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THE RETURN OF THE KING (article first published : 2004-01-25)

The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King begins, rather unexpectedly, with a close-up of a worm wriggling on a hook. And it ends, somewhat ickily, with a sail into the sunset after three false finishes.

But in the three hours-plus in between these two moments, New Zealand director Peter Jackson creates yet another magnificent film, each scene carefully considered. The result is a movie that is not only among the very best of 2003, but, for this reviewer anyone, easily qualifies as the greatest trilogy in film history. To overlook it come the Oscars in March would be totally unforgiveable.

The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King pulls out all the stops, serving among its many splendours fearsome flying dragons, a giant spider, outsize eagles, massive trolls, waves of floaty, phantom warriors and gargantuan, elephant-like creatures. It also offers battle sequences to rival even those from Helm's Deep, at the end of the second film in the series.

But it's the quieter, more poignant moments, that stick out most this time around as we continue to join Hobbits Frodo (Eliah Wood) and Sam (Sean Astin) in their arduous journey into Mordor, where Sam and the conniving, deceitful Gollum (the voice of Andy Sekris) battle to win the increasingly weak Frodo's trust.

Meanwhile, running parallel to this fight between good and evil, is another which has wizard Gandalf (Sir Ian McKellan) readying the Gondor capital, Minas Tirith - a brilliantly realised white city - for battle with Lord Sauron's army. Aragorn (Viggo Mortensen), with trusty sidekicks Legolas (Orlando Bloom) and Gimli (John Rhys-Davies), meanwhile, sets out to gather his own army to regain his kingdom.

The film is quite magnificent, every bit as good, if not better, than its predecessors. The must-see of the month, it gets a rating of 10/10! - Billy Suter




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