Lord of the Rings The Return of the King
Starring:
Elijah Wood, Sean Astin, Ian McKellen, Viggo Mortensen, Orlando Bloom, John Rhys-Davies
Directed By :
Peter Jackson
Grade
A

At this point, if you don't know what's happened in the previous two films (The Fellowship of the Ring, The Two Towers), you should probably go rent them and spend the six to eight hours it will take to get up to speed. Based on the classic fantasy trilogy, The Return of the King tells the final part of the epic struggle between the denizens of Middle Earth and the evil Sauron, whose all-powerful ring is in the hands of the hobbit Frodo, who has been given the quest to destroy the ring in the volcano that birthed it.

As the movie begins, we're given an extended sequence on how Smeagol came in possession of the ring and how it degenerated his mental state into Gollum. From there, the story moves along many different fronts. On one front, we have Frodo, Samwise and Gollum who are still traveling through Mordor, though the conflict between Sam and the conniving Gollum boil over as Frodo becomes more and more weakened by the influence of the ring. Elsewhere, Gandalf and Aragorn strive to assemble the forces of Rohan to aid the imminent assault on Gondor by Sauron's assemble forces.

One of the featured elements of the story is the interaction between characters, including the close friendship between Sam and Frodo, which goes through many turns as they near the end of their struggle. Another unusual yet effective pairing is that of Gandalf and Merry, who head onto Minas Tirith to seek the aid from the Steward of Gondor. Considering Gandalf's constant berating of Merry's foolishness, their time spent together shows a great evolution of character. To go along with this is the emotional conflict between Faramir and his father, who wishes that Faramir was dead rather than Boromir, his favorite son, and because of that sends his lone surviving son into certain death.

One of the featured themes of the story is countless bravery in the face of immense odds. Many times , you'll see both the hobbits and the humans face harsh odds only to press on. Even when the odds seem to have turned to the worse, the heroes press on. With the way the story is written and the film directed, none of these changes of luck feel forced or clichéd.

When it comes to production values, Return of the King is top-tier and will be setting the bar for the industry for years to come. If you've seen the previous two films (and you should have if you're even considering this one) then you know what to expect. Everything from set design to costuming to the fight sequences is phenomenally performed. Special effects accent what may be one of the most convincingly construction fantasy worlds to date. Once you see the immense fight sequences, you'll be glad for every dollar spent, every nuance realized. The only aspect of the movie production that I felt was off was the editing. It seemed obvious that certain portions of the film were trimmed down to get it into the three and a half hour length. Surely, this will be remedied when all the footage is re-editing for the expected extended DVD release next year.

When it comes to acting, the ensemble cast for this movie performs remarkably. Even the bit parts, including the non-speaking roles are done magnificently. Sean Astin as Samwise Gamgee is stellar as he exhibits a great range that befits the loyal ally. Peter Jackson's direction is once again a beauty to behold. If Jackson doesn't win for best direction this time around, I'll have to have words with some people about their lack of good judgment.

If by now you haven't gotten the idea, understand The Return of the King is a fine film that will charge with excitement during the immense fight sequences and tear at your heart during the emotional character plays, especially the very involving end. Every aspect of this film is done right and even the most embittered Tolkein fan should be pleased with the finale of the filmed realization of the written works.

- - Vane

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