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The Lord of the Rings: The Motion Picture Trilogy - Extended Edition Blu-ray Review

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by Casimir Harlow Jun 17, 2011

  • Movies review

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    10,654

    The Lord of the Rings: The Motion Picture Trilogy - Extended Edition Blu-ray Review

    Picture

    The Lord of the Rings Trilogy hits Blu-ray in its Extended Edition form with a solid 1080p High Definition rendition of each of the entries, presented with the same common, theatrically broad, aspect ratio of 2.4:1 widescreen. I shall move on to discuss and dissect each individual movie’s presentation, including reference to the colour-timing issues which have themselves led to a massive internet debate. It should be understood, though, that overall these video presentations are excellent and represent the best that this trilogy has ever looked since its original theatrical run.

    The Fellowship of the Ring

    Although shot back-to-back in sequence, the films were each translated to High Definition with slightly varying results when it came to the Theatrical Cuts. The first Blu-ray release was good, but far from great – which is certainly what this trilogy deserves. The worst offender was the transfer for Fellowship, which was plagued with softness, DNR, edge enhancement, variable grain and black crush. When I say ‘plagued’ – this was far from a bad presentation, but it was also far from the presentation that fans were expecting for such a significant release.

    Now back when the theatrical edition Blu-ray was being promoted – just prior to release – there was a big ‘net hubbub about how these were going to be remastered transfers. And then, upon release, fans were massively disappointed that Fellowship wasn’t. This time round, we know that Fellowship has been remastered, and, moreover, that the transfer has been personally supervised by director Peter Jackson and his director of photography Andrew Lesnie. Which should have been the end of the story. Unfortunately early reports then showed what appeared to be a significant change to the colour timing, leaving the entire movie bathed in an unmistakable green/blue wash; darkened somewhat more than it was before.

    Well I am here to report that this is indeed correct. The colours have been changed. The new Blu-ray release of the Fellowship of the Ring in its extended edition format looks notably different from pretty much every single release before it. I can’t remember exactly what the theatrical presentation would have looked like in the cinema – all of a decade ago – but it’s safe to assume this colour timing change is completely new. We can only assume, given Jackson & co.’s involvement, that these changes are completely authorised. That, in fact, he requested them himself, either to blend in with the other movies in the trilogy, or perhaps even to pre-empt the upcoming prequels, which may, indeed, have the same green/blue dominated style. And it’s not like this is the only film where we have seen this kind of treatment – movies across the last decade, from Aliens to The Matrix, have all had varying levels of colour correction and colour timing changes applied. Some fans love it, some hate it, some hate it on general principle, and others don’t even care – and wouldn’t have even noticed were it not pointed out to them.

    It is difficult to assess which category you might fall into since, as a reviewer, I’m inherently biased towards looking for these kinds of differences – as soon as I stuck the discs in both machines and did a flip-comparison between parallel scenes across the Theatrical and Extended versions, the change was apparent. But without this comparison, would any but ardent ‘Rings fans even notice? Would you wonder why Gandalf’s beard is a little darker than before, why Hobbiton seems much more vibrant? And would you just put that down to the upgrades in your home cinema equipment over the last decade, rather than to changes on the disc itself. In essence, what I’m trying to say is – Does it really matter? Does it really change your viewing pleasure of the movie? Well, I’d have to say – largely – no.

