Cert: 12 Runtime: 201 mins Director: Peter Jackson Starring: Elijah Wood, Viggo Mortensen, Cate Blanchette, Orlando Bloom, Bernard Hill, John Rhys-Davies, Andy Serkis, Liv Tyler and Ian McKellan
They had no honour in life. They have none now in death
So the end of this amazing trilogy, the next blast from the past is The Return of the King. This is the one film that dominated the Oscars and made Peter Jackson a God. The War of the Ring reaches its climax as the dark lord Sauron sets his sights on Minas Tirith, the capital of Gondor. The members of the fellowship in Rohan are warned of the impending attack when Pippin (Billy Boyd) cannot resist looking into Saruman’s palantir and is briefly contacted by the dark lord. King Theoden (Bernard Hill) is too proud to send his men to help without being asked, so Gandalf (Ian McKellen) and Pippin ride to Minas Tirith to see that this request is sent. They meet opposition there from Denethor (John Noble), steward of the city and father of Faramir and the late Boromir. Denethor’s family has acted as temporary guardians of Gondor for centuries until a member of the true line of kings returns. This member is none other than Aragorn (Viggo Mortensen), who must overcome his own self-doubt before he can take on the role he was destined to fulfil. Meanwhile, Frodo (Elijah Wood) and Sam (Sean Astin) continue to carry the One Ring towards Mordor, guided by Gollum (Andy Serkis). What they don’t know is that Gollum is leading them into a trap so that he can reclaim the Ring for himself. Though Sam suspects his deceit, Frodo is starting to be corrupted by the Ring’s power and the mistrust of Sam this causes is fully exploited by Gollum. The only way good can prevail in this contest is if the Ring is destroyed, an event that is becoming harder every minute for Frodo to achieve. The fate of every living creature in Middle Earth will be decided once and for all as the Quest of the Ringbearer reaches its climax.
Since all three epics were filmed simultaneously, each individually has the feel of being part of a larger picture – except for this one. `The Return of the King’ is just too big, the most epic of a set of epic films. Now that director Peter Jackson has brilliantly constructed the characters and plotlines throughout the first two films, he puts them to use.All of the characters have their best moments within this film. The pair of mischievous hobbits, Merry (Dominic Monaghan) and Pippin (Billy Boyd), are no longer the tree ornaments they were from `Two Towers,’ but are split-up, and take their characters in completely new directions. Aragorn, played with an unmatched sense of honor by Viggo Mortenson, is about to meet his destiny as the future king of all men, while Andy Serkis continues his expert portrayal of Gollum (Serkis’ provided not only the voice of Gollum, but also assisted during production by acting out the scenes of the computer-generated character with his fellow actors).However, the real acting triumph of the film is Elijah Wood as Frodo Baggins. He continues his descent into corruption with an incredible talent that many could not pull off. Wood’s performance is so critical to the film because it determines the ring’s power to corrupt, which, needless to say, is absolute.The first two films established Jackson as an incredible visionary, shooting vast landscapes from his native New Zealand.
With `Return of the King,’ Jackson really gets a chance to show off. With, hands down, the most beautiful visuals of the trilogy, Jackson makes `Return of the King’ a gorgeous feast for the eyes, while never resorting to McG level over-the-topness. Jackson stays very grounded in his characters, not letting the effects tell the story, but only assist the wonderful dialogue and characters. Think of `Return’ as a mix of `Fellowship’ and `Two Towers,’ with enough action and character development worthy of ending a film event of this magnitude.The bottom line, fans of the films will not be disappointed. Hardcore Tolkien lovers might be upset by plot changes and interpretations made by Jackson and the other writers, however, it is unrealistic to expect a completely true adaptation of the novels, being that film is an entirely different medium. Despite the alterations, Jackson consistently stays true to the major themes and ideas from the original text, while adding some of the finest filmmaking ever put to screen. `The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King’ is one of the most finely tuned and cinematically perfect films ever made. Not only the best of the trilogy, but a crowning achievement in epic filmmaking.