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Blu-ray Reviews

HTF BLU-RAY REVIEW: The Lord of the Rings: The Motion Picture Trilogy



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#1 of 93 OFFLINE   Ken_McAlinden

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Posted April 03 2010 - 06:00 AM


The Lord of the Rings: The Motion Picture Trilogy

Directed By: Peter Jackson

Starring: Elijah Wood, Sean Astin, Ian McKellen, Viggo Mortensen, Orlando Bloom, John Rhys-Davies, Andy Serkis, Ian Holm


Studio: New Line/Warner Bros.

Year: 2001-2003

Rated: PG-13

Film Length: 178 minutes: The Fellowship of the Ring, 179 minutes: The Two Towers, 201 Minutes: The Return of the King

Aspect Ratio: 2.4:1

Subtitles: English SDH, French, Spanish (English-only on extras)

Release Date: April 6, 2010

The Films *****

The Lord of the Rings: The Motion Picture Trilogy adapts J.R.R. Tolkien's celebrated epic trilogy of fantasy novels into a comparably epic trilogy of films. The Fellowship of the Ring introduces the viewers to the world of Middle Earth and its various denizens. When Wizard Gandalf the Grey (McKellen) visits Hobbiton, a village populated by diminutive hairy-footed creatures known as Hobbits, he confirms his suspicion that a ring in the possession of Hobbit Bilbo Baggins (Holm) is actually the "One Ring" of power forged by the Dark Lord Sauron centuries earlier. Bilbo's nephew, Frodo (Wood), accepts the responsibility to carry the ring to the Elvin city of Rivendell with the help of fellow Hobbits Sam (Astin), Merry (Monaghan), and Pippin (Boyd) and a human named Aragorn (Mortensen). At Rivendell, a fellowship of Hobbits, Dwarves, Elves, and Men is formed to transport the ring to Sauron's stronghold of Mordor so it can be destroyed in the fires of Mount Doom where it was originally forged. The Two Towers follows the separate paths of the surviving members of the fellowship after it is sundered. Aragorn, Elf Legolas (Bloom), Dwarf Gimli (Rhys-Davies), Merry, and Pippin find themselves contending with an army of creatures known as Orcs that has been raised by a powerful wizard named Saruman (Lee) who has allied himself with Sauron. Frodo and Sam continue their efforts to transport and destroy the ring, and find themselves uneasily aided by a strange creature named Gollum (a motion-captured Serkis) who possessed the ring prior to Bilbo, has been corrupted by it, and desires it for himself. The Return of the King Continues the story as the battle for Middle Earth comes to a head at the gates of Minas Tirith in the land of Gondor. Aragorn, revealed to be the heir to the throne of Gondor, moves almost reluctantly towards his birthright in the midst of war, while Frodo and Sam, betrayed by Gollum, struggle to survive in the heart of Sauron's land of Mordor and complete their mission.

When New Line Cinema agreed to finance Peter Jackson's cinematic adaptation of The Lord of the Rings trilogy, even casual observers of the film industry could recognize that they were taking a financially risky leap of faith. While New Zealand-based Jackson had received considerable critical acclaim for his film Heavenly Creatures and developed a cult following for his highly creative but decidedly non-mainstream independent films prior to that, he had never had a significant commercial hit. Jackson's follow-up to Heavenly Creature, the relatively big budget studio film, The Frighteners, had been a commercial disappointment that received mixed reviews from critics and a somewhat mixed response from even his hardcore fan base since it was considerably tamer than his previous foray into the horror genre, Dead Alive. A superficial review of his resume did not suggest that Jackson was the director capable of delivering a series of three consecutive blockbuster hits in a genre that was seemingly out of fashion, based on highly regarded books that had spent decades in development hell that would recoup the investments of more than a year of active production and the massive expansion of a skilled, but until then modestly sized, special effects company.

Fortunately, someone at New Line saw past the obvious to recognize that Jackson was ideally suited to adapt the material. Even then, the studio was probably just hoping that he would deliver three commercially successful fantasy epics. In fact, Jackson delivered three critically and commercially successful films that amounted to the definitive cinematic fantasy film series of all time and certainly the most impressive foray into epic filmmaking since the heyday of large format Hollywood roadshow spectaculars in the 1950s and '60s.

