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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 Ian McKellen in 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)
  • Peter Jackson and Viggo Mortensen in The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King (2003)
  • Ian McKellen as Gandalf
  • Elijah Wood in The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King (2003)
  • Liv Tyler in The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King (2003)

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Reviews & Commentary

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User Reviews


9 March 2011 | TheLittleSongbird
10
| Pretty much outstanding
I admit it, I love all three Lord of the Rings films. People may say Return of the King is the best of the trilogy, some may say it is the worst. I personally think Two Towers is the best for its scope and better exploration of some of the characters, but while it is still great Return of the King is better than Fellowship of the Ring.

My only slight disappointment is the ending, it does feel overlong and bloated for me, almost as if there was more than one ending filmed. That said, what does make the ending at least watchable for me is the way it is shot, the marvellous score and the performance of Gollum.

Despite this minor discrepancy, Return of the King is extremely good and in my view one of the better Best Picture winners last decade. Peter Jackson's direction is very impressive here, and the scope is massive and just dazzling to watch. All three films of the trilogy are very well made, but Return of the King defines the term epic. The cinematography is mind-blowing, the scenery is superb, the costumes and make-up are well tailored, the effects are superb and don't distract too much and the lighting is authentic.

The score is phenomenal. Fellowship of the Ring had some ethereal, rousing, haunting and charming themes, whereas Two Towers was somewhat darker and more complex. Return of the King merges these together and the result is a perfect mixture of charm, darkness, etherality and complexity. The story is compelling with themes of friendship, strength and loyalty, the screenplay is well-written and literate and while the film is very long the three hours or so fly by seamlessly. The characters are engaging, Aragorn is even more interesting here than he is in the previous films while Gollum continues to steal every scene he appears in.

The acting is very good. Orlando Bloom(who I can find dashing yet uncharismatic and bland) and John Rhys-Davies are given less to do but do carry their parts very well, and Elijah Wood is likable enough. Sean Astin captures Sam perfectly and provides the heart of the picture, and Viggo Mortenssen is at his charismatic best here. Ian McKellen is perfectly cast, while the design of Gollum is still superb and Andy Serkis is equally phenomenal. I was slightly disappointed by the lack of any Sarauman, but I was more than I was satisfied with the final result.

All in all, an outstanding entry to a great trilogy. 10/10 Bethany Cox

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Did You Know?

Trivia

Bernard Hill appeared on the television series Fox (1980), in which he played the son of Peter Vaughan. Vaughan played Denethor in the BBC Radio adaptation of The Lord of the Rings.


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

The first time Gandalf and Pippin meet Denethor in Minas Tirith, the shadow of Pippin on the ground is pointing in another direction than the shadow of Gandalf.


Crazy Credits

At the end of the credits, a very long list of names from the Lord of the Rings Fan Club whom the authors want to thank to is displayed. The name of Elijah Wood is in that list.


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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