Blu-ray Review “The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King – Extended Edition”

Directed by: Peter Jackson
Starring: Elijah Wood, Ian McKellen, Liv Tyler, Viggo Mortensen, Sean Astin
Number of discs: 5
MPAA Rating: PG-13
Distributed by: Warner Home Video
Release Date: August 28, 2012
Running Time: 250 minutes

Film: 5 out of 5 stars
Extras: 4.5 out of 5 stars

August 28th brings the first time that Peter Jackson’s visual masterpieces have been available separately on Blu-ray. “The Return of the King” is just such an epic film and really deserves an epic Blu-ray. There is no mistaken that this release is the absolute best presentation you are going to get out of this film. If you are looking to experience this film solo from the rest of the series, I would recommend purchasing this release. To be honest the real selling point for me is the Ultraviolet digital streaming copy available.

This film is just breathtaking on Blu-ray both visual and audio. The 1080p transfer is beyond pristine and presented in an aspect ratio of 2.40:1. The DTS-HD 6.1 ES sound is beyond amazing and is perfect for a good surround sound system. When I think of film that need to be watching on Blu-ray, I can’t help but thinking about this franchise. The film is released in five-disc set with two 50GB Blu-ray discs and three DVDs. Also included is features from BD-Live. I know we experienced the same thing with the “The Lord of the Rings Motion Picture Trilogy” last year but all of the special features are still on DVD, which is a little disappointing to me personally but obviously they make up for the fact since there are three jam-packed discs with extras.

The final battle for Middle-earth begins. Frodo and Sam (Sean Astin), led by the mysterious Gollum (Andy Serkis), continue their dangerous mission toward the fires of Mount Doom in order to destroy the One Ring. Aragorn (Viggo Mortensen) struggles to fulfill his legacy as he leads his outnumbered followers against the growing power of the Dark Lord Sauron, so that the Ring-bearer may complete his quest. The film, which won Academy Awards® in all 11 categories for which it was nominated, took wins for Best Picture, Director, Editing, Art Direction, Costume Design, Visual Effects, Makeup, Adapted Screenplay, Sound Mixing, Original Song and Original Score.

The 5-disc Extended Edition of “The Return of the King” is very rewarding, as was its predecessors. All of the content from the 2004 extended edition DVD is available, as well as Costa Botes’ feature-length documentary like the “Fellowship” & “Two Towers”. The commentaries on this film are in line with its predecessors only going more in depth due to the shear scale of this film. Honestly by the third film the features do get a little repetitive but mega fans are sure to love every bit of information given.

Disc 1 • The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King Featured Extended Edition Part 1
• The Lord of the Rings: War in the North – The Untold Story Trailer (A trailer for the upcoming videogame) • Commentary with Director & Writers • Commentary with Design Team • Commentary with Production and Post Production • Commentary with Cast • BD-Live™ enabled

Disc 2 • The Lord of the Rings: The Return of The King Featured Extended Edition Part 2 • Commentary with Director & Writers • Commentary with Design Team • Commentary with Production and Post Production • BD-Live™ enabled

Disc 3 • The Appendices Part 5: The War of the Ring: Peter Jackson’s Introduction • JRR Tolkien: The Legacy of Middle-earth (chats about the debate about Tolkien’s literary intentions) • From Book to Script • Designing and Building Middle-earth • Home of the Horse Lords (focuses on the horses, riders and horse-training using the film) • Middle-earth Atlas Map • New Zealand as Middle-earth

Disc 4 • The Appendices Part 6: The Passing of an Age: Introduction • Filming The Return of the King • Visual Effects (cocuses on the challenges of behind-the-scenes drama, timetables and shooting deadlines) • Post-Production: Journey’s End (complied of four pieces of the “Post-Production”: “Editorial: Completing the Trilogy,” talks about Jackson and editor Jamie Selkirk’s collaborative edit; “Music for Middle-earth” dives into Howard Shore’s fantastic score; “The Soundscapes of Middle-Earth” hone in on the film’s sound design; and “The End of All Things” focuses on the “The Return of the King” face to finish on schedule) • The Passing of an Age (turns to the premiere, international release, reception and the Academy Awards) • Cameron Duncan: The Inspiration for Into the West (odd choice to include but showcases: a terminally ill teenage filmmaker who visited the Lord of the Rings production several times before his death)

Disc 5 • Behind-the-Scenes Documentary Created by Filmmaker Costa Botes during filming of The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King (same as the first two takes a different approach to the behind-the-scenes look, runs 113 mins)

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