– Summary –
Studio : New Line Cinema
Year Of Release : 2010
Audio Format: DTS-HD 6.1
Approx Running Time : 570 Minutes
Aspect Ratio : 2.39:1
Technical Specs: 3 films @ 1 x BluRay & 1 DVD
What we think : Wonderful HD presentation (except for the video work on Fellowship) of Peter Jackson’s epic trilogy: our breath is now held until the eventual Extended Edition release…. whenever that may be.
Our Rating : 8/10
Since we’ve already reviewed the original trilogy (in detail!) on this site, we’ll save ourselves the recap and simply provide a link for further reading.
I am pleased to announce that for the most part, the BluRay picture quality on these three films is astounding: with one exception. As has been mentioned on other websites since this collection’s release, Fellowship suffers from some post-production tinkering and the resulting image quality isn’t up to snuff when compared to Towers and Return. Muddy blacks, some soft edges and occasional artefacting indicates either a problem with the master, or an original intent issue by director Peter Jackson. According to other sources, the problem comes down to Peter Jackson’s original vision when completing Fellowship back before its release in 2001. In any case, that issue seems to have followed the US release onto our own PAL versions, although the problem will only cause issues to those with discerning eyes. The majority of viewers won’t notice much difference, but for those of you who do notice such things, you’ll probably be a little disappointed. Otherwise, Towers and Return look fabulous, with more detail and textures visible than even the almighty 2-disc Extended Versions were capable of delivering. Colours and detail levels on Fellowship aside, both the latter two films look as immaculate as they day they were filmed: and so they should.
The great thing about BluRay is the fact that it provides the home viewer with the full, uncompressed, original audio track the way the director intended you to hear it. While the original DVD releases of these films included both a Dolby EX (on the theatricals) and a DTS-ES (on the Extended) soundtrack, and both of those were exceptionally good, they don’t compare to the raw thunderous power of the DTS-MA mix afforded these discs. The powerful bass, the well defined mid range and a delightful high end all find their fidelity of the highest order: no small feat when you consider the quantity of audio information on display here. The 6.1 discrete mix (unlike the 7.1 matrixed DTS mix from the Extended Version DVD’s) is astonishingly good, enveloping you in some of the best surround sound mixing work done in the last decade. Return’s bombastic charge of the Oliphants during the Battle Of Pelennor Fields is a keynote sequence for me, often played at full volume, rattling the windows and driving neighbours to distraction. Every squeak, clang and thud of battle is realistically produced, never sounding cluttered, yet still enabling the frenetic hectic carnage to unfold in an aurally accurate way.
If you own the Theatrical DVD versions of these films, New Line have simply ported the bonus materials from that release onto a DVD in this set: one for each film. I’m not sure whether to be a little miffed at this or not, although considering Peter Jackson’s insistence that there’s plenty of new bonus footage material to come in the “uber-duber deluxe set” later on will reassure some that although this set isn’t perhaps the definitive BluRay experience, it’s going to be okay for those who don’t have those original DVD’s. If you’re new to Rings on disc, then the bonus materials here are fairly standard EPK stuff, limited to pretty much promoting, rather than explaining, the trilogy to newcomers. Long time fans will be disappointed, but newcomers might find things to enjoy. Overall, a little annoyed no new stuff was included to whet the appetite for The Hobbit or future Rings BluRay releases, but still worthwhile.
Taking into account the somewhat dismal presentation of the Fellowship video quality, and the superficial bonus material (on a DVD9), it’s fair to say that this BluRay release will appeal only to those who cannot wait for the eventual HD release of these films in their Extended format, or newcomers to the franchise.