Derek Winnert

The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King ***** (2003, Elijah Wood, Sean Astin, Andy Serkis, Viggo Mortensen, Ian McKellen, Hugo Weaving, John Rhys-Davies, Bernard Hill, Cate Blanchett, Orlando Bloom, Billy Boyd) – Classic Movie Review 34


Elrond (Hugo Weaving): ‘I give hope to Men.’

Aragorn (Viggo Mortensen): ‘I keep none for myself.’


The stupendous battle scenes are again the main event in Peter Jackson’s great final instalment of the must-see the Lord of the Rings adventure trilogy, a brilliantly fitting climax, a dazzling film in itself and arguably the best of the series.


This time, the brave little Hobbits Frodo (Elijah Wood) and Sam (Sean Astin) and the mysterious creature called Gollum (a brilliantly computer-regenerated Andy Serkis) make their way to Mount Doom in their quest to destroy the all-powerful One Ring. Meanwhile, the dashing fighter Aragorn (Viggo Mortensen) and the wizard Gandalf (Ian McKellen) lead the World of Men in riding to the rescue of their Hobbit friends in a great battle against Sauron’s forces.


The 2003 mind-blowing 11-Oscar-winner (including Best Picture, Best Director and Best Adapted Screenplay) is a spectacular true epic, with passion, sweep and majesty that will delight all fans of J R R Tolkien and adventure movies, ending the trilogy with a bang. Real fans won’t complain, like some patrons did, of the length of the movie, but they will object to Christopher Lee’s character of Saruman being cut out of the movie, a sad blight over the project.


The magnificent DVD extended edition run a massive 251 minutes, restores Christopher Lee (and his confrontation with Gandalf), makes full sense of the plot, pacing and dramatic arc, and has no sense of strain from the extra running time: all the extra footage is gain. This version should definitively supplant the original. The actor’s comments on the commentary are priceless. The Blu-Ray extended edition is even longer at 263 minutes.


It won all the 11 Oscars for which it was nominated: Best Picture, Best Director, Best Adapted Screenplay (Fran Walsh, Philippa Boyens, Peter Jackson), Best Art Direction-Set Decoration (Grant Major art director, Dan Hennah and Alan Lee set decorators), Best Costume Design (Ngila Dickson, Richard Taylor), Best Film Editing (Jamie Selkirk), Best Makeup (Richard Taylor, Peter King), Best Original Score (Howard Shore), Best Original Song (Annie Lennox-Howard Shore’s ‘Into the West’), Best Sound Mixing and Best Visual Effects (Jim Rygiel, Joe Letteri, Randall William Cook, Alex Funke).

With 1,488 computer-generated effects (nearly three times the number of the first film), it is indeed a visual effects triumph, and this win was a hat trick at the Oscars. It is the most nominated film series in Oscar history with 30 nominations, against The Godfather’s 28 and Star Wars’s 21.


John Rhys-Davies (Gimli) also voices Treebeard. Jackson gave both Wood and Serkis the prop One Ring, both of them thinking they had the only one!


The first film, The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring, opened in 2001 to widespread critical acclaim, took $860 million at box-offices worldwide and was nominated for 13 Oscars, winning four. The second film, The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers, opened in 2002 to similar widespread critical acclaim and was nominated for six Oscars. It won two and on a budget of $94million, it grossed $340million in the US.

© Derek Winnert 2013 Classic Movie Review 34

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