The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King (DVD, 2007, Extended Edition with Movie Pass)

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Would you like me to get you a box office gross over 500M?

Dec 17, 2003
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Rated a Very Helpful Review

Pros:Eowyn's swordfighting. Special FX. Pretty city. Oliphaunts. Sean Astin as Sam (clap clap)

Cons:Several "ending" points, some people "die" like eight times

The Bottom Line: "Samwise the Brave, I wanna hear more about Sam." Well, you certainly will here! This is unprecedented cinematic greatness. See the first two before, if you haven't.


Well, that certainly didn't feel like three and a half hours. Funny, as I was driving home under the grayest of skies, I could hardly recall a smidgen of what I had just seen. It all comes and goes in the blink of an eye, like middle age, which also happens to be one of life's greatest periods.

Not to say that Return of the King is some kind of life-altering experience; not as much as some of the Imdb posters made it sound. But who's more foolish, the one who says it or the one who believes it? Just don't go in expecting to leave the theater "a better person" or anything like that, you know.

Amidst all the harebrained thoughts ringing in my head like cell phones, I still couldn't ignore the fact I was beholding one of the true cinematic wonders of all time. Some of the most impossibly absurd things come to pass in this movie -- giant spiders, annoying screeching dragons, more schizo action from Gollum, siege towers, Oliphants, trolls, and getting framed by bread crumbs. And did the Eye actually show an expression there for a second?

Our wacky and courageous friends haven't changed a bit -- Frodo is still fighting not to roll his eyes back into his head, Sam is still squabbling with Gollum and upholding only the best of intentions, Aragorn is still charming if not a bit louder this time around, Gimli is short and stout and still tossing out funny remarks, Legolas is still quiet and reserved with a few more tricks up his sleeve. Merry and Pippin are still getting into trouble, but Pippin turns out to be a pretty good singer. Arwyn finally gave up on waiting for Agent Smith to plug her back into the Matrix, and Lady Eowyn finally gets to draw her sword (two words -- Watch. Out.)

The special effects were nothing less than spectacular. Distant shots of armies charging toward one another were especially good. The attention to detail is alarming. The Oliphants were spectacular. One of them stomps right on a horse's head as it's running. Another falls victim to Legolas ingenuity, and to add insult to injury, ends up having Legolas use its trunk as a kind of "skateboarding" ramp. Gimli simply replies "Urgh, but that still only counts as one!" So yeah, they're back at keeping the score again. Maybe I was looking at it wrong but some of the sweeping shots of Minas Tirith looked a little fake.

As with The Two Towers, the story is actually several stories happening at once.

Frodo and Sam are still pushing to get to Mordor, where Frodo can finally dispose of that damn ring. And Gollum still follows them around, guiding them but also trying to grab the ring off of Frodo while he's asleep. There's only so much that can be done with that, so you don't see much until they get to the "she" that Gollum alluded to at the end of Towers. Sean Astin unleashes a brilliant performance as Sam this time around, fleshing out his character, taking on possibly an even greater burden than that which Frodo carries himself. The terrain that they traverse is mostly rocks, cliffs and caves; not a whole lot of bright atmosphere like the swamp last time around.

Aragorn, Legolas and Gimli make way for the stone age metropolis that is Minas Tirith, which is about to be massacred by Sauron and his Orc army. You thought there were a lot of Orcs at Helm's Deep? Just wait till you see this. Anyway, it is discovered that an old, long withered army of traitors rests unrestfully within the mountains. Mayhap they could be of assistance? Aragorn has his best "sword moment" upon meeting these guys. Gimli and Legolas didn't get as much attention, but for what time they were around, they were their usual selves. Nothing quite as spontaneous as "Would you like me to get you a box?" but alas, that's life.

The Steward of Gondor is going off the deep end since catching news of his dead son Boromir. Now that only Faramir remains, his father is pretty upfront about his favoritism toward Boromir. Faramir tries to prove himself... well, you'll just have to see that one for yourself. It gets pretty intense, though the emergence of this side-story so late in the second movie makes it pale next to the more prominent happenings in the third.

As others have mentioned, there do seem to be three or four different "ending" points, which start to feel more like afterthoughts. But then, we also get to see where everyone has gone, which lucky girl ends up getting Aragorn, closure for Bilbo, and what courage has done for Sam. I guess I was lucky to have been warned about it, 'cause I didn't think it was all that bad. There were some beautiful moments.

For all the nitpicking I might sprinkle around, the fact is that for three and a half hours, I forgot I even had a life. I love it when that happens.


Recommend this product? Yes

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