Considering the scope of the project, the amount of attention paid to even the smallest production details was impressive. The films are exceptionally well-cast with a talented ensemble filled with skilled actors, but no established big box office stars. The spectacular location work, which occurred mostly in and around Jackson's New Zealand home base, adds instant production value to the films and is complemented by equally spectacular design work which seamlessly blends constructed sets, miniatures, and digital extensions with the natural eye-candy of the forests and landscapes. The costumes, props, and elaborate make-ups have an earthiness and apparent weight that make them appear to have been on-loan from the real Middle Earth rather than designed and constructed for the film. The special effects, which are arguably more evolutionary than revolutionary, push well-established techniques such as forced perspective and matting and recently emerging techniques such as the use of live action motion capture and digital grading of live action footage to new levels, and can be seen to advance over the course of the three films.

Perhaps most importantly of all, every frame of the three films demonstrates a tremendous affinity for the material by Jackson and his collaborators. The filmmakers clearly entered into this project with great respect and affection for the source novels. While occasional elements of silliness (e.g. a reference to dwarf tossing) bear Jackson's irreverent auteurist stamp, the balance of the three films captures the spirit of the original novels so well that one is inclined to believe that Jackson is at least partially descended from Hobbits.

The Video ***

All three films are presented in VC-1 encoded 1080p video letterboxed to their original theatrical ratios of 2.4:1. The Fellowship of the Ring is the most problematic of the bunch, largely because of what appears to have been grain reduction applied to the image in the digital domain. While not as excessive as the worst offenders from the Blu-ray early days such as Patton or The Longest Day, this apparent over-processing does rob the image of some of its fine detail and texture. The image is considerably better than the previously available DVD of the Theatrical Cut, but not close to the best that the Blu-ray format has to offer.

The Two Towers improves on its predecessor, but varies on a scene by scene basis with much of it looking quite good, but select scenes and shots appearing more heavily processed along the lines of Felowship….

The Return of the King is the best of the bunch in terms of image texture and clarity. There still seems to have been some grain filtering applied, but it was done with a consistently much lighter touch.

The Audio *****

Audio for all three titles comes courtesy of a DTS-HD MA 6.1 track that is simply outstanding. The previous SD DVD release of "The Fellowship of the Ring" had a problematic Dolby Digital 5.1 track with unnecessarily heavy compression of the film's dynamic range. This mad for an uncomfortable listening experience where it sounded like the only dynamic headroom on the track was from the +10dB on the LFE track. The net result was generally harsh audio giving way every so often to exaggerated sounding low frequency effects. The audio sins of the past are completely wiped away by this far superior lossless track with a wide dynamic range and pleasing dimensionality and range of frequency. The tracks for The Two Towers and Return of the King were very good on their original DVD release and are even better still with this lossless upgrade. The primary beneficiary is the Howard Shore music score which sounds much more present and rounded than on the earlier lossy Dolby Digital 5.1 tracks.

The Extras ***

For those familiar with the previous DVD releases of the theatrical cuts of these films, here is the "in a nutshell" summary of the special features: This set carries all of the special features over from the previous DVD editions of the theatrical cuts with the exception of the DVD-ROM features and three videogame trailers ("The Two Towers" Video Game Preview by EA, “Return of the King” Video Game Preview by EA, and The Battle for Middle Earth Continues – Video Games from EA). The theatrical trailers are upgraded to 1080p high definition and appear on the same blu-ray discs as the movie. The "Supertrailer" for all three films that previously appeared as an extra for The Return of the King is also upgraded to high definition and appears on the blu-ray disc for each one of the films. Also appearing on the blu-ray for all three films are videogame trailers for The Lord of the Rings: Aragorn's Quest and The Lord of the Rings: War in the North. All three blu-ray discs feature BD-Live menu selections as well that connect to the Warner BD-Live portal for players so enabled. As of this review date, there is no content specific to these titles available other than the ability to host screenings. Each film on BD comes with a corresponding SD DVD that is identical to the bonus discs from the original SD DVD release minus the trailers, video game promos, and DVD-ROM content. There is also one DVD-ROM disc corresponding to each film that contains an iTunes or Windows Media-compatible digital copy of the film


