Lord Of The Rings: The Motion Picture Trilogy Blu-Ray Review

Cover Art and Menus: 6/10
I don’t think I can be fair in my judgment of the cover. It does nothing for me. It’s classic and elegant and all that, and yet it’s kind of boring to me. I think the idea it for it to be noble and referential to the actual ring, I get it. I’m afraid I am not moved by the Elvish font and gold embossing, not even the slight hologram appeals to me. Don’t ask me what I would prefer, I couldn’t tell ya. I do know I wouldn’t want this as a poster, so that says something. The menus are just still images with the navigation at the bottom, per your standard Blu-Ray.

Features: 8/10
There are a ton of extras on this 9 disc release, unfortunately they are all the same extras that were included in the older theatrical editions (except a new trailer for a Wii game that is coming later this year) , and are all in standard definition. We won’t run through them all again in detail but here is a listing of the highlights of these discs. I gave the extras 8 out of 10 because for what they are it’s a good collection…however, for a new release it’s lame to give us nothing special or new!

The Fellowship Of The Ring

  • Theatrical Trailer
  • Aragon’s Quest Game Trailer
  • 3 Spellbinding Documentaries –
  • Featurette Gallery Spotlighting The Creation Of JRR Tolkien’s World
  • Enya May It Be Music Video
  • Preview Of The Two Towers
  • Tv Spots
  • Digital Copy

The Two Towers

  • Theatrical Trailer
  • 2 Absorbing Documentaries
  • Sean Astin Directs The Behind The Scenes Piece The Long & Short Of It
  • Featurette Gallery Spotlighting The Technical Wizardry
  • Emiliana Torrini Gollum’s Song Music Video
  • Preview Of Return Of The King
  • Tv Spots
  • Digital Copy

The Return Of The King

  • Theatrical Trailer
  • Special Extended Edition DVD Preview
  • 3 Remarkable Documentaries
  • Featurette Gallery Spotlighting The Breakthrough Effects
  • Tv Spots
  • Digital Copy

The Movies: 8/10
It’s Lord of the Rings. There is a Hobbit with a quest to get the one ring of ultimate power to Mount Doom and destroy it. Along the way he crosses paths with many foes, monsters, creatures, and long long long distances of walking, climbing, running, and crawling. All the while he’s accompanied by Sam, lovely Sam wise Gamgee and a fellowship of friends, an undiscovered king, a dwarf, an elf, and a frustrated son of a nut job…oh and a wizard.

I might be simplifying things a bit here, but I would imagine that at this point of your career of being you, living your life, you have heard of and are aware of the tale told in The Lord of the Rings books by J.R.R. Tolkien. I’ll assume you do. Therefore, I will come at this from my own personal experience of watching the trilogy three times through the  years.

The first time I saw each was first night midnight showings. The feeling was instantly “Wow!” That booming voice of Kate Blanchette telling us the history of the rings forged to give the leaders of the races, dwarfs, elves, and men. As I was taken quickly into the fantasy of the shire, Gandalf, Frodo, and the enormity of the journey ahead, it was awesome. I loved it. Each new movie was another rush of enthusiasm and affection for the whole universe Tolkien drummed up with that pen of his.

The costumes, sets, special effects, it was all big and luscious and rich with details. I wanted to live in the shire. I wanted to be standing at the foot of that city carved in the side of a mountain. It truly drew me into a very satisfying movie watching, story telling experience. I think I was a bit distracted by the bigness and didn’t see the cracks behind the pretty paint job. I will admit, I didn’t enjoy Two Towers that much the first two times I watched it. I thought it was too hokey and the trees were  odd, the heavy handed message and it pretty much just dropped off or something. And then, the third time was a charm. I really enjoyed it, finally.

While I loved the grandeur of all the films, I totally lost interest in Frodo and his sort of boring parts of the story. I always loved, and still do love the character of Sam, he’s cool. By the third viewing, this time on Blu-Ray I was looking at everything around the action. Maybe I was watching a little to closely, I mean, the first couple of times I was still glued to what was happening to the characters, in the foreground. The background kind of disappeared. This time I was looking, looking, and my conclusion is that it is awesome, however, I think we are all tricked into thinking it’s more grand than it really is. The dialogue borders on melodramatic and some of the acting is questionable, to say the least. The sets are still incredibly detailed and the costumes would make any renaissance festival lover melt inside.

