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Last Updated: Friday, 19 December, 2003, 13:24 GMT
A mighty end to Jackson's trilogy

By Stephen Dowling
BBC News Online entertainment staff

Frodo in Return of the King
Frodo has to travel further toward Sauron's Mordor
Director Peter Jackson's cinematic retelling of The Lord of the Rings ends with The Return of the King.

At the end of the second Rings movie, The Two Towers, Jackson let us hang on the realisation the truly dark times were yet to come.

Though the wizard Saruman's army had been despatched at the Battle of Helm's Deep and his fortress at Isengard laid to ruin, this battle had been merely a sideshow.

In Mordor, the evil Sauron was stirring, building up his armies. And two of the central characters, hobbits Frodo and Sam, were getting ever closer to destroying the Ring central to the tale, unaware their ghoulish guide Gollum was plotting their demise.

The Return of the King opens with a flashback to the days when Gollum - Smeagol as he was known then - found the Ring, and how its evil power slowly transformed him into a twisted, cave-dwelling creature.


It gives an extra touch of humanity to the pitiable creature even if he ultimately desires Sam and Frodo dead.

After this the next 40 minutes of the film drag slightly, feeling like bits cobbled together that were left over from the previous film.

But the rest of the movie is worth the wait, transfixing with every scene.

The Return of the King brings an overwhelming air of expectation and of consequence - and in almost every sense it dwarfs what has come before.

Riders outside Minas Tirith
The battles make The Two Towers pale by comparison

The film, like its previous two instalments, takes many liberties with JRR Tolkien's text, but it does so judiciously.

Jackson has done it because he wants us to be be utterly embroiled in the story. He succeeds.

Frodo's gradual disintegration thanks to the Ring - and the menace from some blood-curdling foes on the road to Mordor - give his quest crushing pathos.

The viewer is wholly engrossed in the fear whether Frodo can survive long enough to destroy the Ring - or whether it will destroy him.

Meanwhile, the rest of the main characters are embroiled in the war against Sauron's forces.

Familiar characters Aragorn, Legolas, Gimli and Gandalf return to fight for good in the final battle for Middle-earth.

Hobbits Merry and Pippin are given more chance to shine - especially Pippin (Billy Boyd), who has a more dramatic role than his jokey earlier persona, and braves darker scenes.

Miranda Otto's Eowyn also gets a far more important part to play.

The trilogy may have sometime struggled to give its female leads meaty roles, but the finale give her a vitally important duty.

Aragorn (Viggo Mortensen)
Aragorn (Viggo Mortensen) must face his destiny
The Two Towers' ground-breaking battle scenes seem like a skirmish compared to The Return of the King's titanic-scale war.

The assault on the city defended by the main characters and their forces is quite simply jaw-dropping.


In one scene the camera seems to peep tentatively over the parapet to show the evil legions on the attack - tens of thousands of orcs, trolls bearing siege engines, winged beasts swooping overhead.

It is spine-tingling stuff.

Jackson, who loves his battles, imbues his warfare with crushing realism, all the more ironic given this is pure fantasy.

There are moments harking back to iconic movies Saving Private Ryan and The Empire Strikes Back that show the scruffy New Zealand director is, without argument, a master of his craft.

But along the way, he does not forget the human dimensions to this struggle either, and that it is friendship and loyalty that the forces of good have to rely on as much as force of arms.

This three-hour, 11-minute epic is an unqualified triumph, one that raises the bar for any spectacle-respecting director of the future. The Oscar, surely, must go to Peter Jackson.

This review is now closed to further contributions. A selection of your views is below.

The film was great, and I am so glad that the movie ended very close to the way the book did. It left me with the same feeling I have every time I read the books.
George, USA

Chances are you have, or will have an opinion on this film. Well forget about it, it's simply the greatest film ever made and if you disagree, even slightly, you are wrong.
Craig MacDonald, Scotland

Return of the King is by far the most exciting film I have been fortunate enough to view. It has all the ingredients of an Oscar winner. Love, death, hope, and despair. Peter Jackson has been able to capture all them in a movie that will be talked about for many years to come. Thank you Mr Jackson.
Gerardo Castro, US

Last night I was witness to one of the greatest feats in motion picture history. The Lord Of The Rings:The Return of The King is perhaps one of the greatest films ever made, and is in fact the best film of the last fifteen years.

Peter Jackson and crew deserve every accolade that is being thrown upon them. If he does not win best director at this year's Oscars, the Academy should be disbanded.

ROTK has quickly sky-rocketed to the no. 2 position on my all-time favourites list just under Raiders Of The Lost Ark, and before The Godfather.
Mike Kavanagh, Newark, DE USA

I left feeling disappointed, the grandeur and depth of the book was lost
Michael, USA
Shame on who wrote that the movie was too long, I (and most I talked with after the movie) would have stayed for another hour! I believe that the people who complain about ROTK are a definite minority and don't deserve the title "movie fan". The sheer expectation for ROTK built by the two prequels was awesome, and most people will not experience that again in their lifetime.
Gayan, Sri Lanka

To hear some people criticise Jackson's work is a disgrace to any LOTR fan. To do what nobody else could do, and to take the greatest fantasy novels ever, and put them on the screen was nothing short of miraculous. Oscar-worthy - you bet, greatest trilogy - no doubt. I know that there were scenes cut out but not a single true fan should downplay this. The BEST DAMN MOVIE I've ever seen, and I will be awaiting the trilogy on DVD with anticipation.
Derek, USA

I left feeling disappointed, the grandeur and depth of the book was lost - the only saving grace is that once again Gollum is spectacular, as are the visulisations of the places and peoples. But what makes Lord of the Rings the unique work of art is the many layers of complexity which come up and are concluded in the rd volume. The film basically says there are two big battles and a pair of Hobbits in the wilderness and leaves out all the rest. Disappointed in America
Michael, USA

