I hoped that it is better than The Fellowship of the Ring and The Two Towers although both of them are perfect. Why? Because it holds a 95% "Fresh" rating on the aggregate review site Rotten Tomatoes and holds a score of 94 out of 100 on Metacritic, it is ranked #9 in IMDb with an average score of 8.9. And it won 11 Oscars in 2004, included Best Picture.
But after I saw it, I thought it can't be better than the first two films. Example, when Aragorn refused Éowyn, she fell in love with Faramir without reason? It is a poor romantic comedy film? Don't make me laugh. I heard the song, it's very sad and it made me to sleep right now. The big problem is the length of the film, 4h23 mins, too long! It's very hard to remember the plot of the film.
But the point make me gave this film 8 out of 10 (Firstly I gave it from 5-7) is the main characters and the battles. I prefer Sam to Frodo. He is the bet performance of the triology. He try to help Frodo although he was removed of the journey by Frodo (exactly Smeagol). This is friendship, the most powerful treasure of the world. And Smeagol, he was killed by his ambition, the Ring. And the battles? It's very fantastic and perfect (but The Two Towers is better).
By the time, I hope that I will look on the bright side.
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As the best fantasy movie ever, 'The Return of the King' has everything you could ever want - great visual style, acting, writing, directing and music! It's better than any 'Harry Potter' movie! It's also far scarier than the other two 'Lord of the Rings' movies! Forget 'Love Actually', 'The Return of the King' is the king of 2003 cinema!
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The plot has not changed in this third installment. Frodo and Sam are trying to get to the land of Mordor to destroy the ring with the (supposed) help of Gollum.
The film's opening is the strongest opening of the entire series. We see Gollum as a hobbit (his name was Smeagol) fishing, when his friend finds a ring in the river. The two fight, and it ultimately ends in Smeagol strangling his "friend." We see years pass as Smeagol slowly transforms into the Gollum. The transformation is grotesque, and to some, maybe even nauseating, but it's wonderfully creepy and truly enjoyable.
Gollum continues to be the most interesting character. With the dark side of him winning over the good side, Gollum begins to get Frodo to think Sam is his enemy. The psychological parts of the first have nothing on these.
The Return of the King is by far the most dark of the three films. Unfortunately, the ending feels way too happy. After the darkness of the film, I was expecting an appropriately tragic ending. Alas, it feels happy in a forced sort of way. And the ending is certainly not assisted by an unnecessary 30 minute epilogue.
The Return of the King is not devoid of dull moments, but it's comparatively faster paced than the other two. There is more action than the other two, though much of it isn't very exciting. The best action segment (and quite possibly my favorite segment of the series) involves Frodo being deceived by Gollum and lured into the layer of a humongous spider. I do have a very slight fear of spiders, so this was especially scary for me, but in a good way. This makes up the most thrilling part of the film, with the possible exception being a fight between Frodo and Gollum near the end for the ring.
There really isn't anything to be said regarding the acting, score or special effects that I haven't already covered in my reviews of the other two Lord of the Ring films. Everything is excellent.
The Lord of the Rings will not go down as my favorite trilogy, or even my second favorite. But this satisfying conclusion makes me look at the trilogy in a more positive light. Through all the flaws of the series, and even this particular series, I suppose it has been pretty epic.
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But Mr. Jackson crushes any such fear. His ''King'' is a meticulous and prodigious vision made by a director who was not hamstrung by heavy use of computer special-effects imagery. A sequence in which a number of signal fires are lighted on a stretch of mountain ranges simultaneously is a towering moment; it has the majesty that every studio's opening logo shot sprains itself striving to achieve.
Mr. Jackson does take his time, but he's not sloughing off here. Rather he is building toward a more than solid conclusion. The grandiloquence that sustained the second installment, ''The Two Towers,'' with its pounding and operatic martial fury -- a movie that actually created a state of siege and left audiences hanging -- can be found here.
Yet by its end ''King'' glides to the gentle bonhomie that opened the ''Rings'' movies, with an epilogue that is tinged with regret. It's been a long time since a commercially oriented film with the scale of ''King'' ended with such an enduring and heartbreaking coda: ''You can't go back. Some wounds don't heal.'' It's an epic about the price of triumph, a subversive victory itself in a large-scale pop action film.
The closest thing to a recap of the previous films, ''The Fellowship of the Rings'' and ''Towers,'' this picture supplies is showing Gollum (Andy Serkis) as a regular hobbit -- Smeagol -- before he was subsumed by his appetite for the glittering One Ring and transformed into a larval creature that looks like the worm Smeagol is shown putting on a hook. It's the One Ring that the hobbit Frodo (Elijah Wood) has to transport to Mordor and destroy it there.
The collaboration of actor and director -- Mr. Serkis and Mr. Jackson -- for Gollum is a frighteningly believable realization of computer imagery as performer. Gollum, whose phyllo-dough skin still masks his abrupt and fully felt changes of heart, is as emotionally rich a creation as any actor's work this year. A dialogue he has with his reflection in a pond courses with invective and self-disgust. All of Mr. Jackson's glib, funny pranks in ''Heavenly Creatures'' and ''The Frighteners'' -- in which we were never supposed to be sure what was going on -- prepared him for a dramatic application of those techniques here. (He also employs his haunted-house dexterity in a formidable sequence with a giant spider.)
Gollum's push-pull, divided between his hunger for the ring and his fears, makes him the most tragic figure in the movie. He preys on Frodo's weakened spirit, looking for the moment he can get the ring away and kill them both. The cursed ring pecks away at Frodo's humanity, as Gollum hammers away at the hobbit's remaining panes of will. The only thing keeping the wizened yet infantile goblin at bay is Frodo's loyal ally and sworn protector, Sam (Sean Astin). By making Gollum as integral a part of this tableau as Frodo and Sam, not only is there an important plot point at stake, but the movie is also frosted with misery.
That mournful note echoes as Aragorn (Viggo Mortensen) and his forces ready for their assault on Sauron's forces, the orcs. Gandalf (Ian McKellen), in a voice sodden with mellow sadness, realizes that Frodo and Sam are on a suicide mission: ''There never was much hope. Just a false hope.'' Sir Ian's eyes move slowly, filled with mystery and pain.
There is a sacrificial cast to the entire endeavor. The dwarf warrior Gimli thrives on this fatalistic bent, and is given a wry heedlessness by John Rhys-Davies; his charm-offense basso rumble is also the voice of the lord of the forest, Treebeard. The pitilessly sure elf warrior Legolas (Orlando Bloom, whose physical élan fills out the role) observes ''a sleepless malice'' watching over them. The hobbit Pippin has a much bigger role in this battle, and Billy Boyd is up to it, allowing Pippin to mature.
Aragorn has the slinky swagger and dreamy stubble that make him look like a legend created by Tolkien, Sam Shepard and Ralph Lauren. Fortunately Mr. Mortensen also has a touch of modesty as an actor, which allows him to take up space as if he belongs in the center of the frame rather than battling the other performers for it.
Pippin's pal, Merry (Dominic Monaghan), joins the fight, too, pulled along by Eowyn (Miranda Otto, touchingly ferocious). Ms. Otto stakes a worthy claim for every moment of screen time, while poor Liv Tyler, as the elf princess Arwen, is limited to dialogue that sounds like a spoken portion of a Spinal Tap album. Cate Blanchett's Galadriel hardly appears at all, and Hugo Weaving, as the elf lord Elrond, arrives just in time to answer a trivia question. (Who is the best-known Australian actor to appear in the ''Matrix'' and ''Rings'' movies?)
The actors all look older than they did in ''Fellowship,'' and it fits the strategy of employing the same cast over an extended period for the films. This decision adds fresh dimension to the lingering sadness, as we can see some of the bloom worn out of their flesh and sadder, reddened eyes on all of them.
Their battle weariness is appropriate given whom they are up against. The orcs and their terrifying behemoths of burden have a surreal confidence in victory; they even turn the phrase ''Release the prisoners'' into a threat. Sauron's misshapen foot soldiers and their collection of mutated animal freaks look as if they've crawled out of the sewers of Love Canal looking for summer work.
