They aren't as bad as the online hysteria would lead you to believe, IMO. Trust me, there's a lot of false assumptions out there right now, as well as expectations being far too high for what the films themselves are capable of. To quote the digital bits' Jeff Kliest:
"I would say that many sites, without seeing the sets or reading any reviews but ours, or looking at screenshots, have unrealistic expectations as to how good the movies can look in the first place. They were shot Super35 and very guerilla (over hill over dale, hauling cameras up mountains) with a pretty dreary pallete."
"What I can say is that PJ personally approved the final Blu-rays. New masters, if I recall were run around this time last year"
"Got it direct from a reliable source in a position to know at the time it was happening last year. Believe me, LOTR has been remastered.....a lot in the last 5 years, due to..ummm. differing opinions. The final Blu-ray compression has been vetted by PJ, and that's good enough for me. LOTR looks messy period, always has, and Super35 certainly didn't help anything. Had they shot the movies in 70mm this wouldn't be a problem, if they can haul IMAX up Everest, they could have made it work"
And Penton-Man states:
"I will say in the meantime, FOTR will never look as good as film 2 and film 3 for at least a couple of reasons, one being that TT and ROTR were slightly SHARPENED during the DI process with a new tool -and FOTR was not. If memory serves, FOTR is about 70% DI and 30% photochemical -from which an edited film master was then made."
And Peter Jackson has even been public about his approval of this release. http://www.blu-ray.com/news/?id=3849
"I've seen the Blu-ray as they sent it to me to approve and I looked at the film and it looks fantastic on Blu-ray but I don't know the date [of release]."
Of course, when I pointed this out on blu-ray.com, it was suggested that Peter Jackson was inadequate in his approval or lying to the public:
"I dont know what his "approval" process was exactly and neither do you, but it is painfully obvious it was lacking..............do I need to link the comparison shots again? Those shots say it all..........do you really think he would approve this? I dont, and that is why I question just how involved he was with this "approval"." - Todd Smith http://forum.blu-ray.com/3071511-post4918.html
So, now that we have the concept that Jackson may be lying to us all, I kindly pointed out the following:
"Well, I can only go by the man's word. Either he's lying, or he approved them as he described. In either scenario you'll have difficulty getting through to him in a meaningful manner, no? If he's lying, he won't care about your complaint because he doesn't care about the films transfer to begin with (which is why he lied about it). If he's telling the truth then he's satisfied with the blu-rays and your complaint falls on similarly deaf ears. Personally, I'd bank on the latter."
Personally, I think it likely that Mr. Harris will shortly comment on these films. I predict him recommending the set, albeit with some *slight* reservations about the *slight* DNR (mostly on FOTR). In other words, pretty much what Bill Hunt stated in his review. However, if anything, he'll be able to provide some insight to the process to bring the films to Blu, especially as he usually has good information along those lines with Warner releases. If anything is amiss he won't hold back, as we all know. Of course, if he gives a positive approval, I suspect those calling for the heads of Warner execs over this "botched and shameful" release will plug their ears / cover their eyes regarding Mr. Harris' comments anyway, just as they have Jackson's.
Of course, if you were Warner Bros., wouldn't you listen to Peter Jackson and his producers who gave their approval over the fringe online community that is crying out for vengeance? I know I would...