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So this is it. The end of the Extended Trilogy. Gandalf, Aragorn, Legolas, Gimli and the little hobbits make plans to attack the Black Gate of Mordor and distract Sauron’s ever watching eye away from Frodo, Sam and Gollum as they sneak onto Mount Doom via the back way. Battles get battlier, Orcs get orcier, Witch Kings get spiker and Gollum gets a whole lot bitier but will Frodo drop the One Ring into the volcano in which it was forged? And an even bigger question, if Gandalf has so many eagle and moth friends, why didn’t they just fly the ring over the volcano and drop it? Dick move Gandalf. Ah well, we’ve come all this way now. Better planning next time.

 Lord of the Rings, The: The Return of the King
Return of the King is of course the triumphant conclusion to the one of the most succesful franchises in film history. All the elements that have been walked in over the previous two films and tied together and wrapped up with a nice bow. As well as a gift tag, some ribbon, tome tinsel, and some sparklers and a bit of neon lighting to make sure everything is wrapped up in the multiple endings.

By this point it’s all about getting up that mountain for Frodo, well once we get past the spider bit that is. Mount Doom seems to just get bigger and bigger as the ascent is stretched over the course of this movie but once we get our heroes and their snippy friend to the top, the drama comes thick and fast.

 Lord of the Rings, The: The Return of the King
I have to say that the majority of the other stuff going on at the bottom of the mountain sort of bores me. By the time Return of the King rolled around I was so over big scale battles with the two sides running at one another to get the ball rolling. The ‘Epic Battle’ and it’s modern visuals were and still are something I’m just sort of bored of seeing and even though the little pockets of action for each characters as they defeat Orcs and Witch Kings and band together for that big final push is effective, Return of the King is much more interesting when it’s with Frodo and Gollum for me at this stage.

So back at th top of the mountain, Elijah Wood really makes Frodo’s struggle work next to that lava and of course Gollum gets his moment to shine too and of course The One Ring meets its end. Now given I’m not the biggest of LOTR fans, you’d think the multiple ending would grind on me. Afterall, I’m one of those that think the films are generally too drawn out anyway but you know what, I like all of these endings. I’m not moved by them or anything, though I do very much appreciate the Hobbits finding it hard to sink back into normal life after their ordeals but each ending delivers the sort of things we want to see. They answer some questions, they draw a line under certain key points and they send our heroes off in a fashion that suits the story. I sort of dig that a very long set of films doesn’t just end with the celebration but instead hints at life post the big journey. Forty minutes might be a bit of a stretch but it works here and its good to be done with all the fighting and walking.

 Lord of the Rings, The: The Return of the King

Video


With Return of the King the transfer is largely the same as what was seen on The Two Towers disc. Great colour, rich detail and the same little bit of softness to everything despite some great detail in the close ups. My wife watched this one with me, after skipping the first two LOTR flicks and her summation of the transfer here was “It looks a bit dated” which is a good way to sum up the visuals. Despite the age of the film, there’s not really that modern HD pop you’d expect from it. Even the scenes at the edge of the volcano with Frodo, Sam and Gollum struggling to ditch that ring, with the bright lava and warm tones fall just short of being really impressive. This was disappointing as I used to consider this scene a go to show off moment back in the days of DVD but here it just comes in as ‘pretty good’ rather than stunning.

All in all Return of the King, like the other Extended LOTR discs has its moments but the transfer is not consistent enough to be considered a worthy presentation of such a much loved franchise.

 Lord of the Rings, The: The Return of the King

Audio


Well, what more is there to say about the three great DTS-HD Master Audio powerhouse presentations across these three discs? Return of the King, with its grander score, punchier battles and more emotional sweeps just kicks ass on this discs audio assault.

Ridiculously strong bass levels sell every movement in the grand battles, swords clash, armour slams and the sheer scale of these attacks is felt on every level. Dialogue and score all remain crisp and well placed, subtle atmospherics ring out beautifully and really there’s very little to fault with this presentation. Three movies in and I’m just repeating how good everything is audio wise on these LOTR discs. If anything was worth the upgrade it’s the sound.

 Lord of the Rings, The: The Return of the King

Extras


As with the other discs, the only extras here are the commentaries;

•Commentary with Director & Writers
•Commentary with Design Team
•Commentary with Production and Post Production
•Commentary with Cast

 Lord of the Rings, The: The Return of the King

Overall


So there you have it. A sort-of-fans-but-not-an-uber-fan’s look at the individual discs for the Lord of the Rings Trilogy (or shall we call them a tie in as The Hobbit is out?). In the end I still want to like this set of films more than I actually do but that doesn’t stop me from appreciating the enormity of what Peter Jackson achieved and how well he did it (even though his use of slow motion bugs the hell out of me the deeper I get into these movies). Anyway, personal feelings aside, this final disc offers more of the same presentation wise and in the lack of extra features arena. I'm not really sure who will be buying these individual releases, given the boxset is out there and pretty cheap but hey, maybe someone out there just likes The Two Towers or something?


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