For those unfamiliar with the previous DVD releases, a detailed listing of the special features follows. All materials are presented in 4:3 standard definition video with Dolby Digital 2.0 stereo sound unless otherwise indicated:

Fellowship of the Ring


Disc One (BD)


Trailers (VC-1 1080p video w/Dolby Digital 5.1 sound)
  • Teaser One (1:48)
  • Teaser Two (2:29)
  • Final Trailer (2:54)
  • The Lord of the Rings Trilogy Supertrailer (6:39)
  • The Lord of the Rings: Aragorn's Quest Video Game Trailer (1:24)
  • The Lord of the Rings: War in the North Video Game Trailer (:47)

Warner Bros. BD Live connection to WB portal for BD-Live supporting players with an internet connection.

Disc Two (SD DVD)


Welcome to Middle-earth: Houghton Mifflin In-Store Special (16:44) is apromo for two movie tie-in books from Houghton Mifflin with includes some comments from Tolkien from a former publishing colleague and a behind the scenes preview of the Fellowship of the Ring movie. On-camera interview comments are provided by Houghton Mifflin VP Wendy Strothman, Publisher/Tolkien Friend Rayner Unwin, Peter Jackson, "Lord of the Rings" Official Movie Guide Author Brian Sibley, Actress Cate Blanchett, Conceptual Artist Alan Lee, Actor Ian McKellen, Houghton Mifflin Director of Tolkien Projects Clay Harper, WETA President Richard Taylor, Actor Orlando Bloom, actor Elijah Wood, and actor Viggo Mortensen

Quest for the Ring: FOX TV Special (21:26) is a behind the scenes promotional featurette that teased the movie on Fox TV. Topics covered include extreme sports diversions on location as well as the usual mix of behind the scenes glimpses and explanations of the plot and characters. On camera comments are provided by McKellen, Wood, Jackson, Producer Barrie Osborne, Taylor, Mortensen, Blanchett, actor Sean Astin, actor Billy Boyd, Actor Dominic Monaghan, Actor Sean Bean, Actor John Rhys-Davies, Actor Orlando Bloom, Actor Christopher Lee, and Actress Liv Tyler,

A Passage to Middle earth: SCI-FI Channel Special (41:37) Is another made-for-television promotional special. Since all of them use a lot of the same electronic press kit interview footage, behind the scenes footage, and film clips, this proves to be the most satisfying because it is the longest and most comprehensive. On-camera comments are provided by Wood, Jackson, McKellen, Taylor, Blanchett, Osborne, Production Designer Grant Major, Astin, Boyd, Ring Creator Thorkild Hansen, co-screenwriter Philippa Boyens, Propmaster Nick Weir, Swordsmith Peter Lyon, Swordmaster Bob Anderson, Mortensen, Tyler, Christopher Lee, New Zealand casting Director Liz Mullane, Costume designer Ngila Dickson, Lee, Dialect Coaches Andrew Jack and Roisin Carty, Actor Hugo Weaving, Rhys-Davies, Bloom, Supervising Art Director Dan Hennah, R&D Preproduction Sequence Spur Greg Butler, Stunt Performer Lani M. Jackson, Assistant Swordmaster Kirk Maxwell, Chainmailler Chris Smith, Director of Photography Andrew Lesnie, Conceptual Designer John Howe, and Monaghan.

