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Oscar-winning “Lord of the Rings” trilogy conquers on Blu-ray


HollywoodNews.com stays on top of the latest DVD and Blu-ray releases so you know which films are worth your time and money. This week, we recommend:

The Lord of the Rings: The Motion Picture Trilogy
Let’s get the obvious out of the way: New Line Home Entertainment’s initial Blu-ray treatment of its precious “Lord of the Rings” franchise concentrates on the truncated theatrical cuts instead of director Peter Jackson’s extended editions.

Disappointed fans have expressed their anger on the appropriate message boards, and are likely to wait for those releases — even though the studio hasn’t mentioned when, or even if, such treatments will ever be applied to Jackson’s longer versions.

For those who choose not to wait, the “Rings” Blu-rays await you, and they are glorious. Frodo (Elijah Wood) embarks on his quest to destroy the darkly powerful ring, protected by warriors (Viggo Mortensen, Orlando Bloom, Sir Ian McKellen), accompanied by friends (Sean Astin), and opposed by Andy Serkis’ twisted rendition of the jealous and possessive Smeagol. Spread over nine discs, Jackson’s trilogy improved with each new installment, finding its focus and its powerful voice as J.R.R. Tolkien’s classic fantasy characters lurched from the bloated “Fellowship of the Ring” to the enthralling “Two Towers” and on to the bombastically epic “Return of the King.”

Every aspect of Jackson’s trilogy has that fresh out of the package, new-car smell. The visual presentation bursts with searing light and soft, digital polish. Your television set, no matter how wide, struggles to contain all of the elements the director crammed into his scenes, often shot from a great distance to present a breathtaking, panoramic snapshot of Middle Earth (or, as its netter known, New Zealand). Freeze frame select scenes and the director’s lush palette creates stunning lithographs that true “Rings” fans will want to hang on the wall for an eternity. And Howard Shore’s Oscar-winning scores sound majestic, no matter the quality of your home entertainment system’s speakers. Truly, this is the best Jackson’s trilogy has looked or sounded.

That much could have been assumed, though. Collectors really want to know about the extras. Well, as expected, Jackson’s commentary tracks (recorded specifically for the extended cuts) are absent. But the sets more than make up for it with over 6 hours of supplemental features. Each installment comes with its own “Special Features” DVD, and each packs plenty of behind-the-scenes goodies to entertain fans .yes, you have seen most of it already if you plunked down cash for previous releases. But for newcomers, these Blu-rays are cinematic treasures. What else can you look for? FOX TV’s “Quest for the Ring” special, the SCI-FI Channel’s “A Passage to Middle-Earth,” featurettes on “Finding Hobbiton” and “Believing the World of Bree,” clips on “Ringwraiths” and “Rivendell,” pieces on the languages and music of Middle-Earth, and much more.

As with many new Blu-ray sets, the “Rings” trilogy also includes digital copies of each film that can be downloaded to your personal computer or portable device.

Bottom line? This is the version of Jackson’s “Rings” trilogy fans will want to own … at least until the next set comes out. To learn more about the “Rings” Blu-ray set, visit http://www.lordoftherings.net.

The Fellowship of the Ring – **1/2 out of 4
The Blu-ray – ***1/2 out of 4

The Two Towers – *** out of 4
The Blu-ray – ***1/2 out of 4

The Return of the King – ***1/2 out of 4
The Blu-ray – ***1/2 out of 4

About Sean O'Connell

Sean O'Connell is a nationally recognized film critic. His reviews have been published in print ('The Washington Post,' 'USA Today') and online (AMC FilmCritic.com, MSN's Citysearch) since 1996. He's a weekly contributor to several national radio programs. He is a longstanding member of the Broadcast Film Critics Association (BFCA), the Online Film Critics Society (OFCS), and the Southeastern Film Critics View all articles by Sean O'Connell Association (SEFCA).

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One Comment

  • April 8, 2010 | Permalink |

    Dear Warner Brothers,

    I purchased the Blu-Ray Lord of the Rings 4/6/2010 at Best Buys. When I got home I noticed that my Motion Picture Trilogy contains 6 disks, not 9 as advertised. Was their different packages shipped out to your suppliers? Best Buys advertisement also states 9 disks. What can I do to get the missing 3 disks??

    Lord of the Rings Biggest Fan

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