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

by Karina Montgomery (karina AT cinerina DOT com)
December 29th, 2003

Lord of the Rings: Return of the King

Matinee with Snacks

Not being one of the completely crazy insane Lord of the Rings book fans, I feel I can be more objective about this film than the furry footed theater partron to my right. And yes, it is very, very good. But you knew that. In a way, (and very much unlike the Matrix trilogy), seeing this film really feels like a continuation of a very long film, everything is just as it should be. The characters you know and care about are there, being consistent, reliable, and as we know them better, we care more, and the running jokes from two movies ago are still there. Of course, that was how this film was shot, all at once, but you really feel the sense of cohesion, continuation and resolution here. Two Towers felt like a sequel, like some time had passed, and this film felt like I just took too long a break between, whatever, disk 4 and 5 of Two Towers. Or is it disk 7 and 8? Can you imagine what the "full trilogy ultraswank super duper box set" is going to be like? 15 disks?

I hope you like battles, because if you don't, this movie (at 210 bladder-stretching minutes) might try your patience. This flick is plum biblical with the epic battles and fight against evil and all that good stuff. The carefully choreographed chaos, the sheer scope of what director Peter Jackson has pulled off in these three movies will blow your mind. Purists (and even neophyte readers as myself) will notice some detours from Tolkein's story, but less than in Towers. Andy Serkis really gets to shine as Gollum and dear heavens, I hope he finally gets a nomination.

Return has the automatic benefit of serving as the climax and resolution of everything, which is always the most satisfying. Unlike for-profit sequels, (or, again, the Matrix, which just got less watchable as it progressed through the digits), The Lord of the Rings films were designed and paced to be three movies, so this one is by definition going to be the "best" one. And it is stellar. In some places, the score is more indicative than I noticed previously - i.e. "here we are in Rohan, here the Rohan theme, in case you forgot what the place looked like this is the Rohan theme, la la la" and so on.
Technically speaking, the film stands with its companions. The acting is good, the design work is very Celt-heavy but lyrical. The sound is great. The effects are mind-blowing. My companions noted that ILM was nowhere to be seen in the credits, something I should have noticed; I suspect New Zealand will be making itself some FX cashola in the years to come. If you're a fan of Jackson's movie The Frighteners you might notice where he got some practice with his dead army and the Riders as well. There's a reason the hard core fans and the non-book-fans alike are going gaga for these instant classics - good core story with skillful execution and the sense of cohesion between the three chapters equals satsfying movie watching. I know you've already seen it, but just so you know. This is the best one. It's a real contender this year in the Oscar race, too, mark my words.
These reviews (c) 2003 Karina Montgomery. Please feel free to forward but credit the reviewer in the text. Thanks. You can check out previous reviews at: and - the Online Film Critics Society - Hollywood Stock Exchange Brokerage Resource

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