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The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King

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New Zealand, United States · 2003
Rated PG-13 · 3h 21m
Director Peter Jackson
Starring Elijah Wood, Ian McKellen, Viggo Mortensen, Sean Astin
Genre Action, Adventure, Fantasy

Aragorn, revealed to be the heir to the ancient kings, struggles to save Gandor from Sauron's forces alongside Gandalf and the other members of the broken fellowship. Meanwhile, Frodo and Sam bring the ring closer to the heart of Mordor, the dark lord's realm.

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What are people saying?

Megan Rochlin Profile picture for Megan Rochlin

This is one of my absolute favorite films of all time. it is so hard to adapt a book that is both as beloved, and as complex as the Lord of The Rings. Peter Jackson gives us a faithful adaptation that captured the spirit of the original books and introduced a whole new generation to The Lord of the Rings.

Eddie Godino Profile picture for Eddie Godino

Return of the King closes out one of the greatest movie trilogies ever created, leaving no stone unturned as it guides viewers towards the long-awaited conclusion. The third film loses none of Two Towers' momentum, once again plunging audiences into epic battle scenes and raising the stakes to the max. As many other franchises have proven, a poor final installment can ruin a series, but Return of the King undoubtedly sticks the landing, becoming the only sequel next to The Godfather II to win an Academy Award for Best Picture. As the last piece of the puzzle, Return of the King is what makes Lord of the Rings the defining fantasy epic of our time.

Summer Goldstein Profile picture for Summer Goldstein

A truly special, magical film that I will never grow tired of returning to again and again. I am always struck by how Jackson makes the quiet, emotional moments just as striking as the epic battles or stirring speeches. I can't imagine watching this and not crying by the end.

What are critics saying?


The Hollywood Reporter by

An epic success and a history-making production that finishes with a masterfully entertaining final installment.


Empire by Alan Morrison

Those who have walked beside these heroes every step of the way on such a long journey deserve the emotional pay-off as well as the action peaks, and they will be genuinely touched as the final credits roll.


Newsweek by David Ansen

The second installment was better than the first, and this one is best of all. It has spectacular action scenes and imaginary creatures, and it’s by far the most moving chapter. The performances have deepened.


New York Daily News by Jack Mathews

The most emotionally satisfying because, in addition to having both more intimate drama and more spectacular battles, it resolves all of the issues raised before.


ReelViews by James Berardinelli

Labeling this as a "movie" is almost an injustice. This is an experience of epic scope and grandeur, amazing emotional power, and relentless momentum.


Entertainment Weekly by Lisa Schwarzbaum

The conclusion of Peter Jackson's masterwork is passionate and literate, detailed and expansive, and it's conceived with a risk-taking flair for old-fashioned movie magic at its most precious.


New York Magazine (Vulture) by Peter Rainer

Jackson is rare among the makers of epic movies in that he knows how to do the small stuff, too. The Return of the King has “heart”--how else could it pump out all that blood?


Time by Richard Corliss

The second half of the film elevates all the story elements to Beethovenian crescendo. Here is an epic with literature's depth and opera's splendor -- and one that could be achieved only in movies. What could be more terrific?


Variety by Todd McCarthy

Represents that filmmaking rarity -- a third part of a trilogy that is decisively the best of the lot. With epic conflict, staggering battles, striking landscapes and effects, and resolved character arcs all leading to a dramatic conclusion to more than nine hours of masterful storytelling.

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