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

PG-13 ∑ 210 minutes

Directed by Peter Jackson
Written by J.R.R. Tolkien, Frances Walsh, Philippa Boyens, & Peter Jackson

 · Viggo Mortensen
 · Ian McKellen
 · Elijah Wood
 · Sean Astin
 · Andy Serkis

Review by Arcturus

The ending chapter of the brilliantly executed Lord Of The Rings trilogy comes to a spectacular and moving end with The Return Of The King...




Artistically, Jacksonís portrayal of The Lord of the Rings is successful. With the help and aid of renowned artists such as Alan Lee to design the concepts of various locations, (Alan Lee is the illustrator of the recent editions of Lord Of The Rings books) especially places such as Minas Tirith and Rivendell in Fellowship, Jackson has created a believable and beautiful Middle Earth. The costume designs are perfect, as are the CGI wonders along the lines of oliphants and ringwraiths on their steeds. What makes Return Of The King, and The Lord of the Rings trilogy in general, particularly enjoyable for me is the superb casting. The actors fill their roles perfectly, and I think this is one of the biggest reasons that this film is such a success, setting aside all the groundbreaking and fancy computer technology. Particularly noteworthy performances in this film are Sean Astin as Sam, Andy Serkis as Gollum, and a splendidly mad, brooding portrayal of the Steward King Denethor by John Noble. Aragorn, Legolas and Gimli seem to take a back seat for this film- not really getting actively involved in any major or moving scenes, most of the prime acting seems reserved for the hobbits. The only minor flaws that I can find in the film are the following and mainly related to the storyline itself. Firstly, the scouring of the shire, which is alluded to in the first film (Frodo sees Hobbiton burning in the mirror of Galadriel) is not fully realized in this adaptation. We also are not permitted to see Christopher Lee's character, Saruman, fully dealt with or tied up. Hopefully we will see added scenes in the extended edition that will fill these voids. These niggles aside (and we must also remember that this is Jacksonís work, not Tolkienís, so he is free to alter parts of the plot where he sees fit) this is a near perfect film, part of a tremendous trilogy, and a brilliant cinematic achievement. The only reason I feel the need to criticize the exclusion of Saruman's fate and the removal of the scouring of the shire is that these two events are alluded to throughout the films, and are not wrapped up sufficiently enough in the final chapter of the trilogy.




In terms of entertainment value (special effects, thrills, battle scenes etc.) Return Of The King can hardly be faulted. The story is incredibly well paced and executed; in this respect it even surpasses the books, which often tended to dwell, rather turgidly, upon Frodo and Samís continual journey into peril and danger. Instead of giving us page after page of slow plodding towards Mount Doom over sulphurous plains and chasms, it provides us with the most important scenes in Frodoís final journey, giving us real insight into the theme of friendship stretched to its greatest limit. Sean Astin excels in the role of Sam, masterfully portraying the anger and resentment he feels towards Gollum, whilst balancing it with the helplessness and misery of seeing Frodo deteriorating day after day. The battle scenes are suitably epic and spectacular, the charge of the Rohirrim ranks amongst one of the greatest screen spectacles seen to date. The siege of Minas Tirith was breathtaking- although it did often lapse into farce. In particular a scene involving Legolasí embarking on great acts of daredevilry to single-handedly destroy one of the hulking Oliphant beasts -although entertaining and funny- seemed a bit out of place and too comedic. The action sequences were brilliantly organized and choreographed as every single warrior seemed to come alive and have individuality through the wonder of computer technology. In short, this film is incredibly well-paced in terms of action and excitement and should disappoint none. Even the harshest of critics would be hard pressed to disparage the effect of the film's action scenes.



Jacksonís handsome trilogy finally comes to a close in a grand finale. The most dense and epic of the three books in Tolkienís trilogy is brought to the screen with great attention to detail and impassioned and emotive performances from all the members of cast. Most importantly, though, it retains the heart and soul of Tolkienís work and its message. In my opinion, this film is the most accomplished of the three- Jackson has pulled out all the stops in terms of special effects and CGI rendering- and it is easily noticeable that the quality of this rendering has improved and reached a pinnacle with Return Of The King. Most significantly for fans of the books is the fact that the story hasnít been betrayed or tampered with- well not much. I do feel that the film lacked a little with the absence of another vivid performance of Christopher Lee as Saruman; the audience required at least some closure on the fate of this mighty villain. Despite any scenes which hit the cutting room floor, however, there were obviously some very well-planned out storyboard decisions in the making of this movie. The inclusion of an opening scene explaining Smegolís fall into the clutches of the ring was marvelously conceived and realized. In conclusion, Return Of The King should appeal to the vast majority of moviegoers and it stands as a fantastical and accomplished end to a historic film trilogy.

903 Words ∑ Published: 15 January 2004

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