Three or four career meltdowns ago, Mel Gibson was still a fresh face on the scene when he went into a bar the night before his audition for a little film called Mad Max. The brawl that temporarily battered his youthful good looks actually helped land him the role that would launch his career. The first Mad Max was a hit worldwide but made a negligible impression in the States, partly due to a lousy dubbing job the studio inflicted on the film because the suits thought Yanks weren’t ready for a real Australian accent (This was a few years before Crocodile Dundee).
As a result, the sequel was called Mad Max 2 everywhere but the U.S., because you can’t have a sequel to a movie no one had heard of. Call it Mad Max 2 or The Road Warrior, it was like a jolt of adrenaline right into the eyeballs.
There’s little to say about Return of the King that I haven’t already said about the first two installments in Peter Jackson’s trilogy of Lord of the Rings movies. To my mind, it inherits the same virtues of the previous two movies while bringing the cycle to an epic and satisfying conclusion.
After the bitter disappointment of Episode I, The Phantom Menace, and the almost-but-not-quite-there glimpses of hope in Episode II, Attack of the Clones, the third time was finally the charm for Star Wars fans. They finally got the prequel they deserved with Episode III.
Despite the diminished expectations created by the first two prequels, the third installment still had a lot to live up to. This was the episode that would have to deliver all that the fans had been expecting from the sequels, namely the story about how Anakin Skywalker turned to evil and became Darth Vader and of the birth of the twins Luke and Leia who would be the heroes of the second, er, first, I mean, the other Star Wars trilogy.