lordoftherings.net Featurettes compiles behind the scenes "webisodes" originally available from the "lordoftherings.net" web site. They add up to the most interesting behind the scenes material on the disc, but unfortunately do not have a "Play All" selection to allow for viewing them successively without remote control intervention. The titles are fairly self-explanatory, and a listing of on-screen interview participants is provided for each featurette:
  • Finding Hobbiton (2:11) Jackson, Alan Lee, Farmer Ian Anderson, Howe, McKellen
  • Hobbiton Comes Alive (2:33) Astin, Wood, Boyd, Jackson, McKellen
  • Believing the World of Bree (2:52) Monoghan, Jackson, Dickson, Hennah, Astin, Major, Osborne, Wood
  • Ringwraiths: The Fallen Kings (4:35) Jackson, Monaghan, Astin, Wood, Tyler, Dickson, Mortensen, Howe, Boyd, Wood,
  • Rivendell: The Elven Refuge (3:53) Monaghan, Major, Alan Lee, Lesnie, Tyler, Hennah, Special Physical effects Darryl Richards, Astin
  • Languages of Middle Earth (3:07) Carty, Jackson, Wood, Jacks, Tyler, Mortensen, Harper Collins Ltd.'s Jane Johnson
  • Two Wizards (1:54) Christopher Lee, Jackson, McKellen,
  • Music of Middle Earth (4:05) Jackson, Composer Howard Shore
  • Elijah Wood (1:42) Wood, Jackson, Mortensen
  • Viggo Mortensen (1:42) Osborne, Mortensen, Jackson, Taylor, Anderson
  • Orlando Bloom (2:16) Bloom, Tyler
  • Cate Blanchett (1:47) Blanchett, Wood, Jackson
  • Liv Tyler (1:36) Jackson, Tyler, Dickson
  • Ian McKellen (1:43) McKellen, Jackson, Dickson
  • Weathertop: The Windy Hill (3:01) Wood, Hennah, Alan Lee, Monaghan, Astin

TV Spots (All are 30 second spots unless indicated otherwise)
  • MTV
  • Fellowship
  • Top Ten/AFI
  • Phenomenon
  • Academy Nomination
  • Epic Oscar

Enya "May it Be" Music Video (3:38) is a music video for the Enya song that accompanied the film's closing credits.

Special Extended DVD Edition Preview (16:9 enhanced - 3:05) is a tease for the extended version of the film that appeared on DVD several months after DVD release of the theatrical cut. On-camera comments are provided by Jackson, Editor John Gilbert, Shore, and Wood

Behind the Scenes Preview of "The Two Towers"(16:9 enhanced - 10:42) is a featurette where Jackson introduces and narrates a look at the second film in the series which was produced prior to its theatrical release. Additional on-camera comments are provided by Executive Producer Mark Ordesky, Producer Barrie Osborne, Wood, Boyd, Monaghan, actress Miranda Otto, actor Andy Serkis, Bloom, Mortensen, Astin, and Taylor

The Two Towers


Disc One (BD)


Trailers
  • Teaser One (2:03)
  • Theatrical Trailer (3:07)
  • The Lord of the Rings Trilogy Supertrailer (6:39)
  • The Lord of the Rings: Aragorn's Quest Video Game Trailer (1:24)
  • The Lord of the Rings: War in the North Video Game Trailer (:47)

Warner Bros. BD Live

Disc Two (SD DVD)


On the Set “Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers” – Starz Encore Special (13:59) is a sneak preview/behind the scenes teaser for the second film. It essentially lays out the basic plot of the film with a mix of film clips, interview segments, and behind the scenes footage. It is organized by various locations from the film, and some of the plot information is surprisingly spoiler heavy for a sneak peek. Interview participants include Lee, Wood, McKellen, Rhys-Davies, Boyd, Monaghan, Astin, Jackson, Andy Serkis, Mortensen, Bloom, Actor Karl Urban, Actor Bernard Hill, Actor Brad Dourif, Otto, Weaving, and Tyler.

Return to Middle Earth: WB Special (42:53) is another promotional TV special for the film. After an intro, there is a brief segment on the reception of the first film followed by a behind the scenes look at The Two Towers from primarily the cast's point of view. It ends with what was then an exclusive clip from the film. Interview participants include Jackson, Wood, Tyler, Bloom, Otto, Astin, Boyd, Monaghan, Mortensen, Taylor, Hennah, Co-Art Department Head Chris Hennah, McKellen, Lesnie, and Serkis.

“The Long and the Short of It” (16:9 enhanced - 7:04) is a short film directed by Sean Astin that was produced concurrently with when the cast and crew of The Two Towers were reassembled in New Zealand for re-shoots necessary to finish the film. It is a slight but charming story of camaraderie. The film runs just under six minutes and is preceded by a 75 second introduction from Astin.

The Making of “The Long and the Short of It” (8:07) is a behind the scenes featurette that looks at how the project came about and was staffed and cast with various cast and crew members from The Lord of the Rings films, frequently working on opposite sides of the camera from their roles in the larger production.

