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“The Lord of the Rings Trilogy-Theatrical ” {Blu-ray}
Wayne Klein
Studio: New Line Home Video
Release Date:
Special Features:

Featurettes, documentaries


I became so used to watching the Extended Editions of “The Lord of the Rings” trilogy on DVD that I had forgotten how strong and pleasing the original theatrical cuts of the films are. If you had never seen the Extended Editions you wouldn’t know what you’re missing because Peter Jackson does such a terrific job of compressing J.R.R. Tolkien’s classic fantasy masterpiece into a manageable, powerful and entertaining trio of films that, in the shadow of the Extended Editions, all of the benefits of the films truly were overlooked. To be honest, the streamlined, lean telling here makes the Extended Editions (as much as I love them)seem bloated almost by comparison with too many trivial scenes that don’t add to the overall story. ***

My apologies for the delay on this review but, you see, New Line didn’t send us “The Lord of the Rings” on Blu-ray. I had thought about boycotting the theatrical versions because New Line pulled the same scam here that they did with the earlier DVD editions—marketing the Blu-ray and delaying the Extended Editions so they could double dip. While I have nothing against making a profit I’d prefer an HONEST profit and double dipping just strikes me as dishonest. ***

Still I love these movies and when I had the opportunity to get this relatively inexpensively I debated all of about a day before going out to get them. The good news is that we can all be reminded what an impressive accomplishment Jackson’s theatrical cuts of the movie are. If the Extended Editions had never existed these terrific movies would have stood up brilliantly. It’s nice to have those Extended Editions but they aren’t essential to enjoying the story. ***

For those two people on earth unfamiliar with “The Lord of the Rings” I’d do a brief recap of the story; In the beginning there were Dwarfs, Elves and Humans. All three races were given rings that had special powers linking them together but, unknown to them, also linking them to the evil Sauronwho has the One Ring that can control them all. All three beings fought against Sauron winning at the last minute when a human king used his shattered sword to bring down the supernatural evil being. ***

Eventually the One Ring is lost but is recovered by the Hobbit Smegol (Andy Serkis)who kills to keep it and the ring warps Smegol turning him into the creature Golum. The Hobbit Bilbo Baggins (Ian Holm) discovers the ring and takes it. Years later at his 111th birthday party Bilbo reveals to his good friend the wizard Gandolf (Ian McKellen) that he has the ring. Frodo (Elijah Wood) the nephew of Bilbo agrees to destroy the ring which Sauron is trying to obtain the ring again and this threatens the world of Middle-Earth. He is assisted by Aragorn (Viggo Mortensen), the dwarf Gimli (Jonathan Rhys-Davies), the elf Legolas (Orlando Bloom), Boromir (Sean Bean), Merry (Dominic Monaghan), Pippin (Billy Boyd) and Sam (Sean Astin)as they roam the countryside to deposit the ring into the volcanic fires where it was forged. ***

What’s astonishing is how Jackson took his experience with “Heavenly Creatures”, “The Frighteners” and “Dead Alive” as a film director and story teller creating a memorable fantasy adventure that overwhelmed other film directors. ---

Image & Sound:

The weakest of the lot is “Fellowship”. Reportedly using film for the intermediate phase of the prints resulted in the softer looking picture here. Detail isn’t quite as sharp as the two other films in the set. The stylized cinematography looks extremely good for all three with the transfer nicely capturing the color scheme. ***

Both “Towers” and “Return” look much sharper with nice, inky blacks and sporting a sharper looking more detailed transfer. Neither looks perfect but they look extremely good to exceptional. ***

Audio sounds quite strong for all three films with plenty of ambience, detail and a clear lossless presentation. Dialogue remains strong for all three films and even listening to it on my monitor stereo speakers the dialogue remains quite strong and clear although it does occasionally get lost in the rumblings of the music and sound effects. ---

Special Features:

The special features are ported over from the original theatrical two disc sets and are a presented in standard definition. The fact that these aren’t in high def are a bit disappointing but not a deal breaker. ***

The special features are reviewed here—

Final Words:

All three films look remarkably good but the second and third films offer an overall better presentation on Blu-ray. The extras sadly are only presented in standard definition given that many fans will be buying these again the least they could have done was to present them in high def. ***

Fans who can’t wait for the extended editions will be pleased as all three films look and sound solid. As to whether or not you should buy this, well, that will depend on how much of a fan you are. My advice is to try and find them at as low a price as possible since most of you will probably be picking up the extended editions as well.


Copyright @ Teakwood Productions 2000
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