Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King
The best for last
HAVEN'T READ THE BOOKS? - see the theatrical versions first. They are better paced with action timed to keep your attention. They also have fewer details that make no sense if this is your first exposure. Those versions are still gorgeous and present a lovable and believable world. They are quite well-made and enjoyable films, regardless of subject matter. LOVE THE BOOKS? - enjoy this version of the Return of the King. This is the best film of the three (in both this and the theatrical version). It continues the visual feast. Book-fans will love the beauty and majesty of Minas Tirith. The Battle of Pelennor Fields is unbelievable and will be imitated for decades. It is so huge it actually reduces Helm's Deep back to the minor battle it is. I don't watch movies for action, but I love this battle! We also get a great pay-off with the characters and their story, all of which have been so well developed in the first two films. It is a very emotionally satisfying and powerful ending, making one realize how great the screen-writing, acting, and directing have been. The Scouring of the Shire is one of my favorite parts of the books, but I see why it is cut. The way Jackson tells the story, we are totally satisfied by the time the hobbits get home and couldn't handle anything more. His cutting-instincts were right - though I love Bombadil and the Scouring and need them in the books. Some of the new material fits in a bit less smoothly in this film than it did in the others, but it is still a masterpiece. Serious fans must watch the appendices.