“Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King:” A beautiful conclusion to the iconic trilogy


Graphic by David Lloveras

“Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King” is the best film in the LOTR trilogy.

Tegan Ruhl, Assistant Lifestyle Editor

Finally…the last movie in the trilogy, “The Return of the King.” 

The resolution we’ve all been waiting for. Will the Fellowship endure till the end? Will Frodo finally destroy the ring? Will peace finally be restored to Middle Earth? 

“The Return of the King” is the final installment of the Lord of The Rings trilogy. With Sauron’s army ready to take over the world, it is now the Fellowship’s time to destroy the evil that has plagued Middle Earth for so long. War is on their doorstep, and the Fellowship fears that Frodo may not destroy the ring in time. 

As always, there will be spoilers in this review. Viewers beware. 

Here is a quick fun fact before I begin. I watched the extended version of all of these films. “The Return of the King” extended edition is 4 hours long.

Four. Hours. Long. 

The long runtime is beside the point. 

“The Return of the King” takes place after Isengard’s demise. Merry (Dominic Monaghan) and Pippin (Billy Boyd) have rejoined the group, setting out to defeat Saruman (Christopher Lee). Saruman has secluded himself at the top of his tower along with his minion Wormtongue (Brad Dourif). 

Pippin finds a palantír, one of several indestructible crystal balls. After looking into the palantír, he sees a vision of the kingdom of Gondor burning and Sauron discovers his location. In response to the vision, Gandalf hurries off to Gondor to try and protect the city before anything happens, taking Pippin with him. 

The rest of the Fellowship set out with the army of Rohan to help Gondor in the fight against Sauron. They soon realize they are outnumbered. Aragorn decides to find another army of his own. He is joined by Legolas (Orlando Bloom) and Gimli (John Rhys-Davies), and the three set out towards the Paths of the Dead to gather an army that may or may not be alive. 

Gollum leads Frodo and Sam to Mordor. (Photo courtesy of New Line Cinema)

Frodo (Elijah Wood), Sam (Sean Astin) and Gollum (Andy Serkis) are still on their quest to destroy the ring, inching closer to Mordor every day. However, Gollum grows more jealous of Frodo for carrying the ring, and Sam is suspicious that Gollum is going to hurt Frodo in order to get what he wants. Suspicious of Sam’s deeds as well, Gollum convinces Frodo that Sam only wants the ring for himself. Feeling betrayed by his trust in Sam, Frodo tells him to go home, leaving Sam devastated.

There’s so much to unpack in “The Return of the King,” I can’t get to in one review. However, I will note some things that stuck with me throughout the movie. 

First of all, Saruman dies. Yay! Second, Gollum finally dies. Yay! 

The movie opens by explaining how Gollum and his greed for the ring came about. He once was a hobbit named Sméagol, and the opening scenes show how he killed his cousin Déagol after he found the ring at the bottom of a lake. The call of the ring drew Sméagol in, and his mind was poisoned by the ring as a consequence. It’s a terrifying look into the life of Gollum and foreshadows future events in the film. 

Frodo looks awful throughout the entire film until the ending scenes. In “The Fellowship of the Ring,” I continuously commented on how pretty he was with his blue eyes, cheekbones, rosy cheeks and curly dark hair. It’s a different story in “The Return of the King.” After bearing the ring for almost two years, Frodo has almost succumbed to its power. He’s dirty, exhausted and practically on the brink of death. The ring even begins to make his neck bleed after carrying its burden for so long. The transformation is alarming but impressive.

More notably, Frodo submits himself to the power of the ring right when he’s on the brink of destroying it. After all this time, he falls to the evil of the ring, only to be brought out of it when Gollum bites his finger off and falls into the fires of Mount Doom with the ring. It’s all a tragic masterpiece. It finally resolves itself when Frodo and Sam are returned back to the company of the Fellowship. 

Frodo hesitates to drop the ring into the flames of Mount Doom. (Photo courtesy of New Line Cinema)

Aragorn also accepts his position as heir to the throne of Gondor, something he had rejected since the beginning of the trilogy. Seeing how his people needed a leader to fight against Sauron, he steps up to the task when Elrond (Hugo Weaving), a mighty elf ruler, tells him his daughter Arwen (Liv Tyler) is dying. Aragorn’s love for Arwen encourages him to step up to the challenge, and he leads the people to victory against Sauron’s armies over taking Gondor. Plus, he and Arwen get together in the end. 

Éowyn (Miranda Otto) gets her time to shine in the movie as well. Going against her uncle’s commands, Éowyn disguises herself and rides off into battle with the rest of the army of Rohan along with Merry. In a heroic stance, she kills the leader of the Nazgûl, giving Aragorn enough time to arrive with his army of the dead to defeat Sauron’s army. Her line is a staple to not only the movie, but the whole series. 


“No man can kill me.” 

“I am no man.” 

Girl power, am I right? 


As a last little character note, the relationship between the Fellowship grows throughout the movies, but the relationship between Legolas and Gimli is something special. Elves and dwarves are notoriously known for hating each other. While these two have had their differences in the past, they have become close friends while they traveled together across Middle Earth. I just think it’s cute they’re besties now. 

Aside from the characters, the action in this movie is amazing. The war between Sauron’s army and the Fellowship’s army is incredible in a way. It’s strange, gruesome at times, and noble throughout it all. With many creatures coming together to fight against evil, this is a war to be remembered for the ages. 

Gandalf (Ian McKellen) fights against Sauron’s army. (Photo courtesy of New Line Cinema)

 Sam gets married to his dream girl at the end of the movie, and Frodo finishes his own conclusion to Bilbo’s book which he titles “The Lord of the Rings.” 

The movie ends with everything resolved. The ring is destroyed, Sauron is finally defeated and everyone is happy again. Through hours of fighting, trials and pain, the Fellowship finally gets its happy ending. Hip-hip-hooray! 

Even though “The Return of the King” was 4 hours long, it’s easily the best addition to the series. I give it a 10 out of 10. 

Now, we’ve made it to the end of our journey. All this talk about wizards, elves and rings made me hungry for adventure. 

Ultimately, the LOTR series surprised me, entertained me and opened my mind up to a whole new world of imagination. I never thought I would watch this series, but after hours of binge-watching, I’m glad to say that I’m a friend to hobbits and the owner of the LOTR books. I’d give the entire trilogy a nine out of 10. 

Like this review? Make sure you check out my previous reviews for the trilogy “The Fellowship of the Ring” and “The Two Towers.”