Here we are. Probably my all time favorite book, turned into a live action movie. I will admit that I was just as much scared as I was excited to see this movie, more so than the previous two. I mean, this is my favorite book. What if they left out something I felt was important? What if it wasn’t any good. I finally relaxed in the knowledge that both of the other movies were really good so there is no reason why this one wouldn’t be as well. So let’s finish our journey through Tolkien’s Middle Earth with today’s movie, The Lord Of The Rings: The Return Of The King.
The plot: The movie starts with Gollum remembering back to how he first obtained the ring by killing his friend Deagol after he found it in the river when fishing. In the present day, Gollum continues to lead Frodo and Sam to the secret way into Mordor. Back in Rohan, Gandalf, Aragorn, Legalos, Gimli, Theoden, and Eomer arrive at Isengard, where they are greeted by Merry and Pippen, who was told to meet them by Treebeard. After speaking with Treebeard, they then approach the tower and speak with Saruman, who eventually attempts to strike down Gandalf but Gandalf easily survives the attack and breaks Saruman’s staff in retalliation. Theoden speaks to Wormtongue, offering to let him return to Rohan, but Saruman mocks Theoden and strikes Wormtongue. Wormtongue stabs Saruman in the back, causing Legalos to shoot him in the chest with an arrow, and Saruman falls from the top of the tower onto a water wheel. The palantir falls from Saruman’s hands and Pippen retrieves it but Gandalf quickly takes it from the young hobbit. Back in Edoras, a celebration is being held and everyone is enjoying themselves, but Gandalf and Aragorn share their concerns about how Frodo is doing. Sam overhears Gollum plotting to kill them and attacks him, but Frodo stops him from hurting Gollum, saying they still need him as their guide. Back in Edoras, Pippen’s curiosity about the palantir grows so he takes it from a sleeping Gandalf and looks into it, resulting in Sauron attacking his mind. Aroused by Merry’s cries, Aragorn takes the palantir from Pippen and Gandalf covers it, then questions Pippen about what he saw and what he told Sauron. After holding council with Theoden and Aragorn, Gandalf says that Sauron plans to attack Minas Tirith and Rohan must be ready to aid Gondor before he sets out for Minas Tirith with Pippen. As Arwen is heading towards the ships to go to the Grey Havens, she sees a vision of Aragorn holding their son and rides back to Rivendell and confronts her father about what he saw in her future. As Arwen gives up her immortality, she convinces Elrond to reforge the broken sword of Isildur and take it to Aragorn. Gandalf and Pippen arrive at Minas Tirith and go before Denethor, Steward of Gondor, who is holding Boromir’s broken horn. Pippen tells Denethor how Boromir died and offers his service to Denethor as payment of his debt. Gandalf tells Denethor that war is coming and he asks Denethor to ready his army. Denethor refuses, saying he will not allow Aragorn to usurp his rule of Gondor. Later, as pippen and Gandalf talk about the upcoming war, Gandalf mentions that Sauron’s forces will be led by the Witch King of Angmar, who no living man can kill. Gollum, Frodo, and Sam reach Minas Morgul and Gollum shows them the stairs that lead into Mordor. However, Frodo is drawn towards the bridge leading to Minas Morgul but Sam and Gollum pull him back. Suddenly, a massive pillar of energy shoots into the sky as the gates open and the Witch King leads a massive army towards Gondor. Gollum leads Frodo and Sam up the stairs, but Sam warns Gollum not to betray them. In Osgiliath, an orc army, led by an orc named Gothmog, attack Osgiliath and overrun Faramir’s forces. Gandalf realizes that Denethor won’t ask for help so he has Pippen secretly go to light the signal fires of Gondor. As the beacons all across the land are lit, Aragon sees the beacon in Rohan and tells Theoden, who agrees to ride to Gondor’s aid. Merry offers his service to Theoden, which Theoden accepts and names Merry an Esquire of Rohan. Back in Osgiliath, Faramir orders his men to fall back to Minas Tirith, but they are attacked by the Nazgul, until Gandalf rides out to aid their escape. In Minas Tirith, Faramir speaks with Gandalf but when he sees Pippen, he tells Gandalf and Pippen that he saw Frodo and Sam two days ago and which direction they were heading. When Denethor speaks with Faramir, he is angry about Faramir letting Frodo take the ring into Mordor, then begins to go mad as he sees the image of Boromir before him. Frodo, Sam, and Gollum continue their climb up the stairs but Gollum begins to whisper into Frodo’s ear that Sam wishes to take the ring. In Gondor, Denethor orders Faramir to try and retake Osgiliath, knowing that it is a fool’s errand, and in his grief, admits that he wishes Faramir were dead instead of Boromir. Gollum takes the lembas from Sam’s pack and throws it away, leaving a few crumbs which he spreads on Sam’s cloak. When they discover the missing bread, Sam accuses Gollum of taking it but Gollum points out the crumbs on Sam’s cloak and Frodo tells Sam to leave them. Gandalf pleads with Faramir not to throw away his life but Faramir replies that his allegiance lies with the city and he will gladly defend it. In Rohan, Theoden has assembled an army of 6000 spears but Aragorn doesn’t believe it will be enough to turn back the armies of Mordor. That night, Elrond arrives in the camp and speaks with Aragorn, saying that Arwen is dying. He