I'm going to go out on a limb and assume that everyone reading this already knows a good deal about the Lord of the Rings trilogy, so I won't discuss the quality of the movies in detail. Needless to say that there really is no competition between the theatrical and extended editions so far as the experience is concerned. The Extended Editions feel much more whole and complete and generally far more satisfying than the abridged theatrical version. Equal love and attention is put into the special features, which are immensely detailed and entertaining.
The main topic of debate over this release has been the quality of the video, the use of 2 discs per film, and the use of DVDs for special features as opposed to blu-ray discs.
VIDEO & AUDIO:
Fellowship - The discontent with the theatrical blu-ray for Fellowship is no secret, leading to the new transfer for this boxset. There have been videos showing the high green levels in the transfer, which has led many to write off buying this release. The bad news is that certain scenes do indeed look a little too green - weathertop and subsequent scene when Arwen arrives; Mines of Moria and a few others. There is also a higher level of orange than I remember in other scenes (i.e. Rivendell). The good news is that these are brief little bumps in the road for an otherwise brilliant video. The film finally looks high-definition with beautiful clarity and detail but without looking over digitised. It looks natural and impressive.
Two Towers & Return of the King - There is no major improvement in these films but one thing I did feel when watching the theatrical blu-rays was that the picture, though impressive, was flat somehow... although that may be my imagination. If it wasn't my imagination, then the issue has been addressed as the video seems to have more depth and warmth.
Audio - The unquestionable champion of this set is the audio quality. I had enormous expectations for Howard Shore's soundtrack, which has left me in tears on numerous occasions, and was not left disappointed (or dry eyed). The audio is incredibly detailed and dynamic. You can literally hear the brush of the leaves and trickle of water, along with the perfect soundtrack and crystal clear dialogue. Multi-layered sound effects are used appropriately and never overstated - they will highly reward any good surround system. Every aspect of the audio track is a great success, especially the dialogue, which I had always found difficult to understand in particular scenes but could understand perfectly here. I thoroughly enjoyed every minute spent with each of these terrific soundtracks.
2 DISCS PER FILM:
This issue never really bothered me, although I've always disliked the way in which the split was handled. It's not too bad for Fellowship, with disc 1 ending on the founding of the Fellowship of the Ring - a perfect mid-point. However, both Two Towers and Return of the King cut-offs are sudden and inappropriate, killing the mood and tension slightly. Unfortunately, this hasn't been fixed for this release, which is a shame but not lethal.
SPECIAL FEATURES DVDS:
Again, this is not something which really bothers me. Whilst it would be nice to have a complete set of blu-ray discs and enjoy the special features in high-definition, there is nothing which really suffers from being on a DVD. Considering the time and money that would have to be put into the transfers, I think it is best that they have been left on DVDs.
WHY FOUR STARS??:
Considering I have had nothing but praise for this set, you might wonder why I have only given it four stars. The reason is simple - the US release of this boxset was virtually identical, except that it also included digital copies of the films whereas ours does not. However, both sets are a similar price, or ours is a good £15-20 more expensive if you compare Amazon's prices. While this may have been acceptable before digital copies really came over to the UK, it is now commonplace for the more premium Blu-Ray releases to include digital copies of the film and, for the price tag, we should have been given the same treatment as our American counterparts.
General opinion is that this boxset is still holding back a little and the full deal will be released in the next couple of years to support the release of The Hobbit movies. I obviously cannot predict whether or not that will happen but feel that, for now at least, this boxset is the best we are going to get and it is certainly 100% better than the theatrical blu-ray set. If you loved the extended editions, or haven't had the chance to see them yet, then this set shows them in all their audio-visual glory and should not be dismissed as a half-effort (lack of digital copies aside).
on 22 August 2007
As soon as you receive your extended-edition box set from Amazon, I suggest you check that the second disc of Return of the King plays correctly. Mine is labelled "Part 2" but actually contains the German version of the Appendices Part 6 disc. I imagine someone messed up the duplication as others have reported this problem but so far not on Amazon.co.uk.
I hope this advice helps prevent the disbelief and disappointment that I have just experienced.
POSTSCRIPT: Both Amazon and the UK distributors responded quickly and courteously to solve this for me, so no complaints there.
