The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 2.40:1 on these 4K UHD Discs. No concerns cropped up during this excellent Dolby Vision presentation.
At all times, sharpness was rock solid. Despite the many very wide shots that occurred, the image remained rock solid. I saw no softness at all, as the picture appeared crisp and detailed.
I also detected no jagged edges or moiré effects, and edge enhancement seemed absent. Those in search of print defects will hunt in vain, as I witnessed no specks, marks, or flaws of any sort in this clean presentation.
As with the first two flicks, King continued to display a stylized palette. Here, three types of hues dominated.
The Rohan elements went with something of a golden tone, while Frodo’s scenes mainly used a dingy blue/gray. Minas Tirith featured blown-out whites.
The disc clearly replicated the movie’s intended palette. The colors were appropriately vivid when necessary and seemed accurately depicted, with extra power and vivacity via the disc’s HDR.
Black levels also came across well, as dark elements demonstrated good depth and clarity. Low-light shots were nicely displayed and seemed clear and visible.
Shadow detail was clean and tight, and HDR brought extra dimensionality to whites and contrast. I felt pleased with this strong image.
Expect more greatness from the Dolby Atmos audio of King. Downconverted to Dolby TrueHD 7.1, the soundfield appeared active and involving.
All the channels presented lots of material that kept the viewer at the center of a realistic and immersive world. Elements seemed appropriately placed and they blended together well.
Flying creatures soared from location to location accurately, and other pieces popped up in their proper places too. The whole thing meshed together quite nicely, and the piece worked well. Not surprisingly, battle sequences were the most impressive, but the entire package seemed strong.
Audio quality equaled the positive nature of the soundfield. Speech was natural and distinctive, and I detected no issues connected to intelligibility or edginess.
Music sounded bright and vibrant, as the score presented rich and full tones. Effects came across as accurate and concise.
No problems with distortion appeared, and these elements were clean and broad. Bass response was excellent, as low-end consistently sounded tight and powerful. The audio of King just narrowly fell short of “A+” territory, as it presented a terrific experience.
How did the 4K UHD compare to the Blu-ray version? The Dolby Atmos track worked a little better than the already excellent DTS-HD MA 6.1 of the prior Blu-ray.
As for the Dolby Vision picture, it boasted the expected improvements over the Blu-ray, as it looked better defined, clearer and more vivid. Of the three Rings flicks, King looked best, so I thought it demonstrated the biggest upgrade over the Blu-rays – though those remain top-notch.
Unlike the five prior home video versions of King I reviewed, this 4K UHD package includes zero extras. That situation will become rectified in summer 2021, when a deluxe package will emerge.
Not only will that set include all the missing bonus materials, but also it will encompass the whole Tolkien saga, so it’ll match the Lord of the Rings trilogy with the Hobbit flicks in one big six-movie set. It also promises some new extras in addition to the eight million hours of content already released.
That leaves this version of King devoid of extras. This package also lacks a Blu-ray copy of the film, so we get just the 4K discs.
Note that the six-movie package due in 2021 will include Blu-ray versions of the movies sourced from the transfers used for these 4K discs. In addition, the remastered Blu-rays will earn their own release in late 2021.
A terrific conclusion to a remarkable trilogy, The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King provides a real winner. It moves quickly, keeps us involved and excited, and pays off with a satisfying and emotional finish. The 4K UHD boasts top-notch picture and audio but it lacks bonus materials.
That latter factor may prompt some fans to want to wait for the 2021 release of the Rings trilogy mentioned earlier, as it’ll contain copious supplements. If you only care about the movies themselves – and perhaps already feel sated with the massive collection of features on the prior DVDs and Blu-rays – then this movie-only set may seem sufficient.
Note that as of November 2020, you can only purchase this 4K UHD version of King as part of a “The Lord of the Rings Motion Picture Trilogy” package. This includes all three movies – both theatrical and extended editions - for a retail price of 89.98.
To rate this film visit the prior review of THE RETURN OF THE KING