Metascore
94

Universal acclaim - based on 41 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 40 out of 41
  2. Negative: 0 out of 41
  1. 88
    There is little enough psychological depth anywhere in the films, actually, and they exist mostly as surface, gesture, archetype and spectacle. They do that magnificently well, but one feels at the end that nothing actual and human has been at stake.
  2. 100
    Labeling this as a "movie" is almost an injustice. This is an experience of epic scope and grandeur, amazing emotional power, and relentless momentum.
  3. 100
    A majestic conclusion to a nine-plus-hours epic that stirs the heart, mind and soul as few films ever have.
  4. 88
    This is a film in which ideas resonate as well as action. Gandalf’s words to Pippin about death have a muscular poetry.
  5. Jackson is rare among the makers of epic movies in that he knows how to do the small stuff, too. The Return of the King has “heart”--how else could it pump out all that blood?
  6. Reviewed by: Ty Burr
    88
    Yet what I felt when the lights came up at the end of this visionary, titanic, relentless experience was something different: a strange relief that it was, at last, over.
  7. The conclusion of Peter Jackson's masterwork is passionate and literate, detailed and expansive, and it's conceived with a risk-taking flair for old-fashioned movie magic at its most precious.
  8. 100
    As completely real on the psychological level as its up-to-the-moment visual effects have on the physical.
  9. The invisible wizard Peter Jackson makes use of every scene to show us the meaning of magnificence. Never has a filmmaker aimed higher, or achieved more.
  10. Reviewed by: Claudia Puig
    100
    As good as each individual movie is, the third film vaults the work into the stratosphere of classic movies. Key characters are enhanced, new civilizations visited and battles fought more intensely, while feelings and motivations are plumbed more deeply and movingly.
  11. 100
    This movie is not only a thrilling experience, it closes the book on a truly satisfying trilogy.
  12. Reviewed by: David Edelstein
    100
    It might be the cinema's most astonishing holy war film. The Lord of the Rings took seven years and an army of gifted artists to execute, and the striving of its makers is in every splendid frame. It's more than a movie--it's a gift.
  13. 100
    Feels like a miracle, a movie that exceeds even the most formidable expectations without straying from its singular path. All hail this King.
  14. 100
    It's been a long time since a commercially oriented film with the scale of "King" ended with such an enduring and heartbreaking coda.
  15. Jackson had the vision, persistence, insight and patience for this mighty job, plus the smarts to shape stage veterans and overlooked film actors into a seamless cast. He's made himself as immortal as a movie director can be.
  16. Reviewed by: Todd McCarthy
    100
    Represents that filmmaking rarity -- a third part of a trilogy that is decisively the best of the lot. With epic conflict, staggering battles, striking landscapes and effects, and resolved character arcs all leading to a dramatic conclusion to more than nine hours of masterful storytelling.
  17. The most emotionally satisfying because, in addition to having both more intimate drama and more spectacular battles, it resolves all of the issues raised before.
  18. 90
    I love Jackson's "Rings" saga despite his propensity for whimsical animation whenever he tries to strike a chord of dread or menace.
  19. 100
    From the acting to the special effects to the landscapes to the cinematography, editing and music, to the details of decor, wardrobe and armaments, we never once feel that we are in anything but the hands of an absolute master of the medium.
  20. Like all great fantasies and epics, this one leaves you with the sense that its wonders are real, its dreams are palpable.
  21. First and foremost, it soars because its grand design and numerous story problems were worked out half a century ago by a guy named Tolkien, and Jackson was smart enough to realize this.
  22. 100
    It rises, all on its own, to the realm of masterwork.
  23. 90
    All in all, it's a fitting conclusion to the series, and yet there are disappointments built in. For one, Jackson has opted not to film Tolkien's downbeat "Scouring Of The Shire" epilogue.
  24. Reviewed by: Richard Corliss
    100
    The second half of the film elevates all the story elements to Beethovenian crescendo. Here is an epic with literature's depth and opera's splendor -- and one that could be achieved only in movies. What could be more terrific?
  25. Then, finally, there are the endings, all six of them...For us outsiders, it seems like too much of a good thing...But all those are minor rants: The big fact is that The Return of the King puts you there at Waterloo, or Thermopylae or the Bulge, any desperate place where men ran low on blood and iron and ammo, but not on courage.
  26. 100
    The deep satisfaction of The Return of the King is in surrendering ourselves to the finale, in letting Jackson's superb storytelling (with due credit to co-screenwriters Fran Walsh and Philippa Boyens) surround us like a blazing campfire tale -- which it does, gloriously.
  27. Reviewed by: David Ansen
    100
    The second installment was better than the first, and this one is best of all. It has spectacular action scenes and imaginary creatures, and it’s by far the most moving chapter. The performances have deepened.
  28. This film is a miracle, an extravaganza equal to its predecessors and in some ways more stunning. It is a profound testament to the extraordinary power of moving images and sound.
  29. Reviewed by: Glenn Kenny
    100
    A phantasmagorical slab of epic entertainment that satisfies on every conceivable level.
  30. Reviewed by: Alan Morrison
    100
    Those who have walked beside these heroes every step of the way on such a long journey deserve the emotional pay-off as well as the action peaks, and they will be genuinely touched as the final credits roll.
  31. Reviewed by: David Hunter
    100
    An epic success and a history-making production that finishes with a masterfully entertaining final installment.
  32. Reviewed by: Andrea Gronvall
    100
    Ties everything together with a dazzling synthesis of pagan animism, heroic quest mythology, orientalism, Pre-Raphaelite imagery, 1950s sci-fi creature features, and Hollywood war epics.
User Score
9.0

Universal acclaim- based on 2011 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Negative: 85 out of 726
  1. Aug 9, 2011
    10
    It's a perfect epic. There's not one false step. The battles are incredible, the characters just as fun as ever. This movie is basically flawless. One of the best ever Full Review »
  2. Dec 16, 2012
    10
    This is simply a masterpiece.
    You will never see a trilogy like this one, essential for your cinematographic culture. The Return of the King
    is the prove that third parts can be much better than the first or second one. Full Review »
  3. GeorgeS.
    Sep 26, 2008
    10
    This movie is supreme in every aspect: visualy, story-wise, directing and with an extraordinary soundtrack. My personal favorite ever since I saw it!