The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King (2003)

PG-13   |    |  Adventure, Drama, Fantasy


The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King (2003) Poster

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.

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8.9/10
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  • Peter Jackson and Viggo Mortensen in The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King (2003)
  • David Wenham at an event for The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King (2003)
  • Sean Bean at an event for The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King (2003)
  • Sean Astin and Elijah Wood in The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King (2003)
  • Peter Jackson in The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King (2003)
  • Sean Astin in The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King (2003)

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Reviews & Commentary

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User Reviews


22 January 2005 | OboeSaxIII
10
| The problem with imagination
Overall, I am disappointed, though not surprised, by the negative criticism of this movie. Indeed, this criticism exceeds the offering of alternative viewpoints and the expression of other cinematic possibilities and sinks into the realm of bitter invective. So many armchair critics are currently competing with avid Tolkien, Jackson, and movie fans alike in order to espouse the "true" value of Peter Jackson's landmark movie trilogy. For it is a landmark event in cinema history based on its sheer size and careful attention, praise and evisceration apart. The issue that greatly irritates me and pushes me to write is that many of the negative reviewers on this website have such limited room in their imagination that they cannot conceive of a world outside their own narrow framework. I find that a most sad reality in light of the legacy of Tolkien, Jackson, and all good story-tellers -- to create, to engender, and to nourish the growth of any and all imaginative ventures.

The problem with imagination is that it is an individual event, a unique subjective experience that a single person experiences completely alone. Those who enter into the realm of Art, Fiction, Fantasy, and any degree of Story-telling agree (willingly or no) to take that personal act of creation and primal nature and share it with the community of human beings, each of whom has his or her own imaginative context. It is a bold act of sacrifice, self-confidence, and faith (spiritual, one could argue) to thrust the contents of one's subjective reality into (to borrow from Douglas Adams) the Whole Sort of General Mish Mash. People who do so deserve respect for the mere creative act, the ability to foist forward what they believe is true. From Homer to Bill O'Reilly, this concept of personal creation, what Tolkien called Sub-Creation, is the essence of modern human existence, and we owe it to each other to respect the right to creation history has granted us.

Therefore, in defense of both Tolkien (whom some on this website have maligned) and Jackson (whom many have maligned), I forward that both are imaginative creators in their own right, with different and completely acceptable offerings to the world. Those who cannot tolerate either for "mediocre writing" or "atrocious film-making" should offer forth their literary or cinematic offspring instead of cunningly-worded diatribes of their deep dissatisfaction with all that does not conform to their inner reality. Then, we few who believe in and trust the creative ability of all will be able to see how those critical inner realities (so authoritative in exposition) match up with the rest of our perceptions.

Tolkien was an enormously talented, intelligent, and imaginative man, one whose stories, though unpolished by experience, still managed to attract a worldwide audience and devoted following with their luster. Jackson's movies took the sheen and inherent value of Tolkien's stories and placed it in a visual medium, a place where fans of LOTR could witness and love the events and people they held so dear. Of course Tolkien's story is imperfect; of course Jackson's movies aren't as full as we wish them to be. Their great successes are that they still manage to capture our imagination, to move us, to take genuine truth and isolate it in a world outside our ken, a place where we see ourselves better against a foreign backdrop. Both have created and done so masterfully, with the intuitive grasp that is termed "genius." Tolkien would have had much at issue with Jackson's movies, where plot incongruities, lapsed character development, and visual splendor overshadow the philological and melancholic overtones of his book. Jackson admits he finds much at issue with Tolkien's book, including a lack of clear character motivation, extended and largely extraneous dialog, and heightened language not suited for Hollywood. But Tolkien, despite his perfectionist griping and loathing for any film version of his book, would respect Jackson for continuing the act of creation, for taking his modern-day mythology and spreading it to as many people as possible. Jackson has taken the beauty, the scope, the complexity, the richness, and the loss that permeate Middle-Earth and shared those leitmotifs with the world. Tolkien's characteristic "niggling" would have prevented any such attempt (even Jackson's), but in the end, his heritage lives on in beautifully conceived and executed films.

I do not ask others to stifle their opinions of this movie or any other. Indeed, continue to express the direst and bleakest of your frustrations with the creative power of others, as it may lead you to actually do some creation yourself. Remember though, that the great evils of history, from Satan to Hitler to Sauron, are never capable of creation -- only twisting, mutilating, mocking, deforming, and misapplying. Be open to the vision of others and what they have to offer, especially when that offering comes in the virtuosic shape of Tolkien's writing or Jackon's movies. Look for the True in the Secondary and how it manifests itself everywhere once you recognize it.

This movie receives a 10 from me because it not only maintains incredible faithfulness to Tolkien's themes (and yes, events may deviate in completely separate and dissimilar media) but it asks intelligent viewers to look deeper into the circumstances of its own creation and beauty. From the loyalty of Sam and the weight of epic history to the sacrifice of Arwen and the never-completely-won nature of war, Jackson's movies capture the essence and heart of Tolkien's tale, with the benefit of the director's own imaginative fruit as well. The world owes Mr. Jackson its gratitude, as he has created another world and another reality that so many can, do, and will cherish.

One final word: There are few who would not rather be wandering in a far green country rather than dwelling in their own Circles of the World.

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Did You Know?

Trivia

The confrontation between Saruman and Gandalf from the second individual book was filmed, but was not included in the final cut for reasons of length and pacing. The scene is included on the DVD.


Quotes

Deagol: Smeagol, I've got one! I've got a fish, Smeag. Smeagol!
Smeagol: Pull it in. Go on. Go on. Go on. Pull it in.