I bought the original two disc version of The Fellowship of the Ring and was both miffed when the extended version came out, and disappointed at the paltry extras. I resolved to wait until this version, the complete extended version, came out before buying any more. So I've been waiting nearly two years but, boy, was it worth the wait.
There's not much I can add about the films; the extended versions are incredible, SO much better than the original versions, and stunning on a good TV/surround system. The films are so moving that I've found myself moved to tears at times by the sheer power and beauty of them, and I'm not usually prone to gushing over DVD's.
However I wanted to add that the two discs of extras with each film are equally stunning. They manage to be different for each film, and I've watched, transfixed as they take you through the incredible scale of the productions and the sheer love and craftsmanship that went into making these films.
Really, forty-five quid for these 12 DVD's represents incredible (yes I know I've used that word about 5 times) value, you really will want to watch all of them. Buy it now!
on 28 June 2011
Having been alarmed by a few claims that the Fellowship of the Ring was looking a bit green-tinged I watched the whole thing as soon as the pack arrived. Honestly can't see what all the fuss is about - this film looks even more gorgeous than it did on the the extended DVDs (I resisted the temptation to buy the theatrical blu-rays). I was fearing a sickly green hue over everything (including the snow !) but the whole thing looks fantastic to me.
A fitting - and hopefully definitive - release for a true cinematic classic.
Lord of the Rings needs no hype, it is the most incredible set of films so far devised. The story that launched the Epic Fantasy genre tracking the efforts of a small band of mostly really quite small heroes striving to rid their world of a dreadful evil is well enough known to all. It is a tremendous feat of cinema to have been able to put this huge story together over the 3 films and the extended version is the one that everyone needs to see.
For theatrical release LotR was ground breakingly long. For years we have been told that we do not have the patience to watch films that go beyond 120 minutes. Fortunately Peter Jackson ignored that mantra and went for long and epic. The extended versions are simply better than the theatrical release because they add in so many scenes that make the overall arc fit together much more effectively. Of most benefits are all the characters other than Sam and Frodo. What made LotR such a great story originally was that it encompassed a range of different characters and did not just limit itself to the current vogue of one superhero and a supporting cast. The additions for instance make characters like Eowyn and Faramir much more understandable, they provide an ending for Saruman, and the excitement of the battle scenes is significantly deepened.
With any film of this scope there are some quibbles. The overly long multiple endings that featured in the theatrical release are still too much. The exclusion of some parts of the original narrative still occurs - notably the ending being very different to the book. Personally, I very much missed the Barrow Wight and not for any plotline reasons but for the context of setting the environment. Jackson is a New Zealander so how much he knows of pre-Roman Britain is difficult to tell but the loss of that encounter is a loss to the location Tokien designed the myth to be a part of. However, some directing decisions are very good such as cutting Tom Bombadil who is a remarkably boring character in the book. It would have been nice though to have shown more respect to the Dwarfs and less to the Elfs. Dwarf culture is only positively reinforced once at the sheer size of Moria and they are the butt of most of the jokes while the Elfs are a perfection that not even Tolkien's overly virtued creation reached.
The casting is brilliant. In particular Viggo Mortensen as Aragorn imbues the character with the perfect balance of rugged manliness and a stoic acceptance of his role in life. Ian McKellan as Gandalf would be a perfect grandfather. Christoper Lee's Saruman is most impressive for his own personal affection which shines through in the extras. Dominic Monaghan isn't great as Merry unlike the rest of the Hobbits who are all pitch perfect despite Billy Boyd's Scottish accent (a setting problem given the Englishness of the Shire, the Celtic speech of the Elfs, and the overlty Norse-German Rohirrim) which stands him apart from the rest of the cast. Hugo Weaving appears to only have one emotion and having displayed it in The Matrix it was hard to take him seriously as Elrond but that's only a small character anyway. Cate Blanchett as Galadriel is utterly resplendent and is the most impressive visual presence the film offers. Liv Tyler's Arwen was a distraction and nice as she may be I can't believe anyone would have chosen her weak character over the magnificent Eowyn played by Miranda Otto.