    Of course the biggest issue that ‘net fans have had about all this colour tinkering business is the fact that nobody knows for sure whether Jackson approved this change. Sure, we have heard that these are “Jackson-approved” transfers, but one has to wonder whether he signed off on the finished product, or whether what he assumed to be the final version was then left to be fiddled-with by some in-house video techie, who simply pressed the wrong button and skewed the green accidentally. It’s a fair point, and one which I had a friend of mine raise on Jackson’s own Facebook webpage. After all, many fans will already know – from having trawled through the ‘Ring extra features – how much control filmmakers now have over colour timing, and how Jackson’s approach has always been to not just ‘make the whole movie more green’ but, indeed, change the tone of specific objects in scenes – greener grass, bluer skies etc. Here, it appears that none of that object-specific detailing has been done, with a blanket filter applied to the entire movie. Saruman the White looks like he's standing under one of Bruckheimer's CSI filters, his skin looking a tiny bit jaundiced. And the skin tones of many others, including Gandalf, look much more tanned as a result of the green/cyan dominance. One particular shot, which has been at the heart of the internet debate on this matter, involves snow, atop a mountain, which no long appears to be brilliant white. Fans are, understandably, asking how this could possibly have been intentional. And Jackson has yet to answer, definitively. More worryingly are early reports that the recent Jackson-approved theatrical re-release of the extended cuts in US cinemas have had no such green-colour-tinkering – and that Jackson himself stated that this would be exactly how the Blu-ray versions would look too (which, by all accounts, it isn’t). Still, without further confirmation, one must reluctantly assume that the colour changes are all intentional on this director-approved release.

    Colour timing aside, I found the new transfer for The Fellowship of the Ring – remastered from a new 2K master – far more pleasing than the last HD edition. Gone are many of the niggling digital defects associated with that earlier release, and whilst the image cannot really be regarded as demo quality (not least because of this whole colour timing furore), it is still a very good rendition indeed. Detail is vastly improved – in fact it’s often strikingly excellent – and the film’s grain structure has, this time, been kept intact, yet with no signs of the rampant DNR that had been previously applied to the Theatrical BD release. Sure, there are still a few softer scenes, and DNR isn’t non-existent, as some facial close-ups will testify to, but, for the most part, what we now have is a video presentation which will please fans, rather than frustrate them (that is, apart from when it comes to the colour timing issues). Blacks are strong, deeper than ever before, and yet crush seems thankfully less apparent, even if it is difficult to ignore the fact that some depth in some scenes has been reduced. Basically, the new, 2K remastered presentation of Fellowship is a considerable, noteworthy improvement which is more consistently reliable in terms of quality. Where the previous release boasted intermittent scenes of excellence, but frequent lacklustre moments, this new transfer maintains a much higher overall standard throughout the runtime. It’s still not perfect, it’s still not demo-quality, but, apart from the up-in-the-air colour timing issue, it is still better than fans have ever had before. 8/10

    The Two Towers

    The other two movies in the trilogy never really sparked up as much controversy in terms of video presentation – they have always been of better quality than the first instalment, so much so that newly remastered transfers were never really required, and don’t appear to have been struck for this release. If this presentation is, indeed, struck from new HD-masters, then the increase in quality is far from significant. That said, this is still a better rendition than that which was encountered for the Theatrical Blu-ray release. Already The Two Towers had better material to work with than Fellowship – at least visually – the quality not hampered by the one-two opening punch of flashback and Hobbiton exploits, both of which necessitated a fair amount of ‘nostalgic’ softness in order to cater for ageing faces and retrospective imagery. Instead ‘Towers goes straight for the jugular, a much darker and more significant story that thus gets suitably oppressive filmwork. The end result here pays off in dividends, with solid blacks, rich and vibrant tones and excellent detail throughout. The DNR which Jackson slathered all over the theatrical Fellowship BD release, and which was also apparent on the other two theatrical cuts on that release, is far less intrusive, and often barely noticeable. Neither that nor the similarly barely noticeable edge enhancement really affects your viewing pleasure in any significant way. The darker scenes are still the highlight – including the standout Battle of Helm’s Deep sequence – with no black crush and solid shadow delineation. Although still not perfect, this one is still knocking on the door of demo quality and, as you will read on to find out with The Return of the King, represents the best home media presentation currently available for this film. 9/10

