Judge David Johnson found a Ring of Power at a yard sale. And a velvet painting of Ronald McDonald.
Our reviews of The Lord Of The Rings: The Fellowship Of The Ring (published September 30th, 2002), The Lord Of The Rings: The Fellowship Of The Ring: Special Extended Edition (published November 12th, 2002), The Lord Of The Rings: The Two Towers (published September 15th, 2003), The Lord Of The Rings: The Two Towers: Special Extended Edition (published December 1st, 2003), The Lord Of The Rings: The Return Of The King (published June 7th, 2004), The Lord Of The Rings: The Return Of The King: Special Extended Edition (published January 25th, 2005), and The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring (Blu-ray) Extended Edition (published September 17th, 2012) are also available.
One Blu-ray release to rule them all? Nah.
The flashpoint of unparalleled fanboy rage has finally broken free of the Black Gates and presents itself to the Men (and Women) of the West.
Facts of the Case
Back in the old times, the days when a vicious war was being waged over the fate of the home video market, there were two competing formats vying for domination and (most importantly) royalty checks for their respective multinational corporations. The two sides battled ferociously, desperately trying to outflank one another, with the Red side gaining ground only to see the Blu side make significant incursions into the public A/V consciousness.
And then one day, known by videophiles the world over as "The Day of Reckoning" or "The Day Blindsided Toshiba Execs Wept into Their Lattes," Warner Bros. cast their lot in with the Blu side, essentially sealing the fate of the Reds and bringing The War to an end. The chief weapon in the Warner Bros. arsenal? The rights to release The Lord of the Rings in high-definition optical media, one of the most sought-after discs ever to be forged.
And so it came to pass that Warner Bros. fulfilled its destiny, and on April 6, 2010, at the beginning of the Fourth Age, brought out the weapon that helped end the War.
But all is not as it seems…
Clicking on this set's Amazon link will take you to a nuclear shockwave of Total Consumer Fury—nearly 3,000 customer reviews (prior to the set's release) and an overall rating hovering at 1.5 stars. Obviously, this isn't a commentary on the quality of the films. Any cinematic adventurer worth his Mithril knows that Peter Jackson's epic visualization of the mother of all fantasy trilogies was the greatest thing since sliced lembas bread. And since there have been, roughly, four hundred quadrillion words written about these films, I'll spare you yet another embarrassingly fawning reaction (except for Liv Tyler's pale, breathless line readings, which haven't gotten any more tolerable) and simply focus on the Great Issue of Our Time: Should you give Warner Bros. your money?
These are the theatrical versions and Warner's choice to give them the Blu-ray treatment over the Extended Editions is what has fueled so much angst. But the angry Amazon mob has a point. Warner Bros. is obviously going to double dip these, just like they are obviously going to double-dip their underperforming Blu-ray release of The Dark Knight. That's what studios do. They want your money and dangle nifty options for re-releases to tempt you into buying the 43rd version of Evil Dead 2.
I will admit, however, that it is fairly brazen for Warner Bros. to essentially pretend the Extended Editions don't exist. You won't get any argument from me that the EEs are the definitive cuts of the Rings trilogy, and most importantly their massive DVD sets still stand as the greatest home video releases of the last format generation. The re-cut features cemented the status of Rings as the true game-changer in modern blockbuster cinema (the large-scale battles in Return of the King have yet be eclipsed) and the four-disc Extended Editions redefined DVD technical achievements and bonus features.
But enough crying into our pints of Prancing Pony ale. These are the Theatrical Editions and they're the only ones we can currently obtain on Blu-ray. Judging them on their own merits reveals…
The extras boondoggle has driven me to Denethor levels of irritability, but in the categories that count the most—the audio and the video—this set mostly delivers and will serve as an okay holdover until the inevitable Super Extended Easterling Edition hits.
Your life is not forfeit.
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Scales of Justice, The Lord Of The Rings: The Fellowship Of The Ring
Perp Profile, The Lord Of The Rings: The Fellowship Of The Ring
Studio: Warner Bros.
Distinguishing Marks, The Lord Of The Rings: The Fellowship Of The Ring
Scales of Justice, The Lord Of The Rings: The Two Towers
Perp Profile, The Lord Of The Rings: The Two Towers
Studio: Warner Bros.
Distinguishing Marks, The Lord Of The Rings: The Two Towers
Scales of Justice, The Lord Of The Rings: The Return Of The King
Perp Profile, The Lord Of The Rings: The Return Of The King
Studio: Warner Bros.
Distinguishing Marks, The Lord Of The Rings: The Return Of The King
Review content copyright © 2010 David Johnson; Site design and review layout copyright © 2014 Verdict Partners LLC. All rights reserved.