The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King – Extended Edition (movie review)

Riveting.  Thank a higher power for getting this back into the movie.

When it comes to The Lord of the Rings and the extended editions, you’ve got your The Fellowship of the Ring and The Two Towers, and then, following behind, The Return of the King. Tolkien hated this title; it tells you what happens at the end of the story… but if he only knew how the end of the movie would be handled, he’d probably bust a pipe… or whatever dignified, older English gentlemen do when they’re outraged. 

Yeah, something like that.  Anyway, thesis by way of example:

“Bring up the Wolf’s head.”

I love how the characters in the movie are all, “Oh yeah, I forgot we dragged this giant, flaming, battleship sized battering ram all the way here from Mordor.  Silly me!  Right, come on lads, let’s use that to break down the gate.”

Observe at the 10 second mark!  Look how big Grond is!  LOOOOOOOOOOOOK!

I like dramatic effect, too, but when something sets an alarm off in the audience’s brain, the film makers went too far.  Let this set the tone for the rest of the review…  But, to be clear, I like this movie very much.  It’s just got some fluff and nonsense in it – that doesn’t mean it’s not a good flick.

Anyway, on with the complaining and scant praise for things both in the theatrical cut and the extended edition!

The Voice of Saruman
It was a nice idea to see Saruman get what he deserved, but somehow, this scene falls flat with me.  (Well, Saruman is the one who falls flat – ba doom crash!)  Nice try, it just doesn’t work.

Eowyn’s Dream
Just… I can’t… why… I know the Aragorn/Eowyn love story is supposed to be an important thread through the trilogy, but I think it’s fair to say it’s the weakest in the whole damn thing.

The Lovely Bones
How in the hell did the studio let them film this?  And then put it on the Extended Edition DVD as part of the movie?  This should be just an extra in a “We thought this was a cool idea, but once we actually looked at it, we thought, no, maybe not.”

The Houses of Healing
This was cool to see because it’s a thing in the books (something about the healing hand of the king…), but it just doesn’t work.

The Witch-King’s Hour
Again, a face off between Gandalf and the Witch-King would be much appreciated, but since it can go to a logical conclusion, it kinda sucks.  In a movie with long, bloated fight scenes, this one never really gets started, which is too bad.
Aaaaaaaaaaand Gandalf’s staff just reappears without explanation later in the film, but whatever.

Get Pumped & Cavalry Charge!
This is a point of contention in my house – I think this is the best inspirational speech in the trilogy and I love the wide shot – trample those bastards!  (There’s also one horse that’s just faster than the rest and does their best to prove it.)
I still want to know he hands Eomer that spear… but whatever.  Awesome.

The Mouth of Sauron
MOUTH:  “And who is this?”
Yeah, for all my complaints, the extended edition is worth it just for this scene.

Get Pumped Again
I prefer Theoden’s speech, but Aragorn’s is fine – sure, Viggo Mortensen may make a better speech in another movie, but it is not this day!

The Ending
If you’ve had this conversation with me, you know I will make the following argument until the end of time:
You can’t put a “You and what army?” “This army!” joke in your movie and expect the audience that laughs at that joke to then sit there for twenty minutes while you fumble about trying to end the movie by fading to black, then to white, then to black again and who the hell knows what else with Frodo and Sam being saved, Frodo waking up, Aragorn’s coronation, the return to the Shire, Frodo finishing the book, the Grey Havens… did I leave anything out?  You either make silly jokes and create a fun action movie or you take twenty minutes to end the flick with artsy fartsy BS, but to do both invokes two totally different tones.
I’m not saying the ending doesn’t work, I’m just saying it could have been handled better and given that this particular ending appears in a movie with a “You and what army?” “This army!” as well as the addition of the exploding skull mountain (The point of which is what, by the way?) just doesn’t work.

And yet, I like the extended edition of The Return of the King very much – I’ve seen it… well, I don’t really know how many times I’ve watched it, but let’s call it a half-dozen and leave it at that.  It’s a good flick, but not without fault and it’s long.  I mean REALLY long.  The theatrical cut is 201 minutes, the extended edition I have is 251 minutes  and the new Special Extended Blu-Ray Edition is 263 minutes, so it’s not for the faint of heart.

I can’t help but recommend it along with the other The Lord of the Rings extended editions – check it out and hit me up with your praise and complaints!

About Jamie Insalaco

Jamie Insalaco is the author of, and editor in chief of

Posted on February 20, 2015, in movie review and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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