- 08 July 2011
- By Gerard Wood
This could possibly be the most pointless review SFW has ever undertaken. For many fans of the movies, all the relevant information is in the headline and, like me, you probably had the Blu-ray edition on pre-order as soon as you were aware it was on the way. For many others already in possession of the extended DVD version of the trilogy, the only missing piece of information from the headline is the price and the question is whether the higher definition experience of Bu-ray justifies the cost.
To keep this from being our shortest ever review, I'll try to answer that question.
I have watched these movies numerous times on DVD, too often perhaps as my willingness to suspend disbelief has been eroded over time by an increasing awareness of the flaws in Jackson’s adaptation of Tolkien’s masterful work of fantasy fiction. Of course, it's only to be expected that a sense of wonder and emotional response to the movies will wane after multiple viewings. In a more critical mood I’ve written about some of the movies' flaws, but there’s a time for criticism and this is not it. Instead I'll summarise my feelings about Jackson's adaptation with the comment that I do not believe it is perfect but I do nonetheless believe that these are magnificent and hugely entertaining movies, representing a high point in the history of movie making.
There's little dispute that the Extended Editions of the movies are in every way superior to the theatrical releases and it’s fair to say that many of us were bemused (if not downright furious judging by the comments on Amazon) by the decision last year to release the Theatrical version of the movies on Blu-ray (did anyone actually buy this version on Blu-ray other than on the mistaken assumption they were buying the extended version?).
Jackson was conscientious in not referring to the Extended Editions as a Director’s Cut as the reworking of the material more or less involved the entire production team, cast and crew, who together created a version that could only exist without the time constraint imposed by a theatrical release. To a great extent the film-makers reconceived the adaptation for the DVD Extended Editions. As some indication of the quantitative difference between the Theatrical and Extended editions, the first movie in the trilogy, The Fellowship of the Ring, includes an additional 30 minutes of material and the second movie, The Two Towers, includes an additional 43 minutes. Material was carefully evaluated to be integrated into the films, with each new or extended scene brought up to the same polish as the rest of the film. All three movies include a vast number of new visual effects, dialogue and sound effects. Assisting the old, new and extended scenes to flow seamlessly, Howard Shore recorded a new score (and what a magnificent score it is!).
Here's the trailer for the Extended Edition of the trilogy:
Still weighing it up? Take a look at what's included on the Blu-ray set.
If that all looks familiar it’s probably because (as far as I can tell) the extras on the DVD and Blu-ray sets of the Extended Editions are identical. There’s no question that these are exceptional extras – especially if you’re interested in the art and practice of film-making as each department more or less is covered in great detail. But let’s be honest, if you already own the DVD set, you won’t be considering the purchase of the Blu-ray set for the extras. The only reason to fork out the money for a movie you already own is for the superior high definition picture. So, is it worth it? On this value judgement I can only speak for myself: though unable to reignite the thrill of first encounter, watching these movies on Blu-ray does have something of the thrill of encountering an old friend after many years apart. The quality of the picture is really quite exceptional, so much so that there is something remarkably fresh to the experience of watching these movies once again.
The final word can go to Warner Bros.:
The Lord of the Rings Motion Picture Trilogy: Extended Edition, one of the most magical, intensely spectacular epic adventures in motion picture history comes alive on Blu-ray June 28! The Lord of the Rings Trilogy tells the story of Frodo Baggins (Elijah Wood), a hobbit who battles against the Dark Lord Sauron to save his world, Middle-earth, from the grip of evil. In the films, Frodo and his fellowship of friends and allies embark on a desperate journey to rid Middle-earth of the source of Sauron's greatest strength, The One Ring - a ring that has the power to enslave the inhabitants of Middle-earth. The trilogy tells tales of extraordinary adventures across the treacherous landscape of Middle-earth and reveals how the power of friendship, love and courage can hold the forces of darkness at bay. Beside Wood, the films star Ian McKellen, Liv Tyler, Viggo Mortensen, Sean Astin, Cate Blanchett, John Rhys-Davies, Billy Boyd, Dominic Monaghan, Orlando Bloom, Christopher Lee, Hugo Weaving, featuring Sean Bean, and Ian Holm, with Andy Serkis as Gollum. The films also star Marton Csokas, Craig Parker and Lawrence Makaoare.
You can own it on Blu-ray from 28 June 2011.
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