I am also wholeheartedly grateful that PJ did not edit away the heartbreaking but hopeful true ending of the story
Debra, Nevada, USA
Good, but not great. Some special effects that did not pan out, an overly long ending and the cutting back and forth between stories did not seem as fluid as previous films. However, a more faithful and entertaining adaption than most on offer these days.
Ian Dennison, UK

Saw ROTK last night, and after having waited three years and loving the first two movies (and, of course, the books, first) was terribly disappointed. Although spectacular to look at, the tinkering with details in this film annoyed me more than in the others. The battle scenes were ridiculously over-the-top. I went in expecting I'd be by turns shrieking, laughing, crying, and practically rending my garments for three and a half hours, but was never for a moment emotionally engaged. How disappointing. I will, however, give it another chance and see it one more time.
Helen O'Reilly, US

Peter Jackson should be commended not only for his incredible vision, but also for surrounding himself with such a phenomenal group of people -in virtually every area of the film's creation - in order to make that vision a reality. Brilliant. I am also wholeheartedly grateful that PJ did not edit away the heartbreaking but hopeful true ending of the story. Thank you, Mr. Jackson and company...you have created a treasure.
Debra, Nevada, USA

Beginning section pretty slow, picked up in the middle but unbelievably dull towards the end. People in the cinema were groaning everytime the film seemed about to finish, before yet another scene muttered on..and on..and on...
Rob Dunn, Bournemouthshire

If Return of the King doesn't receive several Oscars, the Academy is a force of evil. Evil, I say!
Juan Dominguez, USA
Outstanding! The storyline, acting and effects are all excellent. And, in my humble opinion, the ending is superbly judged - we get to see the real end of the story. Even my girlfriend (who hated the first film and only saw ROTK under duress) thought the film was "very good". However I walked out of the cinema feeling incredibly sad. It is time to say goodbye to these characters that we have grown to know and love over the last two years. Thank you Peter Jackson, Fran Walsh, Phillippa Boyens and everyone else associated with this film. What an achievement!
Ian, UK

Tremendo! Bravo! ROTK is greater and more heartbreaking,and inspiring than FOTR and TTT's combined, and then some. This is the best movie of the year,and the best trilogy ever, no contest. If ROTK doesn't receive several Oscars, the Academy is a force of evil. Evil, I say!
Juan Dominguez, USA

Brilliant, I went with my friends on wednesday and we thought it was great. The graphics are revolutionary.
Ed, Canada

The Return of the King is a movie that can be compared to The Godfather, Gone With the wind and many other classic movies.
Josh, US

I went to see ROTK, with my friends, at 10:30am on the day of releasae and when it finished I was so impressed that I went home for about 3 hours and then went back and watched it again, this time with my wife. My backside felt like concrete afterwards, but the rest of me was awe-struck!!

All I can say about this film is that it has something for everybody and is truly outstanding.

If I had to pick a fault, not that there are many, then it would be that it is TOO SHORT - I believe that all the removed scenes should of been left in!! I can't wait until the extended DVD comes out...
Ian Brooks, UK

If all directors were kings then Peter Jackson is the King of kings. Hail mighty King! Long live the KING!
Chris, USA

The best of the trilogy. I love this movie. The ending was beautiful. Thanks Peter Jackson!!! Now we want the Hobbit! Please!
Jorge Sanchez, United States

This movie defines heartpounding excitement! I would shake the hand of everyone involved in the creation of this trilogy. Hands down, the best movie I've ever seen, also the very first to make this tough Texan cry. Even the smallest person can change the course of the future - for that I bow to you PJ, best film-making hobbit ever! Bring on the oscars & the extended version!
Roger, US of A

Awesome, it was beautifully done.Personally, I think The Two Towers was much more interesting then this one. Overall, all the three parts were amazing and Peter Jackson certainly deserves an Academy award.
Zereena Khan, Canada

Bring on King Kong, Peter!
Peter White, England
Bravo to Peter Jackson. The fantasies created by JRR can now be enjoyed by those who have been ignorant of the existence of such literature. Jackson has given us a visualisation of JRR's genius, and one that we would treasure for the rest of our lives.

The Return of the King blew me away. For those who complain it is too long, I say 3 hours and 11 minutes aint enough.
James Chua, Northern Mariana Islands

I never thought that it could be done, but Peter Jackson has managed to bring my favourite story to life on screen. Every city, every character and every scene is exactly how I imagined it to be. Truely magnificent.
Paul Hodgson, UK

Excellent. Beautiful Art Direction....creatures... birds and elephants. Very good direction. It will make $400 million on opening weekend worldwide. Thanks and regards.
Sam Rupani, USA

What a fantastic film closing an amazing trilogy but I think the loyalty of Sam stood out as the best performance in this film, Sean Austin's finest hour!
Alison, England

I cannot wait to buy the extended version, the film was no more than a snippet of what I expected, slightly disappointing but the moving scenes were genuinely heartwrenching.
Abi Huxtable, United Kingdom

Forget every other trilogy, The Lord Of The Rings is the best and that is saying a lot. Return of the King is so powerful, moving and damn right good it puts every film to shame. I for one would like to thank Peter Jackson for his efforts in bringing this massive story to the screen, many said it could not be done and how wrong they where, the finest film ever created. Period. Bring on King Kong, Peter!
Peter White, England UK

Brilliant, absolutely topnotch. I don't think I have ever been to the cinema before and had the audience break into applause half-way through the film (go Legolas!) as well as at the end.

Roll on 2004 and the DVD box-set of all 3 movies!
Samantha Marshall, London, UK

This is the most beautiful, spectacular and thrilling cinematic experience I have ever had
Annabel, UK
Christmas won't be the same again. Although we will have the extended version next year and I suppose some insane box set the year after. I can't wait to watch all three in succession. Andy Serkis as Gollum/Smeagol - best actor please.
Nick Green, UK

I walked every step with Frodo and Sam, killed every Orc with Aragorn, Gimli and Llegolas, rode every stride with Theodin, Eomer and the riders of Rohan. Only a truly great movie can make you live every moment and this one did.

I came out of the cinema worn out but thrilled. Now there is a slight sense of deflation that it is all over - roll on the extended version!!!

