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Home Theater Movie Renter's Guide - July, 2011

ARTICLE INDEX

"Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring (Extended Edition)" (Blu-ray) - Reviewed by Chris Heinonen

movie-july-2011-fellowship-of-the-ring

Synopsis

Long ago in Middle Earth, the One Ring was forged that would allow Sauron to conquer all of Middle Earth.  During a final battle between Sauron and the armies of Elves and Men, he is slain, but his aura is still bound to the ring until it is destroyed.  However, the corrupting power of the ring is so great that the men who capture it are unwilling to destroy it.  The ring is later lost during a battle, sitting hidden in a river for 2,500 years until Gollum finds it one day.  The power of the ring is great, and Gollum lives for centuries with the ring, until he loses it himself one day and it is recovered by Bilbo Baggins, a Hobbit.

After Bilbo’s birthday party, the wizard Gandalf sees the ring and leaves to find answers about it.  After discovering that it is the One Ring of Sauron, he has them quickly leave the Shire as they need to find a plan to destroy the ring, but also avoid the forces of Sauron who will be out to recover the ring at all costs.  From here, one of the great stories of 20th Century literature continues.

Specifications

  • New Line Cinema
  • 2001, Color, Rated PG-13, 3 Hr 28 min
  • Aspect Ratio: 2.40:1
  • Codec: AVC
  • 1080p
  • English 6.1 DTS-HD Master Audio
  • Starring: Ian McKellan, Elijah Wood, Ian Holm
  • Directed by Peter Jackson
Rating
  • Entertainment:
  • Video:
  • Audio:
  • Extras:
  • Violence: Yes
  • Sex: No
  • Language: No

Commentary

Fellowship was always my least favorite of the LOTR films when I saw them in theaters.  While very well made and mostly enjoyable, I find much of Fellowship to be building up for what happens in the next two films and sometimes a bit slow in comparison.  Of course, there’s no way around this as it’s how the books are structured, and by no means is it a bad film.  It just doesn’t grab me as much as the later two chapters do.  This was also the only title I had not previously watched in the Extended cut, and unlike many directors’ cuts where it is just padding a film, in this case it helps to flesh out and add extra detail and depth to a film that is already epic in scope.  It is a long film to watch, but it is certainly worth it.

Technical

When the original theatrical versions of Lord of the Rings were released on Blu-ray, much was made of the quality of the transfers, particularly that for Fellowship.  The image was very soft for a film that was under a decade old and it seemed to be made using an older master.  In this case, New Line looks to have gone back and redone the mastering for the extended editions and there is more detail than there was before.  Of course, they also went back and did some color correction on the image, which has led to a firestorm of online controversy.

Certain scenes, when viewed in screenshots, seem to have a green cast applied to them compared to previous home versions of the films.  Some initial reports seem to indicate that this is how Peter Jackson wanted them to be, that Middle Earth would have a different appearance than we would have here on Earth, but no one is 100% sure about this.  That said, when I watched the film I didn’t notice the change unless I was specifically looking for it, and I don’t think it’s as big a deal as it’s being made out to be.  I also can’t recall how it looked when I first went to the movie theater, so maybe it always looked this way.

However, there should be no complaints at all about the soundtrack for the films.  A lossless 6.1 track that completely surrounds you and brings you into the film is what we are presented with and it delivers on all counts.  Dialogue is clear and easy to understand, battle scenes surround you, and the whole time you are sucked into the picture.  I really can’t find a single fault with the audio track.

Extras

Fellowship of the Rings has far too many extras to ever be able to list them all in one place.  From four commentary tracks featuring input from over 30 people, there are three DVDs of extra content included.  There are multiple documentaries that go over the planning and design of adapting the book to the film, galleries of art and concepts, storyboard and film comparisons, learning all about the special effects, a look at a day of principal photography, and far, far more.  Getting through all of the extra content will take you even longer than getting through the extended cut of the film and is greatly rewarding for fans of the flim.