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THE LORD OF THE RINGS: THE RETURN OF THE KING


The bone-weary but unsinkable Frodo makes a super-human push to restore the Ring to the fires of Mount Doom in order to save mankind from the armies of the vile Sauron.

CAST: Elijah Wood, Billy Boyd, Dominic Monaghan, Sean Astin, Ian McKellen, Ian Holm, Viggo Mortensen, Orlando Bloom, Liv Tyler, Christopher Lee, Cate Blanchett, John Rhys-Davies, Bernard Hill, Brad Dourif, Miranda Otto, Karl Urban, John Noble, David Wenham, Alexandra Astin, Bruce Spence, Hugo Weaving

DIRECTOR: Peter Jackson; New Line

"Now that the trilogy is complete, we can take the full measure of Peter Jackson’s extraordinary accomplishment. ‘The Lord of the Rings’ stands as a model of epic storytelling. The final installment runs well over three hours, but Jackson’s modulations of tone, space, scale and intensity are so expertly gauged you never feel pummeled or bored. Just gripped from start to finish...The second installment was better than the first, and this one is best of all." --David Ansen, Newsweek

 

"The threads are awesome, but it's the weave—of the epic and the intimate, the airy and the visceral, the lofty and the blood-curdling—that's spellbinding. This is the best of the three Rings movies—more than that, it makes the others look even better. You can finally see the arc of the trilogy…‘The Lord of the Rings’ took seven years and an army of gifted artists to execute, and the striving of its makers is in every splendid frame. It's more than a movie—it's a gift." –David Edelstein, Slate

"Taken as a whole, this series derived from the Tolkien books is without parallel as a sustained piece of fantasy-fiction adaptation…Jackson is rare among the makers of epic movies in that he knows how to do the small stuff, too. ‘The Return of the King’ has ‘heart’—how else could it pump out all that blood? I wouldn’t recommend watching it, however, without having seen the first two, even though the set pieces can be enjoyed as pure theater." --Peter Rainer, New York Magazine

"The one thing Jackson does brilliantly is capture the exhilaration, fatigue, heroism and despair of war. He looks at it as something not ennobling but exhausting, more ordeal than crusade but -- completely necessary. So this film is mostly war. It builds, skillfully, toward that big kill-off at Pelennor Fields, which it re-creates with almost unbearable intensity…Then, finally, there are the endings, all six of them. I suppose if you're essentially making one 558-minute movie you're entitled to six endings. And for the members of the cult, each of those endings ties up a storyline and will produce unbelievable poignancy. For us outsiders, it seems like too much of a good thing." --Stephen Hunter, The Washington Post

"‘ Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King’ rules as the crowning achievement of Peter Jackson's awesome adaptation of J.R.R. Tolkien's trilogy, a majestic conclusion to a nine-plus-hours epic that stirs the heart, mind and soul as few films ever have…it's also one of the most beautiful films ever shot." –Lou Lumenick, The New York Post

"I can't work up much enthusiasm for it…I've read the J.R.R. Tolkien novels more than once, and my quarrel isn't with his grand mythic vision. It's with Peter Jackson's often uninspired translation of his story into cinematic terms…has there ever been a movie with more endings? Every time you think the final credits are about to roll, another scene lurches in, adding another chance to look at your watch in awe and wonderment at how much sheer footage the film has…Add a lot of dull acting--except Sir Ian McKellen and Andy Serkis-- and you have an uneven movie with yawns aplenty." --David Sterritt, The Christian Science Monitor

"… a meticulous and prodigious vision made by a director who was not hamstrung by heavy use of computer special-effects imagery…‘King’ features more prognostication and exposition than its predecessors. Yet despite all of the setups required, Mr. Jackson maintains tension." --Elvis Mitchell, The New York Times

"Why is ‘The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King,’ the 3-hour-and-20-minute final installment, less than awesome?…Perhaps it's the Jungian cornucopia of homoerotic symbolism (the swords! the staffs! the towers!) and the endless moony, moist gazes between members of the all-male Fellowship as they gird their loins for battle. There are times in ‘Return of the King,’ as halfling faces halfling or king faces elf, when you want to stand up and shout, ‘Kiss him already!’…‘The Return of the King is too long; there's a veritable cascade of flowery, feel-good endings." --Stephen Rea, The Philadelphia Inquirer

"Jackson's magnum opus is hermetic and overdetermined, lacking the visionary chutzpah and demented social energy that characterized the great pulp fantasies created by Fritz Lang in the 1920s, ‘Die Nibelungen’ and ‘Metropolis’…It's a technological marvel, and for those not with the program, a bit of a bore. And that's before the interminable farewells, Celtic airs, longing looks, Shire celebrations, and expeditions into a New Age sea of light that make up the lugubrious closer. ‘The Ring’ trilogy may be fiercely chaste, but its hobbituary denouement is gayer than anything in ‘Angels in America.’" --J. Hoberman, The Village Voice

"As good as each individual movie is, the third film vaults the work into the stratosphere of classic movies. Key characters are enhanced, new civilizations visited and battles fought more intensely, while feelings and motivations are plumbed more deeply and movingly…Ian McKellen's Gandalf has a larger role in the third film, morphing from wizard/prophet to army general, and one cannot imagine the role played by anyone else." --Claudia Puig, USA Today

"This is the best of the three, redeems the earlier meandering, and certifies the ‘Ring’ trilogy as a work of bold ambition at a time of cinematic timidity. That it falls a little shy of greatness is perhaps inevitable. The story is just a little too silly to carry the emotional weight of a masterpiece…one feels at the end that nothing actual and human has been at stake; cartoon characters in a fantasy world have been brought along about as far as it is possible for them to come, and while we applaud the achievement, the trilogy is more a work for adolescents (of all ages) than for those hungering for truthful emotion thoughtfully paid for." --Roger Ebert, Chicago Sun-Times

"Though an estimable success overall, ‘The Return of the King’ has several scenes too many and too great a concentration on battles…concludes with six or seven scenes in a row, each of which could legitimately end the movie. That's a whole lot of endings. Yet at least four of those endings are powerful enough to bring half the audience to tears… at its most visceral level, a grand adventure with lots of fun things to look at." --Mick LaSalle, San Francisco Chronicle

"Maybe it's just hobbit fatigue…where many viewers staggered out of ‘Towers’ last year in a daze of exaltation, ‘Return’ may leave one overwhelmed and exhausted…The sense of purpose is impressive, but all that solemnity begins to pall over the backstretch…There are signs of haste in some of the special effects, and there's also the sense that the director just doesn't want to let go…the film's final scenes feel like a road that does, in fact, go on forever." --Ty Burr, The Boston Globe