Peter Jackson's multi-Oscar-winning epic fantasy trilogy, based on J.R.R. Tolkien's books, reaches its conclusion. Frodo the Ring-bearer and his faithful companion Sam (Elijah Wood and Sean Astin) are within sight of Mordor, guided by Gollum (Andy Serkis). Once a Hobbit but now, thanks to his possession of the Ring aeons ago, Gollum is a twisted, duplicitous creature with plans to regain it.
Meanwhile, the remainder of the Fellowship, led by Gandalf (Ian McKellen) and Aragorn (Viggo Mortensen), must defend the last stronghold of man, Minas Tirith, against Sauron's might. And then, to buy Frodo and Sam time, they must march to the very gates of Mordor to distract Sauron's gaze from the Ring-bearer as he gets ever closer to Mount Doom, into whose fiery depths the Ring must be cast...
The legend of the making of the trilogy is almost as epic as the films themselves. The series is the most nominated in Academy history, with a total of 30, surpassing the three Godfathers (28) and the Star Wars series (21), and this film alone won all 11 of its nominations (The Last Emperor and Gigi both won nine from nine).
But as well as the awards, the films triumph with their technical achievements - with CGI used to the fullest effect - and all of the lead characters are fully rounded rather than ciphers, particularly with the growing relationship between Frodo and Sam and the former's increasing reliance on the latter as the Ring's baleful influence increases.
After Lord of the Rings, Jackson went on to direct King Kong, technically as perfect a fantasy but without the humanity, while the similarly fantasy-based Narnia exuded charm without conviction. The Lord of the Rings trilogy has set the benchmark for all fantasy films.