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

Action, Adventure, Fantasy
Elijah Wood, Viggo Mortensen, Ian McKellen, Orlando Bloom
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.
Visually breathtaking and emotionally powerful, The Lord of the Rings - The Return of the King is a moving and satisfying conclusion to a great trilogy.
  • New Line Cinema Company:
  • PG-13 Rated:
  • IMDB link IMDB:
  • 17 Dec 2003 Released:
  • 25 May 2004 DVD Release:
  • $377.0M Box office:

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Trailer:

Not only the best of the "Lord of the Rings" series, but sets a new standard of epic filmmaking.10/10

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.
They saved the best for last10/10
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
A Brilliant Conclusion10/10

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.
Unprecedented.10/10

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.
The first great cinematic masterpiece of the twenty-first century.10/10
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.