    The Return of the King

    So ‘King was always better-looking than ‘Towers, even if the difference between those two film presentations was always negligible in comparison with the difference between ‘Towers and ‘Fellowship. Again, there are conflicting reports over whether or not this new encode was struck from the same HD master as the original theatrical Blu-ray renditions, but – either way – the results are pretty comparable, and also pretty damn good. It’s still shy of perfect, which is really the way in which all of these films should have been presented, but you have to take into account the fact that Jackson only ever made 2K HD masters, and that – despite 2K being a decent standard – there are still inherent limitations with the format (hence why we now have 4K renditions). Similarly the effects here, however pioneering, are still almost a decade old – and they’re never going to all look perfect and seamless. Taking all that into account you have a demo quality presentation for this third part, boasting excellent detail on both the long shots and the close-up images; superb colour representation, solid blacks that have no significant bleeding, and negligible digital tinkering. As stated there are still a few minor flaws that pull the score down from being perfect, but if this had been the standard applied to all three films (or, more importantly, applied to Fellowship first time around) then I doubt there would have been any complaints. 9/10

    It’s difficult to give an overall score for the video presentation of the trilogy here, as we have yet to discern the implications of the colour timing changes on Fellowship. However, assuming that this isn’t a Gladiator-size mistake on the part of Jackson and the studios, it’s only fair to conclude that this is a step up from the previous presentation, and deserves a just-about demo-quality rating all-round.


    The Lord of the Rings: The Motion Picture Trilogy - Extended Edition Picture

    Sound

    Well, as much as the video presentation of this beloved Trilogy have always been a source of debate and controversy, the audio presentations – both on the Theatrical Blu-ray releases and here for the Extended Edition, have always been excellent; unequivocally demo-quality, and basically the best that anybody could have ever hoped for. There’s no need to split the discussion into individual movies – these tracks are universally great.

    We get DTS-HD Master Audio 6.1 tracks across the board, which excel from start to finish, the last entry only marginally improving upon the excellence already afforded to the other two films in the series. Dialogue is given outstanding presence across the movies, never dominated by the other elements of what could have been an overwhelming, bombast-laden offering, and accurately pervading the central channel, occasionally dispersing to the surrounds for more subtle nuances like Gollum's cries for his 'Precious' at the start of Fellowship.

    Effects are simply astounding, and where the CG in these movies (particularly the first entry) is already starting to date a little, the corresponding sound effects have lost none of their potency. We hear every threatening movement of the haunting wraiths, and shiver at the skuttle of the giant spider that Frodo faces, the surrounds picking up all the minute details to create a thoroughly immersive and atmospheric offering. But the battle sequences and larger effects creatures mark the high point in the effects realm, the thundering roar and wall-shaking footsteps of the Cave Troll, the overwhelming power and fury of the super-orc armies and their siege engines, and the fiery dragon-like presence of the enormous Balrog all marking outstanding moments that are, frankly, commonplace, in this outstanding aural offering. Every time Frodo puts on that Ring and gets sucked into the lure of Sauron's fiery eye, your whole living room will come alive with dark overtones and brooding menace. Howard Shore's thematic, rousing score is pervasive throughout, reminding us of the hope and courage of the band of heroes in this film as they fight (and largely overcome) all odds, often by the skin of their teeth.

    I was blown away by the audio presentations on the Blu-ray release of the theatrical cuts, and, seamlessly extending the tracks for these longer extended editions, I found the aural rendition here even more jaw-dropping. Whilst the individual scores may have only just skimmed over the 9/10 mark (particularly for the first two movies), the overall score really deserves a perfect 10 for providing us with eleven-and-a-half hours of sonic bliss. Tremendous.


