Anthony's Film Review
The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King (2003)
An awesome conclusion to the epic trilogy of our time...
I went into the theater expecting a three-hour sitting as exciting and breathtaking as when I saw the first two installments of the Lord of the Rings trilogy. That's exactly what I had gotten for the price of admission. The Return of the King marks the end of the trilogy as well as a true landmark in cinematic history. It was nominated for 11 Academy Awards and won every single one of them. As Steven Spielburg said while presenting the Best Picture award, "it's a clean sweep." It sure is. The first two films did not win big at the Oscars, but the third one did. In a way, these awards recognize achievement in not just The Return of the King but the Lord of the Rings trilogy altogether.
I like how this movie starts just as much as how the other two films start. This time, we see the hobbit Smeagol as he finds the Ring, becomes corrupted by it, and slowly morphs into Gollum. Like before, he covets the Ring that Frodo wears around his neck. In one scene, he is talking to himself about it. What makes the scene great is that it alternates between Gollum and his reflection in water, as if the two are separate characters talking to each other.
We continue to see Gollum lead Frodo and Sam deeper into Mordor. Their scenes actually incorporate both the original novel versions of The Two Towers and The Return in the King since there are not too many events with Frodo and Sam in the third novel. The film modifies it so that there is equal screen time between the Frodo scenes and the battle at Minas Tirith.
This battle sequence takes up a large part of the film and is ten times more exciting and astonishing as the battle at Helm's Deep in The Two Towers. The Orc army is much greater here, and they are aided by sophisticated battering rams, giant elephant creatures, and the flying Nazgul above. There is tension as allies from all over are rounded up to defend against this overwhelming menace. Every character in this battle can only think of winning, except Denethor who is too foolish and grief-stricken to lead the men in battle. Fortunately, Gandalf the White is more brave and willing to handle the task.
In both plot lines, there is the feeling of despair as their respective conflicts seem impossible. Frodo is no longer the peaceful hobbit from The Shire. Instead, he is a being tormented by the urge to wear the Ring and the exhaustion from the Ring's weight pulling him down. At Minas Tirith, the Orc army is minimally wiped out as they easily advance deeper into the city. The battle in both situations is won only by the determination of an ally with strength still remaining to help finish the job. We could truly feel the suspense, despair, and courage these characters have. The film is truly powerful for this reason.
I have never seen a film so marvelous, outstanding, and grand in scope in my entire life. Peter Jackson deserves the utmost applause for having a real vision for the trilogy. I give him extra kudos for his effort in filming all three installments at the same time to ensure continuity in quality. I honestly do not think anyone else besides Jackson could do a better job in bringing the story to life. I'm sure Tolkien himself would be proud even if he may not have wanted his books to be adapted for film.
This monumental trilogy surpasses even the original Star Wars trilogy and will live on as a classic film for movie lovers to cherish. If there is one definitive film adaptation of J.R.R. Tolkien's Lord of the Rings trilogy, this is it.
For more information about The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King, visit the Internet Movie Database.
In addition, check out my reviews of the following:
The Lord of the Rings Trilogy
The Hobbit Trilogy