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The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King

Action . Fantasy . Adventure . Drama

Aragorn is revealed as the heir to the ancient kings as he, Gandalf and the other members of the broken fellowship struggle to save Gondor from Sauron's forces. Meanwhile, Frodo and Sam bring the ring closer to the heart of Mordor, the dark lord's realm.

Actors: David Aston , Ali Astin , Noel Appleby , Andy Serkis , Dominic Monaghan , Billy Boyd , Sean Astin , John Rhys-Davies , Orlando Bloom , Liv Tyler , Viggo Mortensen , Ian McKellen , Elijah Wood
Directors: Peter Jackson
Release: 2003-12-17
More Info:
  • David Hunter

    An epic success and a history-making production that finishes with a masterfully entertaining final installment.

    The Hollywood Reporter Full Review
  • Michael Wilmington

    Like all great fantasies and epics, this one leaves you with the sense that its wonders are real, its dreams are palpable.

    Chicago Tribune Full Review
  • Rene Rodriguez

    Feels like a miracle, a movie that exceeds even the most formidable expectations without straying from its singular path. All hail this King.

    Miami Herald Full Review
  • Jack Mathews

    The most emotionally satisfying because, in addition to having both more intimate drama and more spectacular battles, it resolves all of the issues raised before.

    New York Daily News Full Review
  • Lou Lumenick

    A majestic conclusion to a nine-plus-hours epic that stirs the heart, mind and soul as few films ever have.

    New York Post Full Review
  • Claudia Puig

    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.

    USA Today Full Review
  • James Berardinelli

    Labeling this as a "movie" is almost an injustice. This is an experience of epic scope and grandeur, amazing emotional power, and relentless momentum.

    ReelViews Full Review
  • Michael Sragow

    It rises, all on its own, to the realm of masterwork.

    Baltimore Sun Full Review
  • Lawrence Toppman

    Jackson had the vision, persistence, insight and patience for this mighty job, plus the smarts to shape stage veterans and overlooked film actors into a seamless cast. He's made himself as immortal as a movie director can be.

    Charlotte Observer Full Review
  • Glenn Kenny

    A phantasmagorical slab of epic entertainment that satisfies on every conceivable level.

    Premiere Full Review
  • Alan Morrison

    Those who have walked beside these heroes every step of the way on such a long journey deserve the emotional pay-off as well as the action peaks, and they will be genuinely touched as the final credits roll.

    Empire Full Review
  • Shawn Levy

    From the acting to the special effects to the landscapes to the cinematography, editing and music, to the details of decor, wardrobe and armaments, we never once feel that we are in anything but the hands of an absolute master of the medium.

    Portland Oregonian Full Review
  • Lisa Schwarzbaum

    The conclusion of Peter Jackson's masterwork is passionate and literate, detailed and expansive, and it's conceived with a risk-taking flair for old-fashioned movie magic at its most precious.

    Entertainment Weekly Full Review
  • William Arnold

    First and foremost, it soars because its grand design and numerous story problems were worked out half a century ago by a guy named Tolkien, and Jackson was smart enough to realize this.

    Seattle Post-Intelligencer Full Review
  • Peter Rainer

    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?

    New York Magazine (Vulture) Full Review
  • Scott Foundas

    The deep satisfaction of The Return of the King is in surrendering ourselves to the finale, in letting Jackson's superb storytelling (with due credit to co-screenwriters Fran Walsh and Philippa Boyens) surround us like a blazing campfire tale -- which it does, gloriously.

    L.A. Weekly Full Review
  • Gregory Weinkauf

    This film is a miracle, an extravaganza equal to its predecessors and in some ways more stunning. It is a profound testament to the extraordinary power of moving images and sound.

    Dallas Observer Full Review
  • Kenneth Turan

    As completely real on the psychological level as its up-to-the-moment visual effects have on the physical.

    Los Angeles Times Full Review
  • A.O. Scott

    It's been a long time since a commercially oriented film with the scale of "King" ended with such an enduring and heartbreaking coda.

    The New York Times Full Review
  • David Ansen

    The second installment was better than the first, and this one is best of all. It has spectacular action scenes and imaginary creatures, and it’s by far the most moving chapter. The performances have deepened.