Lordoftherings.net Featurettes is a collection of more webisodes. As before, the interview participants are listed next to the self-explanatory webisode titles below:
  • Forces of Darkness (4:34) Lee, Taylor, Dourif, Hill, Urban, Jackson
  • Designing the Sounds of Middle Earth (4:00) Supervising Sound Editor/Co-Sound Designer Ethan Van Der Ryn
  • Edoras: The Rohan Capitol (4:42) Osborne, Mortensen, Dan Hennah, Dourif, Alan Lee, Otto, Hill, Urban, McKellen
  • Creatures of Middle Earth (4:36) Digital Model Supervisor Matt Aitken, Taylor, Director of Animation Randy Cook, Monaghan, Boyd, Visual Effects Supervisor Joe Letteri, Creature Supervisor Eric Saindon, Hill
  • Gandalf the White (2:50) McKellen
  • Arms and Armor (4:42) Jackson, Howe, Rhys-Davies, Taylor, Executive Producer Mark Ordesky, Urban
  • The Battle of Helm’s Deep (3:27) Mortensen, Osborne, Urban, Hill, Stuntman Sala Baker, Co-Producer Rick Porras,
  • Bringing Gollum to Life (4:12) Jackson, Ordesky, Serkis, Saindon, Creature Facial Lead Bay Raitt, Wood, Astin

TV Spots (all are 30 second spots)
  • New Power
  • Another
  • Event
  • Dream
  • Darkness
  • Return
  • Strike
  • Countdown
  • One Word Review
  • The Wait is Over
  • Review B/Golden Globes
  • Gollum
  • Supreme Review
  • Review A/Globe
  • Good Top 10
  • Top 10 Review

Emiliana Torrini “Gollum’s Song” Music Video (16:9 enhanced - 4:01) is another new used for the closing credits of the film, this time from Icelandic singer Torrini. The video is a montage of scenes from the film with occasional shots of Torrini singing against a blue background.

Special Extended DVD Edition Preview (16:9 enhanced - 5:15) is a tease for the extended version of the film that appeared on DVD several months after DVD release of the theatrical cut. It includes comments from Jackson, Osborne, Boyd, Monaghan, Wood, Bean, Shore, Porras, Visual Effects Supervisor Jim Rygiel, Visual effects Producer Eileen Moran, and Ordesky

Behind the Scenes Preview of “The Return of the King” (16:9 enhanced - 12:33) is another Jackson-hosted preview assembled in advance of the release of Return of the King. Comments are provided by Jackson, Mortensen, Boyens, Boyd, Ordesky, Previsualisation Supervisor Christian Rivers, Alan Lee, Monaghan, Hill, Urban, Osborne, Taylor, and Astin

The Return of the King


Disc One (BD)


Trailers
  • Trailer One (3:00)
  • Trailer Two (1:03)
  • The Lord of the Rings Trilogy Supertrailer (6:39)
  • The Lord of the Rings: Aragorn's Quest Video Game Trailer (1:24)
  • The Lord of the Rings: War in the North Video Game Trailer (:47)

Warner Bros. BD Live

Disc Two (SD DVD)


The Quest Fulfilled: A Director’s Vision (23:00) is a featurette that offers a sneak peek at Return of the King that also spends some time profiling Director Peter Jackson. On-camera comments are offered by Mortensen, McKellen, Wood, Otto, Jackson, Taylor, Boyd, Lesnie, Astin, Boyens, Ordesky, Tolkien Publisher Jane Johnson, Bloom, Monaghan, and Otto

A Filmmaker’s Journey: Making “The Return of the King” (28:30) is another promotional featurette for the film that touches on J.R.R. Tolkien's books, but otherwise overlaps considerably with A Director's Journey. Interview participants include McKellen, Jackson, Wood, Astin, Actor David Wenham, Otto, Bloom, Christopher Lee, Boyens, Johnson, Unwin, Ordesky, Tyler, Blanchett, actor Ian Holm, Boyd, Mortensen, Dickson, Weaving, Taylor, Shore, Lesnie, Rhys-Davies, Sibley, Serkis, and Alan Lee

