The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King Peter Jackson

The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King Peter Jackson
There is no doubting the monumental accomplishment of director Peter Jackson's eight-year quest to bring J.R.R. Tolkien's masterpiece The Lord of the Rings to the screen. There is also no questioning the scale of his vision — in fact, it's almost impossible to do it justice. And once again, Jackson (and New Line) tease fans with this two-disc set, leading up to the final four-disc instalment in November. But for the first time in the trilogy's history, the two-disc version feels like an empty cash grab more than a recognition that not every film fan will snap up the more expensive set. First, the film. This three-hour finale is just that — the conclusion of several story threads that have been building through the two previous films. And as a result, it feels the least satisfying of the trio. Where the first two brought surprises and anticipation, The Return of the King brings familiarity and celebration; where the previous instalments lacked resolution, King has too much. Despite the insistence from Jackson (and much of the cast) that King is the favourite and the best of the series, it seems in its final half to be little more than a giant cast party that we're eavesdropping in on. Having exhausted so much obvious "making of" material in more than ten hours of previous "extras," Return of the King is left with three documentaries that reflect on the series as a whole, and barely touch up the specific construction of King. But even more frustrating is the fact that all three draw from the same source material — the repetition of interview footage, film clips and even thematic threads is nothing short of shameful from a man who has never been tempted to do so before. Only the three-minute featurettes dropped on lordoftherings.net offer any insight behind the scenes. Obviously, the four-disc Special Edition will correct many of these criticisms — including adding deleted footage and providing four more full-length commentaries — but this is the first indication in the entire series that Jackson might be running out of steam. Plus: trailers, inside EA video games, more. (Alliance Atlantis)