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.