''King,'' which opens round the country tomorrow, features more prognostication and exposition than its predecessors. Yet despite all of the setups required, Mr. Jackson maintains tension. In ''Towers,'' the director and his fellow screenwriters, Fran Walsh and Philippa Boyens, secured a spiritual fidelity to the novel. In ''King'' they manage that and far more; the last third is especially condensed, and Aragon's role in the last battle is fleshed out. But the Tolkien search for purity is central to their ''King,'' too. And the movie isn't as exclusionary as the books' implicit Christian forcefulness, which made Middle Earth a re-creation of the Crusades.
''King'' is the product of impressive craft and energy. The ''sleepless malice'' is aligned with controlled chaos; the sizable exertion of concentration from Mr. Jackson is multiplied by his ''Rings'' team, including his cinematographer, Andrew Lesnie; composer, Howard Shore; production designer, Grant Major; and the battalion of other artisans responsible for the costumes, makeup and special effects.
It is evident that the grip of ''The Return of the King'' on Mr. Jackson is not unlike the grasp the One Ring exerts over Frodo: it's tough for him to let go, which is why the picture feels as if it has an excess of endings. But he can be forgiven. Why not allow him one last extra bow?
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I am going to admit that I can understand why some people dislike the franchise for them being too long but they should at least admit that it changed cinema, was filmed amazingly and the acting was top-notch. This may sound quite shocking but I am going to say it anyway because I just love the trilogy so much: I don't even think the extended versions are long enough! Then again, it is saying that or that there should be more Lord Of The Rings films but we do have the two Hobbit films (prequels to the trilogy) coming in 2012 and 2013 so still a bit more upcoming from Middle-Earth.
Sauron's forces have laid siege to Minas Tirith, the capital of Gondor, in their efforts to eliminate the race of men. The once-great kingdom, watched over by a fading steward, has never been in more desperate need of its king. But can Aragorn answer the call of his heritage and become what he was born to be? In no small measure, the fate of Middle-earth rests on his broad shoulders. With the final battle joined and the legions of darkness gathering, Gandalf urgently tries to rally Gondor's broken army to action. He is aided by Rohan's King Theoden, who unites his warriors for history's biggest test. Yet even with their courage and passionate loyalty, the forces of men--with Eowyn and Merry hidden among them--is no match for the enemies swarming against Gondor. Still, in the face of great losses, they charge forward into the battle of their lifetimes, tied together by their singular goal to keep Sauron distracted and give the Ring Bearer a chance to complete his quest. Their hopes rest with Frodo, a tiny but determined hobbit making a perilous trip across treacherous enemy lands to cast the One Ring into the fires of Mount Doom. The closer Frodo gets to his final destination, the heavier his burden becomes and the more he must rely on Samwise Gamgee. Gollum--and the Ring itself--will test Frodo's allegiances and, ultimately, his humanity.
The acting from Elijah Wood as Frodo Baggins was really good but not one of the best from the actors in the series. His acting was just like Mark Hamill as Luke Skywalker in the original Star Wars trilogy. We journey with Frodo and the pain he suffers from the Ring and how easily led on he is by Gollum and we just think 'No! No! No, Frodo!' but I think the main character of that side of the story that goes through the most pain, has the most courage and in my opinion, is a stronger character: Samwise Gamgee. Sean Astin was certainly robbed of an Academy Award nomination for his outstanding performance! He perhaps didn't earn as much credit like some of the other actors did. Ian McKellen is obviously one of Britain's best actors but he shows once again that he is just perfect for Gandalf! He is definitely the best actor in the series and I can't wait to see him return as Gandalf for The Hobbit: Part I and The Hobbit: Part II. Andy Serkis was just amazing once again as Sméagol/Gollum. Andy and Ian were the best actors in the whole trilogy and I can't wait to see them both return again in the two Hobbit films.
Peter Jackson, you legend! Not only did he surprise us all with these landmarks of cinema but he also showed that just because it is fantasy, that doesn't mean it doesn't feel real as you watch it. I think this (and perhaps Star Wars) is the only franchise where I have felt the wrath of realism from film. Yeah, I did notice one or two bloopers but I still found it perfect! You deserved that Best Director Oscar more than any of the other directors nominated despite they did great jobs too. I just love the scripts for the whole trilogy anyway but this one especially was really special because on a lot of occasions, the scenes were almost like written in riddles and poems and it still wasn't flawed in the slightest.
