Wednesday, April 07, 2010

Blu-Ray Lord of the Rings Trilogy Review Summary

Yesterday the 1080p HD version of the Lord of the Rings trilogy hit store shelves. The set includes all three movies in their theatrical versions. It is assumed the extended editions will be released in time for the first The Hobbit film in 2011. A few things to note though is the sets currently come with 9 discs - 3 blu-ray discs for each film, 3 DVD discs with the same extra features as released in previous sets, and 3 digital copy discs. The question I had is "Is HD worth buying the films all over again?" Based on the sample reviews collected below, the answer is yes. I grabbed a few quotes from each that focuses on the key concerns of look and sound since that are the core differences between the DVD and Blu-ray versions of these films.

The One Ring
You remember the gold “The Lord of the Rings” lettering looking like forged metal right? With Blu-Ray it seems you can walk up to your screen and pluck the letters off of your moniter and put them in your pocket. They take on a whole new depth and richness.

The audio is also crazy good. It comes in DTS-HD MA 6.1. That means Dolby Theater System High Definition Master Audio in 6.1 channels (six surround speakers and a subwoofer). Why not 7.1? I don’t know but the sound upgrade is on par with the visuals.

I was determined not to [buy the films twice] but the difference in quality is so monumental that it is really challenging not to want the best LOTR film audio and video experience available.
I can however attest that all three films look terrific, and while there may be minor inconsistencies due to noise reduction and other mastering techniques, I suspect that few viewers will notice them in the larger context of these clean and clear high-definition transfers. I feel obligated to make the observation that as a by-product of the time in which the films were produced, some of the special effects are not quite as seamless or as immersive as audiences may once have thought.

Meanwhile, the audio presentation is equal to the task of bringing these films to life, offering notes both epic and subtle as they render the landscapes of Middle Earth with startling dimensionality. All of the film's various elements, from dialogue to sound effects to score, are mixed together beautifully to maximize the impact of the films, which means sometimes to startle the audience and sometimes to slowly evoke deeper emotional themes that resonate long after the story itself has moved on to other business.
Other reviews:
High Def Digest (detailed film by film review) | Mendelson's Memo (brief review)

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