#1022 The Lord of the Rings – The Return of the King (2003)

The Return of the King is the third film in the Lord of the Rings trilogy, wrapping up the twelve hour (extended edition) epic in magnificent, sprawling battles, gorgeous environments, twists, turns, fear, political intrigue, dysfunctional families, and a battle to save Middle Earth. It was exciting to wrap up the series. I watched this final film over three nights. For a more in-depth intro to the trilogy, check out my post for the first film The Fellowship of the Ring.

Some of the best lines appear in the third film in terms of the soliloquies, fraternity in the face of insurmountable odds, breathtaking images of architecture and the Army of the Dead whisking past Aragon’s beautiful hair as he attacks in slow motion in at least three parts of the film… It is awe-inspiring and beautiful, exciting and unique, sprawling and gorgeous with this incredible hybrid CGI / real New Zealand atmosphere. Having been only the third film in history to sweep the academy awards (next to Ben Hur and Titanic), the performances, execution, and artistic gelling of every part of this film – all of the films, honestly – is truly wonderful.

Making it through the third four-hour film in one week felt like finishing a marathon, but these films were so absolutely fully immersive and believable which is very difficult to pull off in fantasy. I found myself thinking, why don’t I have this running in the background whenever I am doing something? It would be an incredible escape from monotony, but also a way to just jump out of what I am doing and into an immersive world I love visiting so much. Chances are, I wouldn’t get anything done, but alas.

Great film. Looking forward to watching the DVDs again to hear the commentaries (there are four for each film – totaling a staggering 48 hours of viewing, I guess) and many more hours of special features including the various alternate endings. Some people online gave this set some bad reviews because they went out and bought the first special editions, and then this other set comes out for a few hundred dollars and they feel upset, but it is completely different than the theatrical version and I don’t see the comparison. I bought this version of all three sets on DVD for $6 at the library book sale (as I mentioned earlier), so I’m not upset about having bought the first set. It’s also something like 10 years after they released it – the blu ray extended set (2011) is currently $35 on ebay, so if they were patient, it would’ve been reasonable. Not a reason to rate the films one star on Amazon as far as I am concerned.

Excellent films, and always a pleasure to revisit Jackson’s middle earth. The acting, effects, costumes, and art direction hold up surprisingly well. These movies are part of an experience of modern times that makes me think that I love that I live in a time to have experienced it – and can whenever I like. The worst thing that could have happened is if it “looked” and “felt” like a 2000s movie, even though it takes place in a long lost era as some of the 1970s sci-fi and fantasy does. Will it in 2050? I hope not, but as it is today it feels like a timeless film.

A little bit of fun is in order after twelve hours of hobbits – Nerdist created an “R-Rated Lord of the Rings” video that is beautifully cheeky.


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