Movie Review – “Return of the King”

It’s December. That’s right; it’s time for the annual tradition of a gravitationally challenged, distinctively bearded man to share a year’s worth of toil driven by the helpers in his workshops with the world, making millions of people very, very happy. How well does this year stack up against previous years? Read on, or just go buy tickets for every screening you have time to attend.

Cast, Crew, and Other Info

Elijah Wood as Frodo Baggins

Sean Astin as Samwise Gamgee

Ian McKellan as Gandalf

Viggo Mortenson as Aragorn

John Rhyes-Davies as Gimli

Orlando Bloom as Legolas

Directed by Peter Jackson

Premise

The war begun in earlier chapters is resolved with a certain finality.

High Point

The arrival of the pirate ships.

Low Point

The camera work when Gandalf was riding to meet the Nazgul. If the horizontal jitters were meant to simulate a rider, there should have been some vertical jitters, too. If they weren’t meant to simulate a rider, as they probably weren’t as there wasn’t a rider there, then they were just irritating.

The Scores

We haven’t seen a story like this done so well on the big screen, but it’s still an adaptaton. I give the originality 5 out of 6.

The effects were usually excellent. Sam’s Big Battle Moment looked excellent, for example. The only glaring exception was Legolas’ Big Battle Moment, which was remarkably fake at certain points. Still, given the volume of effects in this movie, including several subtle ones I almost certainly didn’t notice because they were done so well, I’ll still give it 6 out of 6.

The story was wrapped up nicely. This one had a complete story, with a beginning, middle, and end, unlike the previous two. Flashbacks to the previous films were very well integrated. I give it 6 out of 6.

The acting was just as good as it was in the other films. These people stepped into their roles ready to play, and it shows. Perfect casting of very good actors helped this film immensely. I give it 6 out of 6.

The emotional response was very strong, particularly through the last hour. I can’t really say more without giving away spoilers. I give it 6 out of 6.

The production was very good, right down to the frenzied battle editing. That one shot above was the only truly irritating bit, although some of the editing felt a little bit off in the timing and pacing. (I suspect this will be fixed onsiderably in the Extended Edition DVD, but that’s not what I’m reviewing here.) I give it 5 out
of 6.

Overall, it’s a strong entry in an excellent series. Go see it now. I give it 6 out of 6.

In total, Lord of the Rings: Return of the King receives 40 out of 42.

17 replies on “Movie Review – “Return of the King””

  1. Alexius says:

    Agree Agree Agree
    Damn Good, Worth Seeing A Few Times (As I Plan To.)

    Also, Why Are You Afraid Of Spoilers? Hasn’t Everyone Read The books?

    Well, I Know People Haven’t. My Girlfriend Hasn’t. I Made Fun Of Her By Telling Her Spoilers On Our Way Into The Premier.

    • dgswensen says:

      Re: Agree Agree Agree
      No, everyone has not. I have, a lot of people I know have, but not “everyone” by any means.

      Way to treat your girlfriend, too, champ.

  2. GusherJizmac says:

    endings
    My low point was the 700 endings. I thought when it finally faded to white, THAT was the end. The audience thought that as well. When it came back in for what would be the last time, the audience laughed at the ridiculousness of all the false endings.

    • TwistyHat says:

      Re: endings

      My low point was the 700 endings. I thought when it finally faded to white, THAT was the end. The audience thought that as well. When it came back in for what would be the last time, the audience laughed at the ridiculousness of all the false endings.

      The weren’t false, it was just people wanting to get out. Those who actually liked the film just saw it as scenes from a film.

    • joe__gee says:

      Re: endings

      My low point was the 700 endings. I thought when it finally faded to white, THAT was the end. The audience thought that as well. When it came back in for what would be the last time, the audience laughed at the ridiculousness of all the false endings.

      Although Jackson didn’t shoot “The Scouring of the Shire, the endings took place almost exactly as they did in the book. :) I can’t blame you though, I think the audience may have needed a better cue than a fade between those scenes, simply to indicate that things weren’t quite over yet.

      A few people left as soon as the final scene at Minas Tirith ended. They really didn’t miss much, but for me I like the closure of Bilbo and Frodo going West, and Sam coming home and saying “I’m back.”

      -Joe G.

      • y42 says:

        Re: endings

        Although Jackson didn’t shoot “The Scouring of the Shire

        He did shoot it, it’ll be on the extended DVDs.

        • GrimSean says:

          Re: endings

          Although Jackson didn’t shoot “The Scouring of the Shire

          He did shoot it, it’ll be on the extended DVDs.

          Most everything I’ve heard has said that he didn’t shoot it at all, and I find it hard to believe that something that significant would be in the extended edition without even being touched on in the theatrical release (there wasn’t even an uprooted tree for crying out loud!). I could, however, see him putting in the reunion with Bill the Pony, which was something that I noticed was completely gone.

