Extended versions of Peter Jackson's complete epic big screen adaptation of J.R.R. Tolkien's 'Lord of the Rings' trilogy - filmed back-to-back and released over 3 consecutive years. In 'The Fellowship of the Ring' (2001) Frodo (Elijah Wood) is a hobbit living in the Shire, a quiet, peaceful part of Middle Earth. When it turns out that his elderly relative Bilbo (Ian Holm) is harbouring the ultimate Ring of Power and the evil Nazgul riders of Sauron are coming to find it, Frodo is entrusted by wizard Gandalf (Ian McKellen) to deliver the Ring out of the Shire without it falling into their hands. Frodo leaves the Shire aided by his cousins Merry (Dominic Monaghan), Pippin (Billy Boyd) and trusty friend Sam Gamgee (Sean Astin), but they soon realise that the agents of Mordor are everywhere and that their trip is far from over. Once they reach the Elvish realm of Rivendell the Hobbits form part of the anti-Sauron fellowship, which includes Aragorn (Viggo Mortensen), Boromir (Sean Bean), Legolas Greenleaf (Orlando Bloom), Gimli the dwarf and of course Gandalf. Together they must battle across Middle Earth to destroy the Ring by casting it into the Cracks of Doom, the fiery chasm in the centre of Mordor. In 'The Two Towers' (2002) the Fellowship of the Ring has now divided and Sam and Frodo are lost in the hills of Emyn Muil. They are also being followed by Gollum, a creature who promises to help them find the Mountain of Doom. Meanwhile Aragorn, Legolas and Gimli search for the hobbits Merry and Pippin in the Kingdom of Rohan, which is currently being attacked by Saruman's orc armies. Gandalf returns as Gandalf the White to remind Aragorn of his destiny to unite the people of Rohan with Gondor. Whilst the Fellowship are not travelling together they must unite against the powerful forces coming from the Two Towers: Orthanc Tower in Isengard where Saruman has bred a deadly army of 10,000, and Sauron's fortress at Barad-dûr. Finally, 'The Return of the King' (2003) won all 11 Academy Awards it was nominated for, including Best Picture, Best Director and Best Adapted Screenplay. Gandalf manages to rally Gondor's fallen army with the help of King Theoden of Rohan for the biggest battle in the history of Middle-earth; and Aragorn finally faces up to his responsibilities. They are obviously out-numbered but are determined to keep Sauron distracted in order to enable Frodo to complete his quest to destroy the Ring by throwing it into the fires of the Mountain of Doom.
If you have the time I would definitely recommend the Extended versions of these films over the regular cinematic versions. They are a bit longer and the movies seem to go on forever but they are riveting the whole way through. I have lost many hours to these movies and I cant just stop at one. I must watch them in order from start to finish so when I decide to watch them I am always making a commitment.
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