Media

Home Theater Movie Renter's Guide - May, 2010

ARTICLE INDEX

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

movie-may-2010-lord-rings-trilogy

Synopsis

In the fantasy world of Middle Earth, the wizard Sauron creates the Rings of Power and gives them to the dominant races, Trolls, Elves and Men.  In secret, he forges the One Ring to rule them all.  Just as he is poised to destroy the great armies that have risen against him, Isildur defeats Sauron in a stroke of luck and claims the One Ring for himself.  His own lust for power soon gets the better of him and he loses the Ring and his life.  After spending 500 years in the possession of the creature Gollum, the Ring comes to Bilbo Baggins, an adventuresome Hobbit.  Bilbo bequeaths the Ring to his nephew Frodo and the wizard Gandalf soon discovers just what the Ring is.  It is decided that Frodo must carry the Ring to Mount Doom and destroy it in order to save Middle Earth from its fearsome power.

Frodo and his band of Hobbits form the Fellowship of the Ring along with the Elf Legolas, Gimli the Dwarf, and Boromir and Aragorn from the race of Men.  Together they set out on a monumental quest to keep the Ring from Sauron, who is gathering vast armies in an effort to destroy Middle Earth and regain corporeal form.  Along the way the encounter great challenges, not the least of which is the power and temptation of the Ring itself.

 

Specifications

  • New Line Cinema
  • 2001, Color, Rated PG-13, 2 Hr 58 min
  • Aspect Ratio: 2.40:1
  • 1080p
  • Codec: Not Specified
  • English 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio
  • Starring:  Elijah Wood, Ian McKellen, Liv Tyler, Viggo Mortensen
  • Directed by Peter Jackson
    Rating
  • Entertainment:
  • Video:
  • Audio:
  • Extras:
  • Violence: Yes
  • Sex: No
  • Language: No

Commentary

J.R.R. Tolkien’s epic trilogy, The Lord of Rings, paved the way for modern fantasy storytelling.  Peter Jackson’s adaptation of these three books is the finest film version of this timeless story yet created.  Whether you’ve read the books or not, you are immediately pulled into the fascinating plot and its endearing characters.  I saw these films several times in the theater when they were first released and also in their DVD versions.  There was no question these Blu-rays would become part of my library and I’m glad to have added them.  Production quality is without peer.  I enjoyed all the actors immensely and every other aspect of the film was first-rate.  The movie is quite long; just a whisker under three hours, so you’ll want to budget some time.  It never drags though and you’ll wonder where the time went by the end.

Technical

I was disappointed in the video quality of this first chapter of the trilogy.  Color was excellent with a natural saturation and a consistent palette.  What bothered me was the picture’s softness.  Scenes sometimes look smeared; lacking the sharp detail of the best Blu-ray releases.  I understand that computer-generated images of the era aren’t the ultra-realistic examples we see today but the lack of detail extended to the filmed footage too.  I never saw a three-dimensional quality in the actors faces.  The detail was simply not there.  Outdoor scenes looked suitably lush and the loss of sharpness was not as noticeable.  Contrast was very good with deep blacks, good shadow detail and bright glowing highlights when appropriate.  All of my comments are relative to other Blu-ray transfers.  This disc is still far better that the previous DVD version.

The DTS-MA encode is the best reason to buy this movie.  I quickly forgot the shortcomings of the visuals when I heard this reference-quality soundtrack.  The surrounds and LFE channels are used quite liberally and you feel the action at all times.  Effects like the pounding of horse hooves or the falling stones in the Mines of Moria sequence are the stuff of home theater demos.  There were many times during this film I had to resist the urge to get up and hug my SVS sub.  Dialog is crisp and clear at all times.  There isn’t even the slightest hint of chestiness.  The soundstage is always wide and deep.  This transfer will make the most of any home theater system and if you can play it loud; all the better!

Extras

Bonus features include a collection of documentaries that were originally presented on television.  Unfortunately they are all in standard-def, included on separate DVDs.  The best featurette is a collection of 15 vignettes from LordOfTheRings.net.  This is the one to watch if you want good behind-the-scenes coverage.  There is also a set of trailers and previews of the other films in the trilogy.  Also included is a digital copy for your computer or mobile device.All of these features are in HD.  A second disc contains a DVD and digital copy version of the film.