then gives Aragorn the newly forged sword, named Anduril, and tells him to take the road through the mountain and call upon the army of the dead in the mountain to fulfill their oath. Accompanied by Gimli and Legalos, Aragorn rides down the mountain road, while the men of Rohan begin to lose hope until Theoden tells them that they will still ride into battle. As the Rohirrim prepare to leave, Theoden tells Merry that he won’t be able to join them and must stay behind, but a disguised Eowyn grabs Merry and has him ride with her. Aragorn leads Gimli and Legalos through the mountain, until the come face to face with the ghosts of the men of the North. Aragorn announces that he is Isildur’s heir and offers to release them of their curse if they will fight with him, which the leader agrees to do. In Gondor, the Mordor army arrives on the Pelennor fields while Faramir’s wounded body is brought back to Minas Tirith and taken to Denethor. Believing his son is dead, Denethor sinks into despair and yells out for everyone to flee but Gandalf knocks him unconscious and rouses the army to pepare for battle and fight back. The Nazgul arrive and begin to take out the cities catapults, allowing the orc towers to breach the city’s walls. Meanwhile, Gothmog has a giant battering ram called Grond moved into position to break down the city’s doors. Elsewhere, Aragorn, Gimli, and Legalos confront the corsair ships and, with the army of the dead, take control of the ships. In Mordor, Frodo and Gollum reach the top of the stairs and Gollum leads Frodo into some tunnels, which turns out to be the lair of a giant spider named Shelob. Sam makes his way down the mountain and discovers the lembas that Gollum threw away and begins climbing back up the mountain to save Frodo. Frodo is attacked by Shelob but manages to use the Phial of Galadriel to escape, but ends up caught in a web, with Gollum taunting him. Frodo manages to cut himself free and get out of the tunnels, but Gollum attacks him and ends up falling down the cliff. As Mordor’s army continues to lay siege to Minas Tirith, Pippen sees Denethor taking Faramir’s body to the tomb of the stewards and prepares to burn him on a funeral pyre. Meanwhile, Grond breaks through the door allowing an army of orcs and trolls into the city. In Mordor, Frodo continues towards Mt Doom when he is pierced by Shelob’s stinger and wrapped in a cocoon. Before Shelob can eat him, Sam appears, wielding Sting and the Phial of Galadriel against the giant spider and drives her off after stabbing her in the stomach. Believing Frodo to be dead, Sam takes the ring and goes to finish the quest, but when some orcs find the body, he learns that Frodo is still alive and decides to rescue him. Back in Gondor, Pippen tries to stop Denethor from burning Faramir alive but Denethor throws Pippen out of the tomb. Pippen goes to get Gandalf and finds him confronting the Witch King of Angmar, who breaks Gandalf’s staff. Suddenly, a sounding horn signals the arrival of Theoden and the Rohirrim, who charge into the enemy forces, throwing them into disarray. Inside the tomb, Denethor douses himself with oil, then has the pyre lit as he stands on top of it with Faramir, when Gandalf enters the tomb and tells him to stop. Gandalf knocks Denethor off the pyre and Pippen jumps up and rolls Faramir to safety. When Denethor attacks Pippen, Gandalf’s horse, Shadowfax, rears up and kicks him onto the pyre, where he sees that Faramir is still alive before he runs screaming from the tomb and throws his burning body off the city’s ledge. Back on the fields, The Rohirrim are confronted by an army of Haradrim, riding on their massiv Oliphaunts. As Theoden rallies his men, he is attacked by the Witch King’s mount. Eowyn stands guard over his body and cuts the head off the creature but the Witch King rises up and begins to attack Eowyn, breaking her shield arm with his mace. As he goes to finish off Eowyn, Merry stabs him in the back, wounding him and allowing Eowyn to finish off the Witch King when she reveals that she is a woman. Meanwhile, the corsair ships arrive in Gondor and Aragorn, Gimli, and Legalos disembark, to the surprise of the nearby orcs, and join the battle with the army of the dead, eventually defeating the Mordor army. Eowyn makes her way to Theoden, who speaks to her briefly before dying of his wounds. With the battle over, Aragorn releases the army of the dead from their oath, then begins to tend to those wounded from the battle, among them Faramir and Eowyn, while Pippen combs the battle field and eventually finds Merry and brings him to be healed. Back in Mordor, Frodo is taken to Cirith Ungol, where two orcs begin fighting over his mithril shirt, causing all the other orcs to begin fighting among themselves. Sam makes his way into the tower and kills some of the remaining orcs, but doesn’t see an orc running off with the mithril shirt. Sam rescues Frodo but Frodo believes that the orcs took the ring but Sam reveals that he has the ring. Frodo asks Sam to give him the ring, which he is reluctant to do, but Frodo grabs it, saying that it is his burden, and they grab some orc armor to disguise themselves with as they enter Mordor. In Gondor, Aragorn suggest marching against the black gate as a means of diverting Sauron’s attention, giving Frodo and Sam a better chance of succeeding in their quest. He then uses the palantir to contact Sauron, showing him the Anduril, but Sauron counters with a vision of a dying Arwen. Frodo and Sam watch as the orcs begin marching from Mordor but