Caleb’s review published on Letterboxd:
"My friends... you bow to no one."
I can't even begin to fathom how much work was put into not just this film but the entire trilogy. Peter Jackson would begin developing the series around 1997, and began shooting from 1999, in which filming was done the following year in 2000. That totals 438 days of filming, and was shot in 150 different locations, with seven different units, along with two sound stages. The production oversaw by Jackson was quite thorough as he often monitored as much as he could. He wanted practicality, and boy he brought it. As his early career dabbling in horror films, as he often strived for practical effects, and it just translated perfectly here in the trilogy. The production of this all timer trilogy is just as masterful as the trilogy itself. It's utterly insane how much detail went into it, and I must say it may very well be the only fictional universe that might as well exist. I always feel like I'm actually watching it unfold, rather than a story told by someone. It's just astonishing.
Few films astonish me just as they did when I first view them, and this trilogy still astounds me to this day. It's an epic journey that must be shared to all, for it contains wonderful observations of evil, friendship, love, fairness. It's a battle between good and evil, and it's rarely been this epic. I still shudder when I think about the fact that these three films exist, and has shown us what's possible for cinema. Jackson didn't want a bare bones story accessible to all, condensed to a two hour film, or even a condensed trilogy of some sort. No, he went all out, and we should thank the man everyday for it. Besides, this made bank, so everybody won.
Even if I now hold a positive opinion on The Hobbit trilogy, there's still a special appreciation for this. It just has everything, and maybe too much of everything. But the fact is that Jackson delivered, and if these films had to be the last of cinema, so be it. Cinema would've gone out with a bang. Three bangs at that.
A marathon of these three films is almost a religious experience. I highly recommend you all to do a marathon, preferably the Extended editions. It's a ride that few will ever forget.