The future of civilization rests in the fate of the One Ring, which has been lost for centuries. Powerful forces are unrelenting in their search for it. But fate has placed it in the hands of a young Hobbit named Frodo Baggins (Elijah Wood), who inherits the Ring and steps into legend. A daunting task lies ahead for Frodo when he becomes the Ringbearer – to destroy the One Ring in the fires of Mount Doom where it was forged.
Plot: A meek Hobbit from the Shire and eight companions set out on a journey to destroy the powerful One Ring and save Middle-earth from the Dark Lord Sauron.
Director: Peter Jackson
Aspect Ratio: 2.39:1
Runtime: 178, 179 & 201 minutes
Rotten Tomatoes Consensus: Full of eye-popping special effects, and featuring a pitch-perfect cast, The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring brings J.R.R. Tolkien’s classic to vivid life.
“A must own. More importantly, this is the reason to buy a 4K television.”
It’s time to nerd out! I’ve said countless times that I think The Lord of the Rings is not only the best trilogy of all time, but some of the greatest films ever made too. This has been at the top of my Wish List for years now — and I’m happy to confirm not only everything I just stated, but these are some of the best UHD discs you can get your hands on! This is the kind of treatment that warrants a jump into 4K if you’ve been speculating on it for years. (Not only is this worth upgrading your TV, but your sound system as well.)
There is nothing about this set that has any negatives — I was trying to find something to note, but I couldn’t find any. This is truly a immaculate release. Fantastic films, flawless soundtracks and perfect UHD remasters. (Everything was supervised and approved by director Peter Jackson — and you can tell.)
The Fellowship of the Ring
The future of civilization rests in the fate of the One Ring, which has been lost for centuries. Powerful forces are unrelenting in their search for it. But fate has placed it in the hands of a young Hobbit named Frodo Baggins , who inherits the Ring and steps into legend. A daunting task lies ahead for Frodo when he becomes the Ringbearer — to destroy the One Ring in the fires of Mount Doom where it was forged.
I’m going to try my best not to make this post 15 pages long, because that’s how much time I would need to properly state the levels of remarkable this film holds — it’s stunning. This film was shot in 35mm and you can’t tell at the slightest, there is almost no grain and I have no idea how even that’s possible. (That’s over my head to understand.) The tiniest details like imperfections in the skin, facial hair, dirt, armor, the various characters faces, wardrobe, hands, fingernails and anything else you can imagine is flawless — even the dirty-hairy Hobbit feet. Everything has been scaled up to levels I didn’t even know were possible.
All the hard work, blood, sweat and tears now has the opportunity to shine the brightest it’s ever been able to.
Beyond that, look at the environment; the fields of grass, wheat, rocks, rubble, trees, bodies of water, the distant mountains on the horizon and everything in-between — it’s jaw dropping. (The VFX are not as detailed as their counterpoints, but that’s not a negative for me because this film was created 19 years ago, I don’t know how they managed any of it. While they stand out a bit for not being as detailed, it still looks better than anything we’ve seen on Blu-ray before.)
Most of the details are what you’ve come to expect with UHD (and you will need to see it for yourself), but even more, the HDR really cleans it up for the win. The black levels showcase and create deep shadows, dimension and contrast which in turn, creates shocking image results. The movie has a flow I’ve never seen before in previous releases — whenever the color is meant to POP!, it pops and whenever it needs to be dark and dismal, it sits there.
It’s a perfect viewing expierence for such a massive and elaborate world — everything is natural.
You can see that darkness in a whole new form in scenes like the sequence with the Ringwraiths at the Prancing Pony, in the pits creating the Mordor army, the mines of Moria, etc, etc. On the opposite end of the spectrum your screen will fill with color in the Shire, elaborately in Eriador and again at the starting path of the Misty Mountains just to name a few. (Simply… everywhere you look works. Some places do get both day and night treatment nicely, especially in Eridaor.)
It’s been a while since I’ve seen this film and it’s still a visual expierence for the ages. This is a massive upgrade and a must own! I have a feeling this is only going to get better as these films carry on. Wow!
(I still can’t speak on the audio properly because I don’t have the right setup to chime in, but I can tell from my limited setup that it should be one that matches the visuals as well. Everything sounded top notch, bass hit right and all the little things were never missed — this is also a better expierence than the Blu-ray too.)
The Two Towers
The sequel follows the continuing quest of Frodo and the Fellowship to destroy the One Ring. Frodo and Sam discover they are being followed by the mysterious Gollum. Aragorn, the Elf archer Legolas and Gimli the Dwarf encounter the besieged Rohan kingdom, whose once great King Theoden has fallen under Saruman’s deadly spell.
Just as The Fellowship of the Ring, it was shot on 35mm and you still can’t tell. There is almost no grain and it’s presented in such a way that it looks like it was put together recently. Again, every piece of detail, overall resolution, texture and enhancement of HDR looks immaculate. The visual effects look more refined and cleaned up as well, and while not perfect — it’s as close as you can get. You have to appreciate the work that was done in the CGI department on Gollum specifically, keeping the original intact while boosting resolution — it’s near perfect with the smallest details now coming into the light like imperfections in the skin, body hair and wrinkles.
Instead of re-listing the obvious details you will notice time and time again — let’s talk about the HDR. This disc, even more than the first, allows a wide-range of color starting from bright and vibrant — all the way down to dark and gritty. Those bright and vibrant scenes look stunning, whether it’s the first appearance of and story of The White Wizard (Gandalf the White), the sun shining down through the clouds, the gleam on weapons, armor and any other highlight imaginable — the brightest whites look amazing in contrast to everything around it.
The dark and gritty scenes on the other end of the spectrum have deep and inky blacks with great shadow contrast and dimension. Examples of this can be seen in the opening fight between Gandalf and Balrog as they fell into a deep chasm, Orcs under the moonlight outside of the Old Forrest with the faintest hint of blue and of course, the best scene of the film — the battle of Helm’s Deep. The battle of Helm’s Deep is an impressive sequence all on it’s own, but with this new resolution and more importantly, the HDR, it can now be seen in a whole new light. The inky blacks and contrast bring out the grit at new levels I’ve never seen before, creating a new sense of darkness and evil during the battle. (The new level of detail also showcases the wet, dirty and muddy grounds they fought on.)
Last note: the first film showcased more wide scaling landscapes as we started out on our journey, while this film — still elaborate in scaling — has more of a focus on specific encounters allowing for that uptick in detail and use of HDR to really shine in the many close-ups. Once again, Peter Jackson treated this release with care and you can tell every piece of what they created on screen is now in it’s best form. (Check your thesaurus for all the available words to describe perfect.)
(As before, I can’t speak on the audio properly because I don’t have the right setup to chime in, but I can tell from my limited setup that it should be one that matches the visuals as well. Everything sounded top notch, bass hit right and all the little things were never missed.)
Return of the King
The final film presents the final confrontation between the forces of good and evil fighting for control of the future of Middle-earth. Hobbits Frodo and Sam reach Mordor in their quest to destroy the `one ring’, while Aragorn leads the forces of good against Sauron’s evil army at the stone city of Minas Tirith.
Just as The Fellowship of the Ring & The Two Towers, the final film was also shot on 35mm, and yes, you still can’t tell. There is almost no grain and it’s presented in such a way that it looks like it was made with today’s technology. Again, every piece of detail, overall resolution, texture and enhancement of HDR looks immaculate. The final film of the trilogy is the best of both worlds and it holds all the best aspects of the first two combined into one. I think that this is the best looking disc of the batch and that fits perfectly into the epic conclusion.
Every detail is enhