Frodo and Sam are led by Gollum toward the fires of Mount Doom to continue their dangerious quest to destroy the One Ring. Meanwhile, Aragorn leads his outnumbered follows against the growing power of the Dark Lord Sauron, in the hopes that the ring-bearer will complete his quest.

A breathtaking achievement.

The third part of Peter Jackson's monumental Lord Of The Rings trilogy fully lives up to its predecessors. Without offering the viewer any reminder of what has gone before, the story picks up with a flashback that shows how Smeagal (Andy Serkis) became for a while the owner of the ring. Now, Smeagal, or Gollum, is the treacherous guide to the ring's current owner, Frodo, (Elijah Wood), as, accompanied by Frodo's exceedingly loyal friend, Sam, (Sean Astin), they travel to Mount Doom to destroy the ring once and for all – but not before some frightening confrontations, including one with a giant spider.

Meanwhile, the Orcs attack the mountain city of Minas Tirith, the capital of Gondor, where the steward, Denethor, (John Noble), seems resigned to his fate; the King of Rohan, (Bernard Hill), summons his forces in an attempt to save the city, and a gigantic battle ensues, which is stunningly staged and photographed and full of eye-popping effects, not least that of the great wizard, Gandalf, (Ian McKellen), galloping all over the place on his white horse.

If you want to be picky, you could find – not so much flaws as minor disappointments – in this robust finale. No Christopher Lee, for instance, though he should appear in the eventual extended DVD version. But overall, and especially when you place the three films together, there's no doubting Peter Jackson's amazing achievement in directing this instant classic of an epic. You could hardly imagine the story told better; Jackson combines spectacle with humour and fine filmcraft, and there are exceptional performances from a great cast – from which Serkis' amazing Gollum is the standout. A breathtaking achievement.