Viewed – 29 June 2011 Blu-ray
J.R.R. Tolkien’s legendary trilogy was one of those acclaimed book(s) that people had tried to adapt for years. Ralph Bakshi’s classic animation although well received could only touch the surface of what the books were about, and it wasn’t until New Zealand born director Peter Jackson delivered his trio of movies that finally fans and newcomers alike could truly be swept up in the world of Middle Earth. Which is where we join young Hobbit, Frodo Baggins who comes into possession of ‘the one ring’. With the evil forces of Sauron building themselves an army to rage war until they can possess the power of the ring for themselves, a fellowship is formed to help Frodo travel out of the Shire and on to Mordor, where he must dispose of the ring in the fires of Mount Doom, where it was originally created.
I have for a long time been a fan of these movies with Fellowship being my favourite. Something about it’s more intimate approach and focus on character, of young Frodo Baggin (Elijah Wood)’s quest to destroy the one ring to rule them all, and his enduring friendship with Samwise Gamgee (Sean Astin) – is genuinely absorbing, and often heart-breaking. Aided by Jackson’s exceptional direction, marking him out as a true master to be mentioned in the same breath as Spielberg or Ridley Scott, it’s a movie that delivers everything: thundering action with the Dwarf mines sequence, light hearted humour with bumbling Hobbits Merry & Pippin, a gentle love story between Elf Princess Arwen and future king Aragorn and pitch-perfect performances from a heavy weight cast including Sean Bean, Viggo Mortensen, Ian McKellen and Christopher Lee. If I was to find fault, it would be aimed at the earlier scenes, that do seem to jump about a bit from random location to random location, and lack the flow of the rest of the movie. This may be something to do with additional scenes, but either way it’s only a small issue.
With that said, the extended cut adds about half an hour to the running time and here is presented on two blu-rays. Watching the movie in two sittings, it neither felt over-long or padded out, and each new scene feels like it was always meant to be there (especially the added scenes of Bilbo Baggins (Ian Holm) penning ‘The Hobbit’ and his extra scene with Frodo reinforcing their previously only mentioned ‘bond’). Pacing is thankfully not effected, and for me this feels like the definitive version – the deluxe Blu-ray treatment certainly justifying such a statement.
The newly remastered version of the movie brings to life Middle Earth like never before. The picture is exceptional with amazing detail to the close ups of faces and glorious sweeping landscape shots looking a work of art. Some controversy has been levelled at this release arguing that the movie has a ‘green’ tint to it. The movie does have a very slight tint throughout, but only seems to focus on the colour green for the scenes in The Shire, which is understandable, and Peter Jackson has often liked to tint his movies to emphasise the mood of certain scenes, and from my viewing I can’t see anything here that isn’t done diliberatly, regardless if it was the case in earlier releases. We also get a very sharp and impressive DTS Master Audio 6.1 soundtrack that really does Howard Shore’s memorable score justice, and battle scenes sound terrific with effects being thrown around the room. To go into detail of what extras are presented would take too long, but the four commentary tracks are invaluable I’m sure you’ll agree, and the wealth of documentary material is quite simply exhaustive – but I’m sure well worth ploughing through.
Verdict: 5 /5
- ‘Lord of the Rings’ Blu-ray arrives, Middle-earth rejoices (herocomplex.latimes.com)
- Is Everyone Getting as Excited as Me? (jmwisdom.wordpress.com)
- Lord of the Rings Extended Editions to Return to Theaters This Summer (epicbrew.net)