The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

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

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Super Reviewer
½ August 8, 2007
The final chapter in this epic story and its an all out conquest that most probably gave all Games Workshoppers a joygasm. The last film was for battle whores where as this film is most surely for the complete war sluts.

There isn't really all that much story left in this final segment, the way Jackson has arranged it. Its merely about the last struggle up to Mount Doom for Frodo and Sam and lots of battles for everyone else. I have watched the extended cut so this way you get to see what happens to Saruman and Wormtongue which is rather stupidly left out of the theatrical version. Without this sequence you basically have no idea where these two guys go.

The only main thing that happens to Frodo and Sam until their important final act is the scuffle against Shelob the spider. Now the CGI has improved somewhat over the course of these three films and finally its looking pretty nice times. The whole battle against this massive spider is really well done and creepy enough to get the hairs on the back of your neck standing on end. I liked the corpses entwined in cobweb and dangling from the cave ceiling and Shelob moves perfectly which is pretty terrifying for any arachnophobics.

Lets not beat around the bush here, this film is about war, full on axe swinging, sword wielding, arrow in the gut wrenching waaaaar!. This is enforced by the fact that half the film centres around the battle at Minas Tirith. Pretty much the same deal as the battle at Helm's Deep but this time its in daylight and with a few more baddies to content with. Personally I actually preferred the Helm's Deep battle with its dark rain swept visuals and the fact the good guys are really pushed right back to the limit.

That's not to say the Minas Tirith battle is no good, far from it, its very good. The design of Tirith is also really nice and unique, dare I say slightly Star Wars-like with that landing platform type section. Its the siege to top all sieges as orcs, trolls, deformed cross breeds and Nazgûl atop their flying steeds led by the Witch King hit the walls of Tirith. Its balls to wall as thousands of orcs slam every side of the mighty Tirith walls with battering rams, catapults and mobile turrets. Can't fail to be impressed by the shear scale of this battle and the wonderful imagination involved, the sight of masses of orcs scaling ramparts whilst huge trolls use the wolf's head to batter down the main gates is pretty darn epic, without trying to sound too cliched.

At the same time you have the smaller battle at Osgiliath where Faramir is getting whipped pretty good but looking heroic in the process (shame he's played by Wenham who always comes across a bit wet if you ask me). Cut back to Tirith and like the previous big battles Jackson likes to swing the odds as the good guys appear to be winning only to be knocked back time and time again. Lucas must have been kicking himself.

Just as you're pausing for breath the next stage of the battle kicks into gear with the Haradrim (who look suspiciously like ancient Persians) on their massive elephant-like war machines. This sequence did feel very much like a rip from 'The Empire Strikes Back' and the Battle of Hoth. Éowyn and Merry charge around on their horse through the legs of these massive beasts of burden just like Luke in his snowspeeder.

The whole sequence is highly imaginative yet possibly one of the worst looking sequences in the film. This is where the dreaded bluescreen issue raises its head again folks. It doesn't really look much better than the quality of the speederbike sequence on Endor in ROTJ, its very obvious. All the CGI horses look a bit jerky, especially when they are tossed in the air and the fact that Éowyn is able to simple take down one these ginormous creatures merely by slashing its tree trunk like legs with a puny sword is stretching it.

The sequence where Legolas jumps onto one elephant (I'll call it that for now) via its tusk then proceeds to leap around its body like a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle cutting all the straps and harnesses whilst killing every Haradrim warrior on board, then killing the elephant, then calmly sliding down the tusk to safety was completely not needed and horrible to watch. Both in terms of the awful CGI and the over the top, glossy action movie conception of it. Things like that can spoil a perfectly good sequence.

The only other sequence I must moan about is the army of Dead. Now this has had some complaints and rightly so to be frank. You have this massive scale war where the good guys are on the brink of defeat, its top notch entertainment and keeping you poised on the edge of your seat. Then up pops Aragorn and his new army of ghostly mates who promptly wipe out every bad guy within minutes, that's it, done, game over, finito and the good guys win.

This kinda ruins the climax of this grand war to beat all wars. It also leads you to think, why the hell didn't they just do this in the first place? Elrond could have given Aragorn the sword Andúril right from day one and they could have gotten the help of the ghost army to wipe out all the bad guys. This would have spared all this heartache and death surely, ah what do I know.

