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return-of-king-review

RETURN OF THE KING (2003)

This wonderful third installment of Jackson's Lord of the Rings trilogy tells the various adventures and trials of our heroes in a fight for middle earth's survival. Each has a specific task to complete. All these battles have one goal in mind: distract the Eye of Sauron and buy Sam and Frodo a little more time to destroy the ring.

The cast includes: Elijah Wood, Sean Astin, Cate Blanchett, Orlando Bloom, Ian Holm, Ian McKellen, John Rhys-Davies, Liv Tyler, Hugo Weaving, and Paul Norell.

Screenplay by Frances Walsh, Philippa Boyens and Peter Jackson, based on J.R.R. Tolkien's novel, Return of the King.

Won the Best Picture Oscar plus 10 more awards: Best Art Direction, Best Costume Design, Best Director, Best Film Editing, Best Make Up, Best Musical Score, Best Song, Best Sound Mixing, Best Visual Effects, Best Screenplay, adapted from another source.

Directed by: Peter Jackson.

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In this glorious masterpiece, which swept the 2003 Oscars, several story plots are presented to the audience, which all come together along the way meshing together during the grand ending of the film. Each story plot offers unique challenges and dangers to test each of our heroes and hopefully bring out the best of all to rise to the occasion, as they persevere to the goal of defeating evil and saving middle earth in their own way.

Story one begins with a flashback, explaining how the creature Gollum (Andy Serkis) became under the spell of Sauron's evil ring. Gollum, before his transfiguration had been a man by the name of Sméagol (Andy Serkis), a happy fellow who one day decided to go fishing with his best friend, Deagol (Thomas Robins) in a small boat in the middle of the river. Deagol caught a fish that pulled him out of the boat and dragged him under the water. Deagol saw the simmering gold ring and grabbed it. As he plopped down exhausted on the river bank, he stared at the ring, memorized by the power of the ring. Sméagol, concerned for his friend, was relieved to find him, but soon fell under the spell of the ring, and wound up killing Deagol for the ring.

Gollum awakens from his dream, and leaves the cave where Sam (Sean Astin) and Frodo (Elijah Wood) are sleeping, and goes to the nearby stream, and in a very creepy sequence of scenes, has a planning session with his alter personality, Sméagol, who's reflection can be seen in the stream. The audience is now uneasy for Sam and Frodo, knowing that Gollum is up to no good, and plans to kill again to get "his precious."

Sam and Frodo are in danger. Not only is some beastie going to try to eat them somewhere along the way to Mount Doom, but Frodo also is suffering fatigue and is fighting the evil power of the ring, trying to overcome him. The closer the trio gets to Mordor, the more pain Frodo is feeling and weaker is his resolve, depending more and more on Sam. Uh Oh! The success of the battle for middle earth depends on Frodo destroying the ring. If not, all is lost.

Aragorn: "Draw out Sauron's armies. Empty his lands. Then we gather our full strength and march on the Black Gate."

Eomer: "We cannot achieve victory through strength of arms."

Aragorn : "Not for ourselves. But we can give Frodo his chance if we keep Sauron's Eye fixed upon us. Keep him blind to all else that moves."

2nd story plot has Gandalf (Ian McKellen), Legolas (Orlando Bloom), Gimli (John Rhys-Davies), Aragorn (Viggo Mortensen) and friends traveling through the forest and find Saruman (Christopher Lee) trapped in his tower with the tree men guarding him. Pippin (Billy Boyd) and Merry (Dominic Monaghan) rejoined the group, after Pippin inadvertently finds the evil eye crystal ball, which quickly is taken into custody by Gandalf.

They all travel to King Grimbold's Kingdom city, where Pippin gets into trouble when he is drawn to the evil eye crystal ball, while Gandalf is sleeping. Pippin briefly sees the future, which results in Gandalf and Pippin traveling to Minas Tirith to help defend Gondor, as Pippin had seen the dead tree in the city, part of an alarming prophesy that Pippin had witnessed.

