The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King (2003) Poster

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10/10
15 years on... Still the greatest
jamiedphilips23 December 2015
I've just re-watched The Lord of the Rings trilogy for the 1000th time tonight... nearly 15 years since the Fellowship of the Rings was released... I still haven't seen a movie that's better, nor close, to any of these three films. The casting is perfection as well as the incredible acting by everyone in the movie. I can still watch these movies back to back and not get bored. They are a light to this world and wouldn't be the same without them.

I miss the good old LOTR's days. The best movies ever created. The Return of the King was the best way to end a thrilling journey through middle earth!
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10/10
A Timeless Classic
venividiamavi-v7 August 2019
This movie, and trilogy in general, is a cinematic (and literary) masterpiece, and simply refuses to get old. I love this movie so much it's become a tradition to watch the Lord of the Rings series at least once a year! It's just as good as Christmas
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10/10
Unprecedented.
GuyCC17 December 2003
Warning: Spoilers
Peter Jackson has done it. He has created an all-encompassing epic saga of Tolkien's Lord of the Rings books, and after coming away from the final chapter, how does this rate not only as a film on its own, but as a part of the whole?

Perfect.

I've never seen a series like this. A trilogy of movies created with such love and care and utter perfection of craft that you can't help but walk away and wonder how did Peter Jackson make this possible? I have always loved the original "Star Wars" and "Indiana Jones" series for their epic storytelling, and just for just fitting in as a great moment in cinema. This should be, will be, remembered with as much revered fondness for generations to come. They do not make films like these anymore.

As a stand alone film, it picks up immediately where "Two Towers" ends, so brush up before seeing it. I've read the books, and the anticipation of seeing some of the more profound moments in this film made me kind of view it with a rushed sense of perspective. I wanted to make sure everything in this film was done "right". And when it happened, it was. I will need to see this again to enjoy everything on a more casual level.

The cast comes through once more. The musical score retains its beauty, elegance and power. The special effects, notably Gollum again, are nothing less than breathtaking, and simply move the story along. The battles are monumentally huge and exciting. There are some liberties taken with the story, especially during the end with the homecoming, and yet, everything that needed to be covered regarding the main characters was handled. After the greatest moment of the series resolves itself, the story provided a breather. And gives a good-bye to friends seen on screen for the last three years. It was truly a bittersweet feeling in realizing that there will be no "Rings" movie in 2004. I will miss this talented group of actors.

As with the first two, the film is very long, but goes by without you ever truly realizing it. This film is so much more than a simple "fantasy" epic. It's a story about strength of character, friendship, loyalty and love. And while every member of the Fellowship has their part to play, I finally understood why some critics have said this series is a story about Sam. It's his unwavering resolve that led the quest to its victory. Sean Astin is a true credit for adding the inspirational heart to this epic. As as far as the ending goes, they ended it the way that it had to be ended. Jackson ended this film the way it should have been.

I will miss looking forward to a new "Rings" movie, but these movies provide hope that high-quality films can still be made without special effects taking over a story, bathroom humor, or a "Top 40" soundtrack. George Lucas could learn a lot from these films about how not to alienate the fanbase.

Each film has earned a "10" from me for the last two years, which for me to give is a rarity. This one, however, is as equally deserving as its two predecessors. The Academy had better not look over this film for "Best Picture" of 2003. To do so would be greatly disrespectful of the craft and care that anyone involved with these films put into them.
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10/10
This movie has marked my childhood!
athgeo21 January 2019
It is the best movie I can remember I've watched while I was a kid!
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10/10
They saved the best for last
Derek23716 March 2005
Obviously, I'm aware of the fact that the Lord of the Rings trilogy is actually one giant movie, but since it was released in parts, that's how I'm judging them. The Return Of The King is the final chapter, and since it is the climax and resolution of the epic journey, it has a little more intensity and urgency than the previous installments.

At this point everyone has come to know and love all of the characters, and the stakes have become tremendously high. Kingdoms are at their knees, and the only two characters who can save the day are getting weaker and weaker. The tension was very high in this episode and I can honestly say that out of all 3 this was the only one that had me on the edge of my seat. There were many memorable scenes (one of my favourites including the part with the giant spider)that made this the classic that it is sure to stay for decades to come.

This is the longest of the series, mostly because of the ending that seems to last a while. This was a good ending, and I can see why Frodo did what he did. He, and us the audience, have gone through an incredible ordeal and I think we needed that 20 minute linger. When the battle is over, and the celebrations have ended, there is a sad emptiness felt. The films spanned over 3 years, there have been the extended cuts of course, but after that, it's all over. Peter Jackson gave us an ending that was both appropriate and admirable.

These were some amazing movies and this one in particular is the best, in my opinion. As whole, the Lord Of The Rings is a phenomenon. An absolute phenomenon. Much more than just movies. They have a universal appeal and have touched the hearts and imaginations of millions. I'm one of them.

Sorry if I'm being all fanboyish and kissing this movie's ass, but I really admire it. It may not be among my personal favourites but generally this seems to be the movie event of the century. There will never be another Lord of the Rings film, and that's a bit depressing.

My rating: 10/10
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10/10
Great
MR_Heraclius15 February 2020
Wonderful on every level. Love the characters and special effects. One of the biggest, most massive battle scenes ever put on the silver screen. A great end to a monumental epic.
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Not only the best of the "Lord of the Rings" series, but sets a new standard of epic filmmaking.
danlongino16 December 2003
Saying that this film starts where `Two Towers' left off is somewhat misleading, for the film starts a great distance from the walls of Helm's Deep. `Return of the King' opens with a flashback of Smeagol (Andy Serkis) obtaining the one ring of power and an origin of his deterioration into the creature Gollum. This opening recaptures an emphasis that was somewhat lost within the epic battles of `Two Towers,' at that's the ring. The first installment, `The Fellowship of the Ring,' provided heaps of exposition on the ring's importance and influence, and in `Return of the King,' we see it pay off, big time.

After the armies of Isengard have been defeated due to an allegiance between Theoden (Bernard Hill), the king of Rohan, and the elves, the main threat to middle earth is now concentrated in the kingdom of Mordor, controlled by the dark lord Sauron. Sauron has turned his eye towards the realm of Gondor, the last free kingdom of men, and the wizard Gandalf (Ian McKellan) must warn Denethor (John Noble), Steward of Gondor of the impending attack, while Aragorn (Viggo Mortenson), heir to the throne of Gondor, and Theoden gather men to aid against the armies of Mordor. The dark lord Sauron needs only to regain the one ring of power to conquer all of middle earth, and two hobbits, Frodo (Elijah Wood) the ring-bearer and Sam (Sean Astin), must continue their journey, directed by Gollum, to Mount Doom, the only place where the ring can be destroyed. Got all that? If not, you need to bone up on your `Lord of the Rings' before expecting to follow this film.

Since all three epics were filmed simultaneously, each individually has the feel of being part of a larger picture - except for this one. `The Return of the King' is just too big, the most epic of a set of epic films. Now that director Peter Jackson has brilliantly constructed the characters and plotlines throughout the first two films, he puts them to use.

All of the characters have their best moments within this film. The pair of mischievous hobbits, Merry (Dominic Monaghan) and Pippin (Billy Boyd), are no longer the tree ornaments they were from `Two Towers,' but are split-up, and take their characters in completely new directions. Aragorn, played with an unmatched sense of honor by Viggo Mortenson, is about to meet his destiny as the future king of all men, while Andy Serkis continues his expert portrayal of Gollum (Serkis' provided not only the voice of Gollum, but also assisted during production by acting out the scenes of the computer-generated character with his fellow actors).

However, the real acting triumph of the film is Elijah Wood as Frodo Baggins. He continues his descent into corruption with an incredible talent that many could not pull off. Wood's performance is so critical to the film because it determines the ring's power to corrupt, which, needless to say, is absolute.

The first two films established Jackson as an incredible visionary, shooting vast landscapes from his native New Zealand. With `Return of the King,' Jackson really gets a chance to show off. With, hands down, the most beautiful visuals of the trilogy, Jackson makes `Return of the King' a gorgeous feast for the eyes, while never resorting to McG level over-the-topness. Jackson stays very grounded in his characters, not letting the effects tell the story, but only assist the wonderful dialogue and characters. Think of `Return' as a mix of `Fellowship' and `Two Towers,' with enough action and character development worthy of ending a film event of this magnitude.

The bottom line, fans of the films will not be disappointed. Hardcore Tolkien lovers might be upset by plot changes and interpretations made by Jackson and the other writers, however, it is unrealistic to expect a completely true adaptation of the novels, being that film is an entirely different medium. Despite the alterations, Jackson consistently stays true to the major themes and ideas from the original text, while adding some of the finest filmmaking ever put to screen. `The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King' is one of the most finely tuned and cinematically perfect films ever made. Not only the best of the trilogy, but a crowning achievement in epic filmmaking.
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10/10
All Good Things come to an End!
OttoVonB22 November 2006
All the threads of Tolkien's magnum opus come together in the most elegant of fashions in the final part of Peter Jackson's adaptation. Humanity makes a last stand at Minas Tirith, the Hobbits travel through Mordor, our heroes try to by time for Frodo to complete his mission and the Evil Sauron gets tired of the whole game and lashes out with all his might and fury.

"Return of the King" is 4 hours of payoff, a third act in a gigantic epic rather than a mere film of its own. As such it is intensely dramatic and dynamic and you can very much sense that though peter Jackson spared no effort on the previous episodes, this is clearly his favorite. the film floats by at a thunderous pace, taking us through unforgettable moments such as the battle of Minas Tirith itself, a marvel of seamless animation and epic film-making, it demands to be seen, as it has too many jaw-dropping moments to choose from. The quieter character moments keep gaining in potency and the full weight of the stakes and their heartbreaking consequences is never in doubt.

The cast of these films have played their parts to perfection and again Jackson deserves overall credit for choosing actors that so perfectly match Tlolkien's creations: Ian McKellen and Christopher Lee are their own usually excellent selves, and the hobbits remain endearing, but of all the uniformly great cast, the true standouts are Viggo Mortensen and David Wenham as the tragic Faramir, whose relationship with his brutish father is the most traumatic of the film. Jackson pushes them even further by having them sing at a few key moments (a practice employed to powerful effect by Tolkien in the books), a daring undertaking that works wonders. And though he may offer one ending too many, he does have the decency to show off each surviving character with the appropriate screen time and respect.

Now that the trilogy is complete, it can be viewed as one big film, as it should be. After 8 years, Jackson has done the impossible: he has taken Tolkien's huge legend and made films that stand on their own and have revolutionized film-making, setting the new benchmark for cinematic epics. Changes have been made to Tolkien's source novels, but they make for better, more fluid films, more faithful in spirit to Tolkien's myth than anyone had the right to hope for.

A masterpiece, whether as part of a bigger whole or on its own. Well deserving of all the high praise thrown at it, and then some...
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10/10
This franchise shaped me to the man i am today.
voltage10-220-8040257 August 2019
Warning: Spoilers
After finishing my 100th (give or take) time watching the entire trilogy I'd figured a review was long overdue. There are no words for what i feel about this trilogy. It's beyond anything i can explain. The closest word would be perfection, but that doesn't even do it justice.

I was 11 when the first movie came out, and i fell in love with the franchise immediately. Everything i did revolved around the fantasy universe as this franchise was the first big thing i truly fell in love with. I have pictures of elves on my walls and dragon statues on my shelfs. I have Sting hanging on my wall and my key chain for my car keys is the One Ring. My wife has the evening star and she wore it at our wedding. Lord of the rings has made me to who i am today and i feel privileged to have such a masterpiece be created in my short span on this earth!

I love Fellowship of the Ring and Two Towers, but Return of the King is the final piece that brings everything together. I'm usually a pretty tough guy, and i rarely get emotional but the last hour is hard for me to sit through without shedding a tear. No matter how many times i watch the franchise i always get emotional. "My friends. You bow to no one!" gets me every time!

The last thing I'd like to ad is that i feel like I'm a part of the journey. I feel sorta empty after watching it. I feel like all of the hobbits when they come back home and drinks their first pints at The Green Dragon. It's one of the movies where i sit through the end credits and just think. This is a good thing. You know a movie is extraordinary if it makes you empty after you've watched it!
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10/10
A Brilliant Conclusion
eiratan17 December 2003
As a movie watcher, I tend to become bored with the constant, overdone, overdrawn, underplayed, overdramatized performance and production quality of most Hollywood films. It's a trait that in recent years has sadly driven me away from most big budget American films. A decent idea will become mangled by the money making machine that is Hollywood, hoping to pump the most raw cash they can out of it before it drops dead in the street.

We all saw the catastophre of a failure that arose from the Matrix Franchise. Such immense hype and professed genius only made the failure all the more poignant for those of us that really wanted and expected more from the franchise.

That all being said, I must say that The Lord of the Rings is an amazingly powerful visual experience. Not even just a visual experience. Peter Jackson has crafted one of the finest written pieces of our era into THE quintessential epic. He supplements the brilliant storytelling of JRR Tolkien with one of the most awe-inspiring collection of films ever created.

The 7 hours of film that leads up to the Return of the King is only precursor though, when you sit and watch this film. It's just plain brilliance. Everything about the film is wonderful. The manner in which Jackson has arranged the scenes, detracting slightly from the original flow of the novel really helps to keep the suspense strong in all three story branches. The Tolkien humor is intact perfectly and the gallantry and just plain coolness of these heroes is plain amazing. (Check out Legolas in the BIG battle) It's all just too much for words.

If one were to gripe, and I suppose there will never be a film made that one cannot find a point at which to grip, it is painfully long running time here. I personally believe that this is the only way such a film could be made, true to the source material and completely engrossing, but I found myself more worried about the pain in my posterior than the emotional final minutes after 4 hours (including ads and previews) that I had spent in a cramped seat. As such, this will be all the better (at least for me) when it's release on DVD (can't wait for the extended...get to see the Sauroman scenes that they cut out).