    The Lord of the Rings: The Motion Picture Trilogy - Extended Edition Sound

    Extras

    Well controversy once again rears its head in the extras section, although to a far lesser degree than that examined in the video section. On the one hand, The Lord of the Rings: The Motion Picture Trilogy – Extended Edition boasts the most complete, definitive extras package of any previous release. It features not only all of the extras from the previous SD-DVD Extended Edition release, but it also features those mammoth Costa Botes documentaries which were previously exclusive to the limited edition Theatrical SD-DVD release. What I’m saying is that this release has everything. On the other hand, however, there’s nothing (significant) new. Fans of the Blu-ray format know just what it is truly capable of: the new Picture-in-Picture tracks, Video Commentaries and so forth really bringing out the best of the technology. Yet here, none of that is implemented, with (almost) nothing in HD either. Worse still, they haven’t even ported all of the extras over only one single BD extras disc. Instead, this massive FIFTEEN disc bundle actually only includes SIX blu-rays – the other NINE discs are just DVDs (and it should be noted, although the Blu-rays are Region Free, the SD-DVDs are US Region 1). Basically, for those who have already bought the extended edition SD-DVDs and the limited edition theatrical SD-DVDs, the only upgrade you’re getting here is in terms of the video/audio quality for the films themselves. The other discs? Coasters – totally interchangeable with the SD-DVD extras discs that you already own.

    Again, there’s a flip-side to all of this negativity. Many would argue that Jackson has already compiled a more-than-fully comprehensive extras package. Many would argue that every single aspect of the pre-, production, and post- has been covered in minute detail, with lengthy documentaries, featurettes, video diaries etc. giving us everything you could possibly want to know. And more. Many would further argue that it really doesn’t matter that the extras come on SD-DVD discs, as they were all recorded in SD in any event – so an upgrade to HD was never really on the cards.

    Would I have preferred a single BD of extra features, rather than just brand new replicates of my previous SD-DVD extras discs? Yes, obviously. Would I have ideally liked some of the audio commentary material and documentary footage to have been pooled into an elaborate, impressive Picture-in-Picture track? Without a shadow of a doubt. Am I happy, however, that at least they have included all the previous extras in one big package here? Yes. Certainly those who have somehow resisted purchasing all (or any) of the previous FOUR digital home media releases of this trilogy should rest assured that this is the definitive package...or is it? Well, I’d really like to say that it is, but the cynic in me nags away with the nightmarish threat of a further Blu-ray release – timed to coincide with Christmas 2012’s release of the first Hobbit prequel. If that happens, then I take it all back – Jackson and the Studios screwed us again. However, in the meantime, this is the definitive extras package.

    For completeness, I'll run through the list of what we do get, but those who are familiar with any of the previous releases should know just what to expect in terms of quantity AND quality of extras. If you’ve never encountered any of these before then, suffice to say, it’s one of the most comprehensive extras packages that I have ever encountered in a decade of reviewing. For all my niggles about them not being presented on actual Blu-ray discs, or my worries about further embellishment, there is no way that this extras package could receive anything less than a 10/10. Even on SD-DVD discs; even with no new extra features – this package is still leagues ahead of pretty-much anything else on the market.

    In the notes we find the following information about the packaging:

    The Packaging for this Blu-ray was conceived in close collaboration with the filmmakers and artists and includes conceptual sketches throughout. Journey further and deeper into the mystery and adventure of Middle-earth.

    We also find the following information about The Appendices:

    Making the motion picture trilogy of The Lord of the Rings is certainly a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, and Peter Jackson wanted to make sure he captured it all for posterity.

    A video diarist documented the entire period of principal photography. Every drawing, painting, prop, costume, prosthetic and test was saved. Many departments videotaped all they could, from early design meetings to location scouting to the building of the sets, miniatures and creatures.

    Hours of interviews were conducted specifically for home video release and encompass every department that had a hand in these films. Everyone – cast, crew, Weta Workshop and Digital – contributed their time, resources, treasures, and memories to this Blu-ray.

    This is the next best thing to having been there when this film was made – and an extraordinary opportunity to see firsthand the talent and passion that brought Middle-earth to the screen.

    The Fellowship of the Ring

    Audio Commentaries

    4 Commentaries by the Director and Writers, the Cast, the Production Team and the Design Team, with More Than 30 Participants Including Peter Jackson, Fran Walsh, Phillippa Boyens, Richard Taylor, Andrew Lesnie, Howard Shore, Jim Rygiel, Randy Cook and Cast Including Elijah Wood, Ian McKellen, Liv Tyler, Sean Astin, John Rhys-Davies, Billy Boyd, Dominic Monaghan, Orlando Bloom, Christopher Lee and Sean Bean.

