Directed by: Peter Jackson
Premise: The third film in the Lord of the Rings trilogy. The Battle for Middle Earth comes to a close as Frodo (Elijah Wood) enters Mordor and Aragorn (Viggo Mortensen) rallies mankind to a final battle with the forces of darkness.
What Works: The film wraps up the excellent adaptation of J.R.R. Tolkien’s fantasy novels. The DVD release has been expanded by about an hour and the added scenes wrap up loose ends from the previous installments. The characters complete arcs that were started in The Fellowship of the Ring and carefully developed throughout The Two Towers, which still stands as the best installment of the series. The standout performance of this film is Sean Astin as Samwise. His relationship with Frodo is the heart of the film and creates emotional weight against the backdrop of the larger events.
What Doesn’t: Despite the careful build up over the course of three films, Return of the King drags a little in its third act and denouement. The battle of Minas Tirith suffers from some pacing problems and a few continuity errors.
DVD extras: The set has four discs, two of them with supplements. Three commentary tracks, featurettes on the score, the adaptation of the novel, and various facets of the production, photos, short films, and appendices for the film.
Bottom Line: Despite being clunky at times, The Return of the King is still a strong chapter in an enormously successful filmmaking achievement. Although the film is long, it is also refreshing to see a filmmaker take his time and properly craft a story.
Episode: #41 (February 27, 2005)