As a film though, this is amazing. A true lasting legacy in story telling and now cinema. Bravo Mr. Jackson.
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10/10
The first great cinematic masterpiece of the twenty-first century.
JamesHitchcock4 February 2004
Warning: Spoilers
I am, I admit, an unlikely convert to the religion of Tolkienism. I have never read the books, having, I thought, been put off them for life by the sort of obsessive freaks who read them when I was at school. (One classmate, then aged about sixteen, told me with great pride that he had read the whole of 'The Lord of the Rings' at least fifty times). I also have never been a great admirer of the 'sword and sorcery' school of fantasy writing or film-making; indeed, some of this genre (mostly those starring the current governor of California) struck me as being among the worst films ever made. I was, however, persuaded to see the first in the trilogy, 'The Fellowship of the Ring', by its overwhelmingly positive reception from the critics, and was quickly won over by the scope of Peter Jackson's vision. I had been expecting some twee tale of elves, gnomes and fairies; what I experienced was a genuine epic (in the true sense of that overused word). Ever since December 2001, I have been waiting for parts two and three of the trilogy to be released. Neither has disappointed me. The story of 'The Lord of the Rings' is too complex to be told in a review such as this. Suffice it to say that it revolves around a magic ring which will give its possessor immense power. The power-hungry Dark Lord Sauron (a figure who is never actually seen on screen) desires to obtain the ring in order to dominate Middle Earth. His enemies, led by the wizard Gandalf, are seeking to destroy the ring, which can only be used for evil purposes, not for good. At the beginning of the final part of the trilogy, Sauron's forces are massing for an attack on the kingdom of Gondor. The film relates the story of the conflict which follows, and this leads to some of the most spectacular battle sequences I have seen, even more impressive than those in 'The Two Towers'. Inevitably, the film makes much use of computer-generated effects, but unlike many films dominated by special effects, plot and character are not neglected. The acting is uniformly good, and in some cases outstanding. Special mentions must also go to the camera-work, which made the best possible use of the magnificent New Zealand scenery, and to Howard Shore's memorable musical score. So, looking forward to the Oscar ceremony, I have no doubt that this should be the best film and that Peter Jackson, who has amply fulfilled the promise shown in the excellent 'Heavenly Creatures', should be best director. Best Actor? I would find it difficult to decide between the competing claims of Sir Ian McKellen, who brings wisdom, kindliness and the required touch of steel to his portrait of Gandalf, and of Elijah Wood, who plays the brave and resourceful hobbit Frodo to whom falls the dangerous task of ensuring the ring's destruction. Best Supporting Actor? My own nomination would be for Sean Astin, as Frodo's loyal companion Sam, but several others might have claims, notably Viggo Mortensen or Bernard Hill. Is this the best movie ever made, as some of its admirers have claimed? Possibly not- that is, after all, a very large claim to make. I have no doubt, however, that the trilogy as a whole is the first great cinematic masterpiece of the twenty-first century. It has certainly inspired me to start reading Tolkien's original novels. 10/10.
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9/10
A monumental film
Chris_Docker17 December 2003
Feeling weary and battle-worn, I have just staggered out of the cinema after three and a half hours of special effects creatures fighting other special effects creatures. I had taken refreshments but barely touched them - probably because the film I had watched is one of the most mesmerising, evocative, inspiring, and awesome I have witnessed of any big adventure epic. Not to mention superb ensemble acting, moods that shift effortlessly between mediaeval battles of colossal proportions and convincing bloodshed, beauty and wonderment, fantastic natural and artificial landscapes and cityscapes, touches of humour, well-paced dramatic tension, and human bonding that is moving enough to just let you dry your eyes as the unassuming credits flash by.

Return of the King is the greatest of the Tolkien trilogy by New Zealand director Peter Jackson. Although I've seen the other two and read the book, I felt it would also stand alone well enough for people who hadn't done either.

The storytelling is much more professional that the first one - which maybe laboured to introduce so much information - or the second one - which has little let up from the tension of long battle scenes. In Return of the King, there is an emotional sting at the start, as we watch the transformation of Gollum from warm, fun-loving guy to murderous, mutated wretch. The movie then moves deftly between different segments of the story - the sadness of the lovely soft-focus Liv Tyler as fated Arwen whose travails and woman's love succeeds in having the Sword that was Broken mended, the comradeship of Sam and Frodo (Sean Astin & Elijah Wood) that is tested to the limits, the strong commanding presence of Gandalf (Ian McKellen) who keeps an eye on things whilst turning in an Oscar-worthy performance, the ingenious and very varied battle scenes, and the mythical cities of that rise out of the screen and provide key plot elements.

This is a fairy story of human endeavour, the defeating of power cliques and the triumph of the human spirit that could almost be compared to Wagner's Gotterdammerung. It is a fairy story without any sugary sweetness, a fairy story the likes of which hasn't been told so well before, and is even unlikely to be done so well in the future. The haunting scream of the Nasgul stays with you, the physical attractions are not airbrushed, and the battles are about as far from pantomime characters waving wooden swords as you can get. The ingenious monsters keep you on the edge of your seat. The whole narrative maintains the spirit (if not archival, detailed accuracy) of the original and makes you want to read the book (or read the book again!)

The worst I can say about it is that it is maybe a tad long - but not that you'd notice . . .
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10/10
Part 3: It's Not Really the Thought that Counts
mstomaso30 November 2007
Just as Peter Jackson felt that LOTR had to be made as one large, three-part, cinematic piece, I decided to write my IMDb review of all three movies as a single, multi-part essay. Click on my screen-name and hit "Chronological" to view my reviews of the Fellowship and Two Towers. I make no guarantees about the quality and consistence of my review, but I do guarantee that these three films offer very high and very consistent quality from beginning to end. The acting, cinematography, art, and direction simply can not be beat.

Which of the three movies is my favorite varies with my mood – and the same holds true for Tolkien's books. When I am immersed in the story, ROTK is my favorite. When I simply want to have fun with the whole experience, I love Fellowship. And when I want something intense, evocative and thoughtful, I go for the Two Towers.

Frodo, Sam and Golem are on their way to Mount Doom and their bodies, nerves, and relationships have borne the greatest burden on middle earth. The rest of the fellowship is rallying to the defense of Minas Tirith, and preparing for even more deadly battles to come.

The heroism and romance are incredibly moving - when was the last time you saw an entire audience leaving a theater after a fantasy movie rubbing their eyes? The sets are breathtaking - even moreso than in the previous two films.

The casting and acting are superb.

The film delivers at every level and is the jewel in the trilogy's well-earned crown.

Return of the King offers a resolution of all of the major story arcs in LOTR. As with the classic Tolkien trilogy, however, you may be able to predict some of what will occur, but never all of it and you'll never guess how you will get there. The same fatalistic and paradoxically unpredictable feeling of Tolkien's grand plots is present throughout ROTK especially. The major theme in ROTK, however, is the varied ways and means of heroism – both intentional and unintended, and Tolkien's examination of sacrifice and heroism is as inspiring as it is subtle. Amazingly, it all comes through in the films.

Even more than the previous two films, Jackson and his writers took liberties with the story-line. Like the others, however, this serves the film better than simple adaptation from one medium to another. By reordering some of the chronology and adding scenes and plot devices which are consistent with Tolkien's world and characterizations, the film-makers actually do a better job of preserving the concepts and themes of the story than they could have with a pure adaptation. The lengthy epilogue in Tolkien's book is greatly reduced, reordered, and somewhat changed in order to work in the film. Some parts actually appear very early in ROTK. And some aspects of Tolkien's epilogue are disclosed in the Two Towers, though not directly depicted. But all of the really important components of the epilogue are, at least strongly implied if not well illustrated in ROTK.
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10/10
The Supreme Motion Picture of All Time...
fearfulofspiders25 August 2008
Warning: Spoilers
The Lord of the Rings - The Return of the King is by far the most moving, inspirational and epic of the three parts in Peter Jackson's take on Tolkien's fantasy masterpiece. After proving that this trilogy can carry the weight of a truly enormous body of text with The Fellowship of the Ring and The Two Towers, Jackson has shown that nothing is impossible anymore when being brought to film, and that fantasy can be surreal, but grounded to reality.

I saw this film at 8:00 PM, and missed school the following day -- exactly similar to The Two Towers when it was released. After seeing The Return of the King I was speechless. Never before had a film made such an impact on me as this conclusion did, and now with it completed, The Lord of the Rings is truly the best of the best.

Jackson has treated this trilogy as one film, following to Tolkien's linear time-line, and not the way the books were written, which makes this a film that flows and never loses track of pacing. The dialogue is emotional, be it the speech between Gandalf and Pippin before the gates of Minas Tirith, or inspirational, such as the rousing deliveries by Theoden and Aragorn. The vast emotion makes this a film for the ages. Following our heroes adventure since film one, we have grown compassion for each and everyone of them. Sam's devotion to Frodo is something that can inspire, and the eu-catastrophe is fully used here once again, because just as it seems that all hope has been lost, it shines through the void and victory is achieved. If one were to fear that the ending would feel like there was no closure, then have none, because The Return of the King has a 20-minute denouement that goes as far as four-years into the future, and the ending on the shores of the Grey Havens brought me to tears.

The special effects are nothing short of amazing. The blend of miniatures/bigatures and CGI is believable beyond comprehension, and the addition of New Zealand locales adds something beyond some peoples' wildest dreams. The level of detail on Minas Tirith is something no one has ever seen before, the massive armies sunder speakers as war erupts, and we see the Mumakil and the Fell Beasts in full fruition, as hinted in The Two Towers. What could've seem fatal, as cinematic history has shown before, is the introduction of Shelob the spider. The special effects team has created the most memorable spider in film history. She terrifies and drops jaws at the realism of such a beast.

The tension for the siege on Minas Tirith is so highly anticipated, that the filmmakers have completely satisfied every expectation to how epic it could've been. The scope is just extraordinary. The battle of the Pelennor Fields is so huge in the book, yet it has been fully realized in Jackson's film. The final stand at the Black Gate is so emotional involving, it's hard to think that any action could top what was previously seen, but it is done so with vision beyond imagination.

Howard Shore's music is also some of the most impressive and beautiful orchestration ever done for film. Besting its predecessors, The Return of the King's score is pure genius. From the new theme for Gondor, to the moving Into the West, Shore's composition sweeps and soars. Now that each of the three films' complete recordings have been released, I strongly urge a fan of the music to buy them, because they really are the best of the best.

The acting even surpasses the first two, having the evolution of each character add to the dramatic effect, be it the loss of a life, or the triumph over evil. Viggo Mortensen as Aragorn is like a Godsend. Sean Astin steals nearly every scene he is in as Sam, making us hope he helps Frodo get rid of the Ring of Power. Once again, Andy Serkis provides a stirring and great performance as Smeagol/Gollum. The full weight of the Ring is realized in this film, and Elijah Wood makes us see his struggle like the Fellowship of the Ring and The Two Towers only hinted upon.

Overall, The Lord of the Rings - The Return of the King is remarkable. The battles are amazing, never making the film drag, and always heightening the tension. From the acting to the sound editing, this film delivers in what it promises, and that is the supreme motion picture of our lifetime, and many more years to come.
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10/10
Five out of five decapitated orcs
eviltimmy20 December 2003
This is the final movie in the Lord of the Rings trilogy, and certainly doesn't disappoint like some other trilogies *coughMatrixcough*. The three films had their principal shooting all done at the same time, which lowers their overall costs and keeps a good sense of continuity for the films.

The special effects, first of all, are excellent. While there's a few little things (a reversed shot with smoke flowing back into chimneys and occasional lighting that's a bit off), by and large they're excellent. The most impressive thing about them is the sheer scale. This isn't a small or simple scene; it often includes thousands of digital characters combined with filmed actors and action, sweeping landscapes, and dozens of things happening at once. This is a good reason to see it in theatres; even on DVD, there's little details that you can only catch when it's on a massive screen.

The filming is good, although there are a few evidences of digital smoothing and cutting that can nag at the mind and eyes of a picky movie-goer. There are a few interesting shots, but most are fairly plain and straight on, getting the point across without being dazzling. New Zealand's landscapes provide a great backdrop for everything going on, and there really are some beautiful places, especially up in the mountains. I hear land prices are quite good, what with the orcs warring and everything, so you may want to look into real estate purchases now.

Sound has been said to make 75% of the emotional impact of any production. This is a loud 75%. All the sound effects are very well pulled off, sound appropriate, and are generally loud. The Nazgul screeching was bordering on painful, but in a good way. Most everything has a distinct sound, and it's rare that anything feels out of place. In some of the battles, the roof of the theatre was shaking. The soundtrack fits the movie well, and Howard Shore has done an excellent job, as with the last two films in the series.

Performances all around were good, but Sean Astin as Sam and Viggo Mortensen as Aragorn really dominated the film. They performed their roles perfectly, and came away giving a good picture of the characters. Elijah Wood seemed to be stuck with the same terrified expression on his face through most of the movie, almost Max Payne-style, and it grew old quickly. Ian McKellen, the ever-wise white wizard, had a fair bit of dialogue which he delivered well; my only complaint is he had too much in the way of wistful sayings leading to scene changes. Orlando Bloom, favorite of young teenage girls everywhere, had a few more action sequences (which got cheers from the aforementioned girls) which were quite well pulled off, but his acting wasn't much tested by this film. John Rhys-Davies continued with Gimli's joking performance; he's really too amusing to take seriously, but does a good job at it.

For the old Tolkien fans, this movie stays quite close to the book, although they did have to omit some portions, most notably the taking and retaking of the Shire and the time spent in the Halls of Healing in Minas Tirith. Hopefully some of this will show up in the Extended Edition on DVD. Shelob's attack was left until this film, and much of the time spent in Mordor was shortened for the sake of pacing, and it was a good decision.

My favorite scene would have to be the battle at Minas Tirith. The incredible scope of the battle, with the special effects, sounds, and many close-ups of pieces of the action, make for an exciting scene. The visual effects especially are stunning; the 'oliphaunts' play a big part in the action, and they're entirely created by computer. There's also some wide shots with tens of thousands of digital characters marching on the field of battle, and even the individual actions have the masses warring as a backdrop. It's worth your movie-going dollar simply to watch this on a large screen. It was also intermingled with some smaller events inside Minas Tirith, so it's not pure battle for the whole of the scene, and it keeps it from being dreary or heavy-handed.

Overall, this is a movie well worth watching, and even paying to see in a theatre. I'd recommend against bringing small children, as there are some scary images, and they'd also be a distraction during the final movie in what will probably remain the series of the decade. Not a particularly great date movie, either...this is a real, bring-your-friends big movie. Five out of five decapitated orcs (and trust me, there were a lot more than that).
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Summary: Film and extended DVD versions
harry_tk_yung13 January 2005
Warning: Spoilers
***SPOILERS*** ***SPOILERS***

Over the years, I've read Lord of the Rings four times. During the holiday season of 2003/4, I watched Return of the King four times. While I embraced ROTK as the third part of a dream come true, I was not totally happy, left wondering why so many things vital were missing. The 4-hour extended DVD version explains a lot.

