Summer DVD Reviews

    Truly, the “”Lord of the Rings”” trilogy is the cinematic event of our generation. Three nearly flawless films are capped off by “”The Return of the King,”” the best of the bunch. So why not give the film’s DVD release a perfect review? Sure, the third chapter of the series contains enough brilliant writing, directing and acting to render discussion of disappointing DVD extras slightly pointless, but the simple fact that another DVD will be released by December with an extra hour of cut footage makes this DVD release, well, slightly pointless.

    If you can’t wait to get your hands on the film (and who could blame you) or don’t care about the extra footage, then this DVD is not a bad bet. The three-hour epic is housed on one disc, and it’s easy to forget just how much is crammed onto it. Frodo, Sam and Gollum deal with greed and betrayal on their way to Mount Doom. Aragorn steps into his role as the king of men while dealing with the affections of the lovely Arwen and Eowyn. Numerous other subplots develop featuring Pippin, Gimli, Legolas and the others.

    Even if you don’t care about elves and dwarves, the battle scenes alone are beyond stunning — if ever there existed an argument for the continued use of CG animation in film, this is it. Revisit the Battle of Pelennor Fields (that’s “the big fight scene” to non-Tolkienites) to recall just how compelling the filmmaking is. Of course, the most impressive factor is seeing the fantastical world J.R.R. Tolkien created come to life. Peter Jackson’s brilliant directing, a powerful script and the focused acting of all the players (particularly Sean Astin’s touching portrayal of Sam and Andy Serkis’ brilliant voicing of the volatile Gollum) all contribute to a faithful retelling of the story. Tolkien may have quipped at a change here or there, but overall, the heart of the story is preserved.

    A second disc contains the much-contested special features section. To be fair, it’s pretty loaded, exploring Jackson’s journey into creating the film as well as specific characters and elements of the stories. Although the interviews for many of the actors and creators are enjoyable, “The Quest Fulfilled” and “A Filmmaker’s Journey” features contain so much overlapping content that they might as well be the same. A National Geographic special on the connections of the novels to history is a better idea on paper than it is here, dragging with points that are either highly debatable or not very interesting. Still, Tolkien enthusiasts should find plenty to appreciate here. So what’s the point in complaining when many will buy this DVD and the extended version? Is it possible that someone is profiting a great deal and taking advantage of fans by releasing different versions? You be the judge.

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