Lord of the Rings - The Return of the King

The Lord of the Rings - The Return of the King

4.8 173
Director: Peter Jackson, Elijah Wood, Ian McKellen, Viggo Mortensen

Cast: Peter Jackson, Elijah Wood, Ian McKellen, Viggo Mortensen


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The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King brings Peter Jackson's mammoth adaptation of J.R.R. Tolkien's classic to a close in suitably epic fashion. Instead of starting just where the previous film left off, however, it goes far back in time to the moment the tormented creature Gollum first came to possess the One Ring. In this flashback, actor Andy Serkis


The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King brings Peter Jackson's mammoth adaptation of J.R.R. Tolkien's classic to a close in suitably epic fashion. Instead of starting just where the previous film left off, however, it goes far back in time to the moment the tormented creature Gollum first came to possess the One Ring. In this flashback, actor Andy Serkis (who voiced Gollum and performed his movements onset prior to the final CGI effects) finally gets to appear onscreen, portraying Gollum's former self, Sméagol. This disturbing scene serves as a potent reminder that the Ring seeks to corrupt even the well-intentioned Frodo (Elijah Wood), who is increasingly struggling with the dark power of the Ring himself. Thus, the film returns to the present, following Frodo, Sam (Sean Astin), and Gollum as they journey ever closer to the foreboding land of Mordor. They pass by the terrifying dark city of Minas Morgul, watching as the dreadful army of the Witch King sets out for the human strongholds in Gondor, and move on to the rocky stairs to Cirith Ungol, where an even darker enemy lies in wait. Meanwhile, the rest of the Fellowship reunites in Rohan, having defeated the wizard Saruman on two different fronts, at Helm's Deep and Isengard. They are not together for long, though, since the hobbit Pippin (Billy Boyd) gets into trouble, making it necessary for him and Gandalf (Ian McKellen) to hastily depart for Minas Tirith, capital of Gondor. Once there, they find the steward of Gondor, Denethor (John Noble), in an unstable mental state and the city preparing for battle against the amassing forces of Sauron. Denethor unwisely sends his only remaining son, Faramir (David Wenham), back into bloody battle to prove himself. He returns nearly dead, sending Denethor over the edge of sanity. In another realm, elf Arwen (Liv Tyler) begins her journey to immortal life in the Grey Havens, on her way to leave Middle-earth -- and Aragorn (Viggo Mortensen) -- forever, but has a vision that causes her to once again reconsider her decision. Back in Rohan, the men are preparing to ride to Gondor's aide. Éowyn (Miranda Otto) desperately wants to join the men in battle, but her uncle, King Théoden (Bernard Hill), orders her to stay and defend Rohan if necessary. The hobbit Merry (Dominic Monaghan) also desires to ride with the men, but is denied due to his small size and inexperience. Aragorn is met there by the elf Elrond (Hugo Weaving), who brings him the re-forged Sword that was Broken (in the ancient battle with Sauron) and urges him to take a different route to Gondor. Heeding Elrond's advice, Aragorn, along with elf Legolas (Orlando Bloom) and dwarf Gimli (John Rhys-Davies), takes a cavernous path through the mountains, where they meet ghoulish ghosts who betrayed Aragorn's ancestors and are doomed to eternal unrest unless they fulfill their broken oaths by aiding him. All but Frodo, Sam, and Gollum will meet on the massive battlefield of the Pelennor before the gates of Minas Tirith. The former three instead engage in a battle of wills between each other and the One Ring as they head toward the fires of Mount Doom to destroy it. Released in December 2003, The Return of the King topped even its massively successful trilogy predecessors at the box office, and went on to garner a whopping 11 Academy Awards, including Best Picture -- winning in all the categories in which it was nominated and tying the record of total awards won with Ben-Hur and Titanic. ~ Dana Rowader