    The first disc also includes a couple of other tiny extra: the 3 minute MTV movie awards parody with Jack Black and Sarah Michelle Gellar; and a new HD trailer for the upcoming The Lord of the Rings: War in the North – the Untold Story videogame release.

    The rest of the extra features are presented on the respective, accompanying SD-DVD discs, which are identical (right down to menu design) to those on the previous Extended Edition DVD release.

    The Appendices, Part 1: From Book to Vision

    6 Documentaries Covering J.R.R. Tolkien, the Adaptation Process and Planning the Film, Designing and Building Middle-Earth, plus a Visit to the Weta Workshop Taking a Close-up Look at Costumes, Weapons, Armor, Creatures and Miniatures Created for the Film.

    Introduction

    J.R.R. Tolkien – Creator of Middle-earth

    From Book to Script

    Visualising the Story

    • Early Storyboards
      • “The Prologue”
      • “Orc Pursuit Into Lothlorien”
      • “Sarn Gebir Rapids Chase”
    • Pre-Viz Animatics
      • “Gandalf Rides to Orthanc”
      • “The Stairs of Khazad-dum”
    • Animatic to Film Comparisons
      • Menu
        • Nazgul Attack at Bree (Comparison)
        • Storyboard Only
        • Film Only
      • Menu
        • “The Bridge of Khazad-dum” (Comparison)
        • Pre-Viz Only
        • Film Only
    • Bag End Set Test
    • Storyboards and Pre-Viz – Making Words Into Images

    Designing and Building Middle-earth

    • Costume Design
    • Weta Workshop
    • Designing Middle-earth
    • Design Galleries (Galleries of Art and Accompanying Slide Shows and Commentaries by the Artists – Includes an Archive of Nearly 2000 Images)
      • The People of Middle-Earth
        • The Enemy
          • Sauron
          • The Ringwraiths
          • Orcs
          • Moria Orcs
          • The Watcher
          • The Cave Troll
          • The Balrog
        • The Last Alliance
          • Elendil
          • Gil-galad
          • Isildur
          • Numenoreans
          • Gil-galad’s Army
        • Isengard
          • Saruman the White
          • The Fighting Uruk-hai
        • Bilbo Baggins
        • The Fellowship
          • Gandalf the Grey
          • Frodo
          • Sam
          • Merry
          • Pippin
          • Aragorn
          • Legolas
          • Gimli
          • Boromir
        • Rivendell
          • Elrond
          • Arwen
        • Lothlorien
          • Galadriel
          • Celeborn
      • The Realms of Middle-Earth
        • The Second Age (Prologue)
        • The Shire
        • Bag End
        • Bree
        • Isengard
        • Weathertop
        • Trollshaw
        • Rivendell
          • Rivendell
          • Frodo’s Bedroom
          • Elrond’s Chamber
        • Moria
        • Lothlorian
        • The Silverlode & the Anduin
        • Amon Hen

    Middle-earth Atlas – Tracing the Journey of the Fellowship (Interactive Map)

    New Zealand as Middle-earth

    The Appendices, Part 2: From Vision to Reality

    11 Documentaries Covering the Cast, Principal Photography, a Day in the Life of a Hobbit, Visual Effects, Post-production, Editing, Music and Sound, and the Release of the Film.

    Introduction

    Filming “The Fellowship of the Ring”

    • The Fellowship of the Cast
    • A Day in the Life of a Hobbit
    • Cameras in Middle-earth
    • Production Photos

    Visual Effects

    • Miniatures
    • Big-atures
    • Galleries
      • Orthanc
      • Rivendell
      • Moria
      • Lothlorien
      • Hobbiton Factories
      • The Argonath
    • Weta Digital
    • Scale

    Post Production: Putting It All Together

    • Editorial: Assembling an Epic
    • Editorial Demonstration: “The Council of Elrond”
      • Multi-screen
      • Shot #1
      • Shot #2
      • Shot #3
      • Shot #4
      • Shot #5
      • Shot #6
      • Final Film

    Digital Grading

    Sound and Music

    • The Soundscapes of Middle-earth
    • Music for Middle-earth

    The Road Goes Ever On...