If this doesn't clean up at the Oscars there is no justice.
Rachel, UK

I remember reading the book and thinking: they'll never be able to make that into a film. And he has done it, oh, yes, he has done it.
Matt Hadley, London

Outstanding, Peter Jackson's epic masterpiece takes you away on a crest of a tidal wave of anticipation, emotion and staggeringly awesome visuals, and deposits you back in your seat at the end feeling like the heroes on the screen. I do feel sad though: what can I look forward to next Christmas?

(To all those who believe that the story lacks strong female characters, you obviously overlook Eowyn "I'm no man", the Shieldmaiden of Rohan.)

Very good, but there were too many moments that were changed from the book for no apparent reason. Will certainly be watching it again though as the majority of film was superb.
Darren Bates, England

This is the most beautiful, spectacular and thrilling cinematic experience I have ever had. Recent movie stills in magazines made some of the scenery appear minature and fake - not in the movie!

Minas Tirith is out of this world. Every single aspect of the film that you know has to be CGI is utterly flawless and unbelievably life-like. I defy anyone who watches King Theoden building up momentum in his army before the battle of Minas Tirith not to feel their hairs stand on end and a lump in their throats! It's a deeply moving experience. Far more intense and dark - yet uncomparbly more rewarding a viewing experience than the preceeding 2 films.
Annabel, UK

All will be forgiven with the extended DVD
Dave D, UK
There is no doubt in my mind that Return of the King is by far and away the best film of our time. It is a day after seeing the film, and I can still think of nothing else. We finally have this decade's masterpiece, the defining motion-picture of our age. Well done Peter Jackson!
Mike Grant, Bristol, England

Very, very good !! I first read the books about 38 years ago and the three films have been all I could have hoped for. I thought the films also showed a debt to the excellent Radio 4 version. If you don't know the radio version do try it. But well done Peter Jackson and crew.
Geoff Allan, UK

Has anyone noticed a similarity with LOTR and the original Star Wars films? The scene in the final LOTR film coincides with the AT-AT's in Empire Strikes Back. There are other strong connections too, just ponder for a while and George Lucas may owe an awful lot to Tolkien. The film was fantastic but dragged on for half an hour longer than it should have.
Brian Tarpole, UK

I grew up listening to the story tapes and reading the books, never in my life could I imagine that the images in my head would ever be portrayed so accurately on the big screen. The finale was unbelievable! I think I cried my way through the entire film. Some of the battle scenes were so heartstopping I had to check I was still breathing. It was the quickest three hours of my life.
Alex, Kent, England

Well, what can I say? I'm a huge Rings fans and was slightly nervous about watching the film. Fears that Jackson was going to sacrifce content for grandeur had been swooning around in my head for the past moonth. I'm glad to say however, that those fears diminshed once the film entered its second hour.

The battle scenes, yes they're fantastic, Weta has done a great job. More importantly however, the story remains intact, barring a few cinematic liberties, the film remains true to Tolkien. Sam remains the hero and Aragon's crowning isn't overdone. Yes, the Return of the King is a triumph. I loved every second of it and can't wait to see it again.
Kiran Parkash Singh, U.K

Seen twice in one day (to confirm expectations), this one film of the three needs the extended DVD version to tie all the 'acts' together more than the others. Some bits needed fleshing out. The lighting of the beacons however sent the shivers down the spine; don't know why, it just did. All will be forgiven with the extended DVD. 11 out of 10!!Spectacular.
Dave D, UK

The fantastic graphics did not just send jaws dropping, but made people in the cinema become emotionally attached to the characters
Fred John, England
People who are disappointed with this film cannot be satisfied with any film. This is pure cinema magic. And stop the incessant complaints about how the trilogy deviated from the books. "You can't always be torn in two."
Jin, UK/US

It is sad to see so much Hollywood influence on us all - we are used to so many blockbuster purpose-shot movies that we judge ROTK by those same standards. But this is not a Hollywood action movie, it is a new reference for cinematography and PJ managed to do something that no one has done for ages. He took us on a trip that we will remember for ever. He also set new standards in movie making that will hopefully change the way producers think.(after all we are talking about more than £2bn votes) Excellent trilogy!
Chris M, London, UK

What a let down. This film would have been almost perfect, had it not been for the last half-hour. Let's hope the DVD gives us the option to ignore the slushy ending. Roll on The Hobbit prequel. Long live The Two Towers.
Joe Poole, United Kingdom

TROTK has some truly spectacular battle scenes, especially cavalry charge on the plains before Minas Tirith, and some majestic cinematography (the lighting of the beacons of Godor is breathtakingly beautiful).

But as with TFOR and TTT, Tolkien connoisseurs will have to wait for the DVD release of TROTK for the more nunaced version. This final part of the trilogy is brilliantly visualised and tremendously exciting throughout but the novel's elegaic tone, the acknowledgement that even in victory there is loss which ultimately makes Tolkien's narrative so memorable, is largely absent. Not a critcism, more of a lament.
Tereus, UK

Absolutely magnificent....definitely going to take the awards this year and next!....I think this movie has affected me more than any other and I'm privileged to be able to view such an excellent masterpeice. To those that didn't like it, you certainly didn't get in touch with all that PJ was trying to put forward through the books.
Jay, UK

I went to see ROTK yesterday and I was blown away by the tremendous graphics involved in the movie. However, the fantastic graphics did not just send jaws dropping, but made people in the cinema become emotionally attached to the characters. Fantastic, deserves to scoop up all the Oscars.
Fred John, England

This was a movie worth being out until 4:30 in the morning on a work night! The cinematography was exquisite, as usual; the acting was solid, and it was a well-done adaptation of the book. Jackson picked the correct portions to cut from the book for his adaptation, and the movie was well-paced enough where the last 20 minutes worth of conclusion was worthwhile and satisfying. Kudos to everyone involved in this masterpiece.
Dan Bailey, Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA

Good, but not great. It moves too far away from the book in parts. I left feeling somewhat disappointed
Steve Barlow, England
I haven't anticipated or enjoyed a film this much in years, great job from the Hobbit actors, Sean Austin and Andy Serkis especially deserve some kind of award for their work. The effects could have been a little more polished in places and the ending scenes were a little choppy - but compared to the achievement of Peter Jackson and the rest of the team it doesn't really matter - I'm off to see it again at the weekend!
Cath Tomlinson, UK

Just saw the film and it is truly fantastic. I find it bewildering and rather sad to see some of the criticisms here, presumably from people that are first and foremost fans of the books. "Too many battles", "not enough time spent on characters like Denethor" - what utter rubbish.

