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…
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?
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.
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.