David Silva of Burbank is a Times Community News editor. He can be
reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
It seems almost unfair to judge the “The Lord of the Rings: The
Return of the King” on its own merits. Certainly, it’s a great film,
one of the most visually stunning and emotionally satisfying movies
I’ve seen, and I’ve seen a lot of movies.
But it feels a bit wrong to critique it as a stand-alone piece of
cinema because, in the truest sense, it isn’t. Director Peter Jackson
never intended for his “Ring” trilogy to be appreciated as separate
works, just as author J.R.R. Tolkien never intended “The Lord of the
Rings” to be three separate books.
“The Return of the King” is, above all, the third and final act of
a single, grand adventure. Jackson said in a recent interview that
while waiting to see the second or third film, theatergoers should
try to imagine that the projectionist is merely changing reels. All
told, there is only one “Lord of the Rings.” One film to rule them
Nevertheless, “The Return of the King” is magnificent. From its
opening sequence depicting the downfall of the river hobbit Smeagol
and the birth of the creature Gollum, to the apocalyptic battle of
the Pelennor Fields, to the fiery chasm of Mount Doom and beyond,
this film takes hold of you like no other. It took hold of me, and
I’m still waiting for it to let go.
If “The Fellowship of the Ring” will be remembered for its
dazzling beauty and the “The Two Towers” for its dizzying action,
“The Return of the King” will be remembered for its sheer nobility.
It is brimming over with heroes, some so pure of character their
actions tear at the heart. The hobbit Frodo (Elijah Wood) is nothing
less than heroic sacrifice personified, and his struggles could not
resonate so strongly were we living in less warlike times. When the
warrior Faramir (David Wenham) proves he would ride into the gates of
ruin to honor his father (John Noble, positively unnerving in his
role as an unhinged ruler), it is a lesson in filial duty almost too
powerful to take.
The film abounds with great performances, and perhaps the
strongest comes from the most unlikely of sources. With his portrayal
of the valiant and loyal Samwise Gamgee, Sean Astin has at last shown
he is every bit the actor of his legendary parents, John Astin and
Patty Duke. In a role everyone expected to be pivotal but
second-tier, Sean Astin almost steals the film.
With “The Return of the King,” Director Jackson and company have
not simply given us the greatest film trilogy of our time, but one of
the best films of all time. It is a new masterpiece for the ages.
“The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King” is rated PG-13 for
intense epic battle sequences and frightening images.