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DVD Reviews

HTF MINI-REVIEW: The Lord of The Rings Trilogy: Limited Edition

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#1 of 99 OFFLINE   Matt Stone

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Posted August 07 2006 - 01:10 PM

[img]http://www.hometheaterforum.com/ronsreviews/covers/74681.jpg"> [img]http://www.hometheaterforum.com/ronsreviews/covers/74682.jpg[/img] [img]http://www.hometheaterforum.com/ronsreviews/covers/74683.jpg[/img]
Mini-Review: The Lord of the Rings Trilogy: Limited Edition
Directed By: Peter Jackson

Studio: New Line
Year: 2006
Aspect Ratio: 2.40:1 (Anamorphic)
Rating: PG-13
Audio: 5.1 Dolby Digital EX (English), 2.0 Dolby Digital (English)
MSRP: $86.94
Street Date: 29 August, 2006

Review Date: 7 August, 2006
(Ratings are out of five stars)

Seeing as the newest in a the large family of Lord of the Rings DVDs is such a hot-button issue, I wanted to get this mini-review out there as soon as possible. I’ll keep it brief for now, and post more detailed reviews of each film in the coming weeks. On to the DVDs…

Continuing the tradition of opening directly to the menu, the new LOTR releases open directly to a selection screen where the viewer can choose between the theatrical or extended cuts of the film. The DVDs are in fact 2-sided DVD-18s discs to clear up any confusion. Once the cut is selected, the DVD goes into the normal menu. As previously reported, the DTS track is the main omission with Dolby Digital 5.1 EX as the only Audio selection.

The disc breaks all appear to be at the same location (as the disc break in the EE release and the layer change in the original 2-disc release). When you flip the disc, you’re prompted to choose a version and then prompted to either continue watching or change the screen and sound options.

Film Rating: [img]http://static.hometheaterforum.com/imgrepo/4/4d/htf_images_smilies_star.gif[/img][img]http://static.hometheaterforum.com/imgrepo/4/4d/htf_images_smilies_star.gif[/img][img]http://static.hometheaterforum.com/imgrepo/4/4d/htf_images_smilies_star.gif[/img][img]http://static.hometheaterforum.com/imgrepo/4/4d/htf_images_smilies_star.gif[/img][img]http://static.hometheaterforum.com/imgrepo/4/4d/htf_images_smilies_star.gif[/img]

Like the previous releases of the Lord of the Rings, the “new” transfers are excellent. I don’t quite know how new they actually are, because they look very much the same as the previous transfers. One can argue the detail between the original 2-disc releases and the EE’s, but in my opinion, the improvement was in bit-rate alone. Being DVD-18s, these discs could technically carry the same data as found in the EE releases, and the transfers definitely looks as detailed and crisp. I noticed a slight bit of grain in a few shots (one that comes to mind is Legolas’s face during the ‘Breaking of the Fellowship’ scene at the end of the film), so I popped in my EE and saw the same grain. The transfer looks pretty identical to me. I’ll have some comparison caps up in the full review.

Video Rating: [img]http://static.hometheaterforum.com/imgrepo/4/4d/htf_images_smilies_star.gif[/img][img]http://static.hometheaterforum.com/imgrepo/4/4d/htf_images_smilies_star.gif[/img][img]http://static.hometheaterforum.com/imgrepo/4/4d/htf_images_smilies_star.gif[/img][img]http://static.hometheaterforum.com/imgrepo/4/4d/htf_images_smilies_star.gif[/img][img]http://static.hometheaterforum.com/imgrepo/a/a7/htf_images_smilies_half.gif[/img]

Like the video, the audio sounded comparable to the DD tracks from the EE and original 2-disc release. I didn’t notice any large differences, but I wasn’t doing critical A-B comparisons. I’ll have more detailed notes in the full reviews.

Audio Rating: [img]http://static.hometheaterforum.com/imgrepo/4/4d/htf_images_smilies_star.gif[/img][img]http://static.hometheaterforum.com/imgrepo/4/4d/htf_images_smilies_star.gif[/img][img]http://static.hometheaterforum.com/imgrepo/4/4d/htf_images_smilies_star.gif[/img][img]http://static.hometheaterforum.com/imgrepo/4/4d/htf_images_smilies_star.gif[/img][img]http://static.hometheaterforum.com/imgrepo/a/a7/htf_images_smilies_half.gif[/img]

The biggest selling point of the new releases is the “never-before-seen” documentaries. Who would have thought that after countless hours of LOTR behind-the-scenes, you’d be plunking down 60 bucks for more? The documentary appears on the second (single sided) disc in each set. The DVD opens directly up to the menu, which gives you the option to play the featurette, select subtitles, or view DVD-ROM features. I only watched the documentary on the Fellowship disc, and it clocked in at 1:24:49. The major difference between this style of doc and what we’ve already seen is that the new stuff is much more guerilla style. The footage is raw and un-narrated. On one hand, it’s nice to see this style of production diary, but on the other we don’t get any wonderful interviews spliced between the footage. That being said, we’ve probably seen enough conventional interviews about Lord of the Rings to kill us, so this is a nice change of pace. I’ll break down the content of each doc more in my full reviews.

