There are two HD Holy Grails that everybody wants to get their mitts on. The first is the Star Wars saga and the second is Peter Jackson’s award-winning adaptations of JRR Tolkien’s The Lord Of The Rings trilogy. And as you’ve probably already spotted, one of them is finally here. However, your excitement will be tempered by what it is you’re expecting. If you’re after the hi-def equivalent of the Extended Edition DVDs, with their encyclopaedic collection of extra features, longer (and in most cases better) cuts of the films and some new Blu-ray-flavoured interactive bells and whistles, then you’re going to be left feeling rather disappointed.
Of the six discs, only three are Blu-rays, one for each film. The others are regular DVDs, containing one Digital Copy of each movie, plus a disc of extras for each that’s been recycled from the old two-disc theatrical-cut DVDs. So, while the list of supplementary material looks exhaustive, aside from the odd exception (like The Quest Fulfilled, outlining the difficulties Jackson faced getting studios interested in the trilogy), it’s all stuff that was either made for TV or is one of countless mini-featurettes produced for lordoftherings.net – none of which goes into much depth.
In the absence of new extras (excluding a videogame promo), it’s left to the trailers for each film and a HD ‘Supertrailer’ for the entire trilogy to bring anything fresh to this release. Sadly, however, they don’t.
Is there any good news, then? Well, yes. The thing that really matters is that the three films look and sound phenomenal. The Fellowship Of The Ring is a little grainier than the others, but retains a genuinely filmic feel that will delight cinema purists. Meanwhile, The Two Towers and The Return Of The King look amazing. Packed full of tremendous fine detail and vivid colours, these movies are prime examples of why we upgraded to Blu-ray in the first place. And if you really want to test your speaker system, you can’t go wrong with any of the three DTS-HD MA 6.1 mixes – they’re loaded with spatial effects and the battle sequences deliver some truly room-shaking sonics.
So, if you just want the movies to look and sound their best, you won’t be disappointed. But if you want anything more, you’ll just have to wait for the super-deluxe Blu-ray boxset that is expected to hit stores to coincide with the theatrical release of the upcoming Hobbit movies.
Peter Jackson’s epic fantasy trilogy has never looked or sounded better, but the extras leave a lot to be desired.