The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King (2003) – Peter Jackson


The last installment of Peter Jackson’s gorgeous adaptation of J.R.R. Tolkien’s beloved novel, The Lord of the Rings, is very welcome indeed on the 101 Action Movies list.

Lord of the Rings has always been my favorite book, since I first settled in at the age of 12 and read it. I still remember sprawling on my bed, losing myself in the lands of Middle-Earth, I remember my first encounter with the Watcher in the Water, the first time I accompanied Gandalf to Minas Tirith… I try to journey back, every couple of years, reading my way through the journey again and again, comfort food for the soul.

So when, in 2001, Peter Jackson put Middle-Earth in the big screen, I knew I had to see it. And from that moment when Gandalf as masterfully played by Ian McKellen drove his cart over the bridge into Hobbiton in The Fellowship of the Ring, I was hooked, in fact I had tears in my eyes because the little village looked as it always had in my mind’s eye.


By 2003, the end of the journey was nigh, with the final confrontation with Sauron’s armies, as Frodo (Elijah Wood) and Samwise (Sean Astin) traveled to Mount Doom, deep in the lands of Mordor, with Gollum (Andy Serkis, via motion-capture) as their untrustworthy guide, in a last attempt to destroy the One Ring.

Meanwhile, the final war, the war on the peoples of Middle Earth are waged at the gates of Minas Tirith as Gandalf and Pippin (Billy Boyd) fight with Gondor’s army, while Merry (Dominic Monaghan) fights alongside Eowyn (Miranda Otto), Eomer (Karl Urban), and King Theoden (Bernard Hill) of the Rohirrim.

Aragorn (Viggo Mortensen) wrestles with his fate, and the mantle of leadership, as he, Gimli (John Rhys-Davies) and Legolas (Orlando Bloom) seek out more men to face Sauron.

Wonderfully scored by Howard Shore, the music of the film adds a beautiful touch to an already gorgeously crafted film, winning 11 Oscars, including Best Picture, and bringing a colossal film effort to a close.

There is nothing I don’t love about this film, there have been those who have complained about the multiple endings of the film, I personally have no qualms with them. Every time the film hinted at ending, I was just like a little kid begging to stay up later, “just a little longer, please…”


The visual effects are still top-notch and amazing to watch, even though you know that the actors playing the hobbits are nowhere near that small, the film is made so well, with doubles, in-camera tricks and effects that your suspension of disbelief easily engages.

I love this film, and the performances, this is a perfect rainy day film, something to curl up on the couch with and enjoy. This and the other two films in the series speak of friendship, loyalty, fighting for things that are truly worth fighting for, and sacrifice.

And yes, mush like Fellowship made me misty-eyed with the revelation of Hobbiton, there are easily a half-dozen moments in this film that make my eyes leak.

While I was happy to return to Middle-Earth with The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, and am looking forward to The Desolation of Smaug this holiday season, nothing compares to the wonder that these three films gave me, and continue to give me, when I watch them.

What do you think of them?


3 Comments Add yours

  1. vinnieh says:

    Excellent review, I recently watched and reviewed the trilogy.

    1. TD Rideout says:

      I do love these movies, and love every chance I have to visit Middle Earth again.

      1. vinnieh says:

        Yeah, I love revisiting Middle Earth as well.

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