Can't these people - who presumably consider themselves intelligent - appreciate that for a budget-munching epic like LOTR to have ever been filmed, let alone to such a standard, it had to be adapted into something that would appeal to a wide audience of cinemagoers, probably people with quite different ideas of entertainment to their own.

Peter Jackson has done an astonishing job, creating films that stand tall on their own merits while at the same time treating Tolkien's work with respect and clear affection.
Chris, UK

Good, but not great. It moves too far away from the book in parts. I left feeling somewhat disappointed.
Steve Barlow, England

One film to rule them all! Fantastic - I only wish I had as much hair as the dwarf.
Peter Marwood, UK

I feel compelled to say that Return of the King was great. It was supposed to be great, and the best of the trilogy.

But the film I saw was not the best. In fact, it felt very much like a rough draft, and there were a number of very bad editing choices and scene cuts that rendered some of the plot lines moot. Other new and irrelevent plot lines were introduced and never followed up on.

I think that this movie has great potential; the extended DVD will surely be incredible. However, the theatrical release is just not up to the standards which the other two films have met, and I don't think that Jackson will be recieving any major awards in the near future.
Lauren Schneider, New York City, USA

This film is amazing, by far the best in the trilogy. It held me spellbound form start to finish. I wonder if I will ever see such a great film again. I hope the DVD will be released ASAP.
John, Scotland

Really good film, kept the feel of the book pretty well. Mr Jackson has done the book justice! Just seen the film now, in a word the trilogy were excellent.
G Smart, Great Britain

Three and a half hours of camp male bonding, no characterisation and overacting. What a disappointment
Dave Coulson, Manchester
The sad thing about it is I am ruined for all other films. Nothing again in my lifetime will live up to this. Fantastic.
Gareth Nolan, Yorkshire, England

As far as I'm concerned, this isn't the real Return of the King. This is simply the massively butchered version of the full cut that had to be delieverd to theatres. To me, it feels that the movie goes way too fast with moving the plot, and cut out tons of good stuff that would make it too long for the theatre. I'll have to wait for the extended edition DVD to see the real movie.
Ian, USA

I really enjoyed it. However I do not think it is as good as the previous two films. Some elements obviously had to be changed from the book to make it work as a film. In the first two films, the scriptwriters correctly identified these and changed them appropriately. However in ROTK the adaptation seems unneccessary or even gratuitous at times.
Bob, England

Three and a half hours of camp male bonding, no characterisation and overacting. What a disappointment.
Dave Coulson, Manchester UK

Excellent film apart from the last 20 minutes. The power and impact of the battle scenes and tension throughout was slightly spoiled by the sentimental, slightly cheesy end scenes. Didn't seem to fit with the rest of the film. But still brilliant!
Helen, UK

I went into ROTK thinking the story would be ignored as much as the Two Towers, and having some idea from the web that certain liberties had already been taken, was pleasantly suprised. It seemed to follow broadly what went on in the book. The scenery was fantastic, totally believable. It seems a shame that we have to pay again to see the missing parts when the extended DVD comes out though.
Mike Rossiter, Cardiff, Wales

Went and saw the Return of the King yesterday afternoon, and was blown away by it, the best film l have ever seen, people in the cinema just cheered and clapped through out the film. Going to see it again. Congrats to all involved in the writing and making of the film.
Doreen Cox, Peterborough, UK

I thought it was great. Occasionally, the special effects were a little overbearing. However, this is what George Lucas should have done with the Phantom Menace
Jason, England
Saw it last night, struggled to get to sleep, woke at 5am with my mind still full of it and even now I can think of nothing else. No other film has ever affected me like this. It's awesome. Not perfect, but awesome.
Rob, UK

By far the greatest film out of the trilogy! Peter Jackson or perhaps we should call him Peter Pan for all the magic he has displayed to bring about the full glory of the books to the screen. A masterful example of what hard work can achieve! Sheer brilliance.
Souheb Khan, United Kingdom, London

Without doubt the finest trilogy in film history has been capped off with a masterpiece. The pacing is perfect, the mood is darker and although some people are saying the end dragged, I never really wanted it to end. Can't wait for the 11+ hour extended trilogy viewing next year.
Tom, Leeds, UK

All I can say is that it was better than I ever dared dream it would be. I was awestruck.
Richard Shipton, UK

I thought it was great. Occasionally, the special effects were a little overbearing. However, this is what George Lucas should have done with the Phantom Menace.
Jason, England

The film may be over, but those who loved LOTR will never be the same again, I truly believe that nothing in cinema will be the same again. This was what cinema was made for!
Mark, England

Brilliant film, characters are true to the book, shame the storyline isn't although it comes as close as is likely to happen in our lifetimes!! Hope the DVD includes a lot of the missing scenes that would have made this too long for cinema viewing. The photography, dialogue and battle scenes are awesome and dwarf anything else ever done. Thanks PJ, crew and actors and anybody involved!!!
Alastair East, UK

A powerful representation of a classic work, full of spirit and deep truths
Richard Francis, UK
I'm a big LOTR fan but I have to say I don't think this film was as great as everybody is saying. It is a good film but there are some scenes PJ could have dispensed with. I expected a big intro into this film (just like the Two Towers) but we had quite a slow build-up before the film really picked up. Some of the battle scenes were great but I felt he rushed the battle in front of the black gates. However saying all that there were some great stirring moments and I just wish he had put more of them in.
Shavy Makh, England

A powerful representation of a classic work, full of spirit and deep truths. A joy to witness a tale of light and good in a world of darkness and pain.
Richard Francis, UK

Now I cannot wait for the extended DVD version of the last part. Truly the best fantasy film (trilogy) EVER made. A visual feast! Christmas 2004 will feel very dull. Thank you, Peter Jackson for "the eye for detail". Awesome.
Nic, London

Brilliant and outstanding. All except the last 20 minutes, as far as I'm concerned they could have ended it at Minas Tirith.

