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Last Updated: Friday, 12 December, 2003, 13:19 GMT
First reviews: The Return of the King
Viggo Mortensen
Viggo Mortensen stars as Aragorn in the film
The last of the Lord of the Rings film trilogy, The Return of the King, had its UK première in London on Thursday.

Newspapers have given their verdicts on the final instalment - as has JRR Tolkien's grandson.

Simon Tolkien, JRR Tolkien's grandson, on BBC Radio 4's Today programme: "I think it's an amazing spectacle - I don't think you could ever take that away from it. But I think it was the weaker of the three.

"There are so many things going on now, in so many different places... now that everyone is separated, you get very confused as to who's doing what.

"I always thought a good film could be made of this book, but obviously you can't make it by taking the book and putting it straight down on the screen.

"I've become less happy - not because it's a film, but because in this film there is too much going on.

"It becomes too confusing and you can't get into each individual episode. I would have liked to have cut much more of the battles scenes and the special effects.

"I certainly think the films have brought an awful lot of people into the books, and the book sales have gone up. I hope very much the effect of the films will be that more people will read the books."

The Times: "And so it ends, the greatest film trilogy ever mounted, with some of the most amazing action sequences committed to celluloid. The Return of the King is everything a Ring fan could possibly wish for, and much more.

Live Tyler (Arwen)
The film is widely tipped for Oscar success
"It has always been the sheer scale of Jackson's ambition that has impressed. If the crawl of the Hobbits towards the fires of Mordor provides the heartbeat, it's the bloodcurdling battle scenes and a new battalion of monsters who provide the thrills.

"How do you follow up a film like this? I'm not sure you can, or how sane that would be. The characters and their exploits have seeped into the film lexicon. It is quite simply the action trilogy by which all others will be measured."

The Independent: "Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings trilogy has morphed from being a quirky gamble - a fantasy adventure too frightening for kids and possibly too silly for adults - into the surest thing in town.

"The New Zealand landscape, as ever, shovels its way into your psyche and the huge battle scenes feel as personal and fraught with tension as domestic dramas. Meanwhile, the actors say their lines with such fierce commitment that you daren't miss a word.

"And then - disaster! Having stroked and stimulated us into submission, Jackson just can't think how to wrap things up... I came out of The Two Towers feeling like I'd been converted to the Church of Tolkien; I emerged from The Return of the King on the side of the gargoyles."

The Guardian: "The Lord of the Rings is undeniably a landmark in cinema history, a creation of demented, kamikaze passion that all logic suggested should never work and yet somehow did. [Yet]... I can't say I'm sad to see the back of it.

"True to the form of its predecessors, it's a picture painted across a mammoth canvas, whether pivoting around the white-tiered city of Minas Tirith or rustling up what could well be the most mesmerising, perfectly staged battle scenes that I've ever seen at the cinema.

"In fact, for about four fifths of its run, I had The Return of the King confidently filed as a masterpiece - a big, stirring orchestral epic of a movie, full of blood and heroism and sacrifice and soul. The trouble is that it is also hellishly long, frequently preposterous and as humourless as a cat."

The Daily Telegraph: "It's not crucial to have seen the other two films in the trilogy to enjoy this film. Is some ways, it's the boldest of the three. Its camerawork in particular is more expressionistic and adventurous.

Elijah Wood as Frodo
Frodo (Elijah Wood) must destroy the Ring in Mount Doom
"The film could do with some topping and tailing. The first hour is glacially slow, needlessly recapitulating elements of its two predecessors. And the ending is something of a letdown.

"I left exhilarated and saddened. What will Christmas next year be like without a fresh instalment of the Ring to look forward to?"

The Daily Mail: "Disappointing. Overblown. Anti-climactic. Bungled. These are just some of the adjectives I shall not be using to describe the third part of The Lord of the Rings. How about amazing, stupendous, jaw-dropping and overwhelming.

"For this is wonderfully imaginative cinema on the grandest possible scale, fabulously inspired but never restricted by Tolkien's original vision.

"If you ever questioned Peter Jackson's ability to improve on the battle for Helm's Deep, shame on you. The Battle for Pelennor Fields is on such a colossal scale, and so excitingly shot, that it blows away every war scene ever filmed."

Daily Express: "The Return of the King is the great coming together of Tolkien's myth, where journeys end in vast battles, and where incident is piled upon incident, climax upon climax. And director Peter Jackson has more than done justice to his material.

Andy Serkis (Gollum)
Andy Serkis' Gollum again reaps critical acclaim
"Again and again the film places unblushing emphasis on old virtues - self-sacrifice, courage, steadfastness and faith.

"Viggo Mortensen's Aragorn in particular is given speeches of Churchillean fortitude, while (male) friendship and love bind the other characters with pathos we are unaccustomed to encountering in a £200-million, special-effects-laden blockbuster."

Daily Mirror: "So, as the much-hyped production is released simultaneously around the world today, is it worth all the fuss? Was I bored by the Rings, or awed by the Rings.

"Well, both, to be honest. For the first hour of nerdy Tolkien talk as the saga crept along at a snail's pace, I glanced at my watch. But when this cinematic juggernaut kicks into action, boy does the audience gets its money's worth.

"Will Jackson at last win an Oscar for this towering achievement? No ifs. No buts. The answer is unequivocally yes. And about time too."

Simon Tolkien on The Return of The King
"I think it was the weaker of the three"

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