. This one’s got a nice spout going on.

I wanna start using that. “That’s a good shaped mountain.”

For mountains and also for asses and titties.

But mostly for mountains.

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I love the addition of the black circle. Geometric shapes are really cool. I like abstraction.

Colin:

This is a nuclear bomb. That’s all it is. But damn, does it look good.

Nice last words.

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These two shots I like because I like when the camera goes against the natural angle of the shot. The slope is going down, so the natural angle is down, and then the rock (and by extension, the hobbits) are going against it. It’s almost defying gravity, this shot. I’m a really big fan of that.

It’s almost like that scene in Diamonds Are Forever that I went crazy about because it was causing me to have vertigo. There, Bond is trying to climb up to get to the penthouse of the casino. But the building is sloped outward and down. So the natural angle based on the character is up, but the angle of the building is pushing him down, which, in that case, is a couple hundred feet. So it creates tension and stress (at least for me), because I can feel that building pushing him down to his death. So I’m just getting nervous looking at what’s going on.

And here, it’s almost the same thing. The slope is really high, and is pushing the hobbits down, and there’s fucking lava flowing everywhere. So you’re watching them defy being on top of what has to be a 60+ degree angle and a shitload of lava. And to me, that’s a fascinating image and a great type of shot.

You look at that shot and you think, “They’re fucked.” More so in that first image. Because look at that. There’s no way the lava doesn’t start climbing onto the surface of that rock based on the angle at which it’s falling. That’s great framing.

Colin:

Yeah, that bothered me, too. Like, there should be lava streaming onto this thing, but it isn’t because the angle is more of an illusion. You can see in the next shot that it’s actually kinda upward sloping. But shit. Who messes with lava to begin with?

And our final shot of the set, which is a fitting final shot for the franchise:

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AMERICA.

Colin:

We’ll silently save the day one more time and give the world one more chance at not dying.

Wouldn’t it be great if we did that? Saved someone and been like, “All right, that was the LAST time we do this.”

And that should do it for The Lord of the Rings.

I’m glad to be with you, dear readers, here at the end of all things.

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OH BUT NO SON WE’RE BACK!

Colin:

Son of a bitch. It happened again.

And the Beacons are lit!

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Of course we’ll answer.

(What, if they can end that movie six times, we can do the same thing.)

(Because we make the rules here.)

But we do love us some beacons. These things are fucking nice. The idea of them, the locations (you know I’d go work at one of those things in a heartbeat), and the fact that it’s this one continuous chain once the first one goes off. We like these for the same reason we like Rube Goldberg machines.

Plus, one of them is on the peak of a fucking mountain! That’s awesome!

Colin:

I love the one popping out of the mist. Cause it’s like, “What if the mist was about 20 feet higher that day?” But it never is. IT NEVER IS.

And that’s why we’ll never know what limbo mist is.

– – – – –

Did you really think you were gonna get out of here without a Goddamn, New Zealand?

I’ll spare you the cuts to black. We’ll just play all of our encores in a row.

But you fuckers better clap.

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This shot is why I love Edoras. Because it’s so beautiful and random. Why the fuck would your city be so closely packed around a hill with all this space around it? That’s amazing to me.

And also, Goddamn, New Zealand.

Colin:

It’s the only defensible position on this plain. The question is, where’s the farm land?

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Colin:

Sometimes we like to go through the water, cause mmm water.

As someone who has lived entirely in the two biggest cities in the country, what’s it like to have rivers? I didn’t know they can just get shallow like this.

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If only Pippin fell sideways of the horse…

Colin:

Do we not all love it when there’s a low country that’s all scrub land or grass, but you can clearly see a rocky mountain capped with snow in the same shot? That’s just so beautiful. A lot of my time in Colorado and New Mexico was shit like this, and while I could never live inland in the US, I have to say that those states were incredible to look at. Just…dizzyingly breathtaking.

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This shot is just crazy beautiful. They’re all riding out of Osgiliath, across the fields of Pelennor, to Minas Tirith. So basically it’s riding from one cool place to another, with a shitload of Goddamn, New Zealand in between.

Colin:

And unlike Fangorn, where the grassland just turned into a crazy dense forest all of a sudden, there ARE actually places where plains turn into rocky mountains all of a sudden. This looks so good. Also, how awesome is it that there’s a caved-in wall in the foreground that looks like sandbags?

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Love the image of Gandalf riding out to meet them. The single white dot in the corner of the frame. Gorgeous.

Colin:

How about the weather? Al Rohan ain’t had shit to say about this.

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The only thing that makes this better is if that’s the Hobknoblin.

Colin:

You know it isn’t. But that’s so great. “Light yo dumb ass!”

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Goddamn, this place is beautiful.

Colin:

I love ruins. That’s kind of why I need a Tuscan villa, cause they almost look like ruins. Anywhere in the Mediterranean, really. I’d live somewhere like the Greek Isles if they weren’t so…irrelevant. 

And then, because it looks so fucking nice… Rivendell.

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This might be the best shot we get of Rivendell in all three movies.

Colin:

It’s the mist in the trees. Oddly, this is our most monochromatic shot of Rivendell, and it’s still the most gorgeous. Good lord [Elrond].

And then, of course… the Shire.

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This place just makes me nut everywhere. It’s so beautiful.

And they live in the sides of hills.

Wouldn’t you want to bang a midget in the side of a hill?

Colin:

I would not, could not, in a hill! I would not, could not, take a drill!

And, finally… something that would have been on our actual list if it weren’t for this prime location — that glorious harbor at the end of the movie:

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Goddamn, this place.

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Look at how fucking beautiful this is. It’s almost a sin to have a place designed for you to leave from look this good.

Honestly, they should make it look like a shithole, like airports, so you want to leave. I would never leave this fucking harbor if I had to leave from here.

Ever go to one of those random Amtrak stations in Connecticut? They’re shitholes. It’s like two rails going through a town that’s just waiting to have a public trial. You don’t ever want to stop or be stuck there. This place is not that.

Colin:

This is ruin-y buildings that aren’t actually ruined in a quiet place on the ocean with trees and clouds and lots of stone steps. Add a fine Japanese girl and some wifi and you’ve got about everything I could ever want in a place. 

And booze. Don’t forget booze.

(Do we ever, though?)

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Why would you make a harbor this complex? Are there seriously like Grand Central Station type docks in this place? Did Gandalf bring them to track 114, Metro North?

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And that will actually be our final shot, as we sail into the west.

(The Pacific Northwest, that is. Hint hint.)

Colin:

And the sun’s setting already! Would you look at the time!

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Peace!

– – – – – – – – – –

Tomorrow are our final thoughts, and Monday is our next franchise.

Which… that’s gonna be fun.

(See the rest of the Fun with Franchises articles here.)

http://bplusmovieblog.com

One response

  1. JamDenTel

    Shot #701 (Scorpion) seems to me very reminiscent of 60s/70s Eastern European cinema. Really, it feels like something you would see in Andrei Rublev.

    July 27, 2013 at 6:26 pm

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