Director: Peter Jackson
Writers: J.R.R. Tolkien, Fran Walsh, Philippa Boyens, Peter Jackson
Producer: New Line Cinema
Review by: Eric Stuckart
If you’ve never seen Peter Jackson’s The Lord of the Rings trilogy, there’s a good possibility that you’ve wandered onto the wrong website. The films, massive in both their scope and vision, lovingly took the unenviable task of bringing J.R.R. Tolkien’s books to life, but they did so in a way that was both colorful and entertaining. And now, the classic trilogy is finally available on Blu-ray, but fans may want to save their money and hold off on this box set, for things aren’t always as they seem.
The series, featuring a who’s who list of acting talent, starred Elijah Wood and Sean Astin as Frodo Baggins and Samwise Gamgee, respectively, among countless others. Frodo is tasked by Gandalf the Grey (Ian McKellen) to take a powerful ring of extraordinarily evil powers from their home in the Shire to the Cracks of Doom in order to destroy it. This takes them on an epic journey in which they encounter many friends and foes in the ultimate fight between good and evil.
As I turn off my epic movie trailer voice, I could go on, but it really is a movie series that should be seen at least once. The visuals are breathtaking; the story is endearing; and the acting is heartfelt and imaginatively done. To those who will cite Randall’s synopsis of the series in Clerks 2, yes, there is a lot of walking, but there’s much more to it than that! But everyone’s a critic.
The films both look and sound better than ever. With the exception of a few CG elements that may not have aged as well, Blu-ray has most certainly been good to the films, breathing new life into them and demanding that we all watch and fall in love with them all over again.
But readers might remember the first time each of the individual Lord of the Rings films came out. The theatrical editions of the films were released on DVD, with a single extra disc of bonus content, only to be re-released months later as special extended editions, just in time for the Christmas shopping season. The massive four-disc extended editions featured deluxe packaging, two discs of bonus features and somewhere between a 30 and 50 minutes of additional footage reintegrated into all three films.
This soured the fans the first time around who felt forced to buy the same movie twice, and New Line seems intent on double – no, make that triple and quadruple – dipping with the series once again. To add insult to injury, I’m quite certain that the bonus discs, which are regrettably all standard definition DVD, are the same bonus discs that were released alongside the original standard DVDs back when it first came out. Each of the three discs even has a teaser trailer advertising the Special Extended DVDs, to be released in 2002, ’03 and ’04, respectively.
To top it all off is the packaging. Upon first glance, fans will see the nice, sturdy and glossy slipcase that houses the two BD cases. Wait, what? Yes, two cases. Upon opening the box, all three movies and bonus discs are crammed into one case, while the other case houses the three digital copy discs of the films.
Knowing the fanatical fan base that the Trilogy has, New Line knows that they’re going to snag more than a few suckers with this Blu-ray release, but for the money, unless one is just dying to see the theatrical versions of the films, beautiful as they may be, he might as well just wait for the Special Extended Edition of the Trilogy. It would be a surprise if it isn’t on the way soon.
For more info, www.lordoftherings.net
Pads & Panels received a copy of the Blu-Ray courtesy of the studio for review purposes.