With the final installment of his film version of J.R.R. Tolkien’s epic, director Peter Jackson delivers exactly what he promised with the first two: one of the supreme masterpieces in the history of movies. The climax of what is, in fact, not three films but one, Return
is the culmination of what has gone before. Of the three, it’s the most relentlessly headlong, the most eventful, the most spectacular, the richest emotionally and the most compelling dramatically. Jackson’s patience in building his story over 10-plus hours (with co-writers Frances Walsh and Philippa Boyens) pays off in a haunting spectacle that, like Tolkien’s book, shows the terrible cost of war even to the victors fighting on the side of right. It’s a monumental work, dizzying in its audacity and dazzling in its achievement.