    Newsweek Full Review
  • David Edelstein

    It might be the cinema's most astonishing holy war film. 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.

    Slate Full Review
  • Richard Corliss

    The second half of the film elevates all the story elements to Beethovenian crescendo. Here is an epic with literature's depth and opera's splendor -- and one that could be achieved only in movies. What could be more terrific?

    Time Full Review
  • Todd McCarthy

    Represents that filmmaking rarity -- a third part of a trilogy that is decisively the best of the lot. With epic conflict, staggering battles, striking landscapes and effects, and resolved character arcs all leading to a dramatic conclusion to more than nine hours of masterful storytelling.

    Variety Full Review
  • Desson Thomson

    This movie is not only a thrilling experience, it closes the book on a truly satisfying trilogy.

    Washington Post Full Review
  • Andrea Gronvall

    Ties everything together with a dazzling synthesis of pagan animism, heroic quest mythology, orientalism, Pre-Raphaelite imagery, 1950s sci-fi creature features, and Hollywood war epics.

    Chicago Reader Full Review
  • Andrew O'Hehir

    I love Jackson's "Rings" saga despite his propensity for whimsical animation whenever he tries to strike a chord of dread or menace. Full Review
  • Keith Phipps

    All in all, it's a fitting conclusion to the series, and yet there are disappointments built in. For one, Jackson has opted not to film Tolkien's downbeat "Scouring Of The Shire" epilogue.

    The A.V. Club Full Review
  • Stephen Hunter

    Then, finally, there are the endings, all six of them...For us outsiders, it seems like too much of a good thing...But all those are minor rants: The big fact is that The Return of the King puts you there at Waterloo, or Thermopylae or the Bulge, any desperate place where men ran low on blood and iron and ammo, but not on courage.

    Washington Post Full Review
  • Peter Travers

    This is a film in which ideas resonate as well as action. Gandalf’s words to Pippin about death have a muscular poetry.

    Rolling Stone Full Review
  • Roger Ebert

    There is little enough psychological depth anywhere in the films, actually, and they exist mostly as surface, gesture, archetype and spectacle. They do that magnificently well, but one feels at the end that nothing actual and human has been at stake.

    Chicago Sun-Times Full Review
  • Ty Burr

    Yet what I felt when the lights came up at the end of this visionary, titanic, relentless experience was something different: a strange relief that it was, at last, over.

    Boston Globe Full Review
  • J. Hoberman

    In short, this Krakatoa is at once exhausting and riveting. It's a technological marvel, and for those not with the program, a bit of a bore.

    Village Voice Full Review
  • Marc Savlov

    It’s odd and unfortunate, however, that The Return of the King just barely misses the eye-misting emotional wallop of the series’ previous installment, The Two Towers, which had a lyrical subtlety underpinning the vast vistas of growing chaos (and Christopher Lee hardly hurt matters) and hobbits-in-peril.

    Austin Chronicle Full Review
  • Steven Rea

    The Return of the King is too long...The various story lines...come together in stilted, episodic ways. The narrative is less-than-seamless.

    Philadelphia Inquirer Full Review
  • Mick LaSalle

    Though an estimable success overall, The Return of the King has several scenes too many and too great a concentration on battles.

    San Francisco Chronicle Full Review
  • Liam Lacey

    The [final] battle is vast, and undoubtedly required thousands of hours of matching puppetry, robotics and computer code, but it is not without tedium.

    The Globe and Mail (Toronto) Full Review
  • Maitland McDonagh

    Despite its length, the film only starts feeling as long at the end -- or, more correctly, ends. Serious fans of the novels will be prepared for the serial codicils, but the uninitiated are likely to think the film is over several times before it actually is.

    TV Guide Full Review
  • Kevin Carr

    If The Return of the King was 2 1/2 hours long, it would have rocked. It would have been better than The Two Towers, which is the best film in the series.

    Film Threat Full Review
  • David Sterritt

    Add a lot of dull acting -- except Sir Ian McKellen and Andy Serkis -- and you have an uneven movie with yawns aplenty.

    Christian Science Monitor Full Review
  • Joe Morgenstern

    The invisible wizard Peter Jackson makes use of every scene to show us the meaning of magnificence. Never has a filmmaker aimed higher, or achieved more.

    Wall Street Journal Full Review
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