Return of the King was a weird one. I had basically no recollection of the whole thing. I think the first two times I was so tired that it all slid past my eyes with a kind of Lord of the Rings glow and none of it stuck in my brain. I know, it’s very strange. This is a good thing though, this time I was enthralled and it has become my favorite of the three. The eye is annoying, the travels of Frodo are super boring, Gollum is too flipping creepy….HOWEVER, Sam is still awesome, the battle is incredible. Those giant elephants made my kid eyes widen like crazy. There was a lot of crappy special effects this time around, but I forgive all that technical stuff since it was overall a good time. I don’t get that welling up of good vibes and hoping the good guys triumph anymore. That’s kind of sad I suppose. Maybe if I watch the trilogy in ten years I’ll revisit that place in my movie lover mind where I keep those first midnight showing of the Fellowship of the Rings feelings and soften up.

You will notice the 8 out of 10 of course. I can’t lie and say they are perfect. They are not. I am not saying this isn’t a big bold cinematic spectacular event, it’s just not a 10 out of 10 when the veil is lifted after seeing it all a few times. The truth shines through those cracks and for all its majesty, an 8 is fair (maybe even a little high if you judge on acting alone). It’s not better than True Romance, or Midnight Run, or Pieces of April, or Punch Drunk Love, or There Will Be Blood, or many many many other big and small movies. Tolkien gave the world a classic tale to enjoy. Peter Jackson gave it life on the big screen. Watch it all. Enjoy it all. Don’t feel bad if you find some flaws here and there.

Audio & Video: 6/10
I have been waiting to see the Lord Of The Rings trilogy in HD for years and when the reality of it finally happening hit me, I actually got quite excited. Unfortunately the transfer’s here are slightly disappointing with varying levels of DNR applied to the 3 films. Fellowship is the worst looking of the bunch, which is quite soft and lacking in detail. This is obvious from the opening scene which can be slightly off putting. Things get better when you get to The Two Towers which still has problems but looks a lot better. Return Of The King  looks just as good but still has some scenes that look soft.

One thing can be said of all three movies though, the contrast and black levels are spot on. There are some details in the Helms Deep sequence during The Two Towers that I had not noticed before but thanks to this brighter HD transfer can really be marveled at here. Rumor has it that Peter Jackson supervised the color timing on this HD release.  Things look a little odd sometimes, the Shire in particular which has an almost colorized look. I think this was intentional to add a more dream like look to the scenes but it still looks a little weird to my eye.

Audio is generally superb during all three movies. It has been given a DTS HD Master Audio upgrade. There were a few moments where the score was mixed a little high and covered some dialog (mostly when Gandalf was speaking) but apart from that these movies are a treat for the ears. Notable moments include any of the battles which have a healthy amount of bass and surround action, and any scene where Gollum is talking to himself which uses a strange Doppler effect that makes him creepier than he really is. Audiophiles will be pleased with these soundtracks and this is a reason to throw away those theatrical DVD releases.

Overall while The Lord Of The Rings Trilogy is now finally available to own in HD, this is not the definitive edition we all hoped for. Peter Jackson has mentioned a super duper extended HD release sometime in the future hopefully the transfer will be completely redone at that time then we can finally have one Blu-Ray set to rule them all.

Value: 7/10
For a collector of all things Lordish, well, it won’t matter what the price-tag says, right? If you are like me, you really enjoy the movies, however, it’s not the towering (get it, TOWER?) movie event of your life, I’m not comfortable paying 60-100 for the 3 movie set. Even with the pile of extras it’s just not worthy of a massive expenditure for me. There are no new extras so you are getting no more value for your buck. If they had all new extras, all new documentaries about J. R. R. Tolkien, etc. I would pay more. For the Blu-Ray it’s just not worth it for me. I’d stick with a cheap copy on DVD if I were making the choice.

Overall Score 9/10

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