National Geographic Special – “The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King” (45:56) is a made for television documentary narrated by Jon Rhys-Davies that examines the (occasionally tenuous) relationship of the themes and characters of The Lord of the Rings to various historical events and figures such as William Wallace, Theodore Roosevelt, William Cecil, Benjamin Franklin, Rasputin, Henry V at Agincourt, Robert E. Lee & George E. Pickett at Gettysburg, Hitler & Churchill during World War II, Lewis and Clark, Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay climbing Mount Everest, and Matthew Henson and RobertOeary attempting to reach the North Pole. Interview comments are offered by Wood, Weaving, Jackson, McKellen, William Wallace Biographer Jock Ferguson, Historian Doctor Fiona Watson, Tolkien Expert Professor Michael Drout, Theodore Roosevelt Great Grandson Tweed Roosevelt, Rhys-Davies, "Elizabeth I" Author Dr. David Loades, University of Pennsylvania Professor Michael Zuckerman, Harvard University's Dr. Richard Pipes, Royal Military Academy Sandhurst's Dr. Areyah Nusbacher, Wenham, Princeton University Professor James McPherson, Boyens, RAF Wing Commander Bob Doe, University of Nebraska Professor Gary Moulton, Boyd, Bloom, Astin, Harvard University's Dr. Allen Counter, and Robert Peary's Great Grandson Robert Peary

Lordoftherings.net Featurettes (16:9 enhanced) is another collection of behind the scenes "webisodes". As before, the titles are self-explanatory, and the on-camera interview participants are indicated below:
  • Aragorn’s Destiny (3:27) Jackson, Mortensen, Osborne, Christopher Lee, Rhys-Davies
  • Minas Tirith: Capital of Gondor (3:13) Osborne, McKellen, Wenham, Miniature Unit Director of Photography Alex Funke, Boyd, Taylor, Dan Hennah,
  • The Battle of the Pelennor Fields (2:16) Urban, Jackson, Monaghan,
  • Samwise the Brave (4:34) Christopher Lee, Astin, McKellen, Wood, Jackson, Osborne, Boyens,
  • Eowyn: White Lady of Rohan (3:45) Jackson, Urban, Osborne, Otto, Mortensen, Hill
  • Digital Horse Doubles (4:38) Aitken, Cook, Letteri

TV Spots (All are 30 second spots)
  • Heart/Frodo
  • Every Path
  • Test
  • Aragorn
  • Time
  • Every Step
  • Sword
  • Decided (:43)
  • Time Review
  • Decided Review
  • Step Golden Globes
  • Globe Noms
  • New Epic Globe

Special Extended Edition DVD Preview (16:9 enhanced - 6:56) is another sneek peak that preceded the release of the extended version of "The Return of the King" on DVD that discusses both the added and extended scenes in the film as well as additional supplements in the "Appendices". On-screen comments are provided by Jackson, Osborne, Wood, Mortensen, Taylor, Lee, Porras, Boyd, and Monaghan,

Packaging

This nine disc set contains three BDs, three SD DVDs, and three DVD-ROMs. The BDs for each title have the film and high-definition trailers. The three SD DVDs corresponding to each title have the bonus featurettes, TV spots, music videos, and sneak peeks. The three DVD-ROMs are simply the digital copy discs for each film which are compatible with iTunes or Windows Media.

The digital copy discs are bound in their own standard sized blu-ray case with a hinged tray allowing for the accommodation of three discs with no overlapping. There is a paper insert in this case with a directory of the contents of all of the discs. Additional inserts in this case include a sheet with the authorization codes for the three digital copies, a promo sheet for The Lord of the Rings: Aragorn's Quest video game, a promo sheet for the deluxe BD and DVD edition of the animated Ralph Bakshi Lord of the Rings film, a two-sided promo sheet for the "Bud K" catalog of Lord of the Rings collectibles, a promo sheet with a $10 off coupon code for merchandise from the WetaNZ.com web site, and the standard "disc manufactured to highest quality blah blah blah nlu-ray disclaimer sheet.

The BDs and SD DVDs are in a "fat" blu-ray case with two double-sided hinged trays allowing for the accommodation of six discs with no overlapping. This case contains no inserts.

Both blu-ray cases fit in a thick cardboard box with attractive foil-enhanced art that "pulls the whole thing together."