For all that this is the most impressive set of films that has been composed, the greatness of this box set is in the extras. There has never been anything like this on dvd - the usual cast, director, and executives talking heads appear but the 6 discs of extras are a gripping story in themselves. Getting to know Viggo Mortensen's relationship with the stunt team is great, hearing Peter Jackson talk about the editing process is amusing but the technical work that went into this film is presented magnificently.
Some of the credit for the greatness of LotR is due to the technical bods who worked for years to make it happen. The Weta Workshop people who made all those weapons, prosthetics, costumes etc did as good a job as any film has achieved so far. Their story is great and the joy that springs from recreating the equipment of a bygone era is evident. That they were able to generate different cultures visually is presumably not lost on most viewers but it is still terrific to see how it happened. The set designs and miniatures should have been preserved and it was a little disheartening to see buildings being demolished and pieces of equipment being destroyed - a LotR museum should have had them. The contribution of artist Alan Lee was impressive. I happened to have some reproduced artwork of his as a child and the scenes created in the film are close to exact replicas.
The Weta Digital story is amusing - their being rushed to create effects that most films would not dream of looks good fun from the outside though I imagine the discussions with Producer Barry Osborne were very difficult. The Digital effects are generally awesome and the Massive programme they devissed is a stroke of genious. Some effects are frankly a little ropey but having seen cinema audiences cheer the clearly digitised Legolas swinging off an elephant the fact that not every effect was melded with the live action probably doesn't matter for a general audience.
Musically this is stunning. Music and sound are crucial to any action film and the composition for LotR is in my opinion the greatest orchestral suite since Gustav Holst's The Planets and possibly beyond that. The characters singing in the films works beautifully and makes a lot of sense in building the right links with an era of heroism. The beautiful tone of Cate Blanchett in narrating the opening sets such a high standard of sound that it will be impressive when next that standard is reached.
Overall it is a big package and takes a long time to get through it all but every bit of it is worth the time taken on the journey. Lord of the Rings is the greatest film set and with the extras this is a dvd box set standard that may represent the pinnacle of what the format ever achieves as distribution transitions on to blueray.
on 25 July 2011
Firstly - the extended films are a must for any avid LOTR fan. I can't recommend them highly enough.
Second - The films may be spread out over 2 discs, but this really isn't that big a deal, and the quality more than makes up for this(bear in mind the dvds are also split over 2 discs). With the blu ray is is possible to see the creases cracks and imperfections on the maps and faces in the films, and the cgi is glorious. It is also quite good if you don't have 4 hours to sit down and watch one of the films in its entirety.
Thirdly - The packaging is great. Glossy, made to look like a book, perfect.
Finally - over 26 hours of bonus material - 3 extra discs to accompany each film. This is going to keep me busy and entertained for a long time.
I would say if you have been stalling over buying this, just do it. I know I was, but I am really happy with the decision to go ahead and buy it. Recommended
on 30 June 2011
As probably many of you have seen, there appears to be an entire faction of people who are obsessed with discrediting this item because it is not the extended editions of the films. People have said that a blu-ray version of the theatrical editions is pointless, that the kind of people who buy blu-ray will be the kind of people who will want the extended editions, and all sorts of other comments. While this may be true for some people, or even the majority of people, I am still happy this product exists.
Because I am the kind of person who loves movies, and who loves blu-ray. The quality upgrade is just beautiful and I happen to be a sucker for it. People who love blu-ray do not always have to be die-hard Lord of the Rings fans. I myself am a Lord of the Rings fan, and I adore the books and the characters and the films; the films I saw when they first came out, the films I saw in the cinema. I recently re-watched all three theatrical editions in a rather epic all-nighter at my university's student cinema, and I can honestly say that the three films, in one go like that, were pretty much as close as it is possible to get to perfection. So why would I want to ruin my experience by adding in deleted scenes and, the worst thing for me, having to get up half-way through to change the disc? I know it only seems like a small thing, but it rather shatters the fourth wall, doesn't it? Perhaps many of the people who are complaining about this item are currently having their dreams shattered by the revelation that the extended edition blu-ray will also suffer from multiple-disc-disorder as, even though the increased capacity of the blu-ray discs should have been enough to hold one film, they've split the films again to accomodate commentaries. I personally don't want my viewing experience ruined by being rather forcibly reminded half-way through a movie that I'm in my living room, rather than Middle Earth, and so it's natural that I prefer the theatrical originals over their extended editions.
