My Top 12 movies of the 2000s builds to an exciting climax.
#3 Kill Bill Vol. 1 (2003) Dir Q Tarantino (US)
Known for his rapid fire dialogue in Reservoir Dogs and Pulp Fiction, writer/director Quentin Tarantino demonstrated his flair for style in Kill Bill Vol. 1. Originally conceived as one movie, the Weinsteins felt that for length reasons, it be split into two parts (and no doubt the lure of double box office takings). Ostensibly a revenge tale by the Bride (Uma Thurman) to kill Bill (David Carradine), her former lover and mentor, it was a vehicle for Tarantino to lovingly embellish the best of the Hong Kong martial arts films he enjoyed as a youth. While Vol. 2 is more traditional in its structure, including the Bride’s back story, it is in Vol. 1 that Tarantino can cut loose with his wild sword fights, excessive blood spurting from severed limbs, an energised soundtrack, including a live performance by The 5, 6, 7, 8’s and dynamic change ups in presentation, from colour to black & white, anime and silhouettes. Kill Bill Vol. 1 is an exercise in exhilarating style.
#2 Lord of the Rings – Return of the King (2003) Dir P Jackson (NZ/US)
It would seem that the best battle sequence in movie history was to last only one year. When Return of the King was released, one year after its prequel, The Two Towers, the best battle sequence was passed by the best battle sequence ever! The attack by the foul fiends of Mordor on the city of Gondor is compelling for its ability to reveal the large picture without losing sight of the individual stories we have invested so much time in. The heart of the film is Frodo and Sam who stagger up the steep incline of Mt Doom to destroy the One Ring in its fiery pits. It is their total devotion to each other, and indeed the selfless goodness of the allies in their fight to “save the world” that make this so much more than just a dumb, special effects laden action movie. And after travelling this epic journey over three films and 10 hours, the ending which runs for over 20 minutes, gives us sufficient time to say goodbye as our timeless heroes take the boat to the Grey Havens.
#1 Lord of the Rings – Fellowship of the Ring (2001) Dir P Jackson (NZ/US)
This is a road movie of sorts where our heroes commence a journey unawares of what lies ahead and what toll it will take. They meet fantastic beasts and pass through unimagined lands. The Fellowship is a collection of nine including humans, a wizard, an elf, a dwarf and hobbits. Their mission is to take the One Ring to Mordor and destroy it. Unlike the subsequent two films that necessarily take on a darker tone, the Fellowship is full of wonder, mystery and innocence. The friends are bound together by their mission with each dark turn of events binding their dependence and loyalty tighter.