The Lord Of The Rings: Return Of The King

Viewed – 17 July 2011  Blu-ray

Extended edition

Continuing the epic trilogy of J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Lord Of The Rings brings together all the plot strands that we have been following in the last two movies as Middle Earth becomes a battle ground.  Dark Lord Sauron’s army has developed into a mighty legion who rage war on the city of Minas Tirith, where white wizard Gandalf takes refuge with Pippin, whilst Aragorn, Legolas and Gimli seek out The Army Of The Dead.  Meanwhile Froddo Baggins and Samwise Gamjee, along with an increasingly conflicted Gollum close in on Mordor.

Peter Jackson’s final entry in the trilogy feels grander in scale and has a lot more action than the previous two movies.  After watching these films back to back however, this feels a little more preachy and the dialogue sounds a touch cheesy at times.  That can’t be said for the grand set design, the epic battles and the wealth of stunning CGI effects that haven’t aged one bit.  Characters here are each given their own moment in the spotlight, including both Merry & Pippin who for once are not just comedy fodder, and the love-lorn Eowyn is transformed into a warrior behind her father’s back.  The relationship between Frodo & Sam is thankfully given plenty more depth as Gollum attempts to come between them, and this makes for some of the strongest and most touching scenes in the movie.  Elijah Wood & Sean Astin really come into their own this time around, and this remains probably the best work each actor has done.  I still find Gollum a touch annoying, but here he’s less whiney and pathetic, and more focused and determined.  This all leads up to a feel good ending that I’m not ashamed to admit, brought a tear to my eye.

Looking on the trilogy as a whole, Fellowship remains my favourite as it introduced me to a rich world and some excellent characters, but this final entry delivers in spades.  The extended edition adds over an hour to what was already the longest movie of the three, but none of it jumps out as being particularly out-of-place or obvious padding.  There’s so much story here, that even extra scenes involving Faramir’s relationship with his father and the memory of Boromir, are all welcome.  Although Christopher Lee’s previously omitted death scene adds very little.  Again the HD picture, bar some mild shimmering and softer focus on the none-cgi scenes, is excellent with stunning detail, especially in the large city locations and epic battles, meaning that every little detail (including the huge armies) can be spotted.  It also sounds the biz too, with the intense action really pounding the speakers.

All four commentaries are continued from the previous disks, as well as futher in-depth documentary material, that covers a further three dvds.  Again fine treatment for what is arguably one of the biggest achievements in motion pitcture history.

Verdict:  5 /5

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