Register  |   Log In  |  
Sign up to our weekly newsletter    
Search   
Empire Magazine and iPad
Follow Me on Pinterest YouTube Tumblr
Empire
Trending On Empire
Star Wars: The Force Awakens Teaser Trailer
The Farewell To Middle-earth Issue
Review Of The Year 2014
Subscribe: Get 12 Issues For £25
Buy the perfect Christmas present this year
Farewell To Middle-earth
Full details of our Peter Jackson-edited issue
Reviews
STAR RATINGS EXPLAINED
Unmissable 5 Stars
Excellent 4 Stars
Good 3 Stars
Poor 2 Stars
Tragic 1 Star

FILM DETAILS
Certificate
12A
Cast
Elijah Wood
Ian McKellen
Miranda Otto
Phillippa Boyens
Sean Astin
Viggo Mortensen.
Directors
Peter Jackson.
Screenwriters
Fran Walsh
Peter Jackson.
Running Time
201 minutes

LATEST FILM REVIEWS
Kingsman: The Secret Service
4 Star Empire Rating
Annie
2 Star Empire Rating
Theory Of Everything, The
4 Star Empire Rating
Bringing Tibet Home
3 Star Empire Rating
Kon-Tiki
4 Star Empire Rating



5 STAR REVIEWS
Leviathan
5 Star Empire Rating
Le Jour Se Lève
5 Star Empire Rating
Tony Benn: Will And Testament
5 Star Empire Rating
Nightcrawler
5 Star Empire Rating
Babadook, The
5 Star Empire Rating

Lord Of The Rings: The Return Of The King
The final Oscar-winning chapter of the Lord of the Rings trilogy.


submit to reddit


Plot
The saga continues. Frodo and Sam edge closer to Mount Doom, but the deceitful Gollum plans to lead them into a trap and have the ring for himself. Meanwhile, the armies of Mordor are marching on the Gondorian city of Minas Tirith, where Gandalf finds Denethor, father of Boromir and Faramir, losing his sanity…


Review
And so all good things come to an end. For three years in a row, Peter Jackson has banished our winter blues with the individual instalments of his Tolkien trilogy, effectively shifting the focus of our cinematic excitement from the summer months to the end of the year. But now that his epic has been unveiled in its entirety, what will be the lasting effects of his achievement?

Well, grand-scale fantasy filmmaking is back on the menu, laying down the gauntlet to George Lucas and Star Wars Episode III. Jackson has also proved that notions of risk and ambition needn't be confined to the low-budget, indie end of the spectrum; nor does California have an exclusive stranglehold on groundbreaking special effects.

And then there's the DVD factor. Just as The Lord Of The Rings was upping the stakes in theatres, so too was its DVD release pattern defining what can (and should) be done on disc for major movies.

In particular, the four-disc extended editions seem to have affected the director's thinking as to what he can get away with in his theatrical final cut. Hence the public grumbles from Christopher Lee about the non-appearance of Saruman in this final instalment. While it might have been fair to grant Lee a curtain call, Jackson quite rightly realises that it is Sauron, not Saruman, whose fiery eye encompasses all the narrative strands of the climax.

The Return Of The King marks the first time in the series when Jackson's roots as a horror filmmaker creep through. As the orcs catapult severed Gondorian heads beyond the walls of Minas Tirith, flesh-rotted ghosts draw swords alongside Aragorn and giant spider Shelob stalks Frodo through dark, web-shrouded tunnels, the film pushes the boundaries of its 12A certificate.

And so it should, because the look and tone must necessarily grow darker as the Hobbits near Mount Doom and Mordor's evil hand grips Middle-earth ever tighter.

Character nuances have been crafted over an unprecedented ten hours-plus of cinematic storytelling: from Strider lurking in the shadowy corner to Aragorn rallying the troops; from Merry and Pippin as bumbling fools to stout-hearted, pint-sized warriors. Only Legolas and Gimli seem to have regressed (in screen time at least) to set-piece archer and comedy sidekick respectively. At least Andy Serkis is rewarded for his Gollum voice work with an early flashback that gets his face on screen, as well as warning us that, under the ring's power, Smeagol can be as murderous as Gollum.

Jackson has kept the momentum of the series rolling on and on though the traditionally 'difficult' middle part and 'weak' finale, delivering a climax to the story that's neater and more affecting than what Tolkien managed on the printed page. Some viewers might feel that the director sprinkles some cheese on his extended coda, adding at least one false ending too many (even if he does ignore the book's Scouring of The Shire).

But those who have walked beside these heroes every step of the way on such a long journey deserve the emotional pay-off as well as the action peaks, and they will be genuinely touched as the final credits roll. Yes, the Ring is dead. Long live King Kong.


Verdict
The resounding climax to a landmark in cinema history. But the King has now returned, the story is over and the ships are leaving Middle-earth. Ladies and gentlemen, Elvish has left the building.


