The Lord of the Rings – The Return of the King is by far the most moving, inspirational and epic of the three parts in Peter Jackson’s take on Tolkien’s fantasy masterpiece. After proving that this trilogy can carry the weight of a truly enormous body of text with The Fellowship of the Ring and The Two Towers, Jackson has shown that nothing is impossible anymore when being brought to film, and that fantasy can be surreal, but grounded to reality.
I saw this film at 8:00 PM, and missed school the following day — exactly similar to The Two Towers when it was released. After seeing The Return of the King I was speechless. Never before had a film made such an impact on me as this conclusion did, and now with it completed, The Lord of the Rings is truly the best of the best.
Jackson has treated this trilogy as one film, following to Tolkien’s linear time-line, and not the way the books were written, which makes this a film that flows and never loses track of pacing. The dialogue is emotional, be it the speech between Gandalf and Pippin before the gates of Minas Tirith, or inspirational, such as the rousing deliveries by Theoden and Aragorn. The vast emotion makes this a film for the ages. Following our heroes adventure since film one, we have grown compassion for each and everyone of them. Sam’s devotion to Frodo is something that can inspire, and the eu-catastrophe is fully used here once again, because just as it seems that all hope has been lost, it shines through the void and victory is achieved. If one were to fear that the ending would feel like there was no closure, then have none, because The Return of the King has a 20-minute denouement that goes as far as four-years into the future, and the ending on the shores of the Grey Havens brought me to tears.
The special effects are nothing short of amazing. The blend of miniatures/bigatures and CGI is believable beyond comprehension, and the addition of New Zealand locales adds something beyond some peoples’ wildest dreams. The level of detail on Minas Tirith is something no one has ever seen before, the massive armies sunder speakers as war erupts, and we see the Mumakil and the Fell Beasts in full fruition, as hinted in The Two Towers. What could’ve seem fatal, as cinematic history has shown before, is the introduction of Shelob the spider. The special effects team has created the most memorable spider in film history. She terrifies and drops jaws at the realism of such a beast.
The tension for the siege on Minas Tirith is so highly anticipated, that the filmmakers have completely satisfied every expectation to how epic it could’ve been. The scope is just extraordinary. The battle of the Pelennor Fields is so huge in the book, yet it has been fully realized in Jackson’s film. The final stand at the Black Gate is so emotional involving, it’s hard to think that any action could top what was previously seen, but it is done so with vision beyond imagination.
Howard Shore’s music is also some of the most impressive and beautiful orchestration ever done for film. Besting its predecessors, The Return of the King’s score is pure genius. From the new theme for Gondor, to the moving Into the West, Shore’s composition sweeps and soars. Now that each of the three films’ complete recordings have been released, I strongly urge a fan of the music to buy them, because they really are the best of the best.
The acting even surpasses the first two, having the evolution of each character add to the dramatic effect, be it the loss of a life, or the triumph over evil. Viggo Mortensen as Aragorn is like a Godsend. Sean Astin steals nearly every scene he is in as Sam, making us hope he helps Frodo get rid of the Ring of Power. Once again, Andy Serkis provides a stirring and great performance as Smeagol/Gollum. The full weight of the Ring is realized in this film, and Elijah Wood makes us see his struggle like the Fellowship of the Ring and The Two Towers only hinted upon.
Overall, The Lord of the Rings – The Return of the King is remarkable. The battles are amazing, never making the film drag, and always heightening the tension. From the acting to the sound editing, this film delivers in what it promises, and that is the supreme motion picture of our lifetime, and many more years to come.