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The Lord Of The Rings Motion Picture Trilogy: Extended Blu-ray Edition

by David Foucher
EDGE Publisher
Saturday Jul 2, 2011
The Lord Of The Rings Motion Picture Trilogy: Extended Blu-ray Edition

Are you ready for yet another version of "Lord of the Rings"? For those who are counting, this makes the sixth release of Peter Jackson's historic trilogy. Let's count them:

  • The individual films first scored their own DVD releases as their source material exited the Cineplexes. These initial releases were simple theatrical reproductions of the films as shown on the big screen.

  • Once the trilogy had completed its theatrical run, New Line offered up the "Original Theatrical Edition" - this boxed set included the original films plus a series of lightweight documentaries and featurettes, plus some fairly silly additions: Sean Astin's short film, the Emiliana Torrini "Gollum Song" music video, etc.

  • The "Platinum Series Special Extended Edition" was released a scant seven months after the theatrical DVD set, irritating fans who had recently spent their hard-earned cash on the first boxed set. However, fans were rapidly appeased by the inclusion of 30 additional minutes in "Return of the King," 43 minutes in "The Two Towers," and 50 minutes in "Return of the King" - not to mention commentary tracks and a fabulous series of full-length documentaries; to date, this has been the "must have" set. Clocking in at 12 DVDs, it took two days of non-stop watching to get through the material.

  • Strangely, two years later New Line brought out the "Original Theatrical and Extended Limited Edition" on DVD; this set offered both versions of all three films, which seemed a bit of an odd choice. Why watch the shorter versions when the fully-realized trilogy was available in the same format? In this series, the gritty, aficionado-pleasing behind-the-scenes Costa Botes documentaries made their first appearance.

  • Last year (at long last), the original films made their first appearance on Blu-ray - essentially a reproduction of the DVD Original Theatrical Edition set, but offering the higher quality of Blu-ray plus three digital copies of the films. I have to admit that while I was thrilled that New Line was finally releasing the films at higher resolution, I merely bided my time.

    Until now. At long last, the definitive LOTR set is out; until, that is, someone invents a format better than Blu-ray. The longer versions of the films are here - including a new digital export of "Fellowship." All of the documentaries are present as well, including the Costa Botes docs - but don't expect the same quality of them... they are here on DVD as before. Most would say this doesn't matter, and I'd agree with them; it's the movies you want to see in Hi-Def.

    And that experience is... well, extraordinary. Shy of watching the films on the big screen again, this transfer of the movies is superior. You'll enjoy bright, clear images and digital surround sound (DTS-HD 6.1 MA). Keep in mind that this set does not include the theatrical releases of the films, and that each film, due to its increased length and picture quality, resides on two Blu-ray discs. You'll need to survive a short intermission while you change discs at appropriate moments in each movie.

    You'll also receive digital copies of the extended releases; this is particularly great for those who are either building a digital collection at home or who travel often and want to take Tolkien's stories with them on film. Just remember to set aside enough quality time to enjoy them; the full trilogy will cost you over 11 hours to experience.

    For avid fans, this is the new gold standard for "Lord of the Rings." And it's worth the $70, even if you've paid for previous releases. Let's just hope that when "The Hobbit" arrives, we don't have to suffer through as many iterations.

  • David Foucher is the CEO of the EDGE Media Network and Pride Labs LLC, is a member of the National Lesbian & Gay Journalist Association, and is accredited with the Online Society of Film Critics. David lives with his daughter in Dedham MA.

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