They find that Lord Denethor (John Noble) is in charge of the city, but doesn't have both oars in the water, due to his extreme grief upon hearing of his son Boromir's death, who is his favorite son. {Boromir (Sean Bean) was the warrior who was killed at the end of Lord of the Rings: Fellowship of the Ring, protecting Frodo, Merry and Pippin}. As usual Pippin manages to get in some trouble, forgetting the advice Gandalf gives him. Denethor has a very negative attitude about working together with the other army and defiantly refused to step down when the time came for the returning King. Great! Denethor isn't Mr. Cooperation, is in need of a grief councilor and is resentful as well!

The audience gets the feeling that Lord Denethor will make things real difficult for Gandalf and his efforts to protect the city, which isn't a good thing for our heroes, who now must covertly work around Denethor. Luckily, Gandalf has Pippin to help him in some rather surprising ways.

3rd story tells the adventures of Legolas, Gimli, Aragorn who temporarily leave King Grimbold's Kingdom city, to explore all possibilities, no matter how dangerous, in finding more warriors to fight along side King Grimbold's men, against the oncoming hoards of evil orgs and their slimy, evil fellow scumbags bent on conquering and destroying all that is good, for the glory and power of Sauron's rule.

4th story tells the struggles of the Elf King, Elrond (Hugo Weaving) and his lovely, heartsick daughter Arwen(Liv Taylor). Arwen refuses to leave on the boats heading for the other world, because she loves Aragorn, and had a vision which fixed her determined resolve. How will this help our heroes, the audience wonders.

5th story tells the adventures of Eowyn(Miranda Otto), the daughter of King Grimbold(Bruce Phillips), who takes Merry(Dominic Monaghan) under her wing. This partnership is destined to have an vitally important task in the upcoming battle, which is fierce, costly, a test of courage, resolve and perseverance for the warriors involved. Again great special effects brings the action and a sense of reality to the audience, making it seem that the viewer has a front row seat!

The last battles take place in Mordor, an epic fight of good verses evil. It is a real nail biter. The film builds the tension by showing the final showdown between the warriors and Sauron's forces and the hard struggle of Frodo and Sam to complete their task. Will the tormented Frodo be able to destroy the ring with Sam's help or will he succumb to the ring's power? The lives of their friends and the future of middle earth depends on it. Be prepared for a big surprise!

After this climatic struggle between good and evil, the film, like the novel, takes the time to follow up on the main characters, changed forever by their experiences. Some critics think the ending goes on too long, but the script is wisely faithful to Tolkien's novel, and it does so for a reason. Following the philosophy "All people for the greater good" results in good and as well as hard consequences to face for those involved in the front lines. How these inner conflicts are resolved end the film.

I bet J. R. R. Tolkien would be insanely happy with all three films in Jackson's trilogy and would heartily agree with all the awards this third installment of the trilogy received.

WOW! What an inspired labor of love, of commitment, always faithful to the messages and story of Tolkien's original novel(s), by a whole lot of talented, dedicated folks! It is no wonder that this film won so many Oscars, including Best Picture, as it excelled in so many areas. This film is the result of reaching for high standards set by Peter Jackson, his producers, his crew and his cast, all fully dedicated to bringing the Lord of the Rings Trilogy to life for not only Tolkien enthusiasts, but a whole new of generation of the viewing public. Because the footage of all three films was shot continuously, the cast, crew and director and the support people got to know each other very well, and grew from the experience, and this shows in the chemistry of the entire cast, which also adds a lot to the quality of acting and production values in this third part of the Lord of the Rings Trilogy.

What a screenplay, which wasn't easy to adapt from J.R.R. Tolkien's third addition, Return of the King! The screenplay has just the right mix of dialogue, action, flashbacks, suspense, intensity, poignant moments and smoothly segues from one sub story plot to another, making the whole storyline flow over the viewer, as the total film product involves the viewer on many fronts

The viewer is drawn into a real time, real world and real situations because of the art direction, costume design and visual effects, which are superb! The detail, the high quality of work and the creativity of the people involved in these areas really supports the story in creating a world that is real to the viewer, like it was a historical time that existed before the modern-day world.

"I want to see the grime on their faces, the dirt on the ground, and I want that level of gritty emotionalism and intensity. You can enjoy the fantasy more if you really believe it." - Peter Jackson

Peter Jackson richly deserved the Best Director Oscar. He brought all his gifts to this project, was secure enough in himself to appreciate others' gifts enough to take full advantage of these blessings, while being a leader in upholding the high standards that would do justice in bringing Tolkien's story roaringly to life.

