Classic Film Review: The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King (2003)

And the Oscar Goes to:

The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King, 2003

Directed by: Peter Jackson

Starring: Elijah Wood, Ian McKellen, Viggo Mortensen, Liv Tyler, Sean Astin, Cate Blanchett, John Rhys-Davies, Bernard Hill, Billy Boyd, Dominic Monaghan, Orlando Bloom, Hugo Weaving, Miranda Otto, David Wenham, Karl Urban, John Noble, Andy Serkis, Ian Holm, Sean Bean

*** Full disclosure: This review will be based on The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King as a standalone film, and not as part three of a trilogy. This is for two reasons: 1) All my film reviews are based on the films by themselves, and 2) I haven’t seen the other two. Also, I viewed the extended version, which is just short of an hour longer than the original theatrical version. ***

It is very rare for a third and final instalment of a series to be well received, it is also extremely rare for a fantasy film to win an Oscar and it’s also rare for a film to take 100% of the Oscars it was nominated for but the Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King achieved all those feats remarkably. Being one of only two sequels to win an Oscar for Best picture (after The Godfather Part II), it is the only sequel to win the Best picture Oscar where an earlier entry didn’t pick up the award (The Godfather also claimed the Best Picture Oscar).

The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King focuses on the final battle between good and evil. But not only that, the film features several storylines, including Frodo’s quest to destroy the ring. At an incredible running time of four hours, this film manages to avoid any unnecessary scenes; everything feels important and used to build up the overall story of the battle, which is remarkably impressive.

While featuring an impressive cast of actors, it is hard for anyone to stand out as giving a remarkable performance as there are so many intertwining stories, but everyone performs a solid job. However that is more than made up by the visual performance they deliver; even considering this film is 14 years old, the visual effects are still breathtaking.

Its only major fault is the time limit; which, admittedly, it dependant on who is watching it, but a four-hour film (and it’s not the only Oscar winner to reach four hours so it’s something I will be complaining against again sooner or later) is a long stretch; although I must admit I’d rather see one film with this length than the recent traditions of splitting the finale into two (Harry Potter, Hunger Games, Twilight).

Overall, though, The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King has breathtaking visual effects, a beautifully placed plot, an amazing musical background, fully developed characters which you get an emotional interest in and a truly epic war scene with constant twist and turns.


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Overall Rating: * * * ¾


3 thoughts on “Classic Film Review: The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King (2003)

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