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Published on December 17th, 2004 | by Erich Becker

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

After hundreds of millions of dollars, years devoted to special effects, and one of the biggest fan bases looking on, The Lord of the Rings trilogy ends with The Return of the King, what some, like myself, consider to be one of the pinnacle moments in cinema. In fact, if The Return of the King doesn’t receive Best Picture of the Year honors at the Oscar’s next year, we will know that the voting is fixed in some way, because nothing released this year even comes close to King, and the only downside to the film is knowing that we won’t be getting another installment next Christmas.

The Return of the King picks up roughly right after the events of The Two Towers, just as The Two Towers picked up right after Fellowship of the Ring. Like the previous two installments we get no opening credits, only the film’s title splashed on the screen, which lead to much applause in the audience. I’m going to take a minute and say that I have never seen a movie with such an obnoxiously stupid audience as I did with The Return of the King. I almost wanted to murder the patrons sitting next to me, and would have done so if I found some sort of weapon other than my Harkin’s Souvenir Cup. Not since Hulk have I seen so many stupid people clapping at inappropriate time, yelling things at the screen, etc. It almost destroyed the whole experience for me.

Regardless of my tangent, The Return of the King is truly a cinematic masterpiece because of the content of the film. Never before will you see such a movie that includes bits and pieces from every genre, molded into one cohesive package that keeps on giving and giving. There is action, fantasy, love, war, insanity, death, life, and so much more. Peter Jackson and his entire staff should be patting themselves on the back for years to come when looking at what they have accomplished here. The Return of the King is comparable to nothing else on the silver screen.

Adding to the element of the film is the amazing special effects by WETA Digital. If you thought the battle sequences in The Two Towers, mainly the battle of Helm’s Deep, were amazing, you haven’t see anything yet. The Return of the King features, quite possibly, one of the best battle sequences ever printed to film. At times it is almost impossible to tell if you are looking at an actual set, matte painting, or computer generated scenery. When your mind starts making you wonder if what you are seeing is actually real, that is the point you commend your special effects house. Sure, not everything is perfect, there are a few moments where you can clearly tell the CGI work is, just that, CGI. But then you see the scenes with Gollum and forget about all your doubts.

One of the greatest, and saddest, aspects of the films is that this is the final part of Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings book. We finally get closure on a number of characters, with even more to come in the inevitable Extended Edition DVD. For the better part of three years we have been following the adventures of hobbits, elves, dwarfs, etc. With such a long commitment and such anticipation its nice to know all of the time invested in watching this project paid off, which is more than what we can say about The Matrix trilogy. In fact The Lord of the Rings trilogy seems to be the complete opposite of The Matrix, whereas each movie seems to get even better as they are released.

In order to keep this review as spoiler free as possible for those who haven’t read the books, or haven’t had a chance to see the film must yet, I left out any relevant information relating to the actual plot of the film, but let me just say this, you will not be disappointed. If you thought The Two Towers was awesome, The Return of the King is sure to knock your socks off. The Lord of the Rings trilogy has concluded, but it will live on for generations with children being introduced to the book via the movie, and vise versa, as Tolkien’s legendary series withstands the test of time.

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About the Author

Thirty-something with a love of everything we cover here, and a few things we don't. Erich has run Entertainmentopia since the site's inception in 1999, countless redesigns, a few crashes, and a lot of media later, here you have it!



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