To be fair apart from that most of the effects are much better in this film, well gotta over look the dodgy CGI horses. The Witch King looked nicely evil and his flying steed always did look good, Shame he had such a weak ass death. The final part of the film on Mount Doom is a excellent visual feast and is a much better looking volcano/lava sequence than Lucas offered in Episode III. Boy does it look really hot in Mount Doom! really impressed with the visuals for this part of the film. The design work on such simple things such as the jagged knife like rocks that project from the ground around the base of Mount Doom look awesome, almost Giger-esq.

Gollum looks much tighter and sharper in the whole film, the fire in his eyes throughout this emotionally draining finale is near pixel perfect. Finally the scrawny creature actually looks right against his live action companions. I must admit despite the fact I was sick to death of seeing Wood's huge teary puppy dog eyes in this film he and Astin do deliver the pain and anguish of this scene to the viewer in a first class parcel performance.

Of course having lots of war also means some magical moments of dialog delivery from the cast, there are some good emotional hooks here. The sequence where Pippin sings to Denethor as his last son Faramir surges towards certain death in a last ditch cavalry charge of Osgiliath is haunting and reminds me of some proper historical epics. Théoden's rousing final speech as his Rohirrim army sits perched on the brow of a hill ready to tear down towards the massive waiting orc horde (William Wallace eat your heart out. I actually believe riding down the front line and tapping every mans spear before a cavalry charge is accurate, I think).

Of course this could only be topped by the speech from Aragorn to his last remaining men at the Black Gate. Then with the knowledge that Frodo appears to be dead and facing the end he turns and sprints towards his unknown fate only to be followed by his friends, one last glorious push. 'Once more unto the breach, dear friends once more!' is what came to mind at this point.

The film is a bum number can't deny that, it feels like an age for the film to finally wrap up!. I don't think I've ever seen so much fighting in one film either, its none stop virtually. Admittedly it lacks the in-depth character building and dark intensity of the first film or the story development of the second, its more of an all out free fall Dungeons & Dragons style.

Would Tolkien be happy with this trilogy? I'm sure he would have been despite much alterations and bits cut out. The story is so deep it may be impossible to film it completely. The first film is probably the best for story, atmosphere and lore, whilst the second is rather dull apart from Helm's Deep at the end. Overall I liked this third film even if it did feel a bit like a toy merchandise dream and almost TOO big at times if that makes any sense. I think I was battle weary at the end of it all.

The end?
Super Reviewer
June 24, 2007
A thrilling final chapter to the Lord of the Rings trilogy concerning the epic conclusion to Peter Jackson's enthralling look at temptation, greed, power, and good vs. evil. This is a glorious final chapter. From Gollum's dance of glee at the foot of Mount Doom, to the final battle sequence against the orcs, Peter Jackson stuffs this film with memorable scenes and unforgettable landscapes that fit his epic scope. Although not the best in the trilogy (that belongs to 'Two Towers'), definitely a fitting conclusion to a decorated series.
Super Reviewer
May 25, 2013
Wonderful on every level. Love the characters and special effects. One of the biggest, most massive battle scenes ever put on the silver screen. A great end to a monumental epic.
Super Reviewer
September 14, 2007
I think that almost everything that can be said about this trilogy has been said already, but still I will try. There are so many films that destroyed the beauty and perfection of the novels they have been built upon, not this one. In front of an amazingly beautiful scenery, Peter Jackson was able to create a fantasy-movie, which unlike so many others before did not deal with old clichés and thus is far away from any trash-movie a lot of people had expected it to be beforehand.