Summary ****

The Lord of the Rings: The Motion Picture Trilogy on blu-ray presents something of a conundrum for fans of the films who are also home theater enthusiasts. While it does present the theatrical cuts of all three films in a high-definition video and audio format that easily surpasses the previous DVD standalone releases of these cuts, the use of digital filtering makes The Fellowship of the Ring fall short of the capabilities of the blu-ray format, sligtly mars The Two Towers, and is barely noticeable on Return of the King. Even fans who can tolerate less than the best that the blu-ray format has to offer may be put off by the fact that the extended cuts of the films, the massive "Appendices" of special features created for the DVD release of those versions, and the Costa Botes Behind the Scenes documentaries created for the "Limited Edition" DVD releases of all three films, are not present with this release. Extras added above and beyond the previous standalone DVD release of the theatrical cuts include iTunes and Windows media compatible digital copies of all three films, a connection to Warner's BD-Live Portal for each film, and a couple of video game trailers. In the end, this release appears targeted at casual fans and hardcore fans demanding the instant gratification of owning the trilogy on the blu-ray format. One hopes that when the inevitable superior editions of these films are offered on blu-ray, that Warner/New Line address the digital filtering issue and offer rebates to fans who purchased this version.

Regards,


Ken McAlinden
Livonia, MI USA

#2 of 93 OFFLINE   EnricoE

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Posted April 03 2010 - 06:25 AM

it should be noted, that they removed the preview trailer for the two towers at the end of the fellowship end credits. it wasn't included separately.


#3 of 93 OFFLINE   Matthew Anderson

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Posted April 03 2010 - 07:15 AM

Thanks for the taking the time to get this review out. I appreciate your honesty about the Fellowship bluray being subpar in the video quality. I was really disappointed to hear this but I hope the extended editions will be improved in PQ for Fellowship of the Ring.

#4 of 93 OFFLINE   Mike Frezon

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Posted April 03 2010 - 07:55 AM

A herculean effort, Ken! 



There's Jessie the yodeling cowgirl. Bullseye, he's Woody's horse. Pete the old prospector. And, Woody, the man himself.Of course, it's time for Woody's RoundUp. He's the very best! He's the rootinest, tootinest cowboy in the wild, wild west!


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#5 of 93 ONLINE   Robert Crawford

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Posted April 03 2010 - 08:28 AM

Ken, Thanks for the review as it pretty much confirms my initial thoughts on the video presentation of this BRD release. Crawdaddy

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#6 of 93 OFFLINE   Joseph J.D

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Posted April 03 2010 - 10:19 AM

Good review Ken.....I really wasn't going to buy this release because of the PQ issue.  Would have waited for the Extended Cuts.  However, Future Shop in Canada made a pricing error at their website a couple of weeks ago (since corrected but orders being honored)....long story short, I'm getting my copy for around $23 Cdn all taxes included...for all 3 films on BD and digital copies for my ipod to boot, damn right I'm buying!

As for the Extended Cuts....I really do hope that the PQ will be corrected for that release when it comes.

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#7 of 93 OFFLINE   David Wilkins

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Posted April 04 2010 - 01:19 AM

Thanks for the fine, thorough review, Ken.

#8 of 93 OFFLINE   Joseph Bolus

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Posted April 04 2010 - 02:55 AM

 Thanks for the review!  It was much appreciated.   Like many here, I'm waiting on the EE's unless I can eventually find these at a spectacular sales price.   I purchased the theatrical releases of these movies back when they were originally released to DVD, and they were only viewed until their EE counterparts appeared.  When we view the LOTR films these days, we do so over a six day period utilizing the EE's.   It would therefore really be difficult at this point to go back to the "abridged" versions.  And, of course, the theatricals are still sitting there on the shelf for reference if needed ... 

But I *do* admit to being tempted by the new audio tracks ...




Joseph
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#9 of 93 OFFLINE   TravisR

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Posted April 04 2010 - 03:57 AM

Originally Posted by Joseph Bolus 

Like many here, I'm waiting on the EE's unless I can eventually find these at a spectacular sales price. 
 

I'd be shocked if there wasn't a great deal before Christmas (and probably before that).

