The Lord Of The Rings: The Return Of The King DVD Review

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by AVForums May 1, 2004 at 12:00 AM

    The Lord Of The Rings: The Return Of The King DVD Review
    SRP: £27.99


    The Return of the King
    maintains the high quality transfers
    exhibited by the previous The Fellowship
    of the Ring and The Two Towers DVD releases. Presented anamorphically at the
    original 2.35:1 aspect ratio the image
    constantly impresses.
    The prologue sequence demonstrates
    how bright and detailed the image is
    when dealing with daylight conditions
    - accurately capturing the vivid colours
    of the location and presenting perfect
    fleshtones. Skip ahead to Chapter 27 and
    the confrontation with the ghost warriors
    in the Paths of the Dead, and you can see
    that the high level of quality is maintained
    in even the darkest scenes. Black levels
    are solid and accurately rendered,
    shadow detail is obvious and you can
    really appreciate the amount of work that
    went into creating the special effects.
    On the downside, there is a slight
    amount of edge enhancement evident in
    the transfer, and when it comes to the
    major battle scenes later in the film detail
    is lost in the backgrounds. However, if the
    previous releases are anything to go by,
    these issues should be resolved when
    the film is split across two discs for the
    Extended DVD Edition later in the year.
    The Lord Of The Rings: The Return Of The King Picture


    From the beginning, The Return
    of the King's Dolby Digital 5.1 EX audio mix
    is a joy to behold. The score is rich and
    warm, while the surrounds are constantly
    employed for ambient effect. But, as you
    might expect, it's in the battle scenes
    where the mix really proves its mettle,
    and here are a few of the highlights:
    Chapter 18 - The rumble of bass
    accompanying the off-screen march of
    the Orc army on Minas Tirith.
    Chapter 27 - Superb use of panning
    around the surround speakers as the
    laughter of the dead reverberates around
    the room.
    Chapter 30 - While the chants of the
    Orc army fill the surrounds, the room is
    shaken to the core by the tremendous
    bass accompanying the crash of fireballs
    into the buildings of Minas Tirith.
    Chapters 35 and 37 - The Battle of the
    Pelennor Fields is every bit the superb
    piece of surround sound encoding we
    hoped it would be. In audio terms it's a
    definite rival to the opening scenes of
    Saving Private Ryan.
    The Lord Of The Rings: The Return Of The King Sound


    As always, this two-disc edition
    features a fair array of extra features, but
    for any genuine insight into the creation of
    any specific elements from the film, you'll
    have to wait for the four-disc edition.
    The Quest Fulfilled: A Director's Vision
    (23 minutes) takes a look at the film's
    narrative and characters, cramming in
    plenty of interview and behind-the-scenes
    footage along the way. Keep you eyes
    peeled for a great line-flub by Ian
    McKellen, footage from the original
    animated storyboard, and the rough
    CGI reel Peter Jackson showed to New
    Line in an attempt to get them to
    produce and distribute the movies.
    A Filmmaker's Journey: Making
    The Return of the King (27 minutes)
    takes a slightly more in-depth look at
    the making of the movie, but unfortunately
    repeats a fair amount of material found in
    the previous featurette. Areas of focus
    include casting, weapons training, music
    and the end of the trilogy.
    National Geographic Special - The
    Lord of the Rings: The Return of the
    King (52 minutes) is narrated by
    wee dwarf John Rhys-Davies.
    This documentary is a complete
    break from the others and
    attempts to draw parallels
    between various characters from the films
    and history - examples being William
    Wallace and Elizabeth I for Aragorn,
    Benjamin Franklin for Gandalf and
    Rasputin for Grima Wormtongue.
    Following on from these lengthy extras
    are six short featurettes created
    for that look
    at specific characters and
    places from the film.
    They are Aragorn's
    Destiny (three
    Capital of Gondor (three minutes),
    The Battle of Pelennor Fields (two
    minutes), Samwise the Brave (five
    minutes), Éowyn: White Lady of Rohan
    (four minutes) and Digital Horse Doubles
    (five minutes). While the majority of these
    are pretty disposable, Digital Horse
    Doubles is a fascinating look at the superb
    CGI work from the film that just might
    have slipped your attention.
    Following on from these come a pair
    of theatrical trailers, a six-minute trailer for
    the entire trilogy, a short featurette/promo
    spot for The Lord of the Rings: The Return
    of the King and The Lord of the Rings: The
    Battle for Middle-earth computer games,
    and 13 TV spots. Sadly, there is no
    preview for the Extended DVD Edition
    this time around.
    So there you have it, a reasonable
    collection of extras that may be of interest
    to the casual fan. But if you want the real
    meat about the making of the movie, then,
    like totalDVD, you are just going to have
    to wait until November for the four-disc
    Extended DVD Edition.
    The Lord Of The Rings: The Return Of The King Extras


    A great DVD release for those who wish to
    savour the theatrical cut of the film over and
    over again. However, for the hardcore fans, it
    can't hold a candle to the promise of the
    Extended DVD Edition due later this year.
    Suggested retail price when reviewed: £27.99

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    Sound Quality






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