A Fitting Conclusion To This Amazing Trilogy
After 6 hours of on-screen action, hundreds of hours of filming and an impressive array of awards, one of the most epic fantasy trilogies ever filmed closes with its third and final film, Return Of The King. It was always going to be a tough ask for this one to surpass the incredible work done with The Two Towers and despite some breathtaking battle scenes late on and an emotionally charged finale, Return Of The King doesn’t quite do enough to surpass the excellent work done in The Two Towers whilst still solidifying itself as a perfect ending to an amazing trilogy.
After a brief introduction that sheds some light on how Smeagol became Gollum (Andy Serkis), the story picks up right where the previous film left off, splitting its focus between the remaining fellowship led by Aragorn (Viggo Mortensen), and Frodo (Elijah Wood) and Sam (Sean Astin) as they grow ever closer to Mordor. Guided on by the villainous Gollum, Frodo and Sam’s emotionally charged journey becomes a more crucial part of the story this time around in their quest to destroy the One Ring.
This split focus that worked so well in the previous film continues here, with Aragorn set as the focal character; his emotionally torn quest to become the leader he was always destined to be weighs heavily over his character arc. Legolas (Orlando Bloom) and Gimli (John Rhys-Davies) take a step back because of this, evolving to become more comic relief to alleviate some of the tension built during these segments.
The consequential battle that ensues at Minas Tirith and Pelennor Fields dwarfs that seen with Helms Deep but with an increased focus on CGI this time around and a more chaotic battle structure, it doesn’t quite compare to The Two Towers’ incredible battle at Helm’s Deep that felt claustrophobic and contained by comparison. That’s not to say the film suffers for it, and with the characters already established and fleshed out from the previous films, The Return Of The King focuses much more heavily on the conclusive final act to this story.
At a longer run time than the previous two films, The Return Of The King clocks in at an eye-watering 3 hours and 20 minutes. The final 20 minutes do work well to give a good send off for every character, with a range of emotions experienced making it difficult not to shed a tear or two after the emotionally charged journey these characters have taken. Although this could arguably be construed as slightly contrived with the length of time and number of separate endings the film throws out, it’s a minor point in an otherwise impressive final chapter to this trilogy.
Lord Of The Rings will forever go down as the benchmark for epic fantasy on the big screen. From the incredibly realized world to the authentic bites of dialogue and lore strewn throughout, Return Of The King continues the great work done during its first two chapters with a fitting ending to this trilogy and another amazing achievement in cinema history.