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Return of the Incompetent Orcs

So I saw "Return of the King" the other day, and I thought it did an excellent job of of capturing Tolkein's message and portraying it on screen in a very moving and visually arresting way.

And that message is: do not hire orcs.

No, seriously -- the orcs are a bunch of fuck-knuckles. Whether it's losing the battle of Minas Tirith despite superior numbers, a demoralized foe, and unlimited use of giant, evil elephants or it's letting Frodo and his little helpmate wander unimpeded through Mordor, the orcs blunder away one advantage after another. (They even go so far as to kill one another in a Stooge-style brawl!) You keep waiting to see a shot of Sauron shrugging and saying, "It's so hard to find good help these days."

The orcs make Imperial Stormtroopers look like models of self-direction and resourcefulness. They make the Nazis of the Indiana Jones movies look like a solid bet to carry out their evil plans. Sauron would have been better off sub-contracting out to some of the jumpsuit-wearing lackeys from any one of a number of early Bond movies. At any rate, he should have expanded his hiring pool beyond orcs.

Other thoughts about "Return of the King," which may or may not include spoilers, if a book that's been published for several decades can actually be spoiled... ("Here's a spoiler on the Bible -- Christ rises from the dead!" "Damnit, I was going to read the Bible tonight, and you ruined it for me!):

* There's a shot near the end of the movie, after all the humans ride out to Mordor to face down the orcs in an effort to distract them from Frodo's approach to Mount Doom, of one of the Riders of Rohan... I don't know his name. He looks like a refugee from an '80s band. Warrant, maybe, or, perhaps more appropriately, Night Ranger. Anyhow, they're surrounded by every orc in Mordor, so he shoots Aragon a look like, "This was your fucking plan? Ride out to Mordor and get surrounded by orcs? That's some nice strategy there. Really nice. You are the worst king ever!"

* If you are looking for an opportunity to take a bathroom break during the three-and-a-half-hour runtime, do what I do: leave whenever there's an elf on the screen about to open his or her yap and speak entirely in metaphor. Do you suppose the other residents of Middle Earth sit around and say amongst themselves, "Oh shit, here come the elves. God, I hope they don't sing those dreary Enya songs again." [Editor's Note: I left the theater when Liv Tyler appeared on-screen and managed to not miss a thing or destroy my bladder.]

* I don't know if you've seen the preview for "Butterfly Effect" -- the movie in which Ashton Kutcher keeps travelling back in time to save his girlfriend from an early demise only to find out he's made the future worse -- but I'd like to shake the hand of the man who decided America was ready to see the guy from "Dude, Where's My Car" in a taut psychological thriller. Also, there's a scene in the trailer when Ashton finds himself in one of the wacky alterna-futures he's created, and he stumbles across his girlfriend (Amy Smart) only to find her covered in scabs and living in a rathole. You will get much greater enjoyment out of that scene if you do as I do, and say, in an Ashton Kutcher-like brogue, "Oh no, I've totally turned you into a crack whore."

The other patrons of the movie theater will reward you with stony silence and icy looks.


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