The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King Reviewby Susan Granger (ssg722 AT aol DOT com)
December 18th, 2003
Susan Granger's review of "Lord of the Rings: Return of the King" (New Line Cinema)
New Zealand director Peter Jackson's final chapter is the best of his Middle Earth trilogy, based on J.R.R. Tolkien's classic sci-fi/fantasy - and the film to beat at this year's Oscars!
The 3 1/2-hour epic begins where "The Two Towers" ended. While the naive, innocent hobbits, Frodo Baggins (Elijah Wood) and his loyal pal Sam Gamgee (Sean Astin), are trudging with The Ring toward Mount Doom in Mordor, led by the treacherous Gollum (a CGI-creation, voiced by Andy Serkis), their cohorts are preparing for a great battle against the fearsome, evil legions of Sauron, led by the Orcs with their colossal Oliphaunts and reptilian Fell Beasts. Valiant Aragorn (Viggo Mortensen), the Elf archer Legolas (Orlando Bloom) and the Dwarf Gimli (John Rhys-Davies) join with the Wizard Gandalf (Ian McKellen) to defend Gondor's city of Minis Tirith. Arwen (Liv Tyler) and Galadriel (Cate Blanchett) exert their ethereal influence, yet Frodo must face the peril of the giant spider Shelob, as Aragon enlists the aid of the ephemeral Army of the Dead, and Eowyn of Rohan (Miranda Otto) becomes a mighty warrior.
Cleverly, Jackson and his co-writers (Fran Walsh, Philippa Boyens) build up an intimate, emotional attachment to these characters, vividly developing their rivalries and relationships, even revealing the Gollum's backstory, amid the tumultuous action. Grant Major's ingenious production design and Andrew Lesnie's cinematography are spectacular. Despite the fact that it's at least 1/2 hour too long, on the Granger Movie Gauge of 1 to 10, "Lord of the Rings: Return of the King" is a towering, transcendental 10. It's an enormously exciting, exquisite, even exhausting, cinematic experience. Definitely one of the 10 BEST MOVIES of 2003.
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