THE LORD OF THE RINGS: THE RETURN OF THE KING

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Review By Paul Mount, 4 out of 5 What can I possibly say about THE RETURN OF THE KING? You know it, you love it. I believe I said it all in my cinema review back in December and it all holds true today, some six months later as the film arrives in its first incarnation on two-disc DVD. It’s an epic, one of the most invigorating and rousing films in the history of cinema, the film which shows how real epics can be made in the digital age. With even more spectacular action sequences than its worthy predecessors, the key to THE RETURN OF THE KING’s greatest triumph is its emotional core, the way it presents its characters as real people in impossible situations and yet striving to come through for the greater good. It’s about the changes they go through and how they emerge as better people at the end of their labours. Few of the countless millions who enjoyed THE FELLOWSHIP OF THE RING and THE TWO TOWERS can fail to be captivated by this exhausting, powerful conclusion to Tolkien’s spectacular fantasy and when the film finally ends – and criticising its long series of endings would be churlish if not downright rude – it’s hard not to feel touched as we say goodbye to characters we’ve come to care about and root for over the last three years. Spectacles may come and they may go – but we’ll now see one like this again in our multiplexes in our lifetime.

THE DISCS: I’ve knocked a star off my rating because, in all honesty, the two-disc edition is a bit threadbare. There are no quibbles about the visual and audio quality – the picture is astonishing and the 5.1 track is superb. The extras are a bit on the drab side though, consisting of two gushing promo pieces which repeat too many of their talking heads soundbites. There’s a slightly longer but duller National Geographic documentary narrated by John Rhys Davies, brief production futurities which first appeared on the film’s website and some trailers. Ideal for those who just love the films and don’t care much about the extras but the real aficionados will want to wait for the deluxe four-disc set due later this year.

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