The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King 2003

Critics score:
95 / 100

Reviews provided by RottenTomatoes

Terry Lawson, Detroit Free Press: It not only stands as fantasy filmmaking on a peak of previously unscaled proportions, it now officially takes its place in the Great Hall of Movie Mythology, the place we return to again and again to share our dreams. Read more

Rene Rodriguez, Miami Herald: A movie that exceeds even the most formidable expectations without straying from its singular path. Read more

Michael Wilmington, Chicago Tribune: Both profoundly moving and deeply satisfying. Read more

Kenneth Turan, Los Angeles Times: As a model for how to bring substance, authenticity and insight to the biggest of adventure yarns, this trilogy will not soon, if ever, find its equal. Read more

Roger Moore, Orlando Sentinel: The thrilling conclusion to what has become the film event of our time -- the definitive screen fantasy -- features more spellbinding moments, bigger battles, more emotion and more poetry than the terrific first two films in the trilogy. Read more

Moira MacDonald, Seattle Times: A rich, layered tale of a king, a wizard and two little hobbits whose courage saved their world. Read more

Lou Lumenick, New York Post: Towers above its predecessors with cleaner storytelling and a more satisfying balance between terrific acting and eye-popping effects. Read more

Joe Morgenstern, Wall Street Journal: Yes, the running time is long, and yes, those many endings in a slow, dreamy coda left me feeling spent -- better spent than I can ever remember. Read more

Richard Roeper, Ebert & Roeper: The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King is Peter Jackson's crowning achievement. Read more

Eleanor Ringel Gillespie, Atlanta Journal-Constitution: With The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King, Peter Jackson brings his epic series to a glorious finish. And in doing so, he's made the greatest movie trilogy in cinema history. Read more

Keith Phipps, AV Club: The Return Of The King ultimately proves up to the series' increasingly difficult task: making movies that echo legends, making legends that reflect life, and reconciling it all with the fact that both legends and lives all eventually meet their ends. Read more

Bill Muller, Arizona Republic: Not only has Jackson boldly and faithfully brought J.R.R. Tolkien's world to life, he's created the most epic and sweeping fantasy adventure of all time. Read more

Ty Burr, Boston Globe: Audiences who don't have halberds to grind and who possess rear ends of steel and a taste for declamatory heroics will find themselves rewarded. Read more

David Germain, Associated Press: With The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King, Peter Jackson delivers a decent ending to his fantasy trilogy -- actually, about 12 endings. Read more

Andrea Gronvall, Chicago Reader: Standing out amid an excellent cast is Elijah Wood, stymied by tweeness in the earlier films but here convincingly developing the character of Frodo as the embodiment of valor and self-sacrifice. Read more

Bruce Westbrook, Houston Chronicle: This film is everything a fan could want and possibly more. For three-plus hours, it entertains, enthralls and awes. Read more

Paul Clinton (, Utterly breathtaking. Read more

Lisa Kennedy, Denver Post: Confirms Jackson's reputation as a kinetic director who has made author J.R.R. Tolkien's work his own -- not as plagiarist but as a visionary. Read more

Lisa Schwarzbaum, Entertainment Weekly: Passionate and literate, detailed and expansive... it's conceived with a risk-taking flair for old-fashioned movie magic at its most precious. Read more

Philip Wuntch, Dallas Morning News: The director and screenwriter brings unity to a somewhat unwieldy story and handles the spectacle scenes with flourish and coherence. Read more

Scott Foundas, L.A. Weekly: Both the longest film in the series and the most confidently paced, striking an ideal balance of combat and camaraderie. Read more

John Anderson, Newsday: Jackson closes his trilogy with a movie far more humorous, good-natured and emotionally engaging than its predecessors. Read more

David Ansen, Newsweek: The second installment was better than the first, and this one is best of all. Read more

Anthony Lane, New Yorker: As I watched this film, an eager victim of its boundless will to astound, I found my loyal memories of the book beginning to fade. Read more

Peter Rainer, New York Magazine/Vulture: The word trilogy, which was handed such a black eye by the Matrix movies, is restored to its proper dignity with Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King. Read more

Stephen Whitty, Newark Star-Ledger: Like all the other installments in the saga, The Return of the King is part of a good movie, but only mediocre on its own, full of awkward pauses and redundancies. Read more

Jack Mathews, New York Daily News: [Director Peter Jackson] can lay claim to one of the greatest achievements in film history. Read more

Elvis Mitchell, New York Times: King is the product of impressive craft and energy. Read more

James Berardinelli, ReelViews: An experience of epic scope and grandeur, amazing emotional power, and relentless momentum. Read more

Roger Ebert, Chicago Sun-Times: Return of the King is such a crowning achievement, such a visionary use of all the tools of special effects, such a pure spectacle, that it can be enjoyed even by those who have not seen the first two films. Read more

Peter Travers, Rolling Stone: Pops your eyes, excites your senses and brings you in as close as a whisper for scenes of startling emotion. Read more

Andrew O'Hehir, The final chapter completes The Lord of the Rings series in thrilling style -- and restores faith in the idea that popular entertainment can soar to majestic heights. Read more

Mick LaSalle, San Francisco Chronicle: A grand adventure with lots of fun things to look at. Read more

David Edelstein, Slate: This is the best of the three Rings movies -- more than that, it makes the others look even better. Read more

Colin Covert, Minneapolis Star Tribune: A magical movie in every sense of the word. Read more

Liam Lacey, Globe and Mail: A movie for our time, perhaps for all time, mostly a good time and definitely a long time. Read more

Peter Howell, Toronto Star: Completes the picture, magnificently so, and all honour and praise are due the visionaries behind the project. Read more

Richard Corliss, TIME Magazine: The film event of the millennium. Read more

Tom Charity, Time Out: Some story strands are crudely abbreviated; others fail to develop elements that were already well-established. Read more

Claudia Puig, USA Today: The jewel in the crown of the masterful trilogy. Read more

Todd McCarthy, Variety: Peter Jackson's final installment in his monumental The Lord of the Rings represents that filmmaking rarity -- a third part of a trilogy that is decisively the best of the lot. Read more

J. Hoberman, Village Voice: This Krakatoa is at once exhausting and riveting. Read more

Stephen Hunter, Washington Post: Tolkien and his representative on Earth, [Peter] Jackson, really know how to get a tale roaring down the tracks. Read more