UK Release date: 17th December 2003
Watched on DVD Saturday 13th October 2012.
PLEASE NOTE: THERE MAY BE SPOILERS IN THIS REVIEW.
Although I have seen all of the Lord of the Rings films before, I had never read the books, and so recently I decided to read them. I then thought it might be fun to watch each film as I complete each part of the story. And so, having finished ‘The Return of the King’ we come to the third and last of Peter Jackson’s films. For the record I have to say that I watched the extended version, available on DVD and Blu Ray.
We begin with some back-story on how Sméagol came across the ring; how it corrupted him and turned him into Gollum. Sam and Frodo are still on their way to destroy the ring and Gollum is still steering them along his chosen route into Mordor. A route that may work to his advantage. Meanwhile the rest of the fellowship is reunited briefly at Isengard before being split again when they ride to Rohan. They hear that Sauron’s forces are on the march and they intend to attack Minas Tirith, a city of Gondor. Gandalf takes Pippin directly there after he steals a look at Saruman’s ‘seeing stone’ which is linked directly to Sauron. Gathering their forces, King Theodin and Aragorn set off towards Minas Tirith, only for Aragorn, Legolas and Gimli to leave them and take another path there. Aragorn has had word that he must fulfil a pact made by his ancestor if they are to succeed at Minas Tirith. With the city under siege, all seems lost as Sam and Frodo are split asunder by the cunning wiles of Gollum. I think that’s enough to whet the appetite… for now.
Yet another epic film with tremendous scope; Peter Jackson and the many others that worked on this really did an excellent job! Yet again, the original music by Howard Shore is tremendous another great score with some really great themes, following on from the previous two films with great aplomb. As far as performances go, well everybody did a great job but those that stood out (for me) were; Elijah Wood as Frodo, Ian McKellen as Gandalf, Sean Astin as Samwise ‘Sam’ Gamgee, Viggo Mortensen as Aragorn and Bernard Hill as Theodin (King of Rohan). Also worthy of note were; John Noble as Denethor, Billy Boyd as Pippin, Dominic Monaghan as Merry, Orlando Bloom as Legolas, John Rhys-Davies as Gimli/Voice of Treebeard (briefly), Liv Tyler as Arwen, Miranda Otto as Eowyn, David Wenham as Faramir, Christopher Lee as Saruman, Karl Urban as Eomer and not forgetting Andy Serkis as Gollum/Sméagol.
The book could very easily have been made into two films; there is such a lot that happens and so many twists in the plot that it might have benefitted if that were the case. But we’re not here to speculate I guess; although it does depart from the book in many respects, I did find that most of the important bases were covered. A film which has some tremendous scenes of epic battles but also some very tender and thought-provoking moments as well. For me the most powerful scene was where Denethor has sent his son, Faramir, to his doom and is eating a meal while Pippin sings a haunting ballad. The intercutting of the images of battle with Denethor and Pippin safe in Minas Tirith and the haunting melody over the top makes for a scene that has stayed with me since I first saw it back in 2003. I did find it did tend to drag a bit towards the end, but other than that a very fine film that is a fitting end to a great trilogy.
SteelMonster’s verdict: HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.
My score: 9.4/10
IMDb Score: 8.9/10 (based on 595,849 votes at the time of going to press).
MetaScore: 94/100: (Based on 41 critic reviews provided by Metacritic.com at the time of going to press).
Rotten Tomatoes ‘Audience’ Score: 83/100 ‘Liked it’ (based on 33,010,271 user ratings counted at the time of going to press).
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[in a drinking game]
Gimli: It's the Dwarves that go swimming with little, hairy woman.
Legolas: I feel something. A slight tingle in my fingers. I think it's affecting me.
Gimli: What did I say? He can't hold his liquor.
[Gimli passes out]
Legolas: [to Eomer who is watching] Game over.
Aragorn: We have time. Every day Frodo moves closer to Mordor.
Gandalf: Do we know that?
Aragorn: What does your heart tell you?
Gandalf: That Frodo is alive. Yes. Yes, he's alive.
Aragorn: I summon you to fulfil your oath.
King of the Dead: None but the king of Gondor may command me.
[Swings sword; Aragorn blocks him with the sword Anduril]
King of the Dead: That blade was broken!
[Aragorn takes him by the throat]
Aragorn: It has been remade.
[Aragorn releases the King of the Dead; pause]
Aragorn: Fight for us... and regain your honour.
Sam: [Both are overcome by exhaustion] Do you remember the Shire, Mr. Frodo? It'll be spring soon. And the orchards will be in blossom. And the birds will be nesting in the hazel thicket. And they'll be sowing the summer barley in the lower fields... and eating the first of the strawberries with cream. Do you remember the taste of strawberries?
Frodo: No, Sam. I can't recall the taste of food... nor the sound of water... nor the touch of grass. I'm... naked in the dark, with nothing, no veil... between me... and the wheel of fire! I can see him... with my waking eyes!
Sam: Then let us be rid of it... once and for all! Come on, Mr. Frodo. I can't carry it for you... but I can carry you!
Sam: [reading the book's title] There and Back Again: A Hobbit's Tale by Bilbo Baggins, and The Lord of the Rings by Frodo Baggins. You finished it.
Frodo: Not quite. There's room for a little more.
…and there are so many more!
(Note: All were working at the time of going to press)
Official Site: http://www.lordoftherings.net/