Goofs

When Gandalf rides out, using the light of his staff to ward off the fell beasts so Faramir's team can get back to Minas Tirith, you see that Pippin is on the horse with him, even though there would have been no reason to bring him along. The reason is that this scene was originally filmed to coincide with Gandalf and Pippin's arrival at Minas Tirith, but was pushed further back as the story evolved.


Crazy Credits

There's a text written in maori: Me mahara tonu taatou nga Uri- aapakura noo tuaanuku nei, noo te waaotuu te tu kekehua ana o ngaa Eldarin kua hohouu mai i te Uru-moana. Which is in english: Let us dedicate our memories to the spirits of the Eldar who came to us from the Ocean that lies to the West.


Alternate Versions

In December 2004, an extended edition of the movie was released on DVD, containing 50 minutes of new footage. It a complete re-cut of the movie and so almost every scene contains small changes in pacing, music, framing, etc. Some use slightly altered takes. Major changes are listed below (spoiler warning):

  • a) Some extra dialog in Merry and Pippin's first scene at Isengard, making them seem a little "stoned" from the pipe-weed.
  • b) A final confrontation between Gandalf and Saruman has been restored, including the final fates of Saruman and Grima Wormtongue and a slightly different acquisition of the Palantir.
  • c) The celebration at Edoras has a few extra little snippets, most notably a drinking game between Legolas and Gimli.
  • d) Right before Pippin takes the Palantir, Aragorn enters the Great Hall and has a conversation with Eowyn about a dream she had.
  • e) Extra dialog from Merry when Gandalf and Pippin leave.
  • f) An extra line of dialog when Pippin meets Denethor.
  • g) After Gandalf storms out of the White Tower, he has a long monologue explaining the history of Gondor to Pippin.
  • h) A new scene with Frodo, Sam and Gollum centered on the discovery of a ruined and defaced statue at the crossroads.
  • i) When Pippin and Gandalf are talking on the balcony, an alternate take is used in which Gandalf chokes on the smoke from his pipe.
  • j) After Frodo and Sam begin climbing the stairs, Sam warns and threatens Gollum not to betray them.
  • k) Additional footage when the Orcs cross the river showing they take the Gondorians by surprise.
  • l) More dialog from Faramir and more violence as well.
  • m) A scene in which Merry asks to serve Theoden and Gimli and Legolas wonder what is happening in Gimli's home.
  • n) After Faramir arrives in Gondor, there is a scene where Denethor confronts him for not taking the Ring, which includes an appearance by Boromir.
  • o) An additional scene between Pippin and Faramir before the former swears fealty to Denethor.
  • p) Additional dialog when Faramir is riding out of Gondor.
  • q) Additional lines from Eomer after he tells Eowyn not to encourage Merry.
  • r) An additional line of dialog when Aragorn says farewell to Eowyn.
  • s) More dialog from Legolas when he explains the Paths of the Dead. The Paths of the Dead sequence is heavily revised, including the appearance of thousands of skulls, wispy ghosts, an earthquake and Aragorn's emergence from the mountain.
  • t) We see Gothmog dismounting a warg as the siege of Gondor begins; additional action during the siege of Gondor, including the Orcs using a small battering ram on the gates and cheering on the approach of the huge battering ram, Grond.
  • u) A new scene in which Aragorn attacks the Corsair ships, which includes a cameo by Peter Jackson (he's the one killed by Legolas).
  • v) A scouting report is brought to Theoden on his way to Gondor; a conversation between Merry and Eowyn.
  • w) More footage as Denethor takes Faramir to be cremated alive.
  • x) As Gandalf is riding to rescue Faramir, he is attacked by the Witch King.
  • y) The charge of the Rohirrim is moved to after this scene.
  • z) Another line of dialog before Denethor lights his pyre.
  • aa) More action during the battle of the Pelennor, including a fight between Gothmog and Eowyn.
  • bb) After Eowyn kills the Witch King, Gothmog tries to finish her off.
  • cc) Pippin's search for Merry is much longer and he finds him at night.
  • dd) Eomer finds Eowyn on the field and mourns when he thinks she is dead. A restored healing sequence between Aragorn and Eowyn.
  • ee) A much longer fight among the Orcs in the tower of Cirith Ungol.
  • ff) After Sam rescues Frodo, we see a surviving Orc sneaking off with the Mithril shirt.
  • gg) Aragorn finds a Palantir in the White Tower and uses it to reveal himself to Sauron.
  • hh) Faramir and Eowyn meet in Minas Tirith after Aragorn leaves.
  • ii) Frodo and Sam, wearing a disguise of orc armor, are found and forced to march with a detachment of Orcs while trying to reach Mount Doom.
  • jj) Near Mt. Doom, Frodo and Sam throw away the last of their gear.
  • kk) While resting, Sam sees a star through the clouds.
  • ll) At the Black Gate, the Aragorn, Gandalf, Legolas, Gimli, Pippin, Merry, and Eomer are first confronted by the Mouth of Sauron. (This also induces a goof as his body & horse have disappeared when they retreat from the gate.)
  • mm) More dialog when Gollum (acting as Smeagol) attacks Frodo on Mt. Doom.


Soundtracks

The Edge of Night
Music by
Billy Boyd
Lyrics by J.R.R. Tolkien
Performed by Billy Boyd
Adapted by Philippa Boyens
Orchestration by Howard Shore

Storyline

Plot Summary


Synopsis (WARNING: Spoilers)


Genres

Adventure | Drama | Fantasy

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