The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King Review
By Shawn McKenzie 12/21/2003
Not long ago, I was hearing a bunch of hype saying that The Matrix Revolutions was the best of that trilogy. Once I saw it, I was severely let down. Before I saw The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King, I started hearing the same hype, and it concerned me. I was so happy when the hype turned out to be true.
The movie begins with the explanation of how the hobbit Sméagol (Andy Serkis) became Gollum. While fishing one day with his friend Deagol (Thomas Robins), he finds the “One Ring.” Sméagol and Deagol fight over it, and Sméagol kills Deagol. Over time, the Ring transforms Smeagol into Gollum. Once that tale is told, we pick up where The Two Towers left off. Gollum (voice of Andy Serkis), still suffering from a multiple personality disorder, is continuing to lead hobbits Frodo Baggins (Elijah Wood) and Samwise Gamgee (Sean Astin) toward Mount Doom so that they can destroy the Ring. Frodo and Sam don’t know that Gollum has an evil plan for them that will hopefully result in him regaining his “precious,” though Sam suspects something after catching Gollum talking to himself. Meanwhile, after hobbit Pippin (Billy Boyd) accidentally activates a crystal ball that convinces the Dark Lord that he’s the ring bearer, wizard Gandalf (Ian McKellen) takes Pippin to safety. They go to Gondor where they meet Lord Denethor (John Noble), the father of Faramir (David Wenham) and his brother Boromir (Sean Bean), who was killed in the first movie. His city is about to be attacked by Sauron’s Orcs, yet Denethor is too depressed over Boromir’s death to care (he would have preferred that Faramir had been the one to die.) King Theoden (Bernard Hill) has agreed to send help to Gondor, and with the assistance of Aragorn (Viggo Mortensen), elf Legolas (Orlando Bloom), dwarf Gimli (John Rhys-Davies), and Theoden’s nephew Eomer (Karl Urban), they head out to fight the Orcs and the Witch-King (Lawrence Makoare.) Theoden’s niece, Eowyn (Miranda Otto), wants to fight as well, so she dresses like a knight, takes Pippin’s best friend Merry (Dominic Monaghan) with her, and joins the army. Aragorn, Legolas, and Gimli enlist the Army of the Dead, led by their King (Paul Norell), to help them fight Sauron’s armies. Aragorn’s elf lover, Arwen (Liv Tyler), decides to live as a mortal rather than be immortal with her father, Elrond (Hugo Weaving), after seeing her future in a vision. All of the good guy armies must fight their enemies and distract the Eye of Sauron long enough for Frodo to destroy the Ring.
I wouldn’t call myself a huge Rings fan, but I did enjoy the first two movies. There were parts that were a little boring, but overall, I liked them. This final chapter managed to keep me interested until the last half hour. After the climax of the movie, the wrap-up dragged on endlessly. The events in the last half hour could have been wrapped up in five minutes.
I’ve also heard complaints about this movie having three or four endings. While it was a little distracting, it didn’t bother me that much (except having to sit through the last “ending.”) I suppose they had to do that because it is how the book was structured.
I think visually this was the best one as well. The continued impressive presence of Gollum and the battle scenes were amazing. I think you will agree with me that the coolest part is when Legolas single-handedly takes out one of the elephant-like Mûmakil.
Rumors are spreading that director Peter Jackson would like to take on The Hobbit, the prequel to the Rings trilogy, after he completes his remake of King Kong. After seeing The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King, I kind of hope he does do it. This one is a butt-number though; it clocks in at almost three and a half hours, and as I said, that last half hour is excruciating. Nonetheless, of the three films, this one is the one I think deserves its eventual Oscar nomination the most.
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