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  Directed by
    None Listed
  Starring
  Specs
  • Widescreen 2.35:1
  • 16:9 Enhanced
  • Dual Layer ( )
  Languages
  • English: Dolby Digital Stereo
  • English: Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround EX
  Subtitles
    English, Greek, English - Hearing Impaired
  Extras
  • Teaser trailer
  • Theatrical trailer
  • 7 Featurette
  • Animated menus
  • 13 TV spot
  • 3 Documentaries
  • Dolby Digital trailer - Rain
  • Short film - Supertrailer!

The Lord of the Rings - The Return of the King

Roadshow Entertainment/Roadshow Entertainment . R4 . COLOR . 193 mins . M15+ . PAL

  Feature
Contract

It’s tough being the third film in a trilogy. I should know, because some of my best friends are third films in trilogies.

Here Return of the King, the third and easily the darkest episode in the Lord of the Rings trilogy, plays out in epic fashion, closing chapters on ongoing storylines and subplots and rounding out the series in grand style.

Much has been said regarding the plot and the story and the excess baggage of special effects about this film, so I won’t bother going into that. I mean, seriously, who doesn’t know by now? You’d have to be like Charlton Heston just coming back to the planet after several years or something. And even then, he probably took this heavy arse book with him to impress any apes if he crash-landed on an ape planet that turned out to be Earth.

"End? No, the journey doesn’t end here…"

I will say that this is by far the best and most emotional episode in the epic Battle For Middle-Earth®™ and features the most kick arse special effects and animation of the whole nerdish series. There are lots more big epic sets and orcs to smell and the battle scenes are pretty much the finest battle scenes I’ve yet witnessed in an animated film. Probably even better than the animation in the first Lord of the Rings movie made by Ralph Bakshi all those years ago. Man, how could anyone think you could condense this 1200 page book into 128 minutes (and then cheat by having coloured live action in the backgrounds for the bits that were too hard to draw?)

If you enjoyed the first two (I’ve heard there are those who didn’t) then this one is the fitting pinnacle to the end of all things. I’ve heard some folks complain the end sort of tapers off and loses impact, but they aren’t thinking three dimensionally; it’s a trilogy, not a single film. The third film must be placed into context. When they run back to back, the ‘tapering off’ part is simply (percentage wise) what is usually shorter in one film; an epilogue. Anyway, why would people complain about that? Seems to me in all I’ve heard that any of the billions of nerds out there who dress like Legolas in the privacy of their own driver’s licenses wouldn’t care if the screen was filled with Freddo and Sam for three hours. They just want more and more and when looking at sales of the four-disc special editions with hours of extra footage or whatever that’s pretty obvious. So, it must be that the people who complained are what we call ‘dickheads’, who don’t understand a story doesn’t necessarily end when the baddie is defeated. Losers.

Anyway, herein the final chapter of the groundbreaking, record-breaking, mantelpiece-breaking trilogy is finally laid to rest in exemplary fashion. I thought it a damn good film and easily the most emotional hayride I’ve been on for a while. If you’ve come this far in the review you’ve obviously seen the film anyway and just want to know what the deal is with the transfer. Well, I can safely tell you this much…

  Video
Contract

Well, of course this two-disc I-can’t-wait-forever-'til-the-four-disc-box-set-or-53-disc-trilogy-box-set-so-I-gotta-get-this-one set looks awesome. There’s nothing of fault in any aspect of this production and this has remained true for the entirety of the existing discs that I’ve seen (and read about). A perfect 2.35:1 enhanced transfer (well, the fans would tear them a new Middle Earth if it wasn’t) brings every skerrick of detail into the home theatre in perfecting style. But you knew it would, didn’t you?

  Audio
Contract

Again, nothing to fault this part. Dolby Digital 5.1 EX Surround as a mix couldn’t be more reference quality if it tried. Multiple surround channels throughout and a constantly rumbling subwoofer means we don’t miss a second, whether we’re comfortable in our living room or five blocks away. Awesome.

  Extras
Contract

Here’s the bit you all want to know about so here we go...

Disc One doesn’t hold much but the huge 193 minutes of the film plus the English 5.1, so we’ll head to Disc Two.

