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THE RETURN OF THE KING, the third and final film in Peter Jackson's THE LORD OF THE RINGS trilogy, finds Middle-earth on the cusp of great change. Weary hobbits Frodo (Elijah Wood) and Sam (Sean Astin) venture further into the dark realm of Mordor, guided by the increasingly desperate Gollum (Andy Serkis), the two-faced former owner of the Ring that Frodo must destroy in the fires of Mount Doom. Meanwhile Gandalf (Ian McKellen) and Pippin (Billy Boyd) contend with the deranged ruler Denethor (John Noble) at the once-mighty city of Minas Tirith, as Merry (Dominic Monaghan) joins Éowyn (Miranda Otto) and the Riders of Rohan to hold back the forces of Sauron. Amidst the chaos, Aragorn (Viggo Mortensen) must rise to his destiny, aided by Legolas (Orlando Bloom) and Gimli (John Rhys-Davies) in assembling allies for a massive battle that will decide the fate of Middle-earth. With RETURN, Jackson brings J.R.R. Tolkien's world-renowned tale to a stunning conclusion. As with THE TWO TOWERS, the director deftly weaves various storylines together in one remarkable scene after another. Spectacular visuals complement Jackson's sharp focus on the characters and their emotional battles. While the special effects help to create huge battles and frightening creatures on a previously unseen scale, they never outshine the excellent ensemble of actors who bring the heart of the story home. A truly astounding work of filmmaking, THE RETURN OF THE KING skillfully concludes one of the greatest trilogies in cinema history.
"Return of the King" opens with a flashback of Smeagol (Andy Serkis) getting the ring of power. Doing so proves to be his downfall which turns him into Gollum. The ring's power & significance in "Return of the King" are part of its overwhelming success.
Primarily due to an alliance between Theoden (Bernard Hill), the King of Rohan & the elves, army of Isengard is defeated. Thus, the main threat to Middle Earth is Lord Sauron's (Sala Baker) Kingdom of Mordor. Sauron has his sights set on overthrowing the last free kingdom of men: the realm of Gondor. It's up to the wizard Gandalf (Sir Ian McKellan) to warn the Steward of Gondor, Denethor(John Noble), of Sauron's doubtless attack. As heir to the thron of Gondor, Aragorn (Viggo Mortenson) & Theoden, King of Rohan, ally & form armies against Sauron's. All Sauron needs to take over Middle Earth is the ring of power.
The 2 Hobbits, ring-bearer Sam (Sean Astin) & Frodo (Elijah Wood), guided by Gollum, struggle to make their journey to Mount Doom, the 1 place where the ring can be destroyed.
All 3 epics were filmed simultaneously. "The Return of the King" is an epic of all epics as 11 Oscars, another 98 awards & 62 nominations clearly indicate! Once the director (Peter Jackson) gained mastery of the plot-lines, characters & cinematography during the first 2 parts of this trilogy he was off & running for the gold with the 3rd & best. Certainly the characters enjoy their finest scipts in this 3rd adventure. For instance, instead of just being a voice, Gollum (Andy Serkis) assisted in the production, acting out the scenes of computer generated Gollum with the other actors. Aragorn (Viggo Mortenson), who's about to become the King of Middle Earth turns on his humor. Gandalf's (Sir Ian McKellen's) glorious ride returning home is the most memorable scene of any Gandalf on film. The mischievous pair of Hobbits, Pippin( Billy Boyd) & Merry( Dominic Monaghan) take their roles to new heights & directions. Frodo Baggins (Elijah Wood) becomes more corrupt proving the power of the ring.
Sam (Sean Austin), as the ring-bearer struggling to fulfill the all-important Middle Earth saving quest, gives the performance I've been waiting for him to mature into delivering.
This was Peter Jackson's signature epic. Jackson directed, co-wrote the screenplay, co-produced it & like Alfred Hitchcock, made a cameo appearance as a mercenary on a boat. Jackson could have made the mistake of allowing cinematographer, Andrew Lesnie, go overboard with filming of the stunningly beautiful landscape of New Zealand. Howard Shore provided a great original musical score. Rated PG-13 for intense epic battle scenes & frightening images. 201mins-251mins (extended edition). Filming locations: Featherston, Fernside & Wairarapa, New Zealand.
I'll leave you with my favorite dialogue of the movie:
Pippin(Billy Boyd): I didn't think it would end this way.
Gandalf(Sir Ian McKellen): End? No, the journey doesn't end here. Death is just another path... One that we all must take. The grey rain-curtain of this world rolls back & all turns to silver glass & then you see it.
Pippin(Boyd): What? Gandalf? See what?
Gandalf(McKellen): White shores & beyond, a far green country under a swift sunrise.
Pippin(Boyd): [smiling] Well, that isn't so bad.
Gandalf(McKellen): [softly] No. No it isn't~
It is now at a close. "The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King" has brought the long-awaited trilogy to a grand finish, as epic as one could ever imagine. "The Return of the King" is easily the film that all of us have been waiting for - a sweeping tale of true heroism and chivalry unlike anything I have ever seen before. To say that it blows away the two previous films is only icing on the cake - it confirms that we have witnessed one of the most emotionally overpowering fantasies ever made.
"Return of the King" begins with a flashback to Smeagol (Andy Serkis), a hobbit who discovers his fellow hobbit friend has found the all-powerful ring. Smeagol relishes the ring so much that he fights for it and kills his friend. Slowly, through the years. he is so consumed by its power that he transforms into the ugly, skeletal creature we all know as Gollum. Thus, we are left with other fellow hobbits, Frodo (Elijah Wood) and his best friend, Sam (Sean Astin), as they make their way to Mordor to destroy the ring, the very same ring that Gollum craves. Considering Gollum is along for this journey, he tries to turn Frodo against Sam, claiming Sam wants the ring for himself.
Meanwhile, we return to the heroes of the former battle at Helm's Deep and Isengard from "The Two Towers," which include the powerful wizard Gandalf the White (Ian McKellen), the Ranger and soon-to-be King Aragorn (Viggo Mortensen), Legolas, the elf archer (Orlando Bloom) and Gimli, the feisty, boisterous dwarf (John Rhys-Davies). All four are rejoined with the hobbits, Merry (Dominic Monaghan)and Pippin (Billy Boyd), last seen in battle fighting along with the Ents in Isengard. There is to be one or two more battles to fight, mainly to distract the fiery Eye of Sauron so that Frodo can complete his dangerous quest. After all, the Eye sees all.
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 RETURN OF THE KING is one of filmmaking's most fantastic acheivements. There's nothing I can say that hasn't been said already by millions of people. Each installment of The Lord of the Rings Trilogy is a must-have for any DVD collection or library, and will afford you years of viewing pleasure. As a die-hard fan of reading good old-fashioned books, I can't think of any other instance where I could say "Watching the movie gave as much pleasure as reading the book" besides the Lord of the Rings. Peter Jackson and wife Fran Walsh magically transform one of the most unique stories in history and put together a lush, stirring, wondrous, magical and expansive cinematic classic that must be seen to be believed.
This third installment of the series is full of action, suspense, fierce fighting, brave deeds, true friendship, love, and much more. Will Frodo and Sam make it to the top of Mt. Hood to destroy the Ring of Power? Will Sauron's armies crush Gondor, or will Rohan come to their aid in time? What will become of the sniveling Gollum? Will Denethor come to his senses before it's too late? All these questions and more are answered here in this swashbuckling conclusion. There are new friendships forged, a legendary battle, unexpected allies, and unexpected twists and turns right up until the end. There is not a single element in this movie that I am disappointed in, and can find nothing lacking. This is a definite 5 stars and a must for any DVD collection along with the previous two installments in this masterful series.