Overall, The Lord Of The Rings: The Return Of The King is an absolutely perfect film that I love in every single way. It was the best film of the 00s as well as, in my opinion, the best film of all time. I cannot wait for Peter Jackson to return to Middle-Earth with The Hobbit: Part I and The Hobbit: Part II (prequels to the trilogy) to bring us some more genius pieces of art, magic, entertainment and excitement.
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And even though this was a great series, for me, this series suffered from what I always thought the problem would be of trying to condense such a full & detailed storyline into three movies. The story left the alot areas for the viewer to fill in, certain ideas seem to almost come out of nowhere since there was almost no room to introduce them & there was quite a lack of hatable villians in these movies (Gollum seem to come closest in this trilogy). Now don't get me wrong, they're kick-ass looking villians & their concepts are great, but because so much is trying to be fit in the limited space of the running times, it doesn't feel to me like anyone one can really jump up & down when the good guys ultimately beat 'em.
However, all of that is still just a minor quibble. Seeing dragons & giant spiders come to life in the manner that they were always meant to, magic being blasted with the power to awe, & giant sword & sorcery war scenes with a sweeping & mythological epic quality that used to be incomprehensible for the cinema in earlier years make up for any sacrifice that was made in order to be able to fit all this stuff onto the silver screen.
Over-all, I was just really happy & satisfied that to finally see a series of the fantasy genre being adapted onto film with the respect & effort of the highest quality.
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The former Fellowship of the Ring prepare for the final battle for Middle Earth, while Frodo & Sam approach Mount Doom to destroy the One Ring.
Viggo Mortensen: Aragorn
Return of the King asserts itself as the final and best of the Rings Trilogy. The Lord of the Rings trilogy as a whole became the most nominated film series in Academy Award history with 30 nominations, surpassing both the Godfather trilogy (28) and the Star Wars franchise(21). It broke another record by winning all the Oscars for which it was nominated; including Best Picture, and Best Director(11 out of 11). The previous record was nine out of nine by The Last Emperor(1987) and nine out of nine by Gigi(1958). Also the third of only three films to win 11 Academy Awards, including Best Picture.
The only film to win more than 10 Academy Awards without receiving a single acting nomination, which is ironic considering the immense cast.
I recall seeing it at the cinema when it first was released, then seeing three more times because of the greatness and inspiration it provides. Being a fan of the book trilogy Lord of the Rings which I read many years ago when I was 14, I did have some minor disappointments at Saruman being absent from the theatrical version and others; including certain Witch King scenes and The Mouth Of Sauron at the Black Gate which I loved in the book. Despite these missing from the Theatrical version, Return of the King had me glued to the screen for its three hour duration; the reasons why?, because in essence Return of the King has so much...majestic set pieces, beautiful landscapes, perfect costumes, dazzling earthy effects, deeply portrayed characters and wonderful storytelling.
I'd like to mention as an example; Peter Jackson maybe bending the rules of adapting a book, yet succeeds in giving the story an elevated boost of significance in cinematic and emotional terms. The example; The amazing conversation between Elrond and Aragorn where he gives him the sword. Although in the book his sword is remade and given to him in Fellowship; this interaction between the two simply is great cinema and really sells the pure adrenaline and emotion of Aragorn's beginning transformation into a King. This greatly shows a lever against the over-whelming evil of Middle Earth, against the Dark Lord Sauron whom seems all but invincible. Peter Jackson cleverly succeeds in giving a message of Hope while using it as a vehicle to move the story forth.
Similarly to it's predecessor The Two Towers; we are treated to separated characters; on one side it flicks to Sam, Frodo and Smeagol as they approach Mordor and Mount Doom then back to Aragorn, Gimli and Legolas trekking towards the Paths of the Dead and preparing for eminent battle. But Return of the King Goes one step further than it's prequels, because then we also have all these other pivotal characters; Gandalf and Pippin at the White City, in all it's magnificence with the maddened Denethor. Theoden and Eomer preparing to help Gondor from the descending armies of darkness. The secretive Eowyn with Merry going to Gondor's aid, even though they are not permitted too. Return Of the King gives so much detail and luscious fantasy and story before we even come to the battle scenes its a great film. Chuck in the battle at the White City, the final climactic onslaught at the Black Gate and the powerful scene where Sam carries Frodo up Mount Doom showing the powerful bond of friendship and vigor, bravery and compassion, then what you have is not only a film which is great but one that is the definition of what can only be described as close to perfection.