    The Fellowship of the Ring: Behind the Scenes Documentary

    Created by Filmmaker Costa Cotes (Personally Selected by Peter Jackson), This Unique Film Uses Raw Footage to Reveal the Inside Story of the Greatest Adventure Film Franchise of All Time.

    The Two Towers

    Audio Commentaries

    4 Commentaries by the Director and Writers, the Cast, the Production Team and the Design Team, with More Than 30 Participants Including Peter Jackson, Fran Walsh, Philippa Boyens, Barrie M. Osborne, Richard Taylor, Andrew Lesnie, Howard Shore, Jim Rygiel and Joe Letteri, and Cast Including Elijah Wood, Sean Astin, John Rhys-Davies, Billy Boyd, Dominic Monaghan, Orlando Bloom, Christopher Lee, Sean Bean, Miranda Otto, Brad Dourif, Andy Serkis, Bernard Hill and More.

    On the first disc we also get another MTV short - this time with Gollum battling Andy Serkis.

    Again we get mirror-replications of the addition DVDs which feature all of the extra features.

    Over 100 in-depth interviews with the cast and crew were conducted specifically for The Two Towers Appendices, providing a comprehensive firsthand perspective on the making of this film. One highlight is a documentary on the creation of Gollum, covering every aspect of the filmmaking process that was required to bring this unforgettable character to life.

    The Appendices, Part 3: The Journey Continues...

    5 Documentaries Exploring How the Book Was Adapted into a Screenplay, the Origins of Middle-earth, Designing Middle-earth, a Visit to the Weta Workshop and an In-Depth Look at Creating and Bringing Gollum to Life.

    Introduction

    J.R.R. Tolkien – Origins of Middle-earth

    From Book to Script: Finding the Story

    Designing and Building Middle-earth

    Designing Middle-earth

    Design Galleries

    • The Peoples of Middle-earth
      • The Enemy
        • Uruk-hai
        • Easterlings
        • Wargs and Riders
        • Grishnakh
        • Haradrim
        • Wild Men
        • Fell Beasts
        • Mumakil
      • Gandalf the White
      • Rohan
        • King Theoden
        • Eomer
        • Eowyn
        • Theodred
        • King’s Royal Guard
        • Riders of Rohan
        • Grima (Wormtongue)
      • Third Age Elven Warriors
      • Treebeard
      • Ents
      • Faramir
      • Ithilien Rangers
    • The Realms of Middle-earth
      • Emyn Muil
      • Dead Marshes
      • Rohan
        • Edoras
        • Meduseld: The Golden Hall
        • Theodred’s Bedroom
        • Stables
        • Plains of Rohan
        • Helm’s Deep
      • Fangorn Forest
      • Ithilien
      • Henneth Annum
      • Osgiliath
      • Isenguard

    Weta Workshop

    Gollum

    • The Taming of Smeagol
    • Andy Serkis Animation Reference
    • Gollum’s “Stand In”
    • Design Gallery

    Middle-earth Atlas: Tracing the Journeys of The Fellowship

    New Zealand as Middle-earth

    The Appendices, Part 4: The Battle for Middle-Earth Begins

    8 Documentaries Cover the Filming Process, Visual Effects, Editing, Music and Sound, Stunts and Fight Training, and a Visit to Weta Digital.

    Introduction

    Filming “The Two Towers”

    • Warriors of the Third Age
    • Cameras in Middle-earth
    • Production Photos

    Visual Effects

    • Miniatures
    • Bigatures
    • Galleries
      • Barad-dur
      • Fangorn Forest
      • Helm’s Deep
      • Ruined Isengard
      • Osgiliath
      • The Black Gate
      • Zirakzigil
    • The Flooding of Isengard Animatic
      • Animatic
      • Comparison
    • Abandoned Concepts
      • Slime Balrog
      • Endless Stair
    • Weta Digital

    Editorial: Refining the Story

    Music and Sound

    • Music for Middle-earth
    • The Soundscapes of Middle-earth
    • Sound Demonstration: “Helm’s Deep”
      • SFX #1
      • SFX #2
      • SFX # 3
      • SFX #4
      • SFX #5
      • SFX #6
      • SFX #7
      • Final Film

    “The Battle for Helm’s Deep is Over...”