Extras Rating: [img]http://static.hometheaterforum.com/imgrepo/4/4d/htf_images_smilies_star.gif[/img][img]http://static.hometheaterforum.com/imgrepo/4/4d/htf_images_smilies_star.gif[/img][img]http://static.hometheaterforum.com/imgrepo/4/4d/htf_images_smilies_star.gif[/img][img]http://static.hometheaterforum.com/imgrepo/4/4d/htf_images_smilies_star.gif[/img]

In Closing…
Is it worth the upgrade? At this point, I’m still not sure. The picture quality appears to be identical, but there aren’t too many DVD-18 fans out there. Combined with the loss of all the commentaries and the DTS track, the only real reason to pick this up is for the documentary (er, um…fanboy complete-ism [img]http://static.hometheaterforum.com/imgrepo/8/8d/htf_images_smilies_smile.gif[/img]). At face value, the documentaries probably won’t get more than one viewing out of me, but my final opinion may change once I watch all of them. Stay tuned…

Overall Rating: ???

Matt Stone
7 August, 2006
In Heaven, everything is fine.
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#2 of 99 OFFLINE   Carlo Medina

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Posted August 07 2006 - 01:52 PM

Thanks for the initial 411. Everything about this screams "wait for the HD instead". And this to someone who doesn't own either HD format and probably won't for at least 12-18 months.

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#3 of 99 OFFLINE   Dave Scarpa

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Posted August 07 2006 - 03:27 PM

Is it Me or is it kinda a slap in the Face to put a high Profile release like LOTR's on a DVD 18? I agree Wait for HD that's the next big upgrade.
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#4 of 99 OFFLINE   BarryS


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Posted August 07 2006 - 04:10 PM

Why not just release the documentaries by themselves on one or two discs? That would make more sense to me. What is the point of re-releasing the movies? Aside from the obvious reason of getting fans to buy the DVDs all over again... I guess having both theatrical and extended versions on the same disc is kind of nice, but it seems to me that anyone who's a big enough LOTR fan to buy these DVDs would most likely prefer the extended versions.

#5 of 99 OFFLINE   mike kaminski

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Posted August 07 2006 - 04:13 PM

I'm very happy to see its a dvd-18 instead of trying to cram everything on a single disk. The doc sounds very, very good as well. I will definitly be picking up FOTR, seeing as i don't own any versions of it and equally prefer both.

#6 of 99 OFFLINE   richardWI


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Posted August 07 2006 - 05:04 PM

That would make more sense, but less cents.

#7 of 99 OFFLINE   Joseph J.D

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Posted August 07 2006 - 05:35 PM

Thanks for the mini-review......this originally looked like a completely unnecessary release to begin with. My opinion on this release remains unchanged. The only way I will buy a new edition of the LOTR trilogy will be in an HD format.
Recently watched- The Man With The Iron Fists, Lucy(2014), Megamind 3D, Visiting Hours, Paranormal Activity 4, The Legend Of Hercules 3D, The Maze Runner, The Three Musketeers 3D(2011), The SpongeBob SquarePants Movie, Burn Notice: Season 4, WKRP In Cincinnati: Season 2, Sweet Smell Of Success, Hero and the Terror

Currently watching- Planet Earth, True Blood: Season 3, Gatchaman: The Complete Series, Tales From The Crypt: Season 2, WKRP In Cincinnati: Season 3, Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D.: Season 1, Game Of Thrones: Season 2, Heroes: Season 2, The Pacific, Burn Notice: Season 5, Battlestar Galactica: The Definitive Collection
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#8 of 99 OFFLINE   Tim Glover

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Posted August 07 2006 - 06:36 PM

Agreed but will be much sooner for me Posted Image...hoping New Line will release these gems near the end of 06 or early 2007.

Nice mini review Matt. Posted Image

#9 of 99 OFFLINE   Ronald Epstein

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Posted August 07 2006 - 09:37 PM

Let me join the rest of you in saying that the next time I buy any of these films it will be in High Definition. I wish the studios would get their act together and realize there are two new formats to sell. It doesn't help when these high profile titles aren't being released day-and-date with their SD counterpart.


