The Lord of the Rings
The Return of the King
Review by Ross Anthony

Best of the three. As you can well read by my earlier reviews (Fellowship, Towers), The first of the trilogy didn't wow me, while the second half of the second did. And here now, the review of the third.

Btw, yes, I haven't read the book, which I assume must be very good because of the zealous email I've received and from comments of friends who have read it. Alas, this review concerns only the movie(s) from a non-reader standpoint.

"King" begins in small ways to make up for some of the character development left unattended in their earlier two films. But the real thunder of the production is in the build toward and execution of the battle over Minas Tirith. Tremendous thick-skinned elephants, huge waves of viscous rat-like Orcs, the shimmering chivalry of a white Gandalf on a misty white horse. And a sky full of swooping winged dragons. The characters are rendered splendidly, but it's also their choreography that makes them believable and awesome.

Surprisingly, for as amazing as these visual sequences shine, shots that include both Hobbits and larger beings fail. Hiring actual little people would have worked much better. Though four Hobbits play larger roles in this third picture, none make much of an acting impact. And that includes Elijah. He's an excellent actor, but his appearance in these pictures adds little. Peter Dinklage from THE STATION AGENT would have done a much better job. Gilliam cast midgets for Time Bandits, Cameron -- Schwarzenegger for the Terminator; directors know that physical size and shape contribute greatly to the fit of performers to their rolls in productions. I think these Hobbits were all miscast.

While the battle at Minas Tirith feels like the film's (and indeed the trilogy's) emotional climax for me, perhaps the real climax ought to have been the resolution of the ring which experienced more drag than jolt. In fact, many scenes with Frodo disappoint or draw far too long. (Save for the Spider -- that rocked.) Gollum, on the other hand, continues to be an awesome creation. His realization and integration in the production and acting are superbly entertaining. Of all the characters, he is the most rich. While the play for Frodo's trust between he and Sam might very well work in the book -- it doesn't here.

This is a long film, not to be squeezed in, but rather planned for. Eat well first, expect to finish late, best screened on a light day. Big action, amazing visuals.

  • The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King. Copyright © 2003. 200 minutes. Rated PG-13.
  • Starring Elijah Wood, Ian McKellen, Andy Serkis, Viggo Mortensen, Sean Astin, John Rhys-Davies, Dominic Monaghan, Billy Boyd, Liv Tyler, Orlando Bloom, Hugo Weaving, Bernard Hill, David Wenham, Miranda Otto, Karl Urban, John Noble, Cate Blanchett.
  • Directed by Peter Jackson.
  • Screenplay by Fran Walsh, Philippa Boyens, Peter Jackson.
  • Based on the book by: J.R.R. Tolkien.
  • Produced by Barrie M. Osborne, Fran Walsh, Peter Jackson at New Line/Wingnut.

Grade..........................B+ (2.5/4)

Copyright © 1998-2019 Ross Anthony, Author - Speaker - Solo World Circumnavigator In addition to reviewing films and interviewing celebs at, traveling the world, composing great music, motivational speaking, Mr. Anthony also runs his own publishing company in the Los Angeles area. While traversing the circumference of the planet writing books and shooting documentaries, Mr. Anthony has taught, presented for, worked &/or played with locals in over 30 countries & 100 cities (Nairobi to Nagasaki). He's bungee-jumped from a bridge near Victoria Falls, wrestled with lions in Zimbabwe, crashed a Vespa off a high mountain road in Taiwan, and ridden a dirt bike across the States (Washington State to Washington DC). To get signed books ("Rodney Appleseed" to "Jinshirou") or schedule Ross to speak check out: or call 1-800-767-7186. Go into the world and inspire the people you meet with your love, kindness, and whatever it is you're really good at. Check out books by Ross Anthony. Rand() functions, Pho chicken soup, rollerblading, and frozen yogurt (w/ blueberries) also rock! (Btw, rand is short for random. It can also stand for "Really Awkward Nutty Dinosaurs" -- which is quite rand, isn't it?) Being alive is the miracle. Special thanks to Ken Kocanda, HAL, Jodie Keszek, Don Haderlein, Mom and Pops, my family, R. Foss, and many others by Ross Anthony. Galati-FE also deserves a shout out. And thanks to all of you for your interest and optimism. Enjoy great films, read stirring novels, grow.

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Last Modified: Saturday, 16-Sep-2006 08:05:11 PDT