I currently own the theatrical trilogy on VHS (kickin' it old school!) and wanted to upgrade, ideally to blu-ray. This set is really good value and above all has each film on one disc only and I for one am very glad that they're releasing both theatrical and extended blu-ray boxsets. So if you're the kind of person who loved the films you saw in the cinema, and love the quality of blu-ray, but don't necessarily feel the need to watch every event in the books, buy this and don't let the rating bother you. If you're the kind of person who loves the extended editions, buy the blu-ray of that and stop complaining. Unless you really do think the theatrical editions are a waste of time, in which case you'll be contacting the Academy to tell them they should take back the 4 Oscars they gave to Fellowship of the Ring and the further 11 they dished out to Return of the King.
on 4 July 2011
Forget the whining and the moaning. Forget it all.
Yes, we could have done with JUST the films on Blu-ray and not all the same extras, but we have them and that's that.
Yes some of the green-blue colour change/darkening in "Fellowship" seems overdone in in certain scenes or details, but most of the time these changes are in fact a vast improvement in picture quality and general aesthetics.
And quite frankly the most important thing is simply this...do the Blu-rays offer up a stunning looking, major upgrade from DVD, transfer?
And the answer is a huge and mighty OH YES!
All the films look truly stunning in the sheer amount of extra detail they offer up (backgrounds now pop with stunning clarity and pin sharp definition of even the smallest details) and often some of the depth is startling too, especially in many of the Gollum scenes.
Just take a look at the Rivendell scenes in "Fellowship", the rock/mountain/Gollum scenes in "The Two Towers" and the massive battle scenes and epic vistas in "Two Towers" and "King" and be amazed at the gorgeous detail, depth and clarity that is now revealed.
Play these (and many, many, many more) sequences next to their now flat, grey, blurred DVD counterparts and you will see that buying this Blu-ray set is as essential to any fan of the movies as breathing itself.
And all that's not even taking into account the mighty, thundering, crystal clear HD audio.
on 19 February 2013
This interpretation of Tolkein's books is superb.
Having read The Lord of the Rings Trilogy several times over quite a number of years, I was more than delighted when this DVD box set became available. My young daughter, in her innocence, bought me the set from a 'lookee, lookee' man on the beach front whilst on holiday in Spain. The original English dialogue was muted and there were subtitles in English and Chinese. The sound was woolly, the translation was excruciating and bore no resemblance to the original.
So when this DVD Box Set came to my attention I purchased it immediately and have not regretted it.
The computer graphics are, with no pun intended, out of this world. The sound quality was excellent and the sound effects and graphics all draw the viewer into the story, so that young or old, all become totally absorbed.
I would have no hesitation in recommending this DVD to everyone, except the very young who may be of a nervous disposition, where a little parental guidance may be necessary.
Overall: Absolutely brilliant.
on 18 December 2006
To think that after only five years since its release, the quality of the Lord of the Rings is already beyond debate. The word masterpiece is a word that is bandied about too loosely in almost every form of entertainment, and film is no exclusion. If there are only a handful of modern masterpieces in the last few years, then surely the Lord of the Rings is among them.
Taking a cast that is a mixture of experienced thespians - Ian McKellen, Christopher Lee, Vigo Mortensen, Cate Blanchett - and talented youngsters - Elijah Wood, Sean Astin and Orlando Bloom to name but a few - the director, Peter Jackson, has crafted a brilliant movie that matches the novel for its sheer epic size and its sprawling storyline.
Taking his idyllic homeland of New Zealand, Jackson managed to bring the world of the books onto our screens, without resorting wholly to CGI. The vast, beautiful countryside that populates New Zealand is so spectacular that you may well question whether it even exists, but it does and Jackson knew this and brought the world of Tolkien to life where others have failed.
This is an excellent DVD that is abundant with extras, but the real pleasure is in allowing the movie to stretch out and breathe in one continuous sitting, which stretches to over 13 hours.
If you are knew to the world of Tolkien, or just coming back for more, you'll be delighted with this box-set. Not only has Jackson created an epic film, he has also put loving care into this box-set to the extent that you wish all directors could be like him.