The Lord Of The Rings: The Return Of The King - Special Extended Edition


So, that's it then. It's over. After this, there is no more. Well, unless you count the Super-Special Anniversary Collector's Tribute Edition With Bells On which will doubtless arrive next year. For now, though, you can finally enjoy the `trilogy' in its purest form. We say `trilogy', but just as JRR Tolkien insisted The Lord Of The Rings was one novel in three volumes, so this is really one film in three parts. One very, very looooong film: 11 hours, 48 minutes from stirring start to tear-jerking end.

Buy the Extended Editions Box Set and you've the makings of a perfect long geekend. The Fellowship Of The Ring - always the most effective stand-alone outing - serves as invigorating induction to Middle-earth, while The Two Towers no longer suffers from narrative inertia - it has found its beginning and end. And what an end: the majestic Return Of The King.

Still, the theatrical cut of Peter Jackson's finale ran to a bladder-bursting 3 hours 20 minutes. Even with the aid of the pause button, the added 48 minutes might seem to be literally, um, taking the piss. The undoubted highlight is Saruman's final bow, which gives Christopher Lee's wizard such an effective, grandstanding swansong you'll wonder why it was lopped off the first cut. Likewise the Mouth Of Sauron sequence, an eerily effective demonstration of the enemy's manipulative power. Otherwise, it's a mix of good to not bad, with the simpering, chaste romance between Eowyn and Faramir the only real reason not to buy a catheter. You can easily take loo breaks during their longing, lingering glances.

But there's no denying the power of the piece as Jackson finally unleashes the full force of the gathered storm, with hordes of dark minions spilling out of Mordor to clash with Aragorn's hastily assembled army. It's a classy conclusion to a copperbottomed classic.

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