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#10 of 99 OFFLINE   Dave Scarpa

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Posted August 07 2006 - 11:41 PM

I see so many copies of the extended editions left on the shelf of all my local B&M's I gotta wonder who thought we needed these? The EE's can be had for $25 and I'd rather have them on two DVD 9's than on a Flipper DVD 18. I agree the time spent mastering these should have been spent mastering them to HD-DVD to help the fledgeling Format. There's no reason that we're getting and Extended Edition King Kong on SD DVD before the HD Version is released. I think Consumers would have more faith in the new formats if they saw more than just catalog releases and date and date "B" Releases. They need Day and Date "A" Films to show they are truely committed.
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#11 of 99 OFFLINE   Peter Raber

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Posted August 07 2006 - 11:48 PM

Ron, I agree with your sentiments, but sadly, we are dealing with movie studios who will try their best to squeeze the last drop of water out of desert sand. If they released these in HD day-and-date of the SDs, then they couldn't get that many more extra purchases. It's not a definite, but I would think it's a safe bet that most people who already own a HD or Blu-Ray player are fans of the LOTR movies, so I am certain they will try their best to entice as many as they can by getting us to purchase them one more time in SD, then next year at this time when the HD counterparts come out we'll feel the need to pick it up again. I find this an insulting practice, but New Line is not the first and won't be the last company to try this out. I wouldn't have bought these anyway, but to find out that you have to flip the discs, in effect still make a disc change, to see the whole movie soured me on the whole thing. It's even worse than the original release, because if you have a multi-disc player you don't have to get up and handle the disc by flipping it. You can just move to the next disc in the tray. Not to mention I feel that ROTK has a terrible break at the disc change. It takes you completely out of the tension and action of the attack on Minas Tirith. The break needed to have come before the attack ever started. I want it on HD for that alone. Looks like I'll have to wait till next year.

#12 of 99 OFFLINE   PattyFraser


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Posted August 08 2006 - 01:23 AM

Just as a matter of interest, has anybody had a chance to view any of the LOTR movies upconverted through HDMI? I'm just curious to hear that the new HD players make a huge difference in the look of this particular movie. As for this release, count me with those who will definitely not be double dipping- even though I'm an uber Rings fan - until an HD release. I'm looking forward to hearing more about the documentaries, though.

#13 of 99 OFFLINE   Jack _Webster

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Posted August 08 2006 - 01:40 AM

Amen to that. I've always thought the perfect break would come after Theoden says "No more despair". I think that's where PJ designated the Theatrical Intermission (if theaters so desired) and I think it works perfectly as a break for the Extended Cut.

#14 of 99 OFFLINE   Michael Osadciw

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Posted August 08 2006 - 01:42 AM

Hi Patty I watched the opening of "Fellowship:EE" (through HDMI) the other day as I was testing out my new center channel. I haven't viewed this title in a long time, but all I can say was that I was disappointed. It didn't look as great as other titles...there was lack of definition in the green trees, grass, etc. all throughout The Shire. Compression artefacts were noticable. I guess DVD has come a long way in these few years, plus it also doesn't help that I've been watching a good dose of Blu-ray lately so my expectations are going higher all of the time... Mike

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#15 of 99 OFFLINE   Paul Arnette

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Posted August 08 2006 - 02:18 AM

This isn't going to happen. As I said above, New Line has decided to sit out the 4th quarter where HD is concerned, and these won't be arriving in any other quarter than the 4th, so we'll be awaiting until a year from now at least I would imagine.
Universal Blu-ray Discs I will not be buying while they're offered only as Blu-ray + DVD 'flipper' discs:

The Jackal
, Out of Africa, and Traffic.

#16 of 99 OFFLINE   Carter of Mars

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Posted August 08 2006 - 03:21 AM

I'm not a Lord of the Rings fan and I don't plan on buying these, but I have to praise New Line for what looks like a smart release, one that takes full advantage of the DVD format. One disc has both the original cut and extended cut and bonus features. This is the sort of thing we were promised when DVD first came out 9 years ago and very few discs have taken advantage of.

#17 of 99 OFFLINE   Lane_S



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Posted August 08 2006 - 04:15 AM

I've gone back and forth with this, and I decided today to pass. When these were originally announced I was excited because of the new documentary and because I had given away my theatrical releases as the EEs became available. Now that I've had some time to think about it - and becuase I'm not a big fan of DVD-18s as I've had problems with them in the past - I'm sticking with my EEs for now. Would I ever watch the theatricals again? Probably not - so it would just be a completist thing. Would I like to see the new doc? Absolutely - but I don't think I'm willing pay $60 for something I will watch once then file - and like others - I'm betting it will be made availalble again in some form on a future hi-def release. I'm sitting out the hi-def wars for now until a clear VHS-like winner is declared, but the LOTR trilogy will be one of the dozen or so titles I know I will be replacing when I do upgrade my equipment.
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#18 of 99 OFFLINE   Paul McElligott

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Posted August 08 2006 - 04:24 AM

If I were going to buy these discs it would just be for the docs and this sounds like I would be plunking down $50 for someone's home movies. Pass.
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#19 of 99 OFFLINE   Tim Glover

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Posted August 08 2006 - 04:38 AM

The original EE's still look pretty good but are soft. Salivation city over a high def version. Posted Image

#20 of 99 OFFLINE   Paul Arnette

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Posted August 08 2006 - 05:46 AM

Posted Image This release leaves the same bitter taste in my mouth that the forthcoming Star Wars release does, albeit to a much, much lesser extent.
Universal Blu-ray Discs I will not be buying while they're offered only as Blu-ray + DVD 'flipper' discs:

The Jackal
, Out of Africa, and Traffic.

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