My biggest beef was on so much missing about Aragon, and I found most of them in the DVD. One of the vital elements in the Fellowship's strategy is to draw Sauron's eye away from Frodo, and here Aragon's role is crucial. The "last debate" in the movie is totally inadequate in explaining the suicidal march to the Black gate but the DVD makes it very clear, with the additional scene of Aragon revealing himself to Sauron though the Palantir. He is the bait that Sauron cannot resist.

Another important aspect is that Aragon comes into the city of Minas Tirith first and foremost as a HEALER, not as a king. The kingship comes afterwards. This is again brought out in the additional scenes in the DVD, although still missing a lot of details from the book.

Still disappointing, even for the DVD, is that so little is given to the story of Eowyn and Faramir. The dialogue through which they come to accept each other could very well be the most beautiful in the entire book. The few shots in the DVD that trace the development of their relationship are far from adequate, although that's a least a slight improvement from the film version.

Another disappointment is Aragon's arrival at the Pelennor Fields, which is hopelessly lame compared with the original treatment in the book: amidst the despair of the Rohan and Gondor soldiers in witnessing the approaching black ships, Aragon's standard suddenly unfurls at the main mast: "There flowered a White Tree, and that was for Gondor; but seven stars were about it, and a high crown above it, the signs of Elendil that no lord had borne for years beyond count. And the stars flamed in the sunlight, for they were wrought of gems by Arwen daughter of Elrond; and the crown was bright in the morning, for it was wrought of mithril gold."

The treatment of Gandalf's confrontation of the Witch King in the DVD departs from the book, in which the two are locked in a face off, then Rohan's horns are heard and the Witch King swings around and leaves. What in heaven's name is in Peter Jackson's mind when he had Gandalf's staff broken by the Witch King. But this did explain a mystery that has been bugging me for a year – why Gandalf had to snatch a spear from the guard when he saved Faramir from the pyre of Denethor.

Enough on the DVD.I shall be remiss if I do not pay tribute to Peter Jackson for the wonderful film he and his dedicated crew have created.

Most inspired is the lighting of the beacons to summon help from Rohan. In the book, this is observed by Pippin in the ride to Minas Tirith. To satisfy Pippin's curiosity, Gandalf explains the background to him in a somewhat factual manner. Jackson turns this into one of the most exciting moments in the film, with aesthetically superb shots of the 13 beacons (yes, I counted them) being lit up in succession, accompanied by beautifully rousing music score, culminating in Theoden's heroic utterance of "Rohan will answer". Watching this has to be among the most uplifting moments one can experience in a cinema.

Most poignant is the Faramir's suicidal attempt to retake Osgilaith, under the orders of an unloving father. Starting from the soldiers of Gondor filing out of Minas Tirith in what looks almost like a funeral march to the letting loose of the swarm of arrows by the orcs in Osgilaith, every image of this scene is so hauntingly heartrending. It reminds me of John Woo's favourite scenes, although here, the music is Pipppin's actual singing rather than adapted background music, rendering the tragic mood even more devastating.

Directly opposite in mood is Rohan's charge in the Battle of Pelennor Fields. Even if this mission is, in a way, equally suicidal, the spirit is sky high, radiating dauntless heroism and lust for battle. This scene also reminds me of the legendary battle scene in Spartacus (1960) which is universally recognised as the model in depiction of battle strategies. Rohan's charge in Pelennor Field, no the other hand, exemplifies heroism unsurpassed.

Although ROTK is first and foremost the King's story, we should not forget, in the overall scheme of things, the ring bearers (no typo here because Frodo did acknowledge Sam as a fellow ring bearer in the end of the book). Elijah Wood and Sean Astin (particularly Astin) have played their roles to perfection. Towards the end of the quest, when Frodo's strength was almost fully spent, to hear Sam say "I cannot carry it (the ring) for you, Mr. Frodo, but I can carry you" and not be moved, one will have to be a hopelessly and irreversibly hardened cynic. The background music, incidentally, is "Into the west".

It is certainly a good sign that the general audience worldwide has reacted favourably to the long aftermath following the destruction of the ring, indicated that their capacity to appreciate has not been impaired by the proliferation of Hollywood style slam-bang endings. Viggo Mortensen's line to the Hobbits "My friends, you bow to no one" is delivered with sincerity and conviction. The final scene at the Grey Havens is graceful, touching, stylish. However, there is one shot that I must mention: Galadriel's final enigmatic, alluring, half-smiling glance at Frodo before she disappears into the ship. Cate Blanchett is among the most versatile actresses around today and in LOTR, she is Galadriel incarnate.
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My objective and unhyped view? Stunning. Simply stunning.
bob the moo25 December 2003
Frodo and Sam continue their quest to destroy the ring, led by the untrustworthy Gollum. Meanwhile the rest of the Fellowship prepare for another battle to hold a human city against an onslaught of orcs.

If you check my other reviews you will note that I wasn't a massive fan of the first two films - I loved them, but was not blind to their faults. However, let me just lay my cards out here, I was totally blown away by this film. For the vast majority (and more of that later) the narrative flowed really well where the other two films had struggled to really keep consistent. Here the various strands work well together and, while characters have only brief times to tell stories, on the whole it manages it well. I got the feeling that the film really let rip - it knew this was the ending and it did feel that everything came together in a collection of noise and energy which really made it feel like the final part of a trilogy rather than just a stand alone film.

The one area where the film really stutters (and actually caused people to leave the cinema in annoying numbers) is ironically the place where Jackson is true to the book, and that's the final 20 minutes. There is a clear scene where the film ends, however it then runs for another 20 minutes - which is a mix of scenes that all fade out like they were the end. To Joe Public (ie me!) I would have been happy not to have all the loose ends tied up in the way the book does it - the film should have ended on a high (with the King being crowned etc) but instead it seems to crawl to an end in a way that is not in line with the momentum of the film (if not the whole trilogy!) This problem is minor on the grand scheme of things, but I would rather have left the cinema on my high than be made to wonder `when's this ending? Is this the end now? Oh, maybe this is it now?' - but I do understand why it was done this way.

The cast, as they have been all the way, are excellent. Wood's Frodo changes well during this film while Astin is touching in his portrayal of unerring friendship. Bloom and Rhys-Davis had less to do but came into their own during the battle scenes - adding both action and the odd comic touch (`that still counts as one' being accepted by the audience as a chance to break the tension). Mortensen is the title character and serves it well, with McKellen also continuing his strong role. I could list through the whole cast but I will stick with noting two things. Firstly, both Monaghan and Boyd had bigger and more meaningful roles and rose to them well. Secondly I continue with my belief from the second film that Serkis is the stand out actor of the trilogy. His Gollum is so much more than an effect - he is tragic, fearsome, hateful and funny. Praise of course goes to the special effects for making this character tell so much with an expression but to pretend that the work of the actor is secondary to the character (as opposed the look) is foolish. He deserved one for Two Towers so I hope an Oscar goes his way. It was a shame to not have screen time for Lee but the film works well without him and it was a brave move by the editors.

The special effects do not stand out - and that's a compliment. Even in state of the art movies of late I have been aware that I could be watching a video game. Here I only occasionally noticed that things were clear computer effects, even though the majority of the film was! This is how they SHOULD be used - not as a draw in their own right but as part of the film. Whether it be the massive battle scenes that are spectacular or the animated spider or just the fact that I forget that Gollum is only an effect, I cannot fault it's use of effects or the sheer visual feast that is this film.