''Courage, Merry, courage for our friends.''
The musical score retains its beauty, elegance and power that Fellowship of the Ring and The Two Towers had; Quite simply Howard Shore has made a soundtrack and score on all three films that has unrivalled beauty and depth, that is essentially another invisible character among the cast like any wearer of the ring. When you hear Howard Shore on any Lord of the Rings film, it's like hearing soothing, blaring, powerful, emotional tones from heaven. The score simply is THAT perfect.
The special effects, notably Gollum again, are nothing less than breathtaking, and simply compliment the story; this is Peter Jackson's effect company WETA making not just effects but in essence creative fantastical art reminiscent of Illustrators Alan Lee or Brian Froud whom we're behind the book art.
The battles are monumentally huge and exciting. There are again, 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 Peter Jackson seems to provide anyway. After the greatest moment of the series resolves itself, the aftermath and lengthy goodbye ending provided a breather for not just the characters but the for us, the audiences. Return of the King gives a fond farewell to friends seen on screen for the last three years; and for the cast whom filmed for 7 years if not more, a trilogy which forged friendships on and off screen. It was truly a bittersweet feeling in realizing that there will be no more Rings for 2004. I will miss this talented group and magical escapism although I never tire of experiencing the whole journey again.
At this point of the third book or film, everyone has come to know and love all of the characters and formed emotional ties; thus the stakes have become tremendously high for the characters and this makes viewing even more exciting and enriching. Kingdoms are at their knees, and the only two characters who can save Middle Earth are gradually becoming weaker and weaker. The tension was very high 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 Shelob; An interesting fact; Peter Jackson is arachnophobic and based the Shelob design on the types of spiders he feared the most.)that made this the classic that it is sure to stay for decades to come.
''Hold your ground, hold your ground! Sons of Gondor, of Rohan, my brothers! I see in your eyes the same fear that would take the heart of me. A day may come when the courage of men fails, when we forsake our friends and break all bonds of fellowship, but it is not this day. An hour of woes and shattered shields, when the age of men comes crashing down! But it is not this day! This day we fight! By all that you hold dear on this good Earth, I bid you stand, Men of the West!''
This is the longest of the series, mostly because of the ending that seems to last, albeit slightly warped from the book (The Book had a Shire incident with Saruman at its peak). This was still a good ending, a feel good conclusion; and it allows us to see why Frodo did what he chose to do effectively. 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, the filming for the trilogy nearly 10 years, as all films were shot simultaneously together.
There have been The Extended Editions, The Limited Editions of course, but after that, it's all over. Peter Jackson gave us so much that resulted in being both appropriate and admirable.
Much to my satisfaction the Extended Version of Return of the King capitalizes on the already dazzling theatrical version and dressing it with details sadly missing. What we now have included; The encounter at Isengard with Saruman and Wormtongue, the Witch King breaking Gandalf's Staff and the Mouth of Sauron at the Black Gate. These scenes provide a new scope and insight into The Return of the King and help it stay true to the book. The Extended edition also sees Peter Jackson include more material from the book to do with Faramir and Pippin, Sam and Frodo's mishaps in Mordor and their disguises as Orcs is given clarity and realism. Aragorn looking finally into the Palantir to make himself known and seen to Sauron is particularly captivating and effective. I should also mention there is alot more humour too especially in the Paths of the Dead extended scenes
''That's for Frodo! And for the Shire! And that's for my old Gaffer!''
For me no film or indeed book, can never be too long or too short, and rarely when you get a film as visionary as Return of the King do you want it to end. I know I surely didn't. It's magical and mesmerizing; be it a moving scene with Ian Mckellan and Billy Boyd preparing for fighting at Minas Tirith or Elijah Wood and Sean Astin struggling with the Ring's evil resonance, this film is in Gollums words: very precious.
A true masterpiece from Peter Jackson, Fran Walsch and all crew and cast fulfill a Tolkein vision, Howard Shore provides the perfect Score and adds to the beauty that is Return of the King. Whats more we are treated to some inspirational credits; accompanied by Annie Lennox performing the song Into The West and gorgeous art-work by Alan Lee of the cast in their roles. This is art. This is a story of friendship and hope. This is The Return of the King.
