Picks and Pans Review: The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King

updated 12/22/2003 AT 01:00 AM EST

originally published 12/22/2003 AT 01:00 AM EST

Elijah Wood, Ian McKellen, Viggo Mortensen, Liv Tyler, Sean Astin

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I'm still not as blissed out by this trilogy as are hardcore fans of the J.R.R. Tolkien novels or filmgoers who revel in endless battle scenes. Still, this end chapter is as visually spectacular—with its mythological creatures—as movies get. Over a rear-testing 3½ hours, LOTR's plucky heroes again rattle on in faux-Shakespearean speech and test themselves against fantastical enemies but, this time out, deliverance is within their reach. The only thing missing is director-cowriter Peter Jackson coming out to take a final deserved bow. (PG-13)

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