I have tried not to gush because there will be plenty of others to do that without me joining them, but it is hard to really fault this film. It is the strongest of the trilogy and brings it all together really well, it is an emotional event more than a film and, if Jackson needs 20 minutes of slow closure to finish it to his satisfaction then I can give him that in return for all the hours of wonderful cinema that he has given me.
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10/10
Pretty much outstanding
TheLittleSongbird9 March 2011
I admit it, I love all three Lord of the Rings films. People may say Return of the King is the best of the trilogy, some may say it is the worst. I personally think Two Towers is the best for its scope and better exploration of some of the characters, but while it is still great Return of the King is better than Fellowship of the Ring.

My only slight disappointment is the ending, it does feel overlong and bloated for me, almost as if there was more than one ending filmed. That said, what does make the ending at least watchable for me is the way it is shot, the marvellous score and the performance of Gollum.

Despite this minor discrepancy, Return of the King is extremely good and in my view one of the better Best Picture winners last decade. Peter Jackson's direction is very impressive here, and the scope is massive and just dazzling to watch. All three films of the trilogy are very well made, but Return of the King defines the term epic. The cinematography is mind-blowing, the scenery is superb, the costumes and make-up are well tailored, the effects are superb and don't distract too much and the lighting is authentic.

The score is phenomenal. Fellowship of the Ring had some ethereal, rousing, haunting and charming themes, whereas Two Towers was somewhat darker and more complex. Return of the King merges these together and the result is a perfect mixture of charm, darkness, etherality and complexity. The story is compelling with themes of friendship, strength and loyalty, the screenplay is well-written and literate and while the film is very long the three hours or so fly by seamlessly. The characters are engaging, Aragorn is even more interesting here than he is in the previous films while Gollum continues to steal every scene he appears in.

The acting is very good. Orlando Bloom(who I can find dashing yet uncharismatic and bland) and John Rhys-Davies are given less to do but do carry their parts very well, and Elijah Wood is likable enough. Sean Astin captures Sam perfectly and provides the heart of the picture, and Viggo Mortenssen is at his charismatic best here. Ian McKellen is perfectly cast, while the design of Gollum is still superb and Andy Serkis is equally phenomenal. I was slightly disappointed by the lack of any Sarauman, but I was more than I was satisfied with the final result.

All in all, an outstanding entry to a great trilogy. 10/10 Bethany Cox
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10/10
Meh it was alright
alexng-3758017 October 2019
Sike this is the movie to rule them all. T Here is nothing much to say other than go watch this masterpiece of a movie. An end to the best trilogy there ever was and probably will be. All the Oscars are well deserved and you will see why when you watch this film
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10/10
The greatest epic ever made
Monotreme0227 October 2005
Warning: Spoilers
The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King is, hands down, among the most spectacular and magnificent films of all time.

A short run-down of the plot: After the battle of Helm's Deep and Saruman's imprisonment in his tower Orthanc, Aragorn, Legolas, Gimli and Gandalf re-group with Merry and Pippin in Isengard. There they learn that the army of Sauron is planning a full-scale attack on the largest city of men - Minas Tirith in Gondor. Gandalf and Pippin ride to Minas Tirith to warn Denethor, the steward of Gondor, of the threat from Mordor. Defenses are built up as the army of Sauron marches across the Pelennor Fields towards Minas Tirith. A distress call is sent to Rohan, still recovering from Helm's Deep. Rohan manage to muster a large army, and set out for Minas Tirith, but the battle has already begun. In the meantime, we continue with Sam and Frodo on their quest to destroy the One Ring.

A major achievement of this epic film is the character development. Gollum becomes more cunning and sneaky than ever, and manages to turn Frodo against Sam, who is desperately trying his best to get his old Frodo back. Merry and Pippin are no longer just a source of comic relief, both of them prove themselves worthy as they are split up for the final battle. We learn about the true bravery and potential of hobbits as Merry helps cut down the Witch King. Eowyn also proves herself in the film, as she defies her uncle and sets out to Pelennor fields with the other Rohirrim, and eventually destroys the Witch King, and makes a very feminist remark while doing so. We learn to loathe Denethor because of his hatred of his last remaining son, Faramir, who really hasn't done anything wrong. The peak of our hatred for Denethor is reached in the scene where he tells Faramir that he would have preferred it if he had died instead of Boromir, his brother. And then, right after that, Denethor sends Faramir into certain suicide, and Faramir immediately accepts the mission he is appointed to, in a final attempt to please his father. And of course, Aragorn learns to accept his fate as the true king of men.

In fact, the character development is so powerful that we actually participate in the character's feelings. We FEEL Frodo's exhaustion and agony as he literally drags himself across Mordor. We feel Sam's pain as Frodo is turned against him. And, just briefly, we participate in Gollum's triumph as he finally gets the One Ring. We are actually happy for Gollum and just for a brief moment, Frodo becomes the bad guy as he tries to take the ring back. All in all, Return of the King contains the most moving, emotional and touching scenes in the entire trilogy, and some of the best acting, especially from Sean Astin (Sam), Elijah Wood (Frodo), Ian McKellen (Gandalf), John Noble (Denethor, he is very successful in adding depth to his character), Miranda Otto (Eowyn), and of course, Andy Serkis (Smeagol, and top-notch at it, just like in The Two Towers).

The battle of Pelennor fields may be THE most spectacular and epic sequence in film history. Unlike Helm's Deep, Pelennor Fields shows the true cleverness of Sauron's army. Orcs are not the only participants; trolls are heavily used in the battle, as warriors and as beasts of burden. The nazgul are very significant in the battle, and while the Witch King didn't actually lead the battle as he did in the book, the nine ringwraiths and their fell beasts still play a key part and do lots of damage in the battle. We see just how powerful the nazgul really are. And of course, the men from the south and their massive oliphaunts play a significant part. While in Helm's Deep we felt triumphant, in Pelennor fields we only feel the triumph briefly, as the Rohirrim make their charge into the horde of orcs and trolls. The triumph in Pelennor Fields almost immediately dissolves, as the Rohirrim are trampled down by the oliphaunts. The battle is won, but we're not happy, we're grieved for all the destruction, all the losses. It's a totally different feeling than Helm's Deep, and makes this battle all the more superior.

Return of the King features the most magnificent visuals in the entire trilogy. Whether they are of Minas Tirith, Pelennor Fields and Osgiliath, Mordor and the slopes of Mt. Doom or the climb to Shelob's cave near Minas Morgul, Peter Jackson really shows us the true impact of these landscapes and images.

Many people may complain about the changes in the movie, especially the significant cut of Saruman from the end, but you must realize that if they would have featured the whole part with Saruman the movie would have continued another hour and a half. Don't fret; Peter Jackson said the scenes will all appear in the extended version of the film. The ending is long enough as it is, and the film continues at least another half an hour after the Ring is no more. The hobbits return to the shire, and Sam marries Rosie. Aragorn meets his fate and is crowned king, and is finally reunited with Arwen. And of course, one of the most moving scenes in the movie, in which Frodo gets on the last ship to the Undying lands with Bilbo, Gandalf, and the last of the elves (Galadriel and Elrond to name a few), and must part with his three hobbit friends for good.

