Welcome to my third and final part of my Lord of the Rings trilogy reviews! Time to review the conclusion of the trilogy, The Return of the King. If you haven't read my reviews on the previous two entries in the trilogy, Fellowship of the Ring and The Two Towers you can now do so. I am reviewing the theatrical cut of this movie.
Plot: Gandalf and Aragorn lead the World of Men against Sauron's army to draw his gaze from Frodo and Sam as they approach Mount Doom with the One Ring.
In 2003, The Return of the King came to theaters and it smashed box office and it won 11 Oscars. As you may have concluded from my previous two reviews, I like The Return of the King better than The Two Towers, but I like it less than The Fellowship of the Ring. More on that later. The Return of the King starts out with origin of Gollum, how he became who he is in the movies. It can be seen that Peter Jackson has yet again implemented some of his horror antics into the Lord of the Rings by seeing the transformation of Smeagol into Smeagol/Gollum. It is yet another show of how powerful the ring is. I thought that was effective, yet unexpected opening to this epic, and I love that Peter Jackson boldly decided that background of one of the key players in the movie should be right in the beginning.
The Return of the King is even more a war movie than The Two Towers, it features two big battles and a skirmish, bigger budget, huge shots of big armies and some more medievalish action. As we were used to by this point, everything is nicely choreographed and filmed, and once again the direction is great. We also get some novelties in the battles, like aerial battles, new creatures to fight against etc. It may have sacrificed some more of the fantasy stuff and the tone is at it's darkest here, but that was just how Tolkien(and Peter Jackson) envisioned it.
The movie features branching sub plots again, which separate then interconnect and so on. We have Aragorn who is destined to be a king, and I would say that this is really his movie(hence the title), we have Gandalf who rides with Pippin to Minas Tirith to help them in defense against Mordor and we have Frodo and Sam who are nearing their goal, Mordor with the "help" of Gollum. This was once again a challenging task for Peter Jackson and co., but they also once again handled all the sub plots pretty well, so it doesn't bog down the movie. The only thing I kinda regret they didn't put in the movie was the death of Saruman scene, which is featured in the extended edition, but not in the theatrical cut. This bugs me, because Christopher Lee as Saruman was so great and because in previous two movies they battled his forces multiple times. But okay, I get it that the runtime of the movie is already big as it is, so they were satisfied with the explanation that he is powerless now.
Either way, every character has been given a chance to shine, so you will find yourself rooting at the screen for every other scene. At couple of scenes I got chills, because of how good it is. The scenery is not as awe inspiring as in the previous two movies, though. Howard Shore is still doing a fantastic job with the soundtrack here.
All of the featured cast in the previous movie is great again, but I want to mention a couple of them who did a terrific job.Viggo Mortensen as Aragorn was fantastic and the character was at his best here. He brings that charisma and presence to the role. Sean Astin as Sam also did a great job, he was also at his best here, because his character showed a range of emotions well, as well as doing heroic things which we as audience just have to love. I really think that some of these actors should have been nominated for Oscars as well. As for the characters, I loved the Witch King of Angmar, I felt he had such a menacing presence.
So, why is this movie better than it's predecessor, but worse than the first part of the trilogy in my mind? It is better than The Two Towers because it features better fighting, more epic moments and it is a conclusion, whereas The Two Towers is a bridge in the series. It is worse than The Fellowship of the Ring because The Fellowship of the Ring feels more like a Tolkien movie, it features Boromir, who is one of my favorite characters, it has the Fellowship traveling and it is badass to see those fantasy tropes, which Tolkien helped invent, as a unit. It's runtime is also shorter, making it more rewatchable. Also, I would suggest to watch the extended edition of this movie, because it features some scenes I think should have made the theatrical cut and they add a lot to the overall story.
All in all, the trilogy features three amazing movies, which I would with all my heart recommend to anybody who likes good movies, they are that good. The Return of the King is an epic and emotional conclusion of the trilogy, and the trilogy itself should earn a place in a time capsule, so it can be seen by future generations. As for this generation, the trilogy can show us that we should strive to do good things, it brings this positivity and we could all use positivity in these times.
Which battle did you like better?
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