(Check out the list so far)
The Movie: The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King (2003)
One Sentence Plot Summary: Hobbits and men save Middle Earth, and Peter Jackson can’t decide on an ending.
Why It’s on the List: If only Peter Jackson could have decided on an ending for the theatrical cut, I think this would have been the absolutely capper to one of the greatest trilogies ever produced. As is, there are several very memorable moments as Frodo completes his journey, Aragorn becomes the king, Gollum clinches his role as one of the most tragic characters in film history, and Sam finishes the book.
There are a couple of major battles, neither of which are built up to as well as Helm’s Deep, but there are still some emotional moments with the Hobbits willing to sacrifice himself, Aragorn’s big speeches, and Theodon dying on the battlefield. So much of what makes this film work is that we don’t really need to develop the characters as much after spending six hours with them already. We do get a nice Gollum origin story in the prologue that realty gets across just how unfortunate his luck is and how powerful the ring is.
I really do wish Aragorn becoming king and everyone kneeling at the hobbits was the proper ending. I understand what happened in the book and having the other endings as part of the extended cut, but with the story Jackson was trying to tell, this is the ending that made the most sense. Even despite this, Peter Jackson’s accomplishments should never be forgotten because he brought a story that some thought impossible to the big screen.
*Same issues with the first and second film. Nothing new.
MVP: Peter Jackson for a third time. It was at this point the Academy Awards could not deny one of the greatest film achievements. Fellowship won four Oscars and Two Towers saw some nominations, but Return dominated the 2004 Oscars like films almost never do anymore. They’re much more spread out now. In 2004, this was complete domination as the film won 11 awards, including best director for Peter Jackson. He was never able to equal or top this trilogy, but this is going to be his legacy, and he should always be remembered for his work on this trilogy because it was extraordinary.
Best Performance: Time to give Viggo Mortensen some love. He was cast just after actual shooting began, and it seems like he slowly grew into the role to the point where he really did feel like the leader of the cast. All of the actors are various degrees of good, but I think Viggo is the pick, not just because the movie is essentially named after him but because he gives multiple speeches that really get across the idea of how important the battles are. It’s a shame the actors didn’t get as much love as the technical parts of the film because Mortensen and Elijah Wood deserved credit.
Best Quote: “We set out to save the Shire, Sam and it has been saved – but not for me.” -Frodo
Is there a sequel? A trilogy prequel was completed, but it’s best we not comment on The Hobbit trilogy. Amazon has also paid 250 million dollars for the rights to a television series, but who knows when that will see the light of day?