All in all, The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King is one the most fine-tuned, cinematically perfect films ever made, it's absolutely flawless in every aspect. The Lord of the Rings trilogy as a whole is a spectacular achievement in film making history, and all three movies are together, without a doubt, the greatest epic ever made.
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10/10
Brilliant. Simply brilliant
kevin_crighton1 September 2005
Where to start with this masterpiece? Quite simply one of the greatest movies ever made. A fitting end to a stunning trilogy. The acting as it has been is brilliant again. Special mention must go to Sean Austin, for his performance as Sam. In this one he gets his big moment in the trilogy, and he nails it perfectly. His scenes with Elijah Wood (Frodo) on Mount Doom, as Frodo weakens are full of emotion and very powerful. As for the rest of the movie? It has one of the greatest scenes EVER in a movie : the riders of Rohan charging into battle outside Minas Tirith. You simply cannot tell where the real riders end, and the CGI begins. The battles again are well done, and not simply a repeat of the siege at Helms Deep in The Two Towers.

As I said, the acting is again first rate from the entire cast. And it was nice to see Andy Serkis getting his face on screen as Smeagol, before his transformation into Gollum.

By the end of the movie, there were more than a few tears as the boat left the Grey Havens, as the movie ended on a quiet emotional note, after the epic battles before.

I could happily have sat through this again and again. Well done to everyone, both in front and behind the cameras for such a brilliant work, but of course special mention has to go to Peter Jackson. He deserves every award he's received for this.

One last point. If you only seen the theatrical release, then go get the extended version of this film. It's even better!!
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10/10
Awe-evoking.
Pavel-822 December 2003
Warning: Spoilers
**Warning! Mild Spoilers Ahead!!**

Sequels are inherently difficult to make and review review, because on top of the usual expectations for a film, everyone has to deal with expectations created by the previous films. Return of the King faced expectations equal to those of any other film, and like the protagonists at Helm's Deep, fended them off and crushed them.

ROTK begins where "The Two Towers" concluded. As Gandalf said at the end of TTT, "The battle for Helm's Deep is over; the battle for Middle Earth has begun." Frodo & Sam are still moving toward Mordor; Merry & Pippin are hanging out w/ the Ents at Isengard; and the rest of the fellowship has defeated the Uruk-hai at Helm's Deep. With Saruman defeated, the focus now shifts east, where man must make a final stand against Sauron, while Frodo & Sam attempt to destroy the One Ring.

As opposed to the breakneck opening scenes of TTT, ROTK starts slowly, but the early character development in lieu of action sequences is equally enjoyable and enlightening. Thank goodness for the deliberate beginning though, because if the intensity of the latter two-thirds of the film lasted for the full running time, paramedics would have been required on site to assist with heart failures and burst blood vessels, inevitable side effects of the remarkable tension that director Peter Jackson creates.

Speaking of Jackson, let's hear it for him and his crew (pause for standing ovation).

That crew has once again created a mythical world without a trace of fictitiousness. Through the jaw-dropping visualization of massive battles, fortresses, monsters, and more, the cinematography and effects uphold and improve the standard set by the predecessors. Gollum now has more to work with as an "actor", and the digital whiz kids step up to the challenge, blending him into the shots perfectly, particularly in a brilliant reflection scene. More sweeping battle scenes and more gorgeous landscapes are among the stellar shots lensed by Andrew Lesnie. The first shot of Minas Tirith stands to be my movie moment of the year; it will absolutely take your breath away. But the beauty lies in the fact that you scarcely know the difference between beautiful reality and equally natural effects. Outside of a couple apparent blue-screen shots, I never once doubted the veracity of the world of Middle Earth. Considering the enormity of that task, those at WETA Workshop who dazzled us with their talent deserve every award they get over the next couple months.

On the musical front, Howard Shore is back as composer, and his work shines as never before. He provides grand and booming orchestral sounds when battles require them, yet still manages to evoke emotion without lapsing into melodrama during poignant scenes. Mixing and tweaking familiar themes with new melodies, Shore literally hits all the right notes. For the audience, picking out recognizable themes, such that of Rohan or the Fellowship, and hearing how Shore has kicked them into a minor key or altered those last two notes is a thrill. His score is a joy to listen to, both as it seamlessly meshes with the film and on its own. Perhaps there can be no higher compliment.

Also of note is the use of vocal music voiced by the actors themselves, a technique that is new to the theatrical releases of LOTR. Of the two songs, I must mention the first one, which is utilized to stunning maximum effect. In a remarkable scene reminiscent of The Godfather, the song is sung over a scene that cuts between a character who made a decision and the grim consequences of that choice. The music, pictures, and variations in film speed combine for one of the best scenes of the year.

None of the acting work stood out to me, and by that I mean no individual was head-and-shoulders above the rest. I could still make a legitimate Oscar case for at least four cast members (Astin, McKellen, Mortensen, Wood), which is a tribute to the overall strength of the ensemble cast. Everyone fits into and builds upon their roles so very well, and the camaraderie that I've seen glimpses of behind the scenes carries over wonderfully.

The acting serves as a means rather than an end. A la "Band of Brothers", the combined ten hours of film allow time for the characters to be developed and known, an advantage fully used in ROTK, which has more fulfilling scenes packed with emotion where we see decisions being made. Those scenes are what elevate this film to another level. On top of the nonpareil action sequences that shame other "epics", it has a human soul, one that comes to the fore in final act, when the friendships that have been established take center stage. To me, friendship is the core theme of LOTR, and thanks to the fabulous acting of all participants, that theme is displayed in all its glory in ROTK.

WARNING! THE NEXT PARAGRAPH DISCUSSES THE CLOSING SCENES!!

In an unusual but welcome departure from the cinematic norm, the denouement of ROTK lasts a good twenty minutes after the climax. Too many movies, like "Matrix Revolutions", wrap too quickly, leaving fates either unresolved or resolved, but sloppily and unsatisfactorily. Others, such as "Pirates of the Caribbean", do have an extended ending but don't require one and thus fill it with fluff. Here we find a perfect mean. Considering that Jackson and company have over ten hours of film and numerous character arcs to wrap up, twenty minutes is probably the minimum required to let the audience absorb all that has happened. After three or four possible end points, each of which concludes various stories, Sam returns to the Shire and enters his home, closing the door on both the camera and the trilogy. While the finish may seem odd, I consider it perfect. Sam has just come to the end of a fantastic adventure, a journey mirrored by that of the audience. The ending leaves each party back where they began, in a satisfying yet admittedly bittersweet manner. Like it or not, "I'm back."

END OF MAJOR SPOILERS.

Is this film perfect? Probably not. Sure, certain characters like Denehor could have been developed more. But while that knowledge would have been helpful, the time it would have taken to expound on those people likely would not have been worth the knowledge gained. There are a handful of other cardinal sins, such as scarcely showing the ultimate villain and Arwen's near random appearances. But most of those trace back to the original books, not to errors by Peter Jackson. The fact that the entire series works so well without fully disclosing many details speaks to the phenomenal power of Tolkien's books and superb work in Jackson's films. The bottom line is that nobody cares about the flaws because they're entranced by the literary and cinematic magic on display.

Bottom Line: ROTK, the greatest final film in a trilogy of all time (go ahead...name a better one) culminates the best overall film trilogy ever, ten hours of film that transcend the medium. As I told my brother as we reluctantly but contentedly departed the theater, we will never experience anything like this again. EVER. 10/10.
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10/10
The problem with imagination
OboeSaxIII22 January 2005
Overall, I am disappointed, though not surprised, by the negative criticism of this movie. Indeed, this criticism exceeds the offering of alternative viewpoints and the expression of other cinematic possibilities and sinks into the realm of bitter invective. So many armchair critics are currently competing with avid Tolkien, Jackson, and movie fans alike in order to espouse the "true" value of Peter Jackson's landmark movie trilogy. For it is a landmark event in cinema history based on its sheer size and careful attention, praise and evisceration apart. The issue that greatly irritates me and pushes me to write is that many of the negative reviewers on this website have such limited room in their imagination that they cannot conceive of a world outside their own narrow framework. I find that a most sad reality in light of the legacy of Tolkien, Jackson, and all good story-tellers -- to create, to engender, and to nourish the growth of any and all imaginative ventures.