Although I am sure that the cast of this film will soon be forgotten, The "The Lord of the Rings"-trilogy will stand the times and be one of the most renowned pictures of the last decade. 4 Stars 9-12-07
Super Reviewer
April 20, 2011
The epic saga's final installment may prove to be its best, due to the amazing battle sequences (of which there are many), the return of an enticing plot, and the epic proportions of the entire film. The pathos is more powerful, the battles more glorious, and the plot more perilous. A brilliant end to a brilliant franchise, not a minute of the three hours seems to disappoint.
Super Reviewer
A spectacular cinematic achievement. Director, Peter Jackson has crafted a beautiful piece of art. A masterpiece. An astonishing special effects extravaganza of the highest arts. An amazing way to end a great trilogy. Stunning, riveting, brilliant, deeply moving, emotionally effective and breathtaking. The action is non-stop from beginning to end with incredible effects and performances from it's cast that truly will never be forgotten. Everything about this film just shouts out classic. A breathtaking piece of work, they truly saved the best for last.
Super Reviewer
January 13, 2010
The final instalment of "The Lord of the Rings" trilogy is both triumphant and emotional. I honestly feel so enthralled in the emotion of the film that I forget I am actually watching a film. The visuals appeal so well that the story does not seem out of this world. The acting, writing, and visuals are on a new level, and the conclusion will have everyone standing and cheering for the actors. I could not ask for a better ending to such an amazing trilogy. The heroism is not comparable to anything I've ever seen. "The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King," closes out the series in a way that will give you goosebumps. It's one of my favourite films.
Super Reviewer
January 1, 2010
It has more missteps than the previous two, but it is a remarkable achievement in movie making. The emotions run high and deep, making the film a powerful cinematic ride.
Samuel Riley
Super Reviewer
July 2, 2012
Although probably the longest out of the trilogy, it makes up for it with the constant intense and gripping battles. With visuals that go through the roof, 'Return of The King' is one of the best endings to a trilogy. I've said that I prefer 'Fellowship', but this one is worth a try.
Market Man
Super Reviewer
August 3, 2012
Peter Jackson has created the ultimate trilogy. "The Return of the King" has set a new standard in film-making; I doubt it will be surpassed. After I saw this I knew I was never going to see something as spectacular and well crafted as "The Lord of the Rings" trilogy. It's true. These films are unparalleled. They have redefined cinema and have created a new love for the work of Tolkien.
Super Reviewer
½ August 22, 2008
Peter Jackson puts the final stamp on J.R.R. Tolkien's novel and it is far from disappointing. Every scene, every emotion and every breath-taking visual makes the perfect ending for the trilogy. Every nomination and win is well-deserved. 4.5/5
Super Reviewer
December 26, 2006
Super Reviewer
June 28, 2007
Greatest fantasy film ever made! Even if it isn't full-on perfect, I still regard it as a 4.9 out of 5. I'm a real sucker for the Lord of the Rings and fantasy in general, but this one is very special to me. Kudos to Peter Jackson for making such a triumphant and awe-inspiring adaptation to screen. It really deserves its twelve Oscars. Love every second of it, from start to finish. One of the few full pointers I've ever given a movie, which is saying a lot.
Super Reviewer
July 23, 2011
A great conclusion to the Lord of the Rings trilogy. The battle of Gondor is one of the most breath-taking battle sequences committed to film. This movie is the very definition of "epic".
Super Reviewer
November 19, 2006
It was good. Visuals were great. But didn't deserve so many Oscars.
paul o.
Super Reviewer
October 25, 2011
Super Reviewer
October 25, 2011
Defined as one of the best, the best fight at the end, the best end of a trilogy and an all-round entertainer.
Super Reviewer
July 31, 2009
And thus we reach the inevitable third instalment of one of the greatest trilogies ever made. Third instalments have a strange legacy. Barring a precious few, the third in a series is often the weakest link. Alien, Spiderman, even the Godfather, these series have a great original, an equally amazing sequel and then an underwhelming threequel. Yes, that's a word. And after the mighty previous two in The Lord of the Rings trilogy, no one could have blamed cinemagoers for expecting the worst when buying their tickets for The Return of the King. But it takes all of 30 seconds to realise that tradition does not apply here.

After embarking on his mission in the first film, Frodo is now closer than ever to his goal of destroying the One Ring in Mordor. His companion/life partner Sam and their guide Gollum are endeavouring to help him get there but Sam's suspicion of Gollum continues to grow. Gandalf takes Pippin to Gondor with a message for the steward and Aragorn, Legolas and Gimli ride with Theoden to join forces with Gondor to fight Sauron's armies.

