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The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King
DVD disk
10.08.2004 By: The Shootin Surgeon
The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King order
Director:
Peter Jackson

Actors:
Elijah Wood
Viggo Mortensen
Ian McKellen

Rating:
Movie:
Extras:
Overall:

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WHAT'S IT ABOUT?
The long-awaited third and final installment of Peter Jackson's vision of THE LORD OF THE RINGS sees its fiery conclusion amidst as much pomp and fanfare as the previous two. As Sauron's dark army masses around the citadel Minas Tirith and hope wanes for Middle-earth, Frodo and Sam continue their journey towards Mount Doom in order to destroy the Ring of Power.
IS IT A GOOD MOVIE?
The most emotionally enthralling installment of the trilogy, the RETURN OF THE KING sees the fellowship bring its quest to a conclusion as Peter Jackson serves up another magnificent masterpiece to satisfy the fans he teased for two years before. Once again focusing on two distinct storylines - Frodo & Sam's journey to Mount Doom and the defense of Gondor and Minas Tirith - Jackson bobs and weaves like a boxer and avoids many of the pitfalls that could have befallen him in adapting such a tough story to the screen. Despite the obligatory minor diversions from Tolkien's novel, Jackson's vision remains faithful. We finally even get to see Frodo's long-awaited confrontation with Shelob, the most glaring omission of THE TWO TOWERS. We also get to enjoy all the other elements which made the first tow movies a pleasure to watch. Howard Shore's score is just as powerful yet different enough to keep fresh, the visuals are just awesome in recreating, or rather in just creating, Middle-earth as well as its massive armies and glorious sceneries. The cast also completes the great work they started with expanded presence for Merry (Dominic Monaghan), Pippin (Billy Boyd) and Samwise (Sean Astin), the three Hobbits who aren't Frodo Baggins.

The centerpiece of the movie however, is the unbelievable Battle of Peleanor Fields. Making The Battle of Helm's Deep look like a playground spat, this one is flat out raucous and lasting close to an hour, it redefines movie warfare to the point where there's a good chance we'll never again see anything like it. It's not only spectacular in its raw action, but it also makes you go through an entire plethora of emotions going from excitement, to sadness and from fear to happiness. More importantly though, it also keeps you entertained in the way movies were always meant to. If your heart doesn't start rumbling once the Riders of Rohan make their charge, if you don't feel a little tinge when you hear the Nazgul's fell beasts shriek and eventually see them swoop down on the city spread their huge wings, if you don't shed a little tear when Théoden (Bernard Hill) lays eyes on Éowyn (Miranda Otto), then there's a good chance you too have already passed into the netherworld. The Return of the King is what a movie is supposed to be: entertaining, moving, beautiful and able to transport you to another place for the few hours you spend watching it. Kudos to Peter Jackson and all involved. While Everyone is relieved that the journey is now over, we're all grateful for having bee treated to three great movies.
THE EXTRAS
The Quest Fulfilled: A Director's Vision (23 minutes): It explains Jackson's hard work in getting the go ahead for the films as well as the near impossible task of adapting the story to cinema and ultimately casting it.

A Filmmaker's Journey: Making of Return of the King (28 minutes): The first half reprises a lot of the previous feature in retelling Jackson's adventures in making his studio pitch. It then moves on to some more familiar making of topics, if only briefly. You'll get a bit on the costumes, sets, stunts, battles, shoot, music, etc.

National Geographic Special - The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King (40 minutes): Included is National Geographic's Beyond the Movie special, which is available separately and which seeks to place The Return of the King and the entire Lord of the Rings story into the historical context it was written in. I touches on the parallels between some characters and historical people who may have occupied similar roles or acted in similar fashion.

lordoftherings.net Featurettes:

Aragorn's Destiny (3 minutes): Quick recap of the Aragorn character. If you don't know all that stuff by now, it's that you just don't care.

Minas Tirith: The Capital of Gondor (3 minutes): A description of the city as designed by Tolkien as well as a description of the sets used in the movie.

The Battle of Peleanor Fields (2 minutes): A scene that will be talked about for years to come, the film's main battle sequence is explained very briefly here.

Samwise the Brave (4 minutes): Sam Gamgee, who finds his moment of glory in this third movie gets the same quick descriptive treatment in here.

Éowyn: White Lady of Rohan (4 minutes): One of the most moving characters of both the books and the films, Éowyn, played by the delightful Miranda Otto, is explored.

Digital Horse Doubles (5 minutes): A CGI featurette about the hundreds, if not thousands, of digital horses created for use in the battle sequences.

Publicity:

Theatrical Trailers (4 minutes): Two theatrical trailers presented in their entirety.

TV Spots (6 minutes): Fourteen TV spots, available individually.

"The Lord of the Rings" Trilogy Supertrailer (7 minutes): Pretty self-explanatory.
FINAL DIAGNOSIS
A fantastic movie with a great DVD package, The Return of the King is a must-have unless you have the intention of buying the Extended Edition due out later in 2004. It's surprising how much rewatch value these flicks have considering they would take almost an entire day to watch back-to-back-to-back. Definitely worthy of purchase.

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