''Home is behind, the world ahead... And there are many paths to tread. Through shadow, to the edge of night, until the stars are all alight... Mist and shadow, cloud and shade, all shall fade... all... shall... fade...''
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Through my eyes, Peter Jackson's much-anticipated and much-glorified The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King is the paradigmatic example of a perfect movie. The cinematic journey that initiated on Boxing Day 2001 and quickly received worldwide acclaim ultimately came to a conclusion with this final instalment. Personally, my passion for the Lord of the Rings trilogy never ceased and to this day I continue to view them frequently.
Just like its two precursors, The Return of the King was met with a congregation of positive reviews and of course recognition from the Oscar committee. I was ecstatic during the Oscar season at the beginning of 2004 when I discovered that the film was recognised with 11 Oscar nominations. Needless to say, I was even more ecstatic when Peter Jackson and his crew walked away with all 11 in their possession. The Return of the King won literally hundreds of awards worldwide and above all it accomplished a Box Office landmark: breaking the $1 billion milestone and becoming just the second film in history to do so. With this film walking away after sweeping the Oscars and sitting at a convincing second on the worldwide box office (as of mid-2008), this is indeed a rare event when it comes to a film offering of the fantasy genre. The technical proficiency is purely the finest that money can buy. Jackson's team at WETA workshop single-handedly created and rendered all special effects shots using software they had designed themselves.
This is by far the longest instalment in the Lord of the Rings trilogy; however it never feels too long. While many will complain (endlessly complain) about the length, I see the film in a completely different light. The way I see it the length is necessary to maintain a sense of fidelity to the novel and to successfully wrap everything up. If anything, I hate it when filmmakers rush things and end up with a missed opportunity on their hands. Peter Jackson had a modest budget and some astronomically amazing special effects on his side, so the work in every other department had to be top notch. Jackson's supreme gift is that of total immersion; the breathtaking lands of Middle Earth remain vibrantly alive. The film's pace may be reasonably slow for some, but the beauty soars with opulent layers of architecture, geography and complex storytelling.
Just like both entries thus far in the trilogy, The Return of the King reinvents the word "epic" completely. Many of the battles throughout the film display rich texture, and awe-inspiring showcases of visual effects. The action is emphatically extravagant and brought to life on an exorbitantly impressive scale! But what separates this from most fantasy epics is the heart at its core. Whenever there's a battle, you'll always find a satisfying serving of emotionally-charged moments featuring intimate scenes with the central protagonists. This coupling of visceral special effects and moving moments that display deep camaraderie is absolutely spellbinding!
This third and final instalment in the Lord of the Rings trilogy starts off almost exactly where The Two Towers ended. One must remember that all three of Tolkien's novels were written to plainly be one enormous piece of literature, and it was his publisher that insisted the novel should be split up the three shorter, more convenient components. In essence, all three additions to the cinematic Lord of the Rings trilogy can be edited together and the transitions would be seamless. The films are identical to the situation with Tolkien's novels: one big chunk of storytelling that's separated into three parts. You can never watch The Return of the King without first watching the initial two parts as this was never meant to be a standalone movie.
The first section of the plot here is concerned with Frodo (Wood), Sam (Astin) and the creature Gollum (a digital character played by Andy Serkis). As they move closer to the dark lands of Mordor, towards the fire of Mount Doom where the One Ring must be destroyed, the ring is becoming a heavier burden for the troubled young Frodo. As the quest perseveres, Frodo is becoming severely tested. Faith has been placed in Gollum to lead the Hobbits to Mount Doom despite the constant mistrust that Sam holds for the former Hobbit. On the outside this seems like a simple physically straining journey, but it's also an emotionally tiring journey on the inside for the three companions. While this story unfolds, the focus also alters to the remainder of the original fellowship. Sauron's eye has shifted to the city of Minas Tirith, the capital of Gondor, as the next target for his rampaging army. The fall of Gondor will mean the end of Men and the completion of his objective to clean Middle Earth of the species. A portion of the original fellowship, along with a horde of newer characters, move to the city of Minas Tirith to help build up defence for the impending attack and possible destruction of the White City. We find Aragorn (Mortensen), Legolas (Bloom) and Gimli (Rhys-Davis) through their more diverse journey into the cursed mountains to summon the legendary Army of the Dead.
This brief synopsis barely breaks the surface of this grandiose, all-round extremely satisfying epic film.
The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King is an unprecedented milestone of contemporary moviemaking. If The Two Towers raised the bar with its epic battles, then The Return of the King knocks the bar cleanly out of the ground! This is so much more than just a simple fantasy epic, in fact this is multi-faceted tale about the strength of character, friendship, loyalty and love. Each shot is sizzling with visual elegance...the special effects are nothing short of breathtaking! Every battle is truly monumental in its sheer scale, as well as exciting and intense. Previously, I briefly touched on the emotionally-straining moments that this film has to offer. The cast pull off these moments beautifully and I was extremely close to tears more than once during the movie. There are several truly moving moments that still give me goose bumps at the simple thought of them. These moments are fuelled by not only the motivating performances, but the score courtesy of composer Howard Shore. The composer was recognised with an Oscar and I plainly cannot quibble with this decision. The music retains the elegance of the visuals, and even makes the epic battles look even grander.
There are only a few new additions to the cast that are introduced here, the most notable being Australian actor John Noble as Denethor who rules Minas Tirith with an iron fist. The Oscar committee barely gave any recognition to the actors (only awarding Ian McKellen with a nomination for Fellowship). I guess with so many people in the cast it'd be impossible to choose one or two for a nomination. Andy Serkis is one member of the cast that deserves particular credit. He's hidden behind digital make-up, but each line he delivers is potent and really hits home. The acting from Elijah Wood is truly a triumph to behold. His performance required a great degree of emotion to portray the ring's power to corrupt. His performance was critical in order to display the ring's influence, which needless to say is absolute. Each character has their own personal demon to confront, and each undergoes their own inner journey. Every cast member does their job stunningly.
The Return of the King has of course been filmed in Peter Jackson's homeland of New Zealand. The Kiwi landscape is vast and beautiful. Whenever one views the film we're taking a step inside the gorgeous land of Middle Earth. Peter Jackson is a visionary, and like all the preceding films the attention and care to every conceivable detail is incredible.
The Fellowship of the Ring is a build up with an even share of action and exposition. The Two Towers is more exposition and build up followed by some action. With The Return of the King, the build up is definitely worth it...every second. The exposition has already been established in the other films, so this film is short on exposition and instead stocks a great supply of action scenes that are truly a cinematic marvel. The battles are lengthy but never suffer from over-length...each second is as intense as the one preceding it. Then the conclusion to the film is wholly satisfying. Some people complain about "too many endings". Okay, so there were many instances when the film could have ended but instead moved onto something else. Fair enough, but I mean this trilogy has already gone for like 9 hours...they can't wrap everything up in a hurry and leave plot holes or stories that haven't been concluded. Instead of rushing everything, each second is lovingly created in all aspects: filming, editing, colour scheme, special effects, acting, scripting, etc. The best part is that this end remains faithful to Tolkien's original novel. Thus the fans needn't worry...for the novel has been properly transferred to the medium of film.
There are far too many pointless and vain arguments between the haters and the lovers of the trilogy. The bottom line is that we're all entitled to our own opinion, and we can't all agree. Thus labelling Peter Jackson's masterpiece as "overrated" only proves that you are too narrow-minded to accept the fact that you are just a component of the minority that disagrees with the majority.
Overall, The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King is the crowning achievement of the fantasy genre. In terms of a conventional fantasy with wizards, magic and mythical creatures, this is as good as a fantasy film can get! Since 2003 this film has been my favourite of all time. In the number of years since the first time I saw it, I have never seen a film that can top the quality and escapism of this masterpiece. All three Lord of the Rings films score top marks from me, which is a rarity when it comes to a trilogy or series. All three films are truly an unfathomably excellent work of art. J.R.R. Tolkien's legacy that was preserved on pages is now preserved on film for the audiences of the contemporary age. The Return of the King is one of the most finely tuned and cinematically perfect films ever made. Winner of 11 Oscars including Best Picture 2003, Best Director, Best Visual Effects, Best Makeup, Best Score among others. Also available in an extended edition that adds 50 minutes to the experience.
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