Editorial Reviews

Barnes & Noble - Ed Hulse
The third and most spectacular installment of Peter Jackson's remarkable Lord of the Rings trilogy builds to a climax of almost endurable suspense as Middle-earth is rocked by the prospect of impending Armageddon -- an all-out war that can only be prevented by two lowly hobbits. Frodo (Elijah Wood) and Sam (Sean Astin) follow the treacherous Gollum (Andy Serkis) to Mount Doom, into whose fiery core must be hurled the all-powerful ring. Meanwhile, as Gandalf (Ian McKellen) and Pippin (Billy Boyd) cast their lot with the besieged inhabitants of Gondor, the remaining members of the Fellowship -- Aragorn (Viggo Mortensen), Legolas (Orlando Bloom), and Gimli (John Rhys-Davies) -- attempt to recruit the spirit warriors of Cursed Mountains in the final conflict against Sauron. Return of the King reaps the benefit of narrative seeds sown in the previous two installments: The characters and conflicts having been well established in Fellowship of the Ring and The Two Towers, Jackson resolves everything in King on a grand scale that old-school filmmakers would never have imagined possible. Computer-generated special effects account for many of the film's visual delights, but this superb director invests the proceedings with intense emotions as well, and once the final battle has been decided he presents a protracted but satisfying denouement that ties up all the loose ends. Perfection is nearly impossible to attain in any human endeavor, but with this film Jackson has come as close to it as anybody in motion-picture history. We're hard pressed to imagine anybody else having realized a live-action version of J. R. R. Tolkien's story with as much imagination, expertise, and feeling. King swept this year's Oscars for good reason -- it's a stunning, unforgettable work that has already taken its place in cinema history. Jackson's Special Extended Edition adds 50-minutes to the theatrical cut of the film.
All Movie Guide
Grander in scale, in many ways, than the first two installments of The Lord of the Rings trilogy, The Return of the King hosts even more amazing action scenes than the earth-shaking battle of Helm's Deep in The Two Towers. But what really sets it apart from most action and fantasy films is its ability to simultaneously focus on the emotional and the epic. Frodo and Sam's journey to destroy the One Ring in the fires of Mount Doom, as epic as it may be, gains all of its weight from the friendship, love, and mutual respect shared by the two hobbits and evidenced in the bonds forged between the Fellowship members earlier in the trilogy. All of the events in the prior two films have been leading up to the conclusions in this one, and the many climaxes do not disappoint. Unfortunately, with the further divergence of the characters' paths in this installment, the filmmakers clearly struggled to keep a balance between them. The general pacing of the film is off in parts, too slow in the first hour, and too rushed later on. Many fans of the books may be frustrated by some of the decisions made in adapting the story; changes in plot and character motivations from book to screen are inevitable, but many cherished elements of the novel are missing or altered in ways that sometimes seem unneeded. Some characters, such as Legolas (Orlando Bloom), Gimli (John Rhys-Davies), Merry (Dominic Monaghan), and Éomer (Karl Urban), get pushed to the sidelines, only getting in a few lines here and there, and others, such as Éowyn (Miranda Otto), get hugely emotional scenes only to be essentially dropped from the story line for the rest of the picture. Aragorn (the king referred to in the title), though well-played by Viggo Mortensen, also misses out on characterization, with many of his most insightful moments missing from the film. Doubtlessly, some of these oversights will be smoothed over in the extended DVD edition of the film, which adds almost an hour more to the runtime. Despite its flaws, The Return of the King has retained the most important element of the book: its spirit. Furthermore, the characters who are in the forefront of the story, as with the others, are wonderfully portrayed by the film's ensemble cast. Andy Serkis brilliantly takes Gollum on a downward spiral of greed, deception, and madness, and the CGI character animators have brought even more life to his appearance this time around. Elijah Wood is equally impressive in his portrayal of Frodo's deterioration, and Sean Astin, as his loyal friend and servant Sam, is heartbreakingly noble, becoming, in a way, the heart of the film. Ian McKellen, as Gandalf, continues his admirable portrayal of the wise wizard, while Billy Boyd adds depth to the newly courageous Pippin. Miranda Otto, as Éowyn, and Bernard Hill, as Théoden, deliver some of the most profound and moving moments in the film, and Liv Tyler continues her emotional portrayal of the conflicted elf Arwen. As the demented steward Denethor, John Noble brings added intensity and drama to the proceedings, and David Wenham is wonderfully subtle as his long-suffering son Faramir. But accolades must go to all involved in the making of this trilogy; it is continually impressive, from its breathtaking cinematography to its jaw-dropping special effects to its brilliant and heartfelt score. Overall, Peter Jackson has orchestrated this trilogy masterfully, and was certainly deserving of the Best Director Oscar he received. The Return of the King made history in many ways, but one of the most telling is that it became the first fantasy film to take home the Oscar for Best Picture. Surely, a large determining factor for that accomplishment was the authenticity with which the filmmakers told this story. The passion, detail, dedication, skill, and hard work that went into these films is clearly evident, and is not likely to be equaled any time soon.

Product Details

Release Date:
Original Release:
New Line Home Video
[Wide Screen]
[DTS 5.1-Channel Surround Sound, Dolby AC-3 Surround Sound]
Sales rank:

Special Features

Blu-ray: Theatrical trailers; Special extended DVD edition preview and the Lord of the Rings: Aragorn's Quest game trailer; DVD: 3 remarkable documentaries, including National Geographic's Behind the Movie - The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King; Featurette gallery spotlighting the breakthrough effects work and character detail that contributed to the trilogy's conclusion as a cinematic triumph; TV spots

Cast & Crew

Performance Credits
Elijah Wood Frodo Baggins
Ian McKellen Gandalf
Viggo Mortensen Aragorn
Sean Astin Samwise Gamgee
Orlando Bloom Legolas
Andy Serkis Gollum/Sméagol
Billy Boyd Pippin
Dominic Monaghan Merry
John Rhys-Davies Gimli
Liv Tyler Arwen
Bernard Hill King Théoden
Miranda Otto Éowyn
Hugo Weaving Elrond
Cate Blanchett Galadriel
David Wenham Faramir
Karl Urban Eomer
John Noble Denethor
Ian Holm Bilbo Baggins
Joel Tobeck Orc Lieutenant #1
Sean Bean Boromir

