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#070 Peter Jackson: The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King vs. The Lovely Bones w/ guests Hannah Wheeler and Eric Lynch

Download MP3 In today's episode Nate and Austin compare Peter Jackson's best and worst rated films, The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King (2003) and The Lovely Bones (2009), respectively. The show has its first official livestream on, Hannah watches LOTR for the first time, and Eric tries out his best Gollum impression. Check back next Sunday at 7pm PST where we will compare Brian De Palma's Scarface (1983) and Home Movies (1979), his best and worst rated films.
Also check out the behind the scenes footage from the making of The Fellowship of the Ring:

The Lovely Bones Notes

Worst Rated

PLOT: Centers on a young girl who has been murdered and watches over her family - and her killer - from purgatory. She must weigh her desire for vengeance against her desire for her family to heal.
  • Ratings: IMDb 6.7 | RT 31% C / 52% A
  • Released: 2009
  • Director: Peter Jackson
  • Writer(s): Fran Walsh & Philippa Boyens & Peter Jackson (screenplay), Alice Sebold (novel)
  • Cinematographer: Andrew Lesnie (The Hobbit, King Kong, The Last Airbender)
  • Notable actors: Mark Wahlberg, Rachel Weisz, Susan Sarandon, Stanley Tucci, Michael Imperioli, Saoirse Ronan, Rose McIver, Christian Ashdale, Reece Ritchie
  • Budget: $65 million
  • Box office: $93.6 billion
  • Fun Facts:
    • For his role as George Harvey, Stanley Tucci had his skin lightened, his chest and arm hair dyed to match his blondish-brown comb-over wig, and wore false teeth to alter his jaw line. He also wore blue contact lenses and a lentil-filled fat suit to widen his girth, all topped off with square-frame eyeglasses, a fake mustache and sideburns. Since Tucci was uncomfortable playing a child molester, he wanted to alter his appearance for the role as much as possible.
    • The mother, Abigail's, major storyline from the book--her affair with the detective, and her reasons for leaving the family--was filmed, but cut out of the movie.
    • In Alice Sebold's original novel, a disturbing rape scene is recounted in great detail, an experience that Sebold herself had had as a young woman. Director Peter Jackson chose to omit this section of the story, feeling that the re-enactment of the ordeal would have not just overwhelmed the film, but been too traumatic a sequence for the young Saoirse Ronan to endure. Alice Sebold reportedly disagreed with this omission. Stanley Tucci, for his part, claimed that it was difficult enough for him to play scenes in which George was thinking about molesting Susie, and that he never would have agreed to perform an actual rape scene.
    • The main reason Ryan Gosling quit his role as Jack before filming started, was that during read-through sessions with Peter Jackson and the rest of the cast, he felt that, at 26, he was too young for the role. Jack was supposed to be in his late 30s. Despite repeated assurances from Jackson that he could portray Jack with proper make-up, Gosling insisted that, as a method actor, he would not be able to portray the character well enough, and was finally let go. Mark Wahlberg was brought in only one day before shooting started.
    • Saoirse Ronan landed the role of Susie Salmon based on an audition tape she sent in. They were so impressed by the tape, that no meetings or further auditions were necessary before offering her the lead role in the film.
    • Despite the fact that the violence in the novel had been toned down for the film, Stanley Tucci still had a hard time portraying Mr. Harvey.