    The Two Towers: Behind the Scenes

    Created by Filmmaker Costa Botes (Personally Selected by Peter Jackson) This Unique Film Uses Raw Footage to Reveal the Inside Story of the Greatest Film Franchise of All Time.

    The Return of the King

    Audio Commentaries

    4 Commentaries by the Director and Writers, the Cast, the Production Team and the Design Team, with More Than 30 Participants Including Peter Jackson, Fran Walsh, Philippa Boyens, Barrie M. Osborne, Richard Taylor, Howard Shore, Jim Rygiel and Cast Including Elijah Wood, Ian McKellen, Liv Tyler, Sean Astin, John Rhys-Davies, Bernard Hill, Christopher Lee, Billy Boyd, Dominic Monaghan, Orlando Bloom, Hugo Weaving, Miranda Otto, David Wenham, Karl Urban, John Noble and Andy Serkis, with Smeagol and Gollum.

    The finally bonus extra to be found on the first disc has Frodo and Merry messing about in this short parody.

    You know the story by now, SD-DVDs for the three final chapters in the extra features selection.

    The Appendices of The Return of the King contain several hours of commentaries, documentaries and interviews with director Peter Jackson, the co-writers, the cast and the production and design teams on everything from adapting the book into a screenplay to magically turning New Zealand into Middle-earth. An emotional highlight of the Appendices is a documentary showing the cast bidding a fond farewell to Middle-earth and the characters they played.

    The culmination of the vast and varied features of this extended edition results in a longer, deeper and more detailed journey into Middle-earth than before. This is certain to excite newcomers to The Return of the King as well as satisfy devoted fans of the film trilogy, who will experience a rich, extended final adventure.

    The Appendices, Part 5: The War of the Ring

    6 Documentaries Reveal How the Book Was Adapted into a Screenplay, Designing Middle-earth, a Visit to the Weta Workshop, Costume Design and More.

    Introduction

    J.R.R. Tolkien: The Legacy of Middle-earth

    From Book to Script

    • From Book to Script: Forging the Final Chapter
    • Abandoned Concept: Aragorn Battle Sauron

    Designing and Building Middle-earth

    • Designing Middle-earth
    • Big-atures
    • Weta Workshop
    • Costume Design
    • Design Galleries
      • The People of Middle-earth
        • The Enemy
          • The Witch King
          • Fell Beast
          • Mouth of Sauron
          • Orcs
          • Trolls
          • Haradrim
          • Mumakil
          • Great Beasts
          • Shelob
          • Corsairs
        • The Fellowship
          • Aragorn
          • Frodo
          • Sam
          • Merry
          • Pippin
          • Legolas
          • Gimli
        • Gondor
          • Faramir
          • Denethor
          • Gondorian Army
          • Citadel Guard
          • Fountain Guard
        • Smeagol
        • Deagol
        • Eowyn
        • Eomer
        • Arwen
        • Bilbo Baggins
        • The Army of the Dead
      • The Realms of Middle-earth
        • Smeagol’s Story
        • East Ithilien
        • Gondor
          • The Hallows
          • The Siege of Gondor
          • The Citadel
          • Minas Tirith
        • Rivendell
        • Dunharrow
        • Paths of the Dead
        • Mordor
          • Shelob’s Lair
          • Minas Morgul
          • Orc-Camp
          • Cirith Ungol
          • Mt. Doom
          • Sammath Naur-Crack of Doom
      • Miniatures
        • Gondor
          • Minas Tirith
          • The Hallows
          • Docks of Harlond
          • Corsair Ship
          • Grond
          • Siege Towers
        • Minas Morgul
        • Cirith Ungol
        • Paths of the Dead
        • The Grey Havens

    Home of the Horse Lords

    Middle-earth Atlas

    New Zealand as Middle-earth

    The Appendices, Part 6: The Passing of an Age

    7 Documentaries Cover the Filming Process, Visual Effects, Editing, Music and Sound, and a Touching Tribute as Cast Members Bid Farewell to Middle-earth and the Characters They Played.

