This is my last post on this topic since this has sort of turned into the unofficial LOTR 4K review thread…and apologies to 44rh1n for the tangent 😃
I’m going to post an opinion that runs counter to what most others are sharing elsewhere right now and say that ROTK is the worst-looking of the trilogy. While TTT has some abysmal moments due to excessive DNR and the newly-DNR’d Rohan exteriors are a real shame, it has superior detail to the 1080p EE through the vast majority of the presentation and isn’t distractingly oversharpened most of the time.
Unfortunately, ROTK has a consistently oversharpened look throughout. Immediately after finishing the first disc, I put in the 1080p EE Blu-ray to compare and was shocked at the consistent grain field (this one was actually much grainier than I remembered) and nearly zero difference in fine detail compared to the 4K disc.
There are still benefits to the new HDR grade; ROTK in 1080p SDR looks murky in comparison. Darker scenes definitely benefit from improved shadow detail and depth. However, the blown-out highlights on the 1080p disc are even worse on the 4K disc. Minas Tirith exterior shots look terrible. Gandalf’s face often looks like pixel art.
ROTK 4K is one of the ugliest 4K discs I’ve seen. All the grain has been wiped away and what remains is an image that I would’ve been upset to see on a 1080p disc a decade ago.
Having seen the 4K discs with my own eyes, I would not buy them again if given the choice.