The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King Notes

Best Rated

PLOT: Gandalf and Aragorn lead the World of Men against Sauron's army to draw his gaze from Frodo and Sam as they approach Mount Doom with the One Ring.
  • Ratings: IMDb 8.9 | RT 95% C / 86% A
  • Released: 2003
  • Director: Peter Jackson
  • Writer(s): J.R.R. Tolkien (novel), Fran Walsh & Philippa Boyens & Peter Jackson (screenplay)
  • Cinematographer: Andrew Lesnie (The Hobbit, King Kong, The Last Airbender)
  • Notable actors: Sean Astin, Sean Bean, Cate Blanchett, Orlando Bloom, Billy Boyd, Alistair Browning, Bernard Hill, Ian Holm, Ian McKellen, Dominic Monaghan, Viggo Mortensen, John Rhys-Davies, Andy Serkis, Harry Sinclair, Liv Tyler, Karl Urban, Hugo Weaving, David Wenham, Elijah Wood, Miranda Otto
  • Budget: $94 million
  • Box office: $1.12 billion
  • Fun Facts:
    • The movie made a one thousand four hundred eight percent profit for New Line Studios on their initial outlay.
    • The dead oliphaunt carcass, used in this film, is reportedly the largest prop ever built for a movie. According to members of the Prop Department, Director Peter Jackson still thought it could have been bigger.
    • Andy Serkis and Elijah Wood were each given prop rings by Peter Jackson, used in the movie. They both thought they had the only one.
    • Great caution was taken for the scene where Faramir is dragged back to Minas Tirith on his horse. The filmmakers were afraid that the horse might suddenly start to run, dragging David Wenham behind it, so a release system was built into the saddle. Wenham held a handle in his right hand, and if the horse started to run, he could simply pull it and be released from the stirrup. Fortunately, they ended up not needing it.
    • Each of the cast members was given a gift on their last day of shooting, usually a prop that was significant to their roles. Miranda Otto received one of Eowyn's dresses and her sword, Liv Tyler received Arwen's "dying dress", Orlando Bloom got one of Legolas' bows.
    • Peter Jackson is arachnophobic, and based the Shelob design on the types of spiders he feared the most.
    • Since John Rhys-Davies suffered constant rashes from wearing the Gimli make-up, the Make-up Department gave him the opportunity to throw his Gimli mask into the fire on his last day of pick-up photography. He didn't hesitate a moment to grab and burn it.
    • A normal movie averages about two hundred visual effects shots. This film had one thousand four hundred eighty-eight.
    • Horses owned by the production company were placed up for auction to the cast and crew after the film was shot. Viggo Mortensen purchased two horses, the one he rode for most of the film, and one for Liv Tyler's riding double.
    • The Lord of the Rings trilogy became the most nominated film series in Academy Award history with thirty nominations, surpassing both the Godfather trilogy (twenty-eight) and the Star Wars franchise (twenty-one).
    • To get enough extras for the Battle at the Black Gate, a few hundred members of the New Zealand Army were brought in. They apparently were so enthusiastic during the battle scenes, that they kept breaking the wooden swords and spears they were given.
    • Fans of the film often speculate why the characters didn't just fly on the giant eagles into Mordor and drop the ring into Mount Doom. This is not, in fact, a plot hole. This was explained in the book, but the filmmakers didn't think there would have been a need to, because they felt it was obvious why they didn't do this. The Eye of Sauron would have been a major obstacle. Even Professor Tolkien vetoed the abuse of eagles' intervention, when presented an early project of a movie from his book, also it is explained that the eagles are very proud creatures, and did not take sides in the War of the Ring until the end, so they would not have assisted.
    • Viggo Mortensen estimates that during the course of filming the entire trilogy and including all takes, he "killed" every stuntman on the production at least fifty times.
    • The final day of filming on the trilogy actually happened over a month after this movie was theatrically released, and three weeks after the 2004 Academy Awards. Peter Jackson arranged to film one final shot of skulls on the floor in the tunnel of the Paths of the Dead, which was included in the Extended Edition DVD. He thought it was funny to be doing filming on a movie that had already won the Best Picture Oscar.
    • It has the highest perfect score at the Academy Awards, with eleven wins out of eleven nominations. Its wins also means that The Lord of the Rings franchise has won every category, for which it was nominated, except one (Best Actor in a Supporting Role).
    • In the scene when Denethor attempts to burn Faramir on the pyre, the pyre could not truly be on fire, because Gandalf's horse would not go near it. To solve this, the crew reflected a real fire onto a pane of glass in front of the camera, so that it looks as though the pyre is burning.

Intro music by Eric Lynch

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