#10 of 93 OFFLINE   Powell&Pressburger

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Posted April 05 2010 - 05:00 AM

I wsa going to buy this Blul-Ray set, instead of waiting for the EE releases, but I have to say after numorous online reviews have been posted, I have to say the image quality sounds lacking. I find it so funny Jackson and company and the powers that be could have sat around on a release for these films this long only to churn out mediocre transfers.

I will pass on this set... I will buy the animated Lord of the Rings, I hope it is a full 1080P transfer, without pesky digital issues. I can only hope for an animated release for WATERSHIP DOWN. I can no longer watch interlaced DVD copies of WATERSHIP any longer.

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#11 of 93 OFFLINE   mike caronia

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Posted April 05 2010 - 05:07 AM

Nice review, thanks! :)
Will definitely hit these up on Netflix.
I'm firmly in the 'wait for EE' camp.
I think that a triple, then quadruple dip for these releases is not necessary.
If they had done what Disney did with the Toy Story BLUs...then maybe.
The studios know people have every version, the least they could do is throw a bone in the form of a coupon our way.


#12 of 93 OFFLINE   Terry Hickey

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Posted April 06 2010 - 03:27 PM



Quote:
Originally Posted by Ken_McAlinden 


The image is considerably better than the previously available DVD of the Theatrical Cut, but not close to the best that the Blu-ray format has to offer.

 
I am one of the few who actually prefer the theatrical cuts over the extended cuts.  I agree with your critique of the video.  I don't regret my purchase of the trilogy on bluray, anyway.

 

#13 of 93 OFFLINE   Ron-P

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Posted April 07 2010 - 03:17 AM

Thank you Ken!

I plan to rent first, if I'm happy with it then I'll buy. If not, here's hoping the EE's are improved upon.

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#14 of 93 OFFLINE   AL KUENSTER

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Posted April 07 2010 - 04:03 AM

Like many have said I'll will wait for the EE versions, however the audio on these BR has me tempted. The SDDVD EE are not terrible to watch in the mean time.
Thanks for the review Ken.

Al Kuenster

#15 of 93 OFFLINE   Carlo Medina

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Posted April 07 2010 - 04:23 AM

Since the EEs are likely years away, I'm probably going to bite the bullet and take advantage of the $59.99 selling price at Best Buy. The $35 in rewardzone certificates I will be using will go a long way in soothing my pain if I find the DNR too offensive for my tastes...

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#16 of 93 OFFLINE   Scott Merryfield

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Posted April 07 2010 - 04:39 AM

I am going to attempt to rent these over the next couple of weekends. That should satisfy my LOTR urge for at least a year.  If they drop in price dramatically later (under $30 for the set), I may pick them up. Otherwise, I'll wait for the extended editions for a purchase.


#17 of 93 OFFLINE   bugeyes

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Posted April 07 2010 - 04:56 AM

I've already bought these. I watched Fellowship last night and to be honest the quality is fine. It's def. better than DVD quality. Another tidbit of info for those interested, If you purchase yours from walmart canada you get a replica ring with it. I collect so, for me, that's awesome. 


#18 of 93 OFFLINE   Shane D

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Posted April 07 2010 - 05:14 AM

im watching on a 1080p 42" lcd and the image looked really good to me. One time i saw something that was maybe digital noise, but i can't even remember what it was today. All i took from my 2 hour viewing ( i stopped as they escaped moria) is that the image looks tons better than the dvds we got, im noticing things i never saw before, and the soundscape is amazing. nazgul actually sounds like i remember in the theater and there is just tons of nice rumble thru out the movie.

another bonus, the disc restarts at the last place played on a cold start. no menu or chapter jumping ifyou turned your player off.


#19 of 93 OFFLINE   Douglas Monce

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Posted April 07 2010 - 05:46 AM



Originally Posted by Shane D 

 the soundscape is amazing. nazgul actually sounds like i remember in the theater and there is just tons of nice rumble thru out the movie.

 
Interesting considering what you heard in the theater was lower quality audio that what is on the DVD on of the theatrical cut. That released should have already given you a better audio experience than what you heard in the theater.

Doug


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#20 of 93 OFFLINE   Shane D

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Posted April 07 2010 - 07:59 AM

i dont think dvds and home theaters (modest ones anyway) can come close to the loudness or the audio range of a theater. part of that nazgul scream is so loud and high pitched that its just not the same.






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