Excellent film though and a great ending to a great trilogy.
Anne-Marie Alecock, England

I loved this film. I'm a big fan of the book, and as a result there have been plenty of niggling annoyances in the first two films. But this one, while taking a bit of dramatic license, is by far the most faithful of the three, is throughly well made, and is a genuinely excellent film from beginning to end. Let's hope the Extended Version isn't too long in being released....
Phil Evans, Keele, UK

Although the ending dragged on it was worth sitting there for 3 hours and 20 minutes. Best film this year by far!
Hollin Cross, England
Only one thing to say - WOW!!!!!! This is easily the best film I have ever seen.
Stephen, Northern Ireland

All I have to say is thank you Mr Jackson. Also when are you going to start on the Hobbit?
Deiniol Jones, North Wales

Wow, it truely is the best film I have ever seen, an amazing spectacle that surpassed all the hype. Favourite scene was probably Gandalf fighting the Nazgul on the Pelennor. Awesome. Also, loved the imagery of Minas Morgul. The pace was just right too, no new characters to intoduce, just action, emotion and triumph.
Niamh, Ireland

WOW! After three years and three films the end has come and it is STUNNING. The film is astounding in every way, the battle scenes are frigteningly realistic and the emotional content will pull at your heart strings right until the end. An amazing finale for a truly amazing trilogy. Now for the Oscars!
Paul Owen, England

Blimey! Had to queue for more than an hour before the film started, and then someone was using a mobile phone, but then.....I found myself completely lost in the story, barely noticing the length of the film. There were some hugely cheesy moments, some dreadful editing (although it means I will get the extended version to see what I missed) but apart from (or maybe because of?) that, it was a spectacular film. I'm managing to be very smug at work as I have seen it before everyone else, and will definitely go to the mammoth showing of all three fims together. Ace!
Lorna Morley-Waldron, Cambridge, England

Fantastic! The music, the acting and the special effects were amazing! Although the ending dragged on it was worth sitting there for 3 hours and 20 minutes. Best film this year by far!
Hollin Cross, England

This is why movies and cinema exist. This movie takes you places you could never even dream up and makes them seem utterly real. You feel as if you have experienced some of the same things Frodo experienced on his journey and by the end you are left with feelings you never thought possible from a movie. A masterpiece.
Brian, Norwich,

Too long some will say. Not long enough for most I would imagine
Marty F, Scotland
Slightly disappointing. The battle scene in Two Towers was far more impressive and the ending dragged on in this final instalment.
Navin, London

Some fantastic visualisations and some worthy additions let down tremendously by heavy-handedness and complete changes in character.
Dan M, UK

Sorry but I was disappointed, mainly by the ending, which seemed to be a series of natural endings none of which were seized upon. Indeed some people in our cinema left inadvertently early thinking the film had finished! I also found the schmaltz at the end a bit of a sell out and not in keeping with the rest of the film style, which was very impressive, dark and powerful. The end was a bit too cheesy for me and left me deflated and disappointed. I can't understand why they kept the schmaltz at the end. Otherwise fantastic movies.
Rebecca, Southampton, UK

I went not sure what to expect - the usual films are so overhyped these days. I felt this film could be good, but could also very easily fail. I felt it surpassed expectations.

I felt Jackson got it just right. The overwhelming scale of the battle was only used to provide a context. I always felt firmly connected to the emotions of those involved.

Comments about the ending seem negative. I have to say that the ending in the book is one of the best conclusions to any story in written history. I felt Jackson did a very good job to capture the emotions of the moment. I don't think it was hollywood blubber; I think it was Jackson trying to match a matchless ending.
Paul Tucker, UK

Excellent film and kept everyone interested for 3hrs 20 mins! The film is a tribute to Peter Jackson and his cast. The scenery and special effects were amazing and even children stayed awake and concentrated for the whole film. The last 10 mins felt dragged out and very rosy, a bit like the Wizard of Oz. But fantastic film and well worth going to see. They deserve plenty of Oscars for this excellent adaptation of the Lord of the Rings. This is the type of film we need more of.
Heidi Antrobus, Leamington Spa, England

It's interesting to note that some fans of Tolkien's books have criticised Peter Jackson's "tinkering" . However, only the killjoys would fail to be entertained. Too long some will say. Not long enough for most I would imagine. Roll on the Director's Cut!!
Marty F., Scotland

Fantastic film with wonderful effects and performances, my only criticism was that a good deal of the story lines from the book were changed in the film version without any obvious reason. Still it would be churlish not to applaud Peter Jackson on his breath-taking epic. Roll on The Hobbit.
Alan Greenwood, Hull, England

The set piece battles are an astounding visual experience, but the way that the focus is kept on the characters and the quality of the acting shows how poor other recent big movies have been
Stuart, Scotland
Magnificent, I defy anyone not to enjoy this masterpiece!
Nimet Patel, UK

The Return of the King was beautifully made. The quality of it all (picture, scenery, sfx, acting) was mesmerising and grandiose to the point where I didn't have time to dwell on the minor faults. PJ has made it as he saw it, and even if I had reservations, I can only say that it was a pretty damn good way to see it!