Two of Jackson's gifts are being able to pick new acting talent and being able to work very well with the entire cast, whether they were new talent or experienced actors/ actresses. All the parts were well cast with enthusiastic people who strived to portray their characters true to Tolkien's story.

Ian McKellen - This accomplished, award winning, knighted stage actor excels as Gandalf, the good wizard, a leader in the fight against the evil forces. Ian had never read Tolkien's Lord of the Rings series, but did so when hired to play this character, as he earnestly wanted to portray Gandalf in the spirit of Tolkien's vision of the character.

Viggo Mortensen - He brings the character Aragorn to life as the ranger conflicted about his destiny to be King. He is a brave, focused leader, a dynamite swordsman and in love with Elf princess, Arwen.

Liv Tyler - Makes a very beautiful, convincing Elfan princess with a hard choice to make in this story. Does she forget the love of her life, the human Aragorn and leave with the others on the boats to the other world, at the urging of her father Elrond, or does she stick around and find a way to help the men and others in their fight against the evil Sauron and his forces?

Orlando Bloom - is very convincing as the Elfan warrior, Legolas who is brave, witty and quite good with the bow and arrow and never short on courage. He was a hit with the younger generation of women, from preteens to college age as his picture as Legolas made it up on many a wall.

John Rhys-Davies - A versatile actor, known for his supporting role in the Indiana Jones film trilogy, makes a terrific dwarf warrior, though one can't recognize him because of all the makeup and mask he had to endure while portraying this character.

Andy Serkis - Does a wonderful job doing the voices of the personalities of Gollum, though he is seen in the first scene as the happy, normal fellow, Sméagol. He makes Gollum chillingly creepy and menacing, sure to scare the viewer, as his voice brings Gollum alive. Andy would've been nominated as best supporting actor but was not allowed to be nominated because Gollum was a computer generated creature

My favorite group of actors in this film are the ones who played the young Hobbits, who despite their youth and weaknesses and physical shortness, proved to be a vital part of the success of the battle against evil.

Elijah Wood - Is a talented actor who excels as the Hobbit, Frodo, who is the only one who is able to carry the evil toxic ring around his neck and not fall under its evil influence. Only he can be the ring bearer and the responsibility to throw it into the fires of Mount Doom is his to accomplish, with the help of others, especially Sam. Over the span of three films, Elijah grows into the character role as he grows up himself. Only 18 at the time of the first film, he grows as an actor along with his character, Frodo.

Sean Astin - A director/film maker in his own right, who loves to act, Sean is also a convincing actor as Sam, a true, brave friend of Frodo, who proves to be a source of strong support and protection who never falters in courage - a wonderful example for us all.

Dominic Monaghan as Hobbit Merry and Billy Boyd as Hobbit Pippin play off each other nicely, adding moments of comedy to the film, though each character individually also has a test of courage to do their part in the battle against evil.

Rated PG-13 for intense epic battle sequences and frightening images. (Also extended edition). And they are not kidding! Evil is presented in a variety of scary forms from evil rings, big leggy beastie (YIKES), scary music, and art/set design to creepy Gollum, slimy, ugly evil doers, and their nasty deeds. Plus, the high intensity field battles and the suffering of Frodo and Sam offer the viewer powerful, gritty entertainment. While our determined heroes are willing to give their all in defeating, relying on personal and group courage, perseverance in keeping eye on the goal, wise planning, love and loyalty to each other, all which is used to finally defeat the evil threatening middle earth, it may be too scary for the sensitive and cause bad dreams for both (children and adults). Return of the King is definitely a film for 13 and up, though not before bedtime for the sensitive. Otherwise, images of Gollum and other nasties may trouble the sleep!

Legolas:"The stars are veiled. Something stirs in the East. A sleepless malice. The eye of the enemy is moving. He is HERE. "

Gandalf : "The board is set... the pieces are moving." & Gimli: "Certainty of death. Small chance of success. What are we waiting for?"

Gollum, speaking to his other personality, Sméagol mirrored in the water: "She's always hungry. She always needs to feed. She must eat. All she gets is nasty orcses."

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