        • dgswensen says:

          Re: endings
          Not according to the director’s commentary on both the Fellowship and Two Towers DVDs.

        • joe__gee says:

          Re: endings

          Although Jackson didn’t shoot “The Scouring of the Shire

          He did shoot it, it’ll be on the extended DVDs.

          You’re thinking of the destruction of the Hobbiton sets, which was used in the scene with Galadriel’s mirror. As others mention, in the director’s commentary on the DVD’s Jackson says he never shot the “Scouring of the Shire”.

          With Saruman contained by (and killed by?) the Ents, the scouring of the Shire really isn’t necessary. Someone else pointed out that the +45 minute butt fatigue factor added on by sitting through one more ending would have been intolerable to a cinema audience. :)

          -Joe G.

    • quantaman says:

      Re: endings

      My low point was the 700 endings. I thought when it finally faded to white, THAT was the end. The audience thought that as well. When it came back in for what would be the last time, the audience laughed at the ridiculousness of all the false endings.

      The thing is that a lot of people, especially those unfamiliar with the book, don’t fully realize all the different storylines that need to be wrapped up. SPOILERS Gondor being saved, ring destroyed, Aragorn fulfilling his destiny, the hobbits returning home, and the ship bringing Gandalf, the last of the elves, and Frodo, away. I knew that it would finish with the ship so I was happy to go along through the different endings. Personally my biggest problem with the theatre versions of the films is that they seem to be cut down versions of a full movie (the extended editions), for instance they didn’t really explained why the plantair was the reason why merry had to go away and I don’t believe we saw it again after that scene (I remember Aragorn having to eventually use it in the novel). In a lot of places it feels like you really need the novel to know what is happening at certain points of the movie.

    • dgswensen says:

      Re: endings
      Funny how differently audiences react depending on where you are. I saw it twice in two different theaters, and each time people were rooted to their seats for the whole thing. Many people stayed to watch the entire credits sequence, which is something you don’t see too often.

      I’ve heard a lot of people disliked the movie dragging on after the climax, but I think they put in as much denoument as they needed and no more.

  3. obiwan says:

    High Point
    My high point was when the crowd (which had all those honourable delegates and big important people and all) at Aragorn’s coronation in Gondor all bowed down in respect to the four little hobbits who saved the world. This one scene encapsulated the point of the books, celebrating the triumph of the “little guy” against all odds fighting an impossible battle against an near-invincible enemy.

    • Abednigo says:

      Re: High Point

      My high point was when the crowd (which had all those honourable delegates and big important people and all) at Aragorn’s coronation in Gondor all bowed down in respect to the four little hobbits who saved the world. This one scene encapsulated the point of the books, celebrating the triumph of the “little guy” against all odds fighting an impossible battle against an near-invincible enemy.

      Out of all the parts that moved me to tears, that scene hit me the hardest. I barely held back from completely sobbing when Aragorn said “you bow to no one” and then, AS KING, he bowed before them, and the rest of the people followed. Incredible!

  4. is says:

    awesome incredible movie…
    The battle scenes were the most amazing…

    The only low point I could find was the fact that nobody knows what happened to Saruman… I heard that his death was planned as the first scene near Isengard, but I guess it got cut… I hope the extended edition shows his death…

    One thing I loved about TTT extended edition was the army of orcs being demolished by the forest… It finally gave us a believable place for that army to have gone…

    Third movie though was the best. I thought the ending was spectacular… It gave me the same feeling that the book did when it was over. The feeling of sadness that the elves and other non-humans are fading, and the feeling of joy that good has won and all is right in the world.

    • dgswensen says:

      Re: awesome incredible movie…
      It will be in the extended edition, according to Jackson, he cut it very reluctantly, but it was shot and will be on the DVD.

  5. dgswensen says:

    The Scouring, har-de-har
    I don’t know, Return of the King was good, but what it really needed was another 45-minute battle sequence for the “Scouring of the Shire” at the end… and lots of shots of Hobbiton dug up.

    (Sarcastic jab at people who wanted that sequence in — it’s ok as an idea, but damn, could the audience even begin to take another battle sequence at the end of that movie? After the siege of Minas Tirith, I felt like I’d just run the decathlon.)

  6. obiwan says:

    Thematic
    What I noticed about LOTR is how nicely the music is composed into themes for all the characters, places and events. The Ring has a theme, Mordor has a theme, Rohan has a theme, Gondor has a theme, the hobbits and Hobbiton have a theme. These themes are interwoven nicely into the soundtrack, making it feel very epic (Lucas and John Williams used to be able to pull this off very well with Star Wars IV, V and VI, but the prequels just didn’t have powerful theme music).

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