003768Reviews & Counting
Lord of the Rings Trilogy
BLU-RAY disk
04.08.2010 By: Chris Bumbray
Lord of the Rings Trilogy order
Peter Jackson

Elijah Wood
Ian McKellen
Viggo Mortensen


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I think by now, pretty much everyone knows EXACLY what LORD OF THE RINGS is about, so Iím not going to rehash it here. Frodo, Gandalf, Aragorn, Gollum, ďone ring to rule them allĒ. You get itÖ
To be sure, the blu-ray release of Peter Jacksonís brilliant adaptation of LORD OF THE RINGS is controversial. Rather than present the fan-favorite extended editions, along with the myriad of bonus features attached to those DVDís, all we get here are the original theatrical editions. While Iím sure the extended cuts will eventually get a blu-ray release, most hardcore fans are pretty pissed that if they want to see LOTR in HD, they have to shell out bucks for the theatricals. Having not watched any of the LOTR films since RETURN OF THE KING came out in 2003 (by which point I was admittedly suffering from RINGS fatigue), I was excited to get my hands on the new blu-rays, even if they were just the plain old theatrical cuts.

FELLOWSHIP OF THE RING : I remember walking into a matinee of this opening day, not knowing what to expect. I had never read the books (sacrilege!), but my best buddy had. However, having been burned by the old Rankin-Bass cartons, he figured this would be goofy as hell, and on the drive over, we were making LABRYNTH jokes, saying this would be like that film, minus the kick-ass David Bowie soundtrack.

Suffice to say, we were wrong.

From the second I heard the first strings of Howard Shoreís incredible score, I was hooked. Everything about this blew me away, from the pitch perfect cast (favorites include Elijah Wood, Ian McKellen, and Viggo!), to the FX- which were among the best Iíd ever seen up to that point. I also loved the whole look of Middle Earth, and my buddy became so obsessed with the Shire that he spent the next three years trying to get a Grad School fellowship in New Zealand. Another friend of mine was so impressed that immediately after paying to see it once; he cut through the lobby to the ticket counter, and bought a ticket for the next show.

The film holds up perfectly, and I was totally engrossed in it from start-to-finish. There really hasnít been any fantasy epics like it since, and even something like AVATAR pales in comparison.

THE TWO TOWERS : The favorite of many fans, I still prefer FELLOWSHIP, but this outdoes it in action and spectacle. Everything that was good about the first film continues here, and we also get Andy Serkis as Gollum, which remains one of the most convincing CGI creations of all time.

My favorite character from the first film, Aragorn, gets the lion's share of screen time, so there's no shortage of action. The climactic Battle of Helmís Deep is one of the finest action sequences ever produced, with it going on for a full forty minutes. Incredible. Probably my only issue was the fact that Merry & Pippin' spend the whole film hanging around in a tree, which probably worked a lot better on the page than in did on the screen. Still, Jackson's a slave to the text, which- in this case anyways, is not a bad thing.

THE RETURN OF THE KING : In my opinion, this is where the series faltered somewhat, as RETURN is not, for me anyways, on the same level as the other two films. It just felt a little bloated and tiresome by this point, although this is far from a bad film (if the first was a 5/5, and TWO TOWERS was a 4.5, this would still be a 4/5). I just thought it should have been trimmed by a good thirty minutes or so, with there being a few too many endings for my liking, and they could have easily been left for the extended versions. Also- the battle scenes donít hold a candle to TWO TOWERS, with too many goofy shots, like the one of Legolas sliding down the elephants' trunk with his bow & arrow. Still this is a fitting end to the series, and the climatic scenes with Sam, Frodo and Gollum on Mount Doom are classic.

The extras on this set are a joke. We get digital copies of each film (if anyone cares), along with the trailers for each film in HD on their respective discs, along with a Video Game preview. However, the bulk of the extras are all carryovers from the original two-disc theatrical version DVDís. In fact, all theyíve done is repackage the second disc of extras from each DVD set with the Blu-Rayís containing the films, so we even get the old trailers for the Extended edition DVDís, promoting the November í02, í03, & í04 street dates. What a joke. Honestly, I would have rather they just package the films minus the old bonus discs which we all have anyways, and knock the price down a few bucks.
Whether or not this blu-ray set is worth $60 bucks itís going for really depends how you feel about the trilogy. If youíre obsessed with them, then youíll be picking these up no matter how subpar the extras are. However, Iíd recommend holding off until the inevitable release of the extended blu-rays, which will happen soon or later (the films are too much of a cash cow for the studio to hold off on issuing them for much longer- I imagine once HOBBIT comes out weíll seen them make their HD bow). Still, if you happen to find the extended editions bloated, or draggy, and are more of a casual fan, you might want to give this a go- but try to get these as cheap as you can, as these are bargain basement all the way.
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