The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King (2003)

8.5 Overall Score
Story: 8/10
Acting: 9/10
Visuals: 10/10

A dramatic conclusion to the big-budget trilogy

Too long of an ending

Movie Info

Movie Name: The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King

Studio: WingNut Films

Genre(s): Sci-Fi/Fantasy/Action/Adventure

Release Date(s): December 17, 2003

MPAA Rating: PG-13


Ok, Aragorn, it’s your show now!

The Ring is getting closer to Mordor, and Frodo (Elijah Wood) and Sam (Sean Astin) are in more danger. Now Smeagol (Andy Serkis) is falling to his dark Gollum persona, and Gollum is set to turn Frodo against Sam to get the ring for himself. The Riders of Rohan wait to hear from Minas Tirith and Legolas (Orlando Bloom) and Gimli (John Rys-Davies) under the leadership of Aragorn (Viggo Mortensen) seek out more warriors to fight the upcoming battle. Eowyn (Miranda Otto) battles with her feelings for Aragorn and her fears of not being able to fight like the men while Merry (Dominic Monaghan) finds himself drawn into the battle. A mistake by Pippin (Billy Boyd) puts the Eye of Sauron on him and could give Frodo the advantage he needs.

Directed by Peter Jackson, The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King marks the end of the Lord of the Rings trilogy. The ambitious project started by Jackson is seen to fruition and that is something that Jackson should be proud of.  The film was the winner of every Academy Award it was nominated for which included Best Picture, Best Director, Best Writing—Adapted, Best Art Direction—Set Decoration, Best Costume Design, Best Make-Up, Best Music—Original Score, Best Music—Original Song (“Into the West”), Best Sound Mixing, and Best Visual Effects.


This is it! The big final battle!

The movie, like the previous films, is close to J. R. R. Tolkien’s book. The battle with Shelob actually took place in The Two Towers, but due to a lack of action in the beginning of Return of the King, it was moved to this film. This was a smart move since the previous film was overloaded with action and this scene helped kick the film up.

Another difference between the book and movie is the increased rivalry between Sam and Gollum leading to strife with Frodo. The Frodo-Sam-Gollum triangle is possibly the best part of the film. It shows the strength of the animated character of Gollum and Sean Astin as a supporting actor.


You can do it Frodo!

Probably the biggest difference is the lack of a resolution for Saruman. With all three films, an extended director’s cut was released and this is the cut I recommend seeing. In this Saruman’s story is revolved and much of the course of the movie is set. In The Two Towers, Saruman is seen overrun by the Ents but that was it. In the extended film Saruman is killed by Grima (Brad Dourif). This isn’t what happened in the novel, and Saruman was involved in the scouring of the Shire…this is only hinted to in the film and never occurs.

Though this film won the Best Picture, it is my least favorite of the movies. The reason is the ending…which goes on…and on…and on. You keep thinking the movie is over, but another ending just shows up. The endings are faithful to the story and people have a vested interest in the characters, but come on! It is at least 30 minutes of endings…and that is just too long.

The Lord of the Rings is a monumental achievement. Because of it other movies like Harry Potter were helped…it’s ambition was necessary to complete the project. Other movies like The Golden Compass and The Chronicles of Narnia have failed to complete because they didn’t have the vision (and financial backing) that Lord of the Rings had.  After a brief break, The Lord of the Rings:  The Return of the King was followed by the first film of a second trilogy which adapts The Hobbit beginning with The Hobbit:  An Unexpected Journey in 2012.

[easyazon-block align=”center” asin=”B007ZQAKHU” locale=”us”]

Related Links:

The Hobbit:  An Unexpected Journey (2012)

The Hobbit:  The Desolation of Smaug (2013)

The Hobbit:  The Battle of the Five Armies (2014)

The Lord of the Rings:  The Fellowship of the Ring (2001)

The Lord of the Rings:  The Two Towers (2002)

The Hobbit (1977)

The Return of the King (1978)

The Lord of the Rings (1978)

Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by
Follow me on Twitter @JPRoscoe76! Loves all things pop-culture especially if it has a bit of a counter-culture twist. Plays video games (basically from the start when a neighbor brought home an Atari 2600), comic loving (for almost 30 years), and a true critic of movies. Enjoys the art house but also isn't afraid to let in one or two popular movies at the same time.

Leave A Response