DVD Corner's blog

News, dvd and blu-ray reviews

Middle-Earth: 31-Disc Ultimate Collector’s Edition 4K UHD/Blu-ray Review

Middle-Earth: 31-Disc Ultimate Collector’s Edition 4K set is a must own for any Lord of the Rings fan.

Last year WB released bare bones editions of the LOTR and Hobbit trilogies on 4K. In honor of the 20th anniversary of “The Fellowship Of The Ring,” WB has released a new mega Middle-Earth box set containing all 6 films. For those hoping for mountains of extras from past releases ported over for this release, that is not the case. There are extra features though (although not a ton). 

With all of that said, this is a beautiful box set. Once you fold open the box, each of the six movies have their own case, slipcover along with 4 discs per set that contain the theatrical and extended versions on both 4K and Blu-ray. Also included here is a box that includes bonus goodies and an exclusive Blu-ray special features disc (contents listed below).

Spendy though it may be, it’s a must for completists. Plus it makes a great gift for LOTR fans for the holidays. Casual fans may want to stick with the more affordable trilogy box sets.

Although I have shared my opinions on each of the films before, I’ll provide my thoughts on each one in chronological order.

“The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey”- Without a doubt the best of the Hobbit trilogy. After a 9 year break, this felt like a welcome return back to Middle-Earth. Sure, some of the humor and action is a bit cartoony, but Gollum, Martin Freeman as Bilbo, and Sylvester McCoy as Radagast elevate the movie.

“The Hobbit: The Desolation Of Smaug”- There’s a lot to admire about this sequel including the titular Dragon perfectly voiced by Benedict Cumberbatch. Unfortunately, Peter Jackson starts to lose the plot here as he crams in unnecessary filler and becomes far too focused on technology. It also becomes quite clear here that this should not have been a trilogy. 2 movies tops and even that’s stretching it.

“The Hobbit: The Battle Of The Five Armies”- In the book, the titular battle amounts to around 5 pages. In movie form, this third installment clocks in at 144 long minutes. This is an almost unwatchable movie and by far the worst of the six films. Between the godawful character Alfrid and the excessive and exhausting action, it’s one big mess of a movie. 

“The Lord Of The Rings: The Fellowship Of The Ring”- There’s no denying this is a crowning achievement in cinemas. Not only did Peter Jackson prove you could adapt J.R.R. Tolkien’s work, but he helped proved fantasy cinema could be much more than what we’ve seen before. Everything about this movie works wonders. The New Zealand location shooting, the pitch perfect cast (with Ian McKellen and Viggo Mortensen being stand-outs), the special FX and creature FX, the majestic score by Howard Shore, etc. 

“The Lord Of The Rings: The Two Towers”- My personal favorite of the franchise. It has everything you could want. Bigger action, great new characters with Treebeard and Faramir, Gollum at his best, a grand continuation of the story, and more exploration of Middle-Earth.

“The Lord Of The Rings: The Return Of The King”- Numerous endings aside, the final chapter in the LOTR saga is riveting in every way. It’s the type of movie that is so jam packed with emotion at every turn whether it be character actions, deaths, heroic moments, etc. A lot of final installments in trilogies don’t stick the landing, but ROTK gets it right. 

Video/Audio:

Presentation: 2.39:1 2160p for the LOTR trilogy and 2.40:1 2160p for the Hobbit trilogy. How do they look? The 4K discs are the same disc releases from last year. Some may scoff that they are not true 4K, but what we do get is impressive. I marveled at the clarity of the picture. It almost feels like you are in the Shire or whatever location is on screen. Note: The Blu-rays here are newly remastered versions which look dynamite and superior to previous releases.

Audio Tracks: Dolby Atmos. How do they sound? However one may feel about the video quality, no one will argue that the Atmos tracks are nothing short of dynamic. Howard Shore’s scores, the action, Gollum’s voice, and so on all sound super sharp.

Extras:
* 7 double-sided cardboard art cards for The Shire, Lake-Town, Erebor, Anduin, Rohan, Minas Tirith, and Rivendell
* Digital copies for both trilogies
* A booklet featuring a collection of costume sketches, photography and production notes
* 3 Alamo Drafthouse Presented cast reunions for “The Fellowship Of The Ring,” (nearly 40 minutes) “The Two Towers,” (32 minutes) and “The Return Of The King” (30 minutes). Sadly, they are all via Zoom but they are hosted by super fan Stephen Colbert who has a wide range of questions for the interviewees who offer up plenty of memories and stories.
* “Festival De Cannes Presentation Reel”- An intro by Peter Jackson and Ian McKellen followed by a collection of scenes that run about 26 minutes.
* Commentaries on all 3 Hobbit films by Peter Jackson and Philippa Boyens
* Trailers for each film
* The 3 part “New Zealand: Home To Middle-Earth” extra.
* 4 commentaries for the extended edition Blu-ray of “The Fellowship Of The Ring.” 1. Peter Jackson, Fran Walsh and Philippa Boyens,. 2. Elijah Wood, Liv Tyler, Ian McKellen, Billy Boyd, John Rhys-Davies, Sean Bean, Christopher Lee, Orlando Bloom, Dominic Monaghan, and Sean Astin 3. Producers Barrie Osborne, Mark Ordesky, Rick Porras, DP Andrew Lesnie, editor John Gilbert, composer Howard Shore, visual FX supervisor Jim Rygiel, Weta VFX art director Christian Rivers and Weta VFX cinematographer Brian Van’t Hul, supervising sound editors Mike Hopkins and Ethan van der Ryan, Weta animation designer and supervisor Randy Cook and Miniatures Unit DP Alex Funke. 4. Weta workshop manager Tania Rodger, Weta Workshop creative supervisor Richard Taylor, production designer Grant Major, costume designer Ngila Dickson, conceptual designers John Howe and Alan Lee, art department manager Chris Hennah and art director Dan Hennah.
* 4 commentaries for the extended edition Blu-ray of “The Two Towers.” 1. Peter Jackson, Philippa Boyens and Fran Walsh 2. Elijah Wood, Billy Boyd, Bernard Hill, Miranda Otto, David Wenham, Brad Dourif, Karl Urban, John Noble, Craig Parker, Andy Serkis, John Rhys-Davies, Sean Bean, Christopher Lee, Orlando Bloom, Dominic Monaghan, and Sean Astin. 3. Producers Barrie Osborne, Mark Ordesky, Rick Porras editors Mike Horton and Jabez Olssen, composer Howard Shore, DP Andrew Lesnie, visual FX supervisor Jim Rygiel and Joe Letteri, Weta VFX art director Christian Rivers and Weta VFX cinematographer Brian Van’t Hul, supervising sound editors Mike Hopkins and Ethan van der Ryan, Weta animation designer and supervisor Randy Cook and visual effects DP Alex Funke. 4. Weta Workshop creative supervisor Richard Taylor, production designer Grant Major, concept designers Alan Lee and John Howe, supervising art director Dan Hennah and art department manager Chris Hennah and Weta Workshop manager Tania Rodger.
* You guessed it, 4 commentaries for the extended edition Blu-ray of “The Return of The King.” 1. Peter Jackson, Fran Walsh and Philippa Boyd 2. Weta Workshop creative supervisor Richard Taylor, production designer Grant Major, concept designers Alan Lee and John Howe, supervising art director Dan Hennah and art department manager Chris Hennah, Weta Workshop manager Tania Rodger and costume designer Ngila Dickson. 3. Elijah Wood, Billy Boyd, Bernard Hill, Miranda Otto, David Wenham, Karl Urban, John Noble, Andy Serkis, John Rhys-Davies, Hugo Weaving, Christopher Lee, Orlando Bloom, Dominic Monaghan, Ian McKellen, Liv Tyler, Lawrence Makoare and Sean Astin. 4. Producers Barrie Osborne, Mark Ordesky, Rick Porras editors Annie Collins and Jamie Selkirk, composer Howard Shore, DP Andrew Lesnie, visual FX supervisor Jim Rygiel and Joe Letteri, Weta VFX art director Christian Rivers and Weta VFX cinematographer Brian Van’t Hul, supervising sound editors Mike Hopkins and Ethan van der Ryan, Weta animation designer and supervisor Randy Cook and visual effects DP Alex Funke

December 13, 2021 - Posted by | 4K UHD Review | , , , , , , , , , ,

No comments yet.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: