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

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The Return of Lord of the Rings and Sadly The End

Jan 5, 2004
Review by  
Rated a Very Helpful Review

Pros:Once the ball (palantir) literally gets rolling the story doesn’t stop.

Cons:Too many “mini-conclusions” at the end.

The Bottom Line: Best film in the series for it doesn’t waste time with character development or creating a foundation. Jackson free to create one of the best films seen to date.


It’s been three years now since The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring was released thus beginning a three year arc introducing to audiences perhaps the best in filmmaking and story-telling that I have seen and enjoyed since 1977-1983 release of the Star Wars trilogy or the 1972-1990 release of The Godfather trilogy.

The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King follows The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers and brings to a cinematic end one of the best stories ever written and ever seen, thus far. Both the book and the movie will have fans for lifetimes.

I thoroughly enjoyed The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring writing, “Everyone once in a while a movie comes along that encompasses life that you forget you are actually watching a movie – instead you are watching art”.

I was a little dismayed by the second, The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers thinking it was designed more as prelude to the third and final film. Apparently this ticked off at least one fan for s/he felt it necessary to rate my review Not Helpful.

When I walked into the theater this past weekend to watch the third and final film, The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King I didn’t know what to expect. There was a higher expectation, since I didn’t like the second film. Overall, I walked out of the theater extremely impressed and entertained. It truly was the best of the three.

I will note that both this movie and this review for the most part exist in a realm in which you the viewer and/or reader have seen the previous two movies. I won’t spend an excess amount of time trying to bring you up to speed on what has happen before and will instead ask that if you have not seen the previous two movies to turn off your computer now and watch the first two movies before continuing.

The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King opens with Smeagol/Andy Serkis discovering the ring while on a fishing trip with his pal Deagol/Thomas Robus. We saw this in the first movie (Deagol’s hand grabbing the ring from the bottom of the lake), but what we didn’t see is how Smeagol ultimately got hold of the ring and became Gollum. We know the ring is poison, that it has the power to destroy your inner essence but what we hadn’t seen before is how powerful it was to Smeagol and the length in which he from the very, very beginning went through to ensnare the ring. What he does is a very freighting way to open the movie and came close to bordering on the lines of giving audiences a scare tactic – but that is the power of the ring.

Soon out of flashback, director Peter Jackson gives us a quick reminder of the principals by showing us where all the primary characters are since the end of the second movie. We learn that Frodo/Elijah Wood and Sam/Sean Astin are still on their journey towards Mount Doom the only place to destroy the ring, still being led by Gollum/Andy Serkis (voice). Meanwhile, Gandalf the White/Ian McKellen, Aragorn/Viggo Mortensen, Legolas/Orlando Bloom, and Gimli/John Rhys-Davies reach Isengard and meet Merry/Dominic Monaghan and Pippin/Billy Boyd who are celebrating the fall of Saruman’s Isengard by the hand of Treebeard/John Rhys-Davies (voice) and his tree army. We don’t see or hear from Saruman/Christopher Lee and the only news we learn in the cinematic version from Treebeard is that he has been locked in his fallen tower for eternity.

The movie gets going a bit more once Pippin finds Saruman’s palantir (seeing stone) although Gandalf quickly shields it from view with a cloth. Always being the curious one, Pippin steals the palantir from Gandalf and from which discovers Sauron’s design to destroy Minas Tirithin.

In the first movie, Saruman sent troops out to destroy the fellowship. In the second, it was the battle at Helms Deep that was the climax for the movie. In the third, Minas Tirithin in Gondor is Middle Earth’s stronghold and unlike the first or second movie, time isn’t wasted to build up expectations or anticipations to get us up to that redeeming and awe inspiring moment – the third film starts the battle soon and it doesn’t stop for hours.

Although I’m not an avid fan or a historian of J.R.R. Tolkien, I should at least note that it is here at this point where the third book begins. After watching the movie I went home and consorted my Lord of the Rings books and noticed that the third book begins with Gandalf and Pippin in their voyage to Minas Tirithin already aware of Sauron final design to march towards Minas Tirithin. I can’t help but wonder if I would have liked the second movie more if the first 30 minutes of Return of the King was edited into The Two Towers, thus following the books.

But, director Peter Jackson couldn’t accomplish everything J.R.R. Tolkien put pen to paper in his books. Some scenes may find their way into the Extended version of The Return of the King and others will probably never see the light of the day.

There is so much detail in The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King that I can only discuss just the mere surface. Unlike the second yet closer to the first there’s a return of the hobbits in the movie as both Merry and Pippin have more to do in the third. There’s also quite a powerful and funny scene involving Eowyn/Mirando Otto when she comes to face to face with the The Witch King/Lawrence Makoare and the beast on which he rides. And even a new character Denethor, Stewart of Gondor/John Noble who is also the father of Boromir/Sean Bean and Faramir/David Wenham who mourns and then ultimately goes insane upon learning the death of his son Boromir (his death occurs in the first film) and despises the fact that Faramir is still alive.

There is also a lot of “conclusions” throughout the movie especially at the end. We want to know what happens to Eowyn especially in her relationship with Aragorn. We expect to see what happens to Arwen/Liv Tyler and her desire to give up eternal life for her love for Aragorn much to her father Elrond/Hugo Weaving dislike? And, what about Caladriel/Cate Blanchett does she return during the movie; there was so much power in just her voice alone?

I walked into the theater with a whole mess of questions and I will say that most of them were answered throughout the movies comfortable 3 hour running time. Unlike the previous two there wasn’t a whole lot of new characters introduced and instead the existing characters were more fleshed out. Plus, there were a few surprises that I didn’t expect – the use of ghost warriors and Shelob a creepy looking spider. There's plenty more, but I don't want to give away too many spoilers.

The movie encompassed a lot of different themes, comfortably, although I will admit that I felt the movie did have a few too many conclusions. After the final battle was over, there were I think at least six different “mini-conclusions” to the film, some more emotional than others. The first I understood but as these mini-conclusions drew on I became aware of them thus allowing my mind to make a mental note of their existence. There’s one I remember the most where the film actually fades to black (could be white – I didn’t have my notepad), the music and all sound stops and it feels like the movie has decided to display the “Directed by Peter Jackson” title when finally after the pause the movie begins again and yet again that wasn’t the last mini-conclusion. I respect Peter Jackson’s attempt to conclude many of the characters but I just felt it lasted a bit long and will be interesting to see how he concludes the Extended DVD edition to be released at a later date.

The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the Kings is best filmmaking I've seen in a long while. Everything is in top form, from the beautiful landscapes set in New Zealand, to Peter Jackson's obvious loving care for the story, to the visual and special effects which are just amazing. Although I heard several of the character themes in the music, one of the best come from a song sung by one of the characters in which the actor composed and performed himself.

Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King so much in fact that I may end up watching it again in the theaters. It truly was the best of the three so much in fact that I may end up buying the movie when it is released on DVD instead of waiting for the Extended Edition (we only own the two previous Expended Editions). It was entertaining, funny in parts (especially the banter between Legolas and Gimli, shocking, and sad. I will admit that I cried towards the end, with at least one tear shed that all good things much come to an end.

And, this one has.



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