Reviewed by Alan Morrison

Write Your Review
To write your review please login or register.

Your Reviews

Average user rating for Lord Of The Rings: The Return Of The King
Empire Star Rating

amazing ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by kris9209 at 23:00, 29 July 2009 | Report This Post


amazing ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by kris9209 at 23:00, 29 July 2009 | Report This Post


Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King

I think that the Lord of the Rings is the greatest movie triligy of all time and should be in every movie lovers collection. Return of the King does not dissapoint on action, plot and characters. The most impressive character being Smegal/Gollum played by Andy Serkis. This film would 100% deserve a 5 star review but it is just tooooooo long and alot of people loose interest after the Minas Tirith scene where Aragon becomes King. The screen goes black and everyone in the cinema got up thinking th... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by Jamiecurthagin17 at 13:58, 31 March 2009 | Report This Post


The Climax Of The Century

In most cases, a trilogy has lost its spark by the third instalment (The Godfather is a prime example) but Return Of The King exceeds the first two. Visually stunning and at a dynamite pace, Peter Jackson was paid his dues for a film series that is to be revered. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by cinerator at 00:57, 10 March 2009 | Report This Post


The Climax Of The Century

In most cases, a trilogy has lost its spark by the third instalment (The Godfather is a prime example) but Return Of The King exceeds the first two. Visually stunning and at a dynamite pace, Peter Jackson was paid his dues for a film series that is to be revered. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by cinerator at 00:57, 10 March 2009 | Report This Post


THE BEST OF THE BUNCH

Where do I begin? Oh god I really don't know. It's simply one the best movies ever. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by !xHoTRoDx! at 15:42, 21 December 2008 | Report This Post


BEST OF THEM ALL and i dont care what any one else thinks.

One of my fav movies.Its weird it won 11 oscars though.AMAZING film. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by JohnPaul1996 at 15:58, 27 June 2008 | Report This Post


this was my least faverite at the cimema as there were so many holes in the script. special edition answers the lot so now its my favurite (se that is) ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by bobbyperu at 23:27, 24 October 2007 | Report This Post


this was my least faverite at the cimema as there were so many holes in the script. special edition answers the lot so now its my favurite (se that is) ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by bobbyperu at 23:27, 24 October 2007 | Report This Post


RE: Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King

If the the lighting of the beacons doesn't get to you then frankly you don't have a pulse - It's absolutely awe-inspiring!!! Plus it has one of most passionate Screen kisses in cinema, (DAMN THAT LIV TYLER!! ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by Sphinx at 21:38, 02 September 2007 | Report This Post


RE: Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King

Absolutley amazing blew my mind when i first watched it still does now i dont think theres many films that can top it . ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by Seth_Gecko at 12:04, 02 September 2007 | Report This Post


RE: Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King

Sublime, moving and IMO the best of the three LOTR films.   One of my favourite films. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by shool at 16:40, 31 August 2007 | Report This Post


Epic, adventurous, beautifull. The Return of the King is the icing on the cake for any last film in a trilogy. And has lived past it's expectation's and HAS taken it's place in epic movie's. Better and bolder than the 1st and 2nd and more emotional. This is the epic all fan's have been waiting for, delivering intence and gigantic battles and oscar award winning acting. The best ever. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by Big Alex at 09:55, 15 August 2007 | Report This Post


RE: Greatest. Movie. Ever.

]i much prefer the other 2 to this one... ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by marky_77 at 21:52, 13 August 2007 | Report This Post


Greatest. Movie. Ever.

Simply the best movie of all time-with no competition. Peter Jackson has now made a fantasy that will have even Disney shaking in their boots, with brilliant battle scenes, amazing special effects, and a successful adaption of the book while coming up loyal to the book. An amazing tearjerking epic tale that makes every scene an experience. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by Pinguman at 10:09, 13 August 2007 | Report This Post


RE:

Far too long and sam and frodos relationship was questionable . Still a very good end to a good trilogy .   ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by Marty5 at 20:48, 11 August 2007 | Report This Post


It's fantastic film a superb piece of stunning eye candy. A landmark film that clearly expresses talent in every area of it's profession. It works on level that no other film has done before. What disappoints me about Empire with this review is that you have claimed many films to be far too long, Pirates 2, Pirates 3 etc. But how can you not say that about this film with a running time of 3 hours 21 minutes! ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by willchadwick at 15:24, 29 May 2007 | Report This Post


Anit-Climax

What a disappointing end to a fantastic trilogy, so much was promised by this last chapter but it is not nearly as good as The Two Towers or The Fellowship of the Ring. Helm's Deep was such a better fight than Pelennor Fields. Also i would like to point out what the hell was the point of so many people dieing including the legend that is Boromir when Aragorn could have just gotten the army of the dead to do it for them. What a stupid ending. That said i know that it wasn't Peter Jacksons fault T... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by ross_thomson2000 at 07:35, 15 May 2007 | Report This Post


