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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

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


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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

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Your Reviews

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

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


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

Return of the King is magnificent and well deserved its 11 Oscars for 2003. Peter Jackson has demonstrated pure heart and devotion to a colossal project that many did not think could be done. Book devotee's should be thankful and praise these films as they will inspire many people to read Tolkien's works for years more to come. Critics of the film should just keep quiet and appreciate the hard work that went into these films and relish at the charge of 6000 Rohirrim attacking the army of Mordor ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by DrachirFilm at 23:20, 22 January 2007 | Report This Post


Emotional

Very emotional and great. I thimk the best scene was the speach at the black gates given by aragorn. I loved the film and saw it at the cinema three times and then bought on the first day it came out and watched. I dunno if anyone noticed they made great christmas presents the moduls and the DVD's from the movies to lil kids and stuff. I can't believe how much money they made and the amazing thing is they went to every movie company like columbia tristar, touchstone etc... and they turned them d... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by shitmovie at 02:48, 01 September 2006 | Report This Post


The best in the trilogy. Also one of the best films ever made. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by huny_monster at 11:07, 11 June 2006 | Report This Post


Lord of them all

After hating the second movie, i had to give the final a chance. It was superb. In a word, stunning. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by premierbaron at 17:03, 25 March 2006 | Report This Post


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

As the EE's are aimed more at devoted fans, thirsty for more footage, to many 'regular' viewers I can see people thinking ROTK EE as a little drawn out. Certainly as a fan myself I think as mentioned earlier it can drag a little at some points, but then are are other additions that really help to devlop the story and expand upon events which I think are important. The TC's are generally pretty tightly cut IMO and the EE's allow much needed space to breathe. Any area that drag I can forgive in l... More

Posted by adt100 at 16:01, 06 February 2006 | Report This Post


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

The original near-brilliant, but is too long and too drawn out. The EE is more so than this and has a real problem with pace. ... More

Posted by BasilFawlty at 19:52, 05 February 2006 | Report This Post


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

Yeah some of the extra scenes did work for me I have to admit, the mouth of Sauron for instance I still think is very cool.  Its all the added stuff with Frodo and Sam that I think personally makes the extended edition drag. I wish you could pick which scenes you want to keep when watching it that would be a great feature for extended edition. ... More

Posted by Katamarang at 17:28, 04 February 2006 | Report This Post


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

I think he just over-indulged himself a little with the EE. With FOTR about 30 minutes was added which was the ideal amount. It enhanced the story in all the right places and none of it was really 'filler'. TTT had about 40 extra minutes which again enhanced the film and made it more complete, but there were definitely a few redundant scenes and cut have been trimmed by 10 minutes. ROTK is by far the most complex of the 3 films and 50 minutes re-inserted. Many of the scenes were ... More

Posted by adt100 at 15:33, 04 February 2006 | Report This Post


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

L: Katamarang L: Zatoichi ]The only one of the trilogy not improved by its extended edition, which turned out to be a horrible mess for the most part. Which is a shame, 'cause I used to adore this film. Yeah I pretty much agree, the extended version really does not stand up on repeated viewings and it takes about 3 hours to get to the good parts. Its really a shame. sp; I have to disagree. Saruman's death is excellent, as is WiKi's hour and the Mouth Of Sauron. I love all the ad... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by doctorolorinbats1975 at 10:56, 04 February 2006 | Report This Post


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