First up is The Quest Fulfilled: A Director’s Vision and this runs for 23 minutes. This featurette speaks mostly about Peter Jackson with comments from cast and crew regarding working with him and such. Thankfully this isn’t a typical Electronic Press Kit (EPK)-like release and doesn’t feature swooning arse-kissers wondering where their next job is coming from.

A Filmmaker’s Journey: Making The Return of the King is more like a regular EPK release, but again is devoid of back-patting and brown-nosing. It also details the chronological journey of Jackson and the eight-year task of making the films.

A National Geographic Special – The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King follows and this epic show in its own right (clocking in at 51:44) is a fascinating exploration of the themes presented by the story. Narrated by John Rhys-Davies, this deals with how the themes of friendship, loyalty, human greed and hope relate to the past and the world today. Very enjoyable and interesting, though it does repeat certain parts of soundbite interviews.

There’s a string of featurettes next that were created for lordoftherings.net and these run around the three to four minute mark.

  • Aragorn’s Destiny deals with exactly that and gives a shrunken back story to the whole Aragorn saga (3:25).
  • Minas Tirith: Capital of Gondor is a short piece about the city and the set (that was built over the same quarry as Helm’s Deep was). I wish some of the names in this series were more relative to us. Why couldn’t they have had Dave’s Road or Sharon’s Castle or something? All this hippy-dippy elf stuff, I dunno. (3:12)
  • The Battle of Pelennor Fields sees our shortest featurette discussing the horse charge, mostly, and is fairly interesting stuff. (2:15)
  • Samwise the Brave is a great little bit about everyone’s favourite character, or as Christopher Lee calls him, the ‘everyman’. Sam rules. (4:32)
  • Eowyn: White Lady of Rohan speaks about Mirando Otto and Eowyn and isn’t quite as good as the Sam one. Sorry Miranda, we still love you and all. (3:44)
  • Digital Horse Doubles isn’t about betting, it’s about the digital technology of the horse animation and the very first horse motion capture. This is the best featurette (I think) and runs the longest. (4:36)
It’s important to note here that, being created for the website, these featurettes aren’t quite as good a quality as the rest of the special features here. They still look pretty good, but colours are stronger or weaker, as is detail.

Next come two theatrical trailers in the full cinema aspect of 2.35:1 with 16:9 enhancement. The first runs for 2:44 and the second for 0:53. They get followed by 13 TV spots based around different ideas and characters or themes from the film, each of which is roughly 30 seconds long.

The Supertrailer for the entire trilogy follows and this is a well condensed and summarised 6:22 of the whole 12-hour thing. Good if you’re in a hurry…

Finally, there’s a Special Look at Electronic Arts' The Lord of the Rings Series of Video Games. Yes, it’s a sell job and runs for a pissy 3:03. Kerching! While it promises much, it delivers little really, so don’t get your hopes up.

Phew. That will keep you busy until the four-disc or 12-disc or 44-disc or whatever sets they’re planning arrive. With little dolls in there or something.

  Overall  
Contract

Well, this finalé to the greatest film trilogy of them all is finally transferred to DVD (or released at least). It looks just as bright and shiny as its compatriots and will disappoint no one regarding the quality. This is yet another reference quality disc in the ongoing series of excellence we have come to expect from this franchise. (Stay tuned for Lord of the Rings: Resurrection or something when the cash starts to wane a couple of years from now. See headline quote above).

If you loved the others, if you have the others, this is just as good and the film being the best of the three seals the deal. Epic is barely adequate as an adjective.


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      And I quote...
    "Finally, the Battle for Middle Earth®™ rages onto DVD. And, of course, it does so just as magnificently as its compatriots."
    - Jules Faber
      Review Equipment
    • DVD Player:
          Teac DVD-990
    • TV:
          AKAI CT-T29S32S 68cm
    • Speakers:
          Teac PLS-60 Home Theatre System
    • Centre Speaker:
          Teac PLS-60 Home Theatre System
    • Surrounds:
          Teac PLS-60 Home Theatre System
    • Subwoofer:
          Akai
    • Audio Cables:
          Standard RCA
    • Video Cables:
          Standard Component RCA
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