By now the characters are well worn grooves for their actors and each of them fit into them perfectly. Even Elijah Wood whose character, despite being the principal, has the least to do dramatically, manages to maintain a fantastically restrained performance which, whilst lacklustre for the most part, fits his character to a tee. Other have more to do such as Viggo Mortensen whose character is struggling with the notion of becoming king and Sean Astin whose friend likes his new friend better than him. Despite initial disappointment about the double-act of Merry and Pippin being broken up, the separate journeys they each take allow their characters to find a new steel and reach new depths of emotion. The other double-act of the series is still alive and well, however, as Legolas and Gimli try to out-do each other in battle, drinking and general shenanigans. Ian McKellen stands out as always, showing that Gandalf may not have everything under control for the first time since Moria. All around the cast perform admirably, giving their all in every circumstance which adds to the immersive experience created by their director.

Fans may have been worried that there was nowhere else for Peter Jackson to go. After covering the exquisite cinematography side in Fellowship and the sweeping epic side in Towers, what else was there to do? A lot, it seems, as Jackson pulls out all the stops to create an epic film which focusses as much on the intricacies of battle as it does on the grandeur of the surrounds. Every shot counts and every moment matters under Jackson's keen eye, whether its a slow motion montage or a terrifyingly tense encounter with a giant spider, Peter Jackson seems to have an instinctive feel for Tolkien's work in terms of mood and tone. He blends comedy with tragedy and tension with sentiment with a deft touch which makes you think that he wrote the thing himself.

Howard Shore once again brings the thunder as he continues and expands his incredible score. It's hard to imagine the Battle of Pelennor Fields without his amazing soundtrack backing it up. In fact, some moments, such as Faramir's ill-fated attack, rest completely on the emotional stirrings of Mr. Shore and he comes through in spades.

The screenplay is just as versatile as ever, weaving deftly between sentiment and comedy without becoming stagnant or unnecessary. The restraint of the screenplays has been a trademark of the entire series, resisting the urge to spell everything out for the audience, rather letting them figure it out for themselves. It steers well clear of becoming overly preachy as well, as a film with this sort of content can become as well as staying away from an overdose of fantastical phrases which could turn away the less fantasy inclined viewers.

It's impossible to write this review without mentioning the source material. Tolkien's epic tale was written nearly fifty years ago yet it is still able to captivate readers to this very day. Adults and children alike have been captivated by its fantasy world and the mythology behind it and, most importantly, without it we would never have these amazing films.

Defining Scene:
The Rohirrim ride on Pelennor Fields. Gets me every time.

That still only counts as one!

I can't carry it for you... but I can carry you!

Certainty of death, small chance of success... what are we waiting for?

It must be getting near tea time, leastaways in decent places where there is still tea time.

It's better if you don't speak at all Peregrin Took.

I see in your eyes the same fear that would take the heart of me. A day may come when the courage of men fails, when we forsake our friends and break all bonds of fellowship, but it is not this day. An hour of woes and shattered shields, when the age of men comes crashing down! But it is not this day! This day we fight!
Super Reviewer
February 13, 2011
Lord of the Rings: Return of the King is my second favorite fantasy film ever made (behind Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2), and is the best in the series, and is my 6th favorite film of all time. Return of the King broke all boundaries the year it came out, awards, box office numbers, and critical reception, which were all univerally amazing. How anyone can not love LOTR is beyond me, unless they don't know a good film when they see it. Frodo (Elijah Woods) and Sam (Sean Astin) are nearing the land of Mordor led by the trechorous Gollum. Arragon (Viggo Morstein) and wizard Gandalf (Ian Mckellen) still fight the armies of Sauron trying to help Frodos path. But when Merry (Dominic Monoghan) discover that Sauron is creating a great army led by the most powerful Nazghul, they must save Saurons target of Minas Tirith and prepare for the greatest battle of our time, and in time to give Frodo his chance to destroy the ring once and for all. It was the single greatest achievment in the history of film, because it won 11 Oscars and deserved every one. The plot is maybe the greatest adaption ever made. The acting is amazing and possibly the best in the series, and I know not a lot of people are Frodo fans, but I think just being the bearer of the ring of power makes him badass, come on you can't tell me you didn't like Frodo a little bit. The effects are truly incredible, it is so well done and incredible and Peter Jackson is one of the masters when it comes to visual effects. The score is amazing in so many ways I cannot describe, and I think the true genius of the score is in the final hour of the film, just listen closely and you will hear this great score. Every aspect of a genius film is in this movie, one of my all time favorite films.
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