RE: The end to the Greatest movie trilogy in history and the Godfather of fantasy films

It is a great film and one of my favourites of all time. It fully deserves its five star review by Empire and yet it is by far the worst conversion of book to film of the three.   Much of the material added by Peter Jackson was very poor indeed, such as the farce of the lighting of the beacon and the cavalry charge on Osgilith. Denethor was potrayed very poorly. The powerful character in the book, a proud man twisted by grief and despair, is gone, replaced by some cartoon vil... More

Posted by JagLover at 16:39, 11 May 2007 | Report This Post


RE: The end to the Greatest movie trilogy in history and the Godfather of fantasy films

I do think it's the worst of the three, but it still rocks ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by Zaphod121 at 15:47, 11 May 2007 | Report This Post


RE: The end to the Greatest movie trilogy in history and the Godfather of fantasy films

L: Peter Griffin L: jonson Never heard of it, must check it out, sounds quite good. 're such a liar Jonson, we all know about you masterbating to the Hobbit threesome at the end. h i]movie. I thought that was some gay dwarf porn (you know how I love that) Did I tell you I had a thalidomide porn star mate? He had a forearm like a baby's cock.  Copyright mattjtemp 2003 ... More

Posted by jonson at 15:18, 10 May 2007 | Report This Post


RE: The end to the Greatest movie trilogy in history and the Godfather of fantasy films

L: jonson Never heard of it, must check it out, sounds quite good. 're such a liar Jonson, we all know about you masterbating to the Hobbit threesome at the end. ... More

Posted by Peter Griffin at 15:13, 10 May 2007 | Report This Post


RE: The end to the Greatest movie trilogy in history and the Godfather of fantasy films

Never heard of it, must check it out, sounds quite good. ... More

Posted by jonson at 15:10, 10 May 2007 | Report This Post


RE: The end to the Greatest movie trilogy in history and the Godfather of fantasy films

Gotta love these films, have finally watched all EE versions back to back which really enhances more trueness to the books. Only problem is how they killed off Saruman in completely the wrong place-he's supposed to be at the Shire at the end!!!! ... More

Posted by pauljthomas at 12:35, 10 May 2007 | Report This Post


RE: The end to the Greatest movie trilogy in history and the Godfather of fantasy films

Brilliant film trilogy even though frodo and sam come across totally gay. But still not as good as orginal Star wars trilogy. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by dantaous at 20:00, 07 May 2007 | Report This Post


Previous pageMore user comments

SUBSCRIPTION OFFERS

SAVE UP TO 69% GET 12 ISSUES FOR ONLY £25
Get the best seat in the house by subscribing to the world's biggest movie magazine today. Save up to 69% and every month you'll get exclusive subscriber-only covers, access to the biggest stars and the best news, reviews and behind-the-scenes reports straight from the set. Click here to find the perfect offer for you


CURRENT HIGHLIGHTS
The Big 2015 Movie Preview
The biggest, best, brightest and sometimes weirdest films of the coming year

James Cameron Talks Tech, Terminators and Avatar Sequels
An extended version of our interview from our Peter Jackson guest-edited issue

Empire's Three Favourite Scenes Of 2014
A hat-trick of moneyshots from the last 12 months

The 32 Funniest Movie Moments Of The Year
2014's side-splittingest scenes

The 10 Best Games Of The Year
2014's top pixel-pushers duke it out for the number one slot

Dan Stevens: The Breakout Star Of 2014
We congratulate The Guest star on his year to remember

The 15 Most Memorable Character Deaths Of The Year
2014’s RIP honour roll

Subscribe to Empire magazine
Get 12 Issues Of Empire For Only £25!

Get exclusive subscriber-only covers each month!

Subscribe today

Subscribe to Empire iPad edition
Get The Empire iPad Edition Today

Subscribe and save maney on annual digital subscription

Subscribe today
Buy single issues

Get 12 issues of Empire for just £25!
Get exclusive subscriber-only covers each month Subscribe today!
Empire's Film Studies 101 Series
Everything you ever wanted to know about filmmaking but were afraid to ask...
The Empire iPad Edition
With exclusive extras, interactive features, trailers and much more! Download now
Home  |  News  |  Blogs  |  Reviews  |  Future Films  |  Features  |  Interviews  |  Images  |  Competitions  |  Forum  |  iPad  |  Podcast  |  Magazine Contact Us  |  Empire FAQ  |  Subscribe To Empire  |  Register
© Bauer Consumer Media Ltd  |  Legal Info  |  Editorial Complaints  |  Privacy Policy  |  Bauer Entertainment Network
Bauer Consumer Media Ltd (company number 01176085 and registered address 1 Lincoln Court, Lincoln Road, Peterborough, England PE1 2RF)