It's one of those immortal movies that transcend labels or genres, such as "Greed" or "The Godfather" or "The Wizard of Oz." In this third movie installment of J.R.R. Tolkien's three-book epic, what ups the voltage of the drama and our connection to the characters is how near they come to catastrophe. The necessity to take righteous action even on the edge of doom: That's the true subject of this picture. It isn't just about good vs. evil. It's about doing the right thing when the choice could be suicidal -- and waging war against corruption though you risk awakening corruption within yourself. Director Peter Jackson has an uncanny ability to construct a universe analogous yet distant to our own without over-explaining it. When eagles swarm in to counter flying serpents or gently swoop down to rescue a pair of hobbits, their appearance is breathtaking, both unexpected and inevitable in some alchemistic way. What's nonstop about the movie isn't its action, but its poetic feeling. Even when the jeopardy is at its fiercest, Jackson lets us savor the irony of a small ring determining the fate of Middle Earth.
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