    Introduction

    Filming “The Return of the King”

    • Cameras in Middle-earth
    • Production Photos

    Visual Effects

    • Weta Digital
    • Visual Effects Demonstration: “The Mumakil Battle”
      • Text Intro: Instructions
      • Pre-Viz
      • Environment
      • Live Action
      • Animation
      • Massive
      • Rough Composite
      • Final Film

    Post Production: Journey’s End

    • Editorial: Completing the Trilogy
    • Music for Middle-earth
    • The Soundscapes of Middle-earth
    • The End of All Things

    The Passing of an Age

    Cameron Duncan: The Inspiration for “Into the West”

    • Cameron Duncan Documentary
    • “DFK6498”
    • “Strike Zone”

    The Return of the King: Behind the Scenes

    Created by Filmmaker Costa Botes (Personally Selected by Peter Jackson) This Unique Film Uses Raw Footage to Reveal the Inside Story of the Greatest Film Franchise of All Time.


    The Lord of the Rings: The Motion Picture Trilogy - Extended Edition Extras

    Verdict

    The Lord of the Rings. A trilogy of classic, frankly must-see movies that transport you to another world, rich with all of the lush landscapes and epic effects that we have, more recently, seen in the likes of Avatar, but also boasting well-developed characters, decent dialogue and a multi-layered storyline to hold it all together. Tolkien's legacy continues with Jackson's accomplished work, a monumental three-movie event, suitable for all the family (except the very youngest) and with something to please everybody.

    Tremendously powerful, magically enthralling, utterly compelling and totally exhilarating, it is arguably the best trilogy ever conceived (a lesson for Lucas should he bring any more Star Wars films to the Big Screen) and also arguably the best cinematic interpretation of a series of books (topping Harry Potter for consistency). It really is a collection that is worth your time and money, and is worth getting into, having an unimaginable amount of re-watch value and creating a whole new fantasy world for you to get lost in.

    Twelve months have passed since the trilogy was first release on Blu-ray, shamefully presented in just its Theatrical Edition format, with a few throwaway extras on superfluous SD-DVD discs, and, for a whole year fans have been crying out for a decent release. And here we finally have it in Extended Edition format, released on Region Free US Blu-ray. Is this what we've been waiting for? Well, nearly.

    Boasting marginally improved video and audio for the second and third movies, as well as now holding all of the extras previously available on both the Extended Edition SD-DVDs and the Limited Edition Theatrical SD-DVDs (i.e. those Botes documentaries), the only real issues are in relation to Fellowship, which was also, video presentation-wise, the most controversial entry when last year’s first dip of Blu-rays came out. Here Fellowship has been given the remastering treatment – which fans should be chuffed with. But it has also basically been tinted green. Not that you’d notice, unless you were a) a massive fan or b) watching the two Blu-rays simultaneously for cross-comparison – but that doesn’t detract from the fact that there has been a change. And nobody can quite explain why. Why does Saruman the White now look slightly jaundiced (hair included)? Why do snow-peaked mountains no longer boast brilliant whites? Only Jackson can answer these questions – and he has yet to do so.

    Until then, what we have here is the most comprehensive package available, with the best presentations available. It’s a must-have collection, it’s just a shame that the odd colour timing issues have left me unable to completely rave about the release without qualifying my statement first. This should have been perfect. But it’s pretty close.


    The Rundown

    Movie

    10

    Picture Quality

    9

    Sound Quality

    10

    Extras

    10

    Overall

    10

    10
    AVForumsSCORE
    OUT OF
    10
    You own this Total 0
    You want this Total 0
    You had this Total 0

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