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The Lord Of The Rings Trilogy 4K UHD Review

Precious indeed.

You all know the story. Frodo, Sam, Boromir, Aragorn, Legolas, Gimli, Merry, Pippin and Gandalf are tasked with destroying the Ring by casting it in the fires of Mount Doom to keep it from the clutches of Sauron, Saruman, the Ringwraiths, and the Orcs. Alas, the Fellowship (as it is known) doesn’t last long as the Ring’s power proves too great and tempting. Moreover, Merry and Pippin go missing, characters die, and Frodo, Sam and eventually Gollum venture to Mount Doom by themselves. Along the way, other obstacles emerge (King Theoden being controlled, Shelob), new allies appear (the Ents, the cursed Dead Men), the odds become stacked against the heroes, and large-scale battles like Helm’s Deep and Pelennor Fields take place which could decide the fate of Middle-Earth. Sure, some of the book material was cut from the films (ala Tom Bombadil), but not everything could be included or was the right fit.

I’ve long said that the fantasy genre is the toughest to pull off in cinema. For every “The Princess Bride” or Harry Potter film, you get films that just don’t work on screen at all like “Dungeons and Dragons” and “Eragon.” It’s such a challenge to create a fully fleshed out fantasy world and make it believable let alone tell a monumental story in a relatively short amount of time. With “The Lord of the Rings” trilogy, director Peter Jackson (and co-writers Fran Walsh, Stephen Sinclair, and Philipa Boyens) did the unthinkable and adapted a beloved, highly detailed, and vivid fantasy series from the mind of J.R.R. Tolkien that just so happened to turn out to be one of the greatest trilogies in all of cinema (and the pinnacle of fantasy cinema). Yes, there had been admirable animated features before, but they were short, incomplete and truncated versions that never fully captured the mythology as a whole.

The LOTR trilogy is truly a crowning achievement in virtually every respect. The characters of Gollum and Treebeard were early pioneering advancements in CGI. The practical creature FX by WETA ranks among the finest ever created. The location shooting in New Zealand was a perfect double for the fantastical world of Middle-Earth. Peter Jackson (who was primarily known for low-budget horror) accomplished the Herculean task of helming the massive shoot of all 3 films and having a pitch perfect directorial touch from start to finish. There was no drop-off in quality as each film is a masterpiece in their own right. The costume and makeup work was exquisitely detailed and justifiably won Oscars. Howard Shore’s emotional and sweeping score elevated every frame of each film. The gigantic ensemble cast was note perfect with Ian McKellen (Gandalf), Viggo Mortensen (Aragorn), Andy Serkis (Gollum), Cate Blanchett (Galadriel), Sean Astin (Sam), Sean Bean (Boromir), Mirana Otto (Eowyn), John Rhys-Davies (Gimli) and David Wenham (Faramir) being just a handful of the stand-outs. Above all else though, the story about good, evil, temptation, corruption, betrayal, trust is just epic and timeless storytelling that continues to endure and resonate with each passing year.

Note: This 4K set contains both the theatrical and extended versions of all 3 films. The extended versions span 2 discs each. It’s nice to have every version in one place after so many separate releases in the past.

Video/Audio:

Presentation: 2.39:1 2160p (All 3 films). How do they look? “Holy cow” were the first words I uttered when “The Fellowship of the Ring” began playing and my jaw remained dropped upon watching “Two Towers” and “Return of the King.” These 4K restorations really do make the viewer feel like they are being transported to Middle-Earth. From the green grass of the Shire to the lava of Mount Doom, the picture quality brings such a deep level of clarity to every scene. Sure, the CGI flaws are more noticeable here, but that’s to be expected.

Audio Tracks: Dolby Atmos/Dolby TrueHD 7.1. How do the films sound? Boy, are these tracks loud. Howard Shore’s thundering score, the action sequences, and even Gollum’s voice sound crystal clear throughout.

The one drawback for some folks may be the lack of extra features. Aside from a Digital copy, there are no new bonus features nor are there any from past home video releases. It’s possible a special edition release will be released down the line though if you’d rather hold off for that.

November 30, 2020 - Posted by | 4K UHD Review | , , , , , , , , , , , ,

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