The Return of the King

by Alan Rapp on December 13, 2012

in Home Video

  • Title: The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King
  • IMDB: link

lotr-return-of-the-king-posterAlthough the final entry in director Peter Jackson‘s The Lord of the Rings trilogy is the one which took home the Academy Award for Best Picture, I’ve always felt The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King is the most problematic of all three films (and not only because of the 18 or so separate endings).

We begin with the film shoehorning a big section of The Two Towers into this film (while ignoring more than half Tolkien’s final novel) by including an extended sequence of Frodo (Elijah Wood), Sam (Sean Astin), and Gollum‘s (Andy Serkis) journey along Cirith Ungol before even reaching the giant spider Shelob‘s lair (all of which actually takes place in The Two Towers), and finally to Mount Doom to destroy the One Ring.

The rest of the film focuses on Gandalf‘s (Ian McKellen) return to Minas Tirith to unsuccessfully rally the Steward of Gondor (John Noble), Aragorn (Viggo Mortensen) finally accepting his destiny and journeying through the Paths of the Dead, and the Battle of the Pelennor Fields between Mordor and the combined forces of Rohan and Gondor.

The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King is a pretty film, and it certainly attempts to up the ante by delivering a larger (but, at least for me, less impressive than The Battle of Helm’s Deep) epic battle featuring big moments for Aragorn, Gimli (John Rhys-Davies), Legolas (Orlando Bloom), and even Éowyn (Miranda Otto) and Merry (Dominic Monaghan) slaying of the Witch-king of Angmar, before turning its attention back on two Hobbits on whose journey the final fate of everyone ultimately rests.

As a concluding chapter The Return of the King works well, it just doesn’t quite have the epic sprawl of The Fellowship of the Ring or the amount of character development and tight pacing of The Two Towers. It wraps up the various storylines and spends time allowing each of the heroes to have their own moment in the sun, including the newly married and enthroned Aragorn to publicly thank the unlikely Hobbit foursome whose actions helped save their world.

The Return of the King

Of all three films this is the one that really seems to falter upon multiple viewings. Of course that might be because by the time you start The Return of the King you’ve already slagged through seven-hours of the franchise with the knowledge that Sam and Frodo aren’t really any closer to their goal and you’re in store for quite a bit more walking before any real action starts.

The special edition of the film, available on both Blu-ray and DVD, includes extra footage including the final fate of Saruman, more scenes in Gondor, and an extended sequence involving Aragorn, Gimli, and Legolas’ journey into the Paths of the Dead. Also included are behind-the-scenes featurettes and documentaries, design galleries, a Middle Earth Atlas, four separate commentary tracks, photo galleries, and a look back at the making of the three films.

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