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THE RETURN OF THE KING, 2003
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THE RETURN OF THE KING,  MOVIE POSTER
THE LORD OF THE RINGS: THE RETURN OF THE KING, 2003
Movie Reviews

Directed by Peter Jackson
Starring: Elijah Wood, Ian McKellen, Viggo Mortensen, John Rhys-Davies, Andy Serkis, Sean Astin, Orlando Bloom
Review by Emma Hutchings



SYNOPSIS:

In the concluding part of the trilogy, Frodo and Sam must overcome numerous obstacles as they reach the end of their perilous journey to Mount Doom, whilst the other remaining members of the Fellowship aid Gondor and Rohan in battle against the forces of Sauron.

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REVIEW:

Expectations were as high as skyscrapers after the first two films, which always makes me a little apprehensive; what if it isnít as good? What if it doesnít give the trilogy the ending it deserves? Of course, I had nothing to fear, as this film exceeds in all respects.

Picking up from the end of The Two Towers, Gollum leads Frodo and Sam closer to Mount Doom. He turns Frodo against Sam and then reveals his betrayal by taking him into the tunnels of Cirith Ungol, the lair of Shelob, a giant spider.

Elsewhere, Pippin canít resist sneaking a peek at the Palantir acquired from Saruman. He observes a burning white tree, which Gandalf interprets as meaning that Sauron will attack Minas Tirith so they both ride to warn the city. The others in Rohan wait for the signal to join the battle, with Aragorn, Legolas and Gimli calling on an undead army, the Dead Men of Dunharrow, who owe allegiance to Isildurís heir and the rightful King of Gondor; Aragorn.

The battle of Pelennor Fields is won and Aragorn leads the victors to the Black Gate in order to draw Sauronís attention and his remaining forces out of Frodo and Samís path. Upon reaching Mount Doom, Frodo finally succumbs to the power of the Ring and puts it on. Gollum pounces on him and bites off his finger, claiming the Ring for himself. After a struggle, they both fall over the edge. Sam rescues a clinging Frodo, while Gollum plunges into the lava below with the Ring, destroying it.

Everyone is reunited at last and Aragorn is crowned King. Frodo, Bilbo, Elrond, Galadriel and Gandalf travel to the Undying Lands and the other Hobbits return to the peaceful Shire.

The Return of the King is full of tension and fractured relationships. Merry and Pippin are split up, Aragorn tells Eowyn his heart belongs to another, Denethor sends Faramir to almost certain death and Gollum turns Frodo against Sam. These moments of sadness and despair help the characters to grow and by the end, they have all obviously come a long way both physically and emotionally. Merry and Pippin have outgrown their comic, carefree beginnings and transformed into brave little warriors. Aragorn has gone from being a mysterious outsider to King of Men, his love, Arwen, has given up immortality to be with him. Legolas and Gimli have overcome their prejudices against each otherís race to become great friends.

I had an instant dislike for the character Denethor, a new introduction in this film, and found the relationship between him and his son Faramir particularly poignant, probably because Faramir is one of my favourite characters. He is unfailingly loyal, but forever in the shadow of his brother Boromir. The scene where he rides out to meet an insurmountable force is really heartbreaking, perpetuated by Pippinís song and Denethor gorging himself on food, unconcerned, which increases the hatred and sadness felt.

Completing his directorís cameos for the trilogy, Peter Jackson can be seen very briefly on the corsair ship. You can see more of him in the Extended Edition, where he gets killed by Legolasí warning arrow.

These films were so lovingly created; the audience have come to care for all the characters and want to find out the conclusion to all their individual stories. It leaves you feeling uplifted, a truly classic film that restores your faith in the magic of the movies. After all the endless sequels and spoofs nowadays, it harkens back to a classic era of film. Paradoxically, it also leaves you with a feeling of sadness, if only because you realise it is the end; the end of the annual Christmas trip to the cinema that had become such an exciting and special occasion. You are so desperate to see how it ends but donít want it to be over. You may be thankful then, for the amount of false endings the film has. As it fades to black only to reappear with a little bit extra, you get the feeling the filmmakers didnít want it to end either.

If, even after five hundred and fifty eight minutes (the combined length of all three films), you still donít feel like leaving Middle Earth behind so soon, then check out the Extended Editions on DVD for an abundance of glorious extras.

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