The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King (Extended Edition) (2003): A Great Films review


The Return of the King Poster

The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King is the rarest of rare films. It is the third part of a trilogy but is the strongest of the three, an outstanding achievement. This is mainly because the film succeeds in delivering a great ending to all the events that have taken place in The Fellowship of the Ring and The Two Towers. The events unfolding in this third film truly feel like the end of something very special. The end of a unique trilogy that has made cinema history.

Aragorn Gandalf Ian McKellen Viggo Mortensen The Return of the King

The Return of the King is the third and final part of The Lord of the Rings trilogy. It is directed by Peter Jackson once again and is based, as are the first two films, on the book by J.R.R. Tolkien of the same name. The film is adapted to the silver screen by Peter Jackson, Fran Walsh and Philippa Boyens. It is the conclusion of Frodo and Sam's tortuous journey to destroy the One Ring as well as the final battle between the World of Men against the dark forces of Mordor.


Being the end of this magnificent trilogy, it was a must that the ensemble cast give a final performance that is memorable. Thankfully, they do. It seems to me that the entire cast has grown more mature in this film even though the trilogy was filmed back-to-back. Viggo Mortensen, as Aragorn the future king, is more assured and confident. Elijah Wood and Sean Astin, as Frodo and Sam, respectively, are more determined than ever to reach Mount Doom and destroy the ring. Gandalf, played by Ian McKellen, is wiser, if that is possible, and shows even more leadership than the previous two films.

Along with the rest of the cast, the performances are more polished, focused and effective than the previous two films. Acting in the third film, the cast could have relied on being lazy since they have been doing the same thing for two films now. However, that is not the case at all here. They all give a lot of memorable scenes such as the one in which Aragorn (Viggo Mortensen) finally assumes the role and responsibility he was always been destined for. It is these types of perfect scenes that elevate the acting to the highest level.

Samwise Gamgee Frodo Baggins The Return of the King

It goes without saying that Peter Jackson's directing improves further in The Return of the King. Here, he shows more versatility in his technique as he is required to film at least two elaborate battle scenes whilst also providing softer dramatic scenes that give the story much depth and resonance.

Consider the final battle for example. Here, the forces of the World of Man are on the verge of locking horns with the vile and hideous creatures manifested by the evil forces of Mordor. The battle scenes are visceral, gritty and, dare I say, realistic. The fact that Peter Jackson has managed to create such a feeling in a fantasy film deserves to be greatly admired.



Peter Jackson also gives the film an overwhelming sense of finality where one truly feels that everything that has started from The Fellowship of the Ring and given depth to by The Two Towers is about to be resolved and wrapped up in The Return of the King. This feeling that the end is near has the viewer experiencing a continuous state of suspense, in my opinion. Peter Jackson does that in a way that is unique and incomparable.


Final battle The Return of the King

The music in The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King also gives the film wholeness. As with the other two films, it is composed by the brilliant mind of Howard Shore. The end title song, “Into The West”, is performed by Annie Lennox and is a fitting musical tribute to this trilogy.


Liv Tyler The Return of the King

The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King is a perfect film in every sense of the word. It is exceptionally rare that I would enjoy every single scene in such a lengthy film as this one. The fact that it keeps me interested for more than four hours is an achievement in itself. Add to that the superlative acting, focused writing, extravagant production, majestic music, to name a few, and the result is a motion picture that will endure as long as humanity exists. Without a doubt, what Peter Jackson has accomplished with this trilogy is truly extraordinary.


Gandalf The Return of the King





Peter Jackson

Outstanding performances:

  • Elijah Wood (as Frodo Baggins)
  • Andy Serkis (as Gollum)
  • Ian McKellen (as Gandalf)
  • Viggo Mortensen (as Aragorn)
  • Sean Astin (as Samwise Gamgee)


4 hours and 23 minutes




Action / Adventure / Fantasy