when they wind up forced to march with some orcs, they start a fight in order to get away from the orc army. As they get closer to Mt. Doom, the ring becomes harder for Frodo to bear and they are forced to get rid of all their equipment. Aragorn and his army arrive at the Black Gate, where the meet with the Mouth of Sauron, who shows them Frodo’s mithril shirt, causing Merry and Pippen to cry out. As the Mouth of Sauron taunts them about Frodo’s suffering, Aragorn cuts off his head, and as the Black Gate opens and the Mordor armies begin to issue forth, he rallies his men to get them ready to fight. Frodo and Sam reach the mountain, Frodo is unable to go any further and Sam is forced to carry him up the mountain. As they near the top, they are attacked by Gollum and Sam holds him off while Frodo continues towards the inside of the mountain. Back at the Black Gate, Aragorn leads his army against the Mordor horde, but when the Nazgul arrives, they are suddenly attacked by the giant eagles, who have come to help Gandalf. Sam joins Frodo and begs him to throw the ring into the fires below, but Frodo refuses and instead dons the ring. Sauron’s gaze is immediately shifted to Mount Doom and the Nazgul fly off in that direction while Sam is knocked unconscious by Gollum. Gollum begins fighting with Frodo and bites off Frodo’s finger, claiming the ring as his own but as he jumps for joy at reclaiming the ring, Frodo leaps at him to try and get the ring back. The two fall off the ledge and Gollum falls into the lava below with the ring while Frodo manages to hang onto the edge. Sam manages to rescue Frodo as the ring melts in the lava. Sauron’s tower falls and Sauron is destroyed, resulting in an explosion that destorys the Black Gate, kills the Nazgul, and sends the orcs and trolls fleeing from Mordor. Frodo and Sam make it out of the erupting volcano but when they are unable to escape from the lava, they are rescued by Gandalf and some eagles. When Frodo wakes up, he is surprised to see Gandalf but they are soon joined by Merry, Pippen, Gimli, Legalos, Aragorn, and Sam. Some time later, after Minas Tirith is rebuilt, Aragorn is crowned King of Gondor, and after a brief speech, he sees Arwen there and they embrace. They soon come to Frodo, Sam, Merry, and Pippen, who bow before Aragorn and Arwen, but Aragorn tells them that they bow to no one, and proceeds to bow before them, as the rest of those gathered follow suit. 15 months after they left The Shire, the four hobbits return home, where Sam eventually marries Rosie, the barmaid that he has had a crush on. Frodo tries to pick up the pieces of his life but he is unable to forget all of the pains he endured, as 4 years later, he still suffers from the wound he suffered at Weathertop. Sometime later, Frodo is riding with Bilbo to the Elven ships that will take him to the Grey Havens. As they are riding, Bilbo asks if Frodo still has the ring and Frodo tells him that he lost it. At the docks, they meet Elrond, Galadriel, Celeborn, and Gandalf, who are all setting sail with Bilbo. Gandalf is the last to board and when he tells Frodo that it is time, Merry, Pippen, and Sam realize that Frodo is leaving as well. Frodo gives Sam the book that Bilbo started and Frodo continued, saying that the last pages are for Sam. Frodo hugs his friends goodbye and boards the boat, as Sam, Merry, and Pippen watch it sail into the distance. Sam returns home, saddened by Frodo’s departure, but when he is greeted by Rosie and his children, he becomes cheerful again, saying “Well, I’m back.”
Much like every other film in the series, The Lord Of The Rings: The Return Of The King received high praise from the critics, holding a 95% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. The consensus among the critics was that it was “Visually breathtaking and emotionally powerful, The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King is a moving and satisfying conclusion to a great trilogy.” The movie was nominated for 11 Academy Awards and won all 11, setting a record for the highest Oscar sweep and tying the record of Oscars won held by Titanic and Ben Hur.The movie was a massive box office success, earning over $1.1 billion off a $94 million budget, making it the highest grossing film of 2003. At the time, this would make it the 2nd highest grossing film of all time but it has since fallen to 12th.
This was a fantastic movie to watch……but it could have been better. Yes, I said it. There was nothing wrong with the acting. The acting was fantastic. I think John Noble was incredible in his portrayal of Denethor, especially how he descends into madness. The plot was good and yes, there were differences from the book. I was a little sad that they didn’t have the Scourging of the Shire, but then again, the movie was already pretty long and that might have made it a 5+ hour movie. The effects were really good. The Battle of the Pelennor Fields was incredible and I really liked Mordor and the inside of Mt. Doom. Honestly, I liked just about everything about this movie and thought it was a good telling of the story. The only thing that really bugged me was the end, where Frodo is getting on the ship for the Grey Havens. After saying goodbye to his friends, the cut to Frodo approaching Gandalf and it honestly looks like it is just a little kid walking with him. I know they have to use stand-ins to make the Hobbits look smaller than other people, but that scene just looked bad. Aside from that, this was another great move that is worth seeing.
Rating: 5 out of 5