I am not a Lord of the Rings fan and I spent the better part of 11 years avoiding this movie. Friends sat me down to watch the first two (typically ending in me falling asleep) and a student even gave me a copy of the film in 2010 so that I wouldn’t have an excuse. Eleven Oscars do not lie – “The Return of the King” is an epic journey that brings J.R.R. Tolkien’s fantasy world to life. The editing is a marvel, special effects were groundbreaking, and it was definitely the best movie of 2003. Even though it had been nearly 10 years since I saw “The Two Towers,” the movie is so long that you can easily forge strong attachments to the characters during this installment. I didn’t even remember Pippin when I started the film but he was one of my favorites by the end. Viggo and McKellen are strong from start to finish, Elijah Wood and Sean Astin are fantastic as Frodo and Sam, and I inexplicably cried at the beginning of the “ending.” I do have to take a moment to complain about the editing at the end of the film. They drag out the ending for like 20 minutes and keep fading out, only to reveal one false ending after another. Even once it said "The End," I was skeptical for a minute before turning it off. No wonder this movie is 3 1/2 hours long! I’m sure that LOTR fanatics eat it up, but my emotions were unengaged by the actual end of this film. Still, the length of these films is no secret so we shouldn’t be surprised when the film simply won’t end. The entire series is a rather genius way to explore the world of Middle Earth through the events of this journey. This installment is particularly filled with action and the editors prevented it from becoming monotonous. The acting of Andy Serkis to bring Gollum to life is truly admirable, and the special effects were definitely advanced for their time. I understand why the film was not nominated in any acting categories, but all of the acting is still very good. This film hasn’t made me a LOTR fan, but it has certainly redeemed the series for me, in spite of the unreasonably long lengths. “The Return of the King” is still a big cumbersome to endure in one watch, but don’t be afraid to pause it in order to stretch your legs or go make some food – the characters will still be there when you finish and it doesn’t take much to draw you right back in.
[Pictured; A truly amazing story of friendship]