Technical Credits
Peter Jackson Director,Producer,Screenwriter
Joe Peter Bleakley Art Director
Philippa Boyens Screenwriter
Christopher Boyes Sound/Sound Designer
Victoria Burrows Casting
Carolynne Cunningham Asst. Director
Ngila Dickson Costumes/Costume Designer
Weta Digital Makeup Special Effects
David Farmer Sound/Sound Designer
Michael Hedges Sound/Sound Designer
Dan Hennah Set Decoration/Design
Michael Horton Editor
John Hubbard Casting
Philip Ivey Art Director
Peter King Makeup
Peter King Makeup
Alan Lee Set Decoration/Design
Annie Lennox Songwriter
Andrew Lesnie Cinematographer
Michael Lynne Executive Producer
Amy MacLean Casting
Grant Major Production Designer
Liz Mullane Casting
Jabez Olssen Editor
Mark Ordesky Executive Producer
Barrie M. Osborne Producer
Rob Otterside Art Director
Peter Owen Makeup
Hammond Peek Sound/Sound Designer
Rick Porras Co-producer
Mark Robins Art Director
Ann Robinson Casting
Jamie Selkirk Co-producer,Editor
Michael Semanick Sound/Sound Designer
Robert Shaye Executive Producer
Howard Shore Score Composer
Stephen Sinclair Screenwriter
Richard Taylor Costumes/Costume Designer,Makeup Special Effects
Ethan Van der Ryn Sound/Sound Designer
Fran Walsh Producer,Screenwriter
Bob Weinstein Executive Producer
Harvey Weinstein Executive Producer


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The Lord of the Rings - The Return of the King 4.8 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 172 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Ok first off... to those of you who are complaining about them.Peter Jackson was making MOVIES. If he had left everything in the movies that are in the books,you would have been sitting in the theater for like 12 hours.He had a required time limit to the movies and couldn't make them so long. I'm sure he would've if he could've but honestly if you heard of a 12 hour movie, would you go see it?I know I wouldn't. ANYWHO These movies are fantastic. i love the special effects, the elves just everything!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
SleepDreamWrite More than 1 year ago
One of the best movie series I've seen. It's epic. Never get tired of seeing these. And the soundtrack is great.
AlchemystAZ More than 1 year ago
I came out of this awesome movie loving that giant laser/eyeball. Now I bought high-power lasers and spy gear for my own personal tower. Be afraid. Be very afraid! (I live in Arizona--The Wild West--where my Governor hasn't been the same since that house fell on her sister.)
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I have watched the DVD version many times. Very disappointed to find many scenes removed in the Blu ray version: climbing down the elvish rope, in the tunnel, caught in Mordor and more. The story has lost a lot.
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DarthPlagueis More than 1 year ago
awesome from the very begining to the very end!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! if should read the first books tho they have more detail and the book shows stuff that are in the movie but other stuff is missed and parts are cut the books will always be better than the movies
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
BookLoverInNeLA More than 1 year ago
This final movie in the Lord of the Rings series is fantastic. All the actors and actresses gave great performances. I can understand why this movie won several Academy Awards including Best Picture. Once again, we see how loyal Sam is to Frodo and Sam's bravery is displayed full force in this final chapter. It's plain to see that Frodo is nearly possessed by the ring. When Gollum suggests to Frodo that Sam wants the ring for himself, Frodo bcomes suspicious and orders Sam to go home after a disagreement. When Sam finds the food that Gollum tossed over the side of the cliff, he heads back up the winding stairs to find Frodo. If you want to watch an epic, classic movie, I recommend this for your personal library.
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Guest More than 1 year ago
LOTR 3 I think is the best movie in the triogy and highly recommed this movie to anyone who is not afraid of scary movies because movie had lots of blood.LOTR deserved every oscar it won and should have won lots more. Peter Jackson did a faboulous job at threading this masterpeice together and has witt and lots of heart and soul.I was very dissapointed about Ebert&Robert giving this film a hard time about chossing lame and boring Lost in Translation I don't recomend that to anyone who is smart. So get off your butt and check your local movie listings to see when this masterpeice is playing.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This movie completes the best movie series of all time, based on the best book of all time. It perfectly concludes the main drift of the story, while still leaving out some good, but unecesary parts. This movie ties up all loose ends and flows from perspective to perspective seamlessly. I recramend this movie to anyone who like action, fantasy, science fiction, romannce or comady; it covers them all.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Well, the houses of healing were booted off, but that's going to be in the extended edition! Peter Jackson totally bent the story to fit the the tiny good movie space, but I love what he made. The special effects are unbeatable, at this period of time. Peter Jackson salutes the books (yes i've read them I've read every Tolkien book available to the public) with this film. I'm so dissapointed he couldn't have made it last longer. But I think I would have cut some Arwen and put more Eowyn. I had to laugh at the Orlando Bloom crazy fans at my school. Not as much Legolas, but more fighting! It's phenomenal.