The problem with imagination is that it is an individual event, a unique subjective experience that a single person experiences completely alone. Those who enter into the realm of Art, Fiction, Fantasy, and any degree of Story-telling agree (willingly or no) to take that personal act of creation and primal nature and share it with the community of human beings, each of whom has his or her own imaginative context. It is a bold act of sacrifice, self-confidence, and faith (spiritual, one could argue) to thrust the contents of one's subjective reality into (to borrow from Douglas Adams) the Whole Sort of General Mish Mash. People who do so deserve respect for the mere creative act, the ability to foist forward what they believe is true. From Homer to Bill O'Reilly, this concept of personal creation, what Tolkien called Sub-Creation, is the essence of modern human existence, and we owe it to each other to respect the right to creation history has granted us.

Therefore, in defense of both Tolkien (whom some on this website have maligned) and Jackson (whom many have maligned), I forward that both are imaginative creators in their own right, with different and completely acceptable offerings to the world. Those who cannot tolerate either for "mediocre writing" or "atrocious film-making" should offer forth their literary or cinematic offspring instead of cunningly-worded diatribes of their deep dissatisfaction with all that does not conform to their inner reality. Then, we few who believe in and trust the creative ability of all will be able to see how those critical inner realities (so authoritative in exposition) match up with the rest of our perceptions.

Tolkien was an enormously talented, intelligent, and imaginative man, one whose stories, though unpolished by experience, still managed to attract a worldwide audience and devoted following with their luster. Jackson's movies took the sheen and inherent value of Tolkien's stories and placed it in a visual medium, a place where fans of LOTR could witness and love the events and people they held so dear. Of course Tolkien's story is imperfect; of course Jackson's movies aren't as full as we wish them to be. Their great successes are that they still manage to capture our imagination, to move us, to take genuine truth and isolate it in a world outside our ken, a place where we see ourselves better against a foreign backdrop. Both have created and done so masterfully, with the intuitive grasp that is termed "genius." Tolkien would have had much at issue with Jackson's movies, where plot incongruities, lapsed character development, and visual splendor overshadow the philological and melancholic overtones of his book. Jackson admits he finds much at issue with Tolkien's book, including a lack of clear character motivation, extended and largely extraneous dialog, and heightened language not suited for Hollywood. But Tolkien, despite his perfectionist griping and loathing for any film version of his book, would respect Jackson for continuing the act of creation, for taking his modern-day mythology and spreading it to as many people as possible. Jackson has taken the beauty, the scope, the complexity, the richness, and the loss that permeate Middle-Earth and shared those leitmotifs with the world. Tolkien's characteristic "niggling" would have prevented any such attempt (even Jackson's), but in the end, his heritage lives on in beautifully conceived and executed films.

I do not ask others to stifle their opinions of this movie or any other. Indeed, continue to express the direst and bleakest of your frustrations with the creative power of others, as it may lead you to actually do some creation yourself. Remember though, that the great evils of history, from Satan to Hitler to Sauron, are never capable of creation -- only twisting, mutilating, mocking, deforming, and misapplying. Be open to the vision of others and what they have to offer, especially when that offering comes in the virtuosic shape of Tolkien's writing or Jackon's movies. Look for the True in the Secondary and how it manifests itself everywhere once you recognize it.

This movie receives a 10 from me because it not only maintains incredible faithfulness to Tolkien's themes (and yes, events may deviate in completely separate and dissimilar media) but it asks intelligent viewers to look deeper into the circumstances of its own creation and beauty. From the loyalty of Sam and the weight of epic history to the sacrifice of Arwen and the never-completely-won nature of war, Jackson's movies capture the essence and heart of Tolkien's tale, with the benefit of the director's own imaginative fruit as well. The world owes Mr. Jackson its gratitude, as he has created another world and another reality that so many can, do, and will cherish.

One final word: There are few who would not rather be wandering in a far green country rather than dwelling in their own Circles of the World.
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10/10
There are no words to describe...
Bulleon18 December 2003
How superb 'The Return of the King' is. It is the ultimate fantasy film and a sure bet for all the film awards this year. Director Peter Jackson has achieved the impossible, to make this trilogy and make it so that Tolkien fans will be pleased with it in comparison to the book. The special effects are amazingly good, the actors (Sean Astin who play Samwise Gamgee particularly) are fabulous in their roles and the plot is unflawed, representing the book perfectly. There are parts left out but this was always to be expected. Peter Jackson, on first editing the film had a 6 hour long film that he was happy with. Now, although us Lord of the Rings fans may have been more than happy to sit through that, I don't think others would have been! So inevitably pieces and lines from the book have been taken out. But what we are left with is a film that works perfectly and is a masterpiece. Undoubtedly there will be plenty of extra footage on the extended DVD and so we'll just have to wait for that to see the film in its entirety. It's, arguably and in my own opinion, the best of the three films and one that fans and just movie-goers will love. It's got action, romance and an ending that leaves us satisfied and wanting to see it again and again. Go and see it now!
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10/10
Absolutely Awesome!
TomLong05072 May 2016
It's difficult to process something like The Lord of the Rings: Return of the King: Its very nature defies comparison.

There has never been a cinematic endeavour based on a more daunting...or more beloved...literary work. There have never been motion pictures of the magnitude undertaken by co-writer/director Peter Jackson and his production team. The Lord of the Rings movie trilogy will endure forever as one of the most bold and audacious enterprises in the history of cinema. It is, quite simply, a seminal event. Other projects (for example, a movie filmed in space) are already being considered and may someday be attempted. They may challenge LOTR's logistical complexities (or, at the very least, present a comparable set of obstacles), but it is unlikely the numbers of people involved or the sheer duration of the creative process will ever equal this effort.

Jackson & Company have made believers out of millions of readers who doubted the works would ever enjoy respectable translation into a more "mainstream" media. They have changed the way production models are approached for large-scale projects. They have forged what may well be the premiere visual effects house in the business (WETA Digital). They have raised the bar for all filmmakers to follow, and reminded millions of jaded moviegoers of one simple truth: Love, attention, and genuine dedication to (and appreciation of) one's material can overcome inconceivable obstacles, and always...always shows on-screen.

And now it's over.

With the longest running time of any film in the cycle (early indications suggest next year's extended DVD cut will clock in at over 4 hours long), RotK is an all-out assault on the senses. There are times when it is simply impossible to take it all in: Armies of hundreds of thousands clash beneath towering war beasts as deadly, dragon-like bird-things strafe hapless victims on the ground. Mountainsides erupt with pyroclastic fury as lava flows labour to engulf our heroes. This film is off the hook, gloriously so.

In tone and "feel", RotK rests comfortably between Fellowship of the Ring's penchant for character-centric drama, and The Two Towers' colder, more mechanical "war movie" approach. What we end up with, is, in essence, an emotionally charged war movie sprawling in scale yet intimate in heart, its effects are frequently overpowering.
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