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The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King (2003)

The Return of the King

The journey ends

Directed by:

Peter Jackson

Rating: 10/10

Running Time: 201 minutes

UK Certificate: 12A

Country: United States, New Zealand (Aotearoa)

After watching ‘The Return of the King’, I was left squabbling with myself – a bit like Gollum, actually. Half of me is already excited about seeing what director Peter Jackson will bring us next (it’s ‘King Kong’, by the way). But the other half of me knows that it’s going to be virtually impossible for him to top what he has done in bringing ‘The Lord of the Rings’ trilogy so spectacularly to the big screen.

Again we join hobbits Frodo (Elijah Wood) and Sam (Sean Astin) as they attempt to reach the lava-flooded land of Mordor and destroy Middle Earth’s nastiest piece of jewellery. Meanwhile, the big battle scenes rage on more convincingly than ever as Gandalf (Ian McKellen), Aragorn (Viggo Mortenson), Legolas (Orlando Bloom) and the rest of the gang do their best to keep the pig-ugly orcs at bay.

Practically perfect in its execution, right now I find it hard to imagine a greater feat of film-making being accomplished not only in the next few years, but in my lifetime. The complete trilogy blows all previous fantasy projects, including the original ‘Star Wars’ flicks, out of the water. And don’t even mention ‘The Matrix’ movies, because I’ll more than likely scoff in your general direction.

The big screen experience places you right in the middle of the action, with giant boulders flying past and beasties bellowing all around. There’s less comic relief this time round, but in its place is a darker tone that makes parts of this movie considerably more frightening than many outright horror flicks. In fact, the spider scene alone would be seen my many Hollywood honchos as having the makings of a film in its own right. Here, though, it’s just a part of something much, much bigger.

For a movie of such mammoth length to provide such non-stop enthrallment is, as far as I’m concerned, a near-miracle. There are so many films that can’t rivet me for five minutes, let alone have me on the edge of my seat for over three hours. This is the movie that makes sitting through Hollywood’s never-ending stream of dross seem worthwhile.

As a stand-alone experience, this final 200 minute chapter is the trilogy’s crowning glory, with an overall quality that surpasses both of its excellent predecessors. Jackson – and perhaps also that Tolkien bloke – has saved the best for last, bringing us the biggest, boldest, and most captivating film I can ever recall seeing.

It's Got: A giant arachnid, some flying heads, an army of ‘Pirates of the Caribbean’-style ghoulies, and Boromir’s ginger brother getting it in the neck from Dad.

It Needs: A dentist for Gollum and a few of those orcs.

Summary

Quite possibly the best movie ever made.

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