I read the books and it satisfied me in every way a book can do. For my part the Hobbit and Lotr is the greatest and best adventure epic I have ever read. Thank you PJ for having made that awesome fantasy come true in such an heart-lifting way! "Chapeau" to all the actors and all those who made this possible. My only sadness is (like Christian from France) having nothing else to expect again next year.
Alima, UK

Wonderful! Maybe a bit too much battle. For those who complain about the ending - that is the way it is in the book - thank you Peter Jackon for keeping the ending true!!!
Marketa, UK

Still numbed by the incredible spectacle of it - I went to the first screening in London's Leicester Square, and still can't quite get used to being back in the real world. Jackson's vision is so all-encompassing and the beauty, violence and excitement of everything, coupled with the real emotional attachment he has created for these characters and the world, makes this trilogy, despite its faults, one of the greatest achievements in cinema.
Patrick, London

Forgive the unintentional pun, but I am still reeling from the experience. Jackson deserves EVERY award in the book - not only for this magnificent film, but for the entire trilogy. Only D.W. Griffith (had he possessed the means to do so) could have fashioned so satisfying an epic.
Robert del Valle, USA

Have just seen the film and I am astounded at how strongly it hits you emotionally. The set piece battles are an astounding visual experience, but the way that the focus is kept on the characters and the quality of the acting shows how poor other recent big movies have been.

If this doesn't earn Best Film and Best Director at all the big awards ceremonies (especially when all three films are taken together) then the bestowers of such awards will be brought into total disrepute. Roll on the extended DVD.....
Stuart, Scotland

This is quite simply the most amazing film ever made
Ben Houlford, Bristol
Excellent, both in SFX and, more importantly, in acting. The only changes made were those necessary for a cinematic rather than literary epic. As to the cuts, unfortunately there are simply limits to what one's posterior can take. I await the DVD with interest.

What the film does emphasise is that the key character in both book and film is Sam Gamgee - a masterly performance by Sean Astin, with an accent which impressed this West Countryman.
John Rogers, Bristol, England

I thoroughly enjoyed Return Of The King. It's great to see a Hollywood movie which doesn't treat its audience like imbeciles, and that people are willing to sit through a (comparatively) complex narrative for more than three hours. I was truly engrossed by this film. All the kudos in the world must go to Peter Jackson for doing JRR Tolkien's masterpiece justice.
Michael Zeigermann, London

The movie definitely had a lot of wonderful elements that made you feel that you were participating in the struggle. I wish though, Jackson would have put slightly more emphasis on the characters and less on the battle scenes. Some of the liberties he took with the characters - especially Denethor, were a little bit too much for my taste.
Claudia Mohr, Portland, USA

Wow.....never thought it would be just this good. The man's a god. Bless you Peter Jackson.
Sean, Wales

This is quite simply the most amazing film ever made. I saw it this morning and I can't wait to see it again. It's considerably better than the other two in the trilogy (which were both awesome films) and is a true epic.

The battle scenes are mind-blowing and had me trembling in my seat. Shelob and the Witch King were terrifying. The dabs of humour are well placed and a welcome relief from the palpable tension. There really aren't the words to do justice to how good this film is. I've never seen my local multiplex so busy and I would imagine it'll stay packed for weeks. I'm already looking forward to the extended version! If there is a god, Jackson will make The Hobbit.

Awesome stuff. One film to rule them all.
Ben Houlford, Bristol, England

Amazing technical achievments but unfortunately Jackson has turned Tolkien's epic quest story into epic audience-pampering
Vladimir Svetlov, USA
It was not very good, far too long, too many liberites taken with the book, and an end, that consisted of endless blubbering, hugging and kissing that left me sickened, worst of all I was bored, very bored. Just how disappointed am I?
Peter 'Obelix' Blogg, England

I came out of the cinema awed, not daring to call friends on the phone and tell them the truth: it is a brilliant film, even though little bits and pieces have been edited out, and depression is starting to set in. In a lifetime, when will I feel that kind of expectation again?
Christian Lehmann, France

Great movie, great special effects, bad editing. Way too much panning in and out of Frodo's face as he looks like a deer in the headlights all the time, and the ending...blah. Everything else was great. This actually could have easily been made into two movies instead of one, and at times it felt like there was just too much stuffed in at short clips back and forth.
Paul Wesley, US

Amazing technical achievments but unfortunately Jackson has turned Tolkien's epic quest story into epic audience-pampering. Terribly miscast, poorly edited Numenorian version of the Power Rangers with a pinch of Teletubbies of Ole Hobbiton thrown in. Critics of the past age called Tolkien's LOTR a "juvenile trash" of literature. What would they have called this oversimplified movie version, one has to wonder?
Vladimir Svetlov, USA

Sublime. After watching it twice today (both in full houses) I feel as if I've done battle along with the characters - it was wonderful (in the true sense of that word).

I've been a Tolkienista for 25 years and now that it's over, I can say wholeheartedly that I've been privileged to have these films made in my lifetime. Peter Jackson - we may have given you and the screenwriters some flak over the past four years but at this moment, I'm over the moon to be able to say......thank you for the best cinema experience I will ever have.
Yvette Rooke, UK

I saw all three films back to back last night - a crazy but worthwhile endeavour - it proved this is one, not three films. In the Return of the king, PJ brings you back to the Ring (somewhat out of sight in the Two Towers), twists the emotional screws still tighter and whacks you with fast-paced action and some dramatic wide-angles (I was on the ege of my seat during the lighting of the beacons scenes).

I like the endings - grand and romantic, then homey, and finally, low-key and elegiac after all the excitement, as though to say that things pass, and that all battles, even for a worthy cause, will take something from you. Some fantastic editing too.
Sophie, Switzerland

The Return of the King is the most akin to its book counterpart
Ryan Stanridge, USA
This film is amazing. Ok, maybe it goes on a bit too long but it is a sheer masterpiece. The battles are amazing, the suspense and the connection with the characters is truly brilliant. Well done Peter Jackson!
Toby Andrews, UK

There will never be a word that I could use to describe how good this film is. I think it was the best out of all three, and Peter, I have to hand it to you, it was truly amazing! I was so depressed when I came out of the cinema, and that was for one reason and that was because I thaught to myself, "that's it, there's never going to be another one after this." But it has been an extremely exciting journey!
Esham , NZ

Just back from seeing ROTK. I have to say I'm feeling slightly deflated. Probably because the adventure is at an end! I have to agree with Marc that this feels disjointed. I think that that feeling will be removed by the extended version. Having said that, I really enjoyed it, but plot liberties notwithstanding, my favourite was The Two Towers.
Jill, UK

I saw it at 12am on Wednesday morning, I was tired and stuff....but it really left me breathless. The Return of the King is the most akin to its book counterpart. As one man said before, all Ican say is WOW.
Ryan Stanridge, USA

I was really disappointed with the ending. PJ must have had a Hollywood advisor infiltrate his camp. Don't get me wrong, I do love LOTR but I was left with a feeling of disappointment overall.
Ian, UK

Amazing! A wonderful conclusion to a fantastic epic. I look forward to seeing it again and again.
Rich Lindvall, United States

This was the best movie I have ever seen! The detail was absolutely phenomenal
John Grondin, USA
Just come out of the cinema. First thoughts...there's a natural point towards the end of the film where you just want to cheer and cry and rejoice. However, it's rather muted by the rushed tying up of ends that seems to drag on for a good half hour. True to the book, but not always good for a movie. Saying that, I WILL see it again..
Sarah-Jane, UK

Having seen the film twice now (on its release date!) it truly defines the word "epic". The grand scale of things is just amazing, the way the King spurs his warriors into battle is, franky, tear-jerking. I've been waiting for the film trilogy to conclude before reading the book, I hope it lives up to the imagery that has been stunningly presented to us over the last few years!
Sarah B, UK

1am. Just got back from seeing Return of the King, it was truly brilliant. Who cares about awards and such, everyone who watches that trilogy will know they have witnessed something that all the awards in the world could not pay true respect to.
Simon Barratt, UK

Funny how the fantasy novel by which all are measured gave birth to the fantasy movie by which all will be measured! Hats off to Tolkien and Jackson.
Iain Somerville, Vancouver Canada

I definitely think this is Oscar-winning material. Peter Jackson did a great job! Every single one of the actors cast for the movie was also marvellous. The battle scenes were excellent, the settings were beautifully done..... I could go on forever finding things to commend! Definitely worth seeing on the big screen!
Paola, USA

This was the best movie I have ever seen! The detail was absolutely phenomenal. The 3.5 hours went by so fast it was amazing. I can¿t wait for the extended release on DVD. I sure hope Peter Jackson directs the Hobbit!
John Grondin, USA

Quite simply the best movie I have seen in years!
Catherine Williams, USA

Peter Jackson has made a wonderful action movie. The battle scenes and the images of the horrors of Mordor were spectacular. He really tried to stay true to the books, and he has brought Tolkien to life better than any other director could have. The scenes with Sam, Frodo, and Gollum were dead on. The only problem is there was too much story to pack into 3.5 hours. Perhaps the extended version DVD will fill in the gaps. All in all, what a great trilogy. This will end up being one of the classics. P.S. Viggo rocks!!!!
Renee, Montana

Spoils the book and the name of the author. So sad
Andy S, UK
Went to the first showing at the local cinema, sat transfixed for 3 hours to the greatest piece of cinema I had ever seen, at the end the whole audience clapped and cheered, something I have never experienced at a film before. Left the cinema in somewhat of a daze, the only thing on my mind was when I could go and see it again. Awesome!
Andy Turner, UK

I will give the movie 5 stars out of 5! Its epic cinematography is one of the best I have seen. This beats even the Matrix trilogy! Peter Jackson has done well to keep the spirit of the original novels in his movies. Finally, it is a long movie well spent.
Asmizal, Ahmad, Singapore

The liberties taken with the story line will be questioned by the lovers of the books like myself, but the end result is nothing less than epic. Tolkien catured the love of adventure and a richness of imagery that Jackson has held true to.

I tip my hat, to the man that created Middle Earth and to the man that brought it to the screen.
Matt, Montreal, Quebec

Cheesy, awful, dreadful and I mean dreadful one-liners for starters. Artistic licence has been taken to a new "Hollywood Knows Best, Screw the Rest" plateau. Spoils the book and the name of the author. So sad.
Andy S, UK

I was swept along on a tide of emotions which left me totally shattered by the time the film ended but I wouldn't have missed it for anything
Charlotte Barnes, England
Too good to be true. Too memerising. It is just sheer brilliance! Even worth watching it more than ten times! But there are some plots that I don't really understand.
Andrew, Singapore

I saw the film last night and I am in awe of what Peter Jackson and his team have achieved. You don't get people clapping in the cinema anymore, but Lord of the Rings provoked more of a response amongst the audience than I would ever have thought possible. Many have described the films as war movies and I wouldn't disagree, but they are so much more.

I was swept along on a tide of emotions which left me totally shattered by the time the film ended, but I wouldn't have missed it for anything. For Tolkien nuts and film fans alike, Peter Jackson has achieved the seemingly impossible and brought this book to life and to a new generation.
Charlotte Barnes, England

Saw the film in England. Absolutely stunning. Much as I hate to say so, those Kiwis have set a standard that will be "virtually" (heh, heh)impossible to replicate. I have read the books many times and was super-sceptical about anyone's ability to transform it to film. Never mind the deviations from the book, this movie is a masterpiece and today's equivalent of Citizen Kane in breakthrough film techniques.

I have visited NZ many times on holiday and the scenery is as mind-blowing as it appears on film. The Kiwis always do things well but Peter Jackson is up there with (dare I say it) the All Black captain of the day. If this doesn't win a Hobbit cart-full of Oscars, it will be further proof that the Academy is xenophonic and out of touch.
Frank Peters, Australia

Awesome and utterly absorbing. I felt I was there with them all.
Ian Sansby, England

What have we to look forward to next Christmas? Roll on The Hobbit!
Adam, UK
It was disappointing, and the first hour did drag, the battles were overlong and it felt like PJ was trying to wring every drop of emotion out of the audience in the finale(s). Shelob was cool, though!
Eamonn, Isle of Wight, UK

One word - WOW.
Debs, Aberdeen, Scotland

Breathtaking! Emotionally exhausting - what a ride! I watched The Fellowship and the Towers before going out to see Return of the King yesterday. I hope in future cinemas will have "Ring days" - where all three (extended editions of course) are shown in sequence.

I've enjoyed the book more through these movies than I ever have reading them. I didn't think that was possible.

Film Fan, Scotland

Interesting to see how people's comments differ. I thought large stretches of it surpassed anything I've ever seen on a screen. On a negative note, I thought the emphasis was too much towards action over other forms of dramatic effect. I thought it was as close to the book as we could reasonably expect though. Looking forward to the extended edition!!!
Rob, UK

I watched the film last night and it was the first time I have ever heard the audience applaud during and after a film. It is an absolute masterpiece.

What have we to look forward to next Christmas? Roll on The Hobbit!
Adam, UK

Gripping, electric and above all, the best trilogy ever made in the history of filmmaking
Nicola Horner, UK
Overly sentimental, but it was a proper translation of the book. Battle scenes immense and I cried my eyes out!
Helen, UK

WOW!!! Thats all I can say!! Absolutely fantastic!!
Michelle Blythe, Scotland

I saw ROTK last night and I absolutely loved it!! It is fantastic and epic, a worthy end to the trilogy. The special effects were the best I have ever seen and the ending was so sad I was sobbing!! By the end I felt that I had been through the wringer and had to compose myself for ten minutes before I drove home!

My only complaint was that it was not long enough - there is so much footage I know they shot but cut out so thank goodness for the extended DVD which I am really looking forward to seeing!! All I can say is go and see it.
Alison Barlow, England

I went to a showing at Fulham Broadway last night and it was fantastic. I was so excited all day in the events leading up to the cinema and before the film actually started I had goose pimples! Every inch of the film had me on the edge of my seat and during the last hour, I was holding on tightly with anticipation as there was one bad turn after another. Gripping, electric and above all, the best trilogy ever made in the history of filmmaking.
Nicola Horner, UK

I was worried that they would have messed up in the way they did in the Two Towers, but no, it was good from the first to the last moment
Martial, Belgium
Fantastic battle scenes. Amazing effects. Gollum deserves an Oscar. However, the build up to the big battle was overly long and the end went on forever and seemed a little disjointed! There were some dodgy editing moments too. Not the strongest of the three I would say but a trilogy that will inspire all who see. Well Done.
Marc, UK

Saw the movie last night at a 00.01 hour showing. Man, I thought that there would only be a couple of other nuts around, but three of the theatres in the complex (totalling over 1,500 seats) were completely full. Braving the rush to get in was definitely worth it. It's just one goosebump emotion after the other.

PJ had to take liberties with the script to make an interesting film, but he did this in a way that it added to the story in the books. He accomplished this nicely in the Fellowship of the Ring too. The key moments are true to the book. I was worried that they would have messed up in the way they did in the Two Towers, but no, it was good from the first to the last moment. Wow!! What a movie.
Martial, Belgium

WOW! Is about all I can say. I was really worried that Peter Jackson couldn't pull it off, but he has. It's an awesome film, my bum was well and truly riveted to my seat from start to finish.
Cat, UK

It is not Jackson's trilogy but JRR Tolkien's. The book's a masterpiece and the film does justice. But keep in mind the power, originality and sense of humanity reaching in is birthed by Tolkien. Anyone who reads the book can surely attest to the majesty of his epic.
Patrick Foo, Singapore

I've just returned from the cinema and it's hard to reintegrate myself back into the real world
David, UK
Don't think I'll do justice to its sheer brilliance with any review here except to say "Go ... go now and watch it". The Return of the King is definitely the one movie to rule them all at the next Oscars.
Gerard Vinluan, Singapore

I've just returned from the cinema and it's hard to reintegrate myself back into the real world. The concluding film is absolutely staggering - an incredible achievement. It's difficult to believe that anything in it's genre will ever come close to it in the future. Unlike the BBC review I didn't feel anything about it dragged, it just went remorselessly on.

David, UK

I have just got home from seeing the first showing of the film in Nottingham. It was a good finish to what has been a fantastic trilogy. I was disappointed with some things that have been missed from the film, but it's mainly superficial! Worth the wait.
Lachakwig Isil-Galdor Silverbow, Nottingham, UK

The bottom line is that if you liked the first two movies then you'll love this last instalment. I would also suggest reading the book again after seeing the films and then ask yourself, how was so much crammed into 10 hours? Finally two small points: 1.) make sure you've seen the Two Towers recently (preferably the Extended DVD version) otherwise some things won't make as much sense as they should and you could be very lost and 2.) Visit the bathroom before taking your seat because once the film starts you won't want to leave it again.

Let's hope that The Hobbit isn't too many years away!
Marc Edwards, Wales

As a fan, I feel that Jackson, Boyens and Walsh have taken their biggest liberties yet with the plot
Peter Slade, USA
Brilliant, just sheer brilliant, rarely have sequels lived up to the previous release. Lord Of The Rings breaks that trend. I don't think I will see a better movie in the next 5 years. I am dreading the fact that there will be no release next Christmas.
Kalim, UK

ROTK suffers when placed alongside the other two EE's in pacing and character development. As a fan, I feel that Jackson, Boyens and Walsh have taken their biggest liberties yet with the plot. Perhaps I will get used to it - after all they have me swallowing everything else.
Peter Slade, US

Quite simply, Return of the King is the finest act of the greatest trilogy ever made.
Simon Cliff, Derby, UK

Absolutely amazing!!! I say Peter Jackson, "You are the one". This trilogy truly captures Lord of the Rings in its full glory that has been an enigma for film producers for far too long. The cinematography, characters and attention to detail is mesmerising and out of this world. The recruitment of men from Bethnal Green in London to play Uruk-Hai with their cockney accent was ingenious piece of brilliance.

If Peter Jackson does not get all the accolades he deserves in the Academy Awards it will be a travesty and the judges should beware if Peter Jackson does not get the awards
Enamul Hoque, London

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