THE LORD OF THE RINGS: THE RETURN OF THE KING (EXTENDED EDITION)


2003/2004

DIRECTOR: Peter Jackson

May Contain Spoilers!

As the final chapter of The Lord Of The Rings trilogy begins, we finally see Gollum as he really was, Smeagol. By Christmas, 2003, the mania surrounding this franchise had reached fever pitch, as after two brilliant and epic outings, the long-awaited conclusion of Frodo’s journey to Mordor to dispose of the Ring was almost complete.

This was it. This had to not only meet all the expectations of the fans, old and new alike, but it also needed to meet a more cynical criteria, that of meeting the demands of a trilogy closer. This issue is all to apparent this week,  the week that The Dark Knight Rises finally arrives in theatres, concluding its own trilogy. The problem with finales, whether it be TV or film is that they must amp it up, as anything normal simply won’t satisfy.

This is of course true, as once you’ve seen one battle, you kinda seen them all, but the question here is does this film blow it or not? Well, no, it doesn’t, though there are parts which come close. The Frodo and Sam plot does meander and by the end, seems to lose credibility as to exactly how they can physically endure the land of Mordor, let alone climb Mount Doom, but the conclusion within the volcano itself well makes up for this, and is defiantly a suitable conclusion.

But speaking of conclusions, there were so many to choose from. On early viewings, this seemed to end, and end, and end, but I must admit, after ten years, the endings do seem to carry more poignancy than I first thought. Yes, there are too many but having said that, I don’t know which ones I would cut. But on the way to this ending, was an epic journey which high point was most defiantly the battle of Minas Tirith, the Gondorian capital city.

The set designs were magnificent and the action, drama and emotional essence were all well captured to not only conclude this saga, but to crown it as one of the best movie trilogies of all time. The saga as a whole lends a lot to many other films and genres, including Star Wars, Dungeons And Dragons and unfortunately, the last few Harry Potter books/films, most notably the inclusion of the Hocruxes, which bear a striking resemblance to the master ring, certainly in its effects on the people who have contact with it.

The extended cut is not quite as successful as the previous two in adding more significant plotting to the film, with the most notable addition being the restoration of Christopher Lee’s final scene. It does change a few things, but it does literally change the flow of some sequences and I’m not sure if I liked that to be honest but I would still recommend this version over the theatrical cut as it does include more explanation and detailed plotting which is at the heart of the story telling.

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