Well if you don’t know what is going on in this film then I am not quite sure why you are reading this review. This is the third and final installment of the Lord of the Ring’s trilogy, we finally after three long years get to discover the fate of Frodo, the ring, Sam, Gollum and all of Middle Earth. This film like The Two Towers just keeps getting better and managing to exceed our ever increasing expectations.
The multiple story lines all come together and finally conclude themselves, maybe not quite exac…ly as it is in the book but some changes had to be made. The only complaint about the film itself is that the endings seem to drag on longer then necessary but again when viewed in the context of the books it actually wraps up quite neatly and quickly. Nonetheless the film is superb and for all those collectors out there we are still waiting with baited breath for the announcement of the 4 disc extended cut but, this will keep is satisfied until then.
The film like the previous are all presented in the 2.35:1 anamorphic widescreen format. The previous two-disc releases have had excellent picture quality and the trend continues with Return of the King. There where some issues with the Two Towers two disk and excessive edge enhancement and I am happy to report that this has been fixed for this release. The only real issue is that the film is somewhat soft looking; I suspect that this is from cramming a 201 minute film onto a single dual-layer DVD. Other than that the film has fantastic blacks and very good shadow detail. Colors are dazzling, rich and exhibit a very film like look. The only other issue has to do with the placement of the layer change, this always seems to end up being in the middle of a pivotal scene and this is no different.
Alright the next time your friends come over and you wan to show off your audio system then throw this disc in, fast forward to the battle scene on the plains of Gondor and hold onto your seat. When the Oliphant’s show up you will find out two things; whether or not your subwoofer is up to snuff and if it is what it would be like if a train drove through your living room. The 5.1 Dolby Digital audio track on this disk couldn’t get much better, it is all there, wide front image great vocal intelligibility, good full range use of the rear speakers and a good workout for your subwoofer.
Lets not forget to give credit where it is due Howard Shore’s score for this film is far and away the best of the three and it sounds amazing.
Like the previous two disc editions, the extras on this disc are sparse compared to the upcoming Extended Edition. The main meat of the extras are the three documentaries – “The Quest Fulfilled: a Directors Vision”, “A Filmmaker’s Journey: Making The Return of the King” and “National Geographic Beyond the Movie – The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King”. While the first two are good they do feature a fair amount of overlapped material and the National geographic special has been available for months on DVD (so you may already own it).
Next up, there are six web vignettes (previously appeared on the official Lord of the Rings website), each running between 2 to 3 minutes. The topics covered include “Aragorn’s Destiny,” “Minas Tirith: Capital of Gondor,” “Battle of Pelemor Fields,” “Sanwise the Brave,” “Eowyn: White Lady of Rohan” and “Digital Horse Doubles.” These featurettes are worth a watch, but they are very high level in regards to content.
There are 2 theatrical trailers for the film in anamorphic widescreen, as well as some 13 TV spots. The EA videogames preview trailer is lame (a marketing piece), but it’s anamorphic at least. There’s also the usual weblinks to online sites and stores – who cares. Frankly, the only real gem on Disc Two is the 6-minute “supertrailer” for the entire Lord of the Rings trilogy, presented in anamorphic widescreen with 5.1 sound. Other then that you will have to once again wait for the 4-disc edition if you want the real juicy extras.
What else can I say other then what a finish to one of the best cinematic journeys and I can’t wait for the extended cut to be released.
Special Features List
- Three in-depth documentaries
- Six “web” featurettes
- The Battle For Middle Eath Continues– Video Games from EA
- “The Lord of The Rings” Trilogy Supertrailer