Review by: Jack Foley | Rating:
EXTENDED VERSION DVD SPECIAL FEATURES: Discs One and Two:
4 audio commentaries: The Director and Writers, The Design Team,
The Production/Post-Production Team, The Cast.
Disc Three: Peter Jackson intro. 'J.R.R. Tolkien: The Legacy of
Middle-earth' documentary. From Book to Script. Designing and
Building Middle-earth. Design Galleries (2,123 images). 'Home
of the Horse Lords' documentary. 'Middle-earth Atlas: Tracing
the Journeys of the Fellowship' interactive map. 'New Zealand
as Middle-earth' interactive map with on-location footage.
Disc Four: Elijah Wood/Sean Astin/Billy Boyd/Dominic Monaghan
intro. Filming The Return of the King. Visual Effects. Post Production:
Journey’s End. 'The Passing of an Age' documentary. Cameron
ITS been a little over three years since little Frodo and
co set out on a journey to destroy the One Ring of Power, but
what an adventure it has been!
Peter Jacksons Lord of the Rings trilogy has consistently
been an awe-inspiring, adrenaline-pumping, and emotionally engaging
piece of cinema, and the final part in the series, The Return
of the King, rounds things off in spectacular style.
Whereas previous movie trilogies have ended with more of a whimper
than a bang (Matrix: Revolutions,
obviously, and, to a lesser extent, Star Wars: The Return of the
Jedi), The Return of the King continues to run rings around the
competition, delivering a richly satisfying conclusion which refuses
to compromise on a human level, while also providing the required
Its epic cinema at its very best, a labour of love for
all concerned, which translates supremely well to the Big Screen,
so that even some of its more overblown excesses (it sometimes
feels its three hour, 20 minutes running time) wither and die
by comparison to the movies innumerable successes.
Viewers pick up the story not long after the Battle of Helms
Deep (which brought The Two
Towers to its thrilling conclusion), as Frodo (Elijah Wood),
Sam (Sean Astin) and Gollum (Andy Serkis) continue their journey
into the dark heart of Mordor, to destroy the Ring, while the
fragmented Fellowship sets about re-grouping and buying the Hobbits
the time they need to complete the task in hand.
In order to effectively do this,
however, the Fellowship must rally a new army, one capable of
taking on the might of the dark Lord, Sauron, a quest which takes
Aragorn (Viggo Mortensen), into the Paths Of The Dead, with ever-present
companions, Legolas (Orlando Bloom) and Gimli the dwarf (John
Rhys-Davies), in order to do so.
Gandalf, meanwhile, travels ahead to the human stronghold of
Minas Tirith, to warn the caretaker Steward of Gondor (John Noble)
of the impending war, and to protect his companion, Pippin (Billy
Boyd), from the clutches of evil, after he has been exposed to
the power of the all-seeing eye.
There is plenty more going on, too, as father-son relationships
are allowed to run their course, and lost loves fight to become
united against insurmountable odds - none of which is lost to
Jackson, who gives his excellent cast the chance to shine, throughout.
For as impressive, technically, as the Return of the King remains,
it is the traditional approach to story-telling which serves to
make this saga the emotionally-satisfying experience that it is,
providing a set of characters that are easy to embrace, and which
will have you cheering and crying for them in equal measure.
Its difficult to pick out an overall scene-stealer, as
each are given moments to savour, whether its Legolas
crowd-pleasing attempt to bring down a Mûmakil (a multi-tusked,
elephant-type beast) in the thick of battle, or Aragorns
do-or-die rallying call to his troops, as he finally begins to
accept his destiny.
But special praise must go to McKellen, for his expert turn as
Gandalf, as well as to Serkis, for his mixed-up portrayal of Gollum,
and, especially, to Astin, for his heartfelt performance as the
ever-loyal Sam, who, perhaps, is the biggest hero of the piece.
Jackson, too, deserves every prize and plaudit lavished upon
him for managing to complete the tricky task of keeping things
entertaining, while remaining loyal to JRR Tolkiens novels,
and for consistently being able to enthral audiences with one
audacious set piece after another.
If you thought the Battle for Helms Deep was amazing, then
wait til you get a load of the Battle for Minas Tirith,
which is guaranteed to have jaws hitting the floor, or even Frodos
encounter in Shelobs Lair, which finally exposes the level
of Gollums deceit.
Taken back to back, the Lord of the Rings trilogy clocks in at
a little under ten hours, but Jacksons skill is such that
it is a journey that audiences will want to take time and again,
for this is a truly timeless movie which epitomises everything
that is great about going to the cinema.
The Return of the King is, therefore, the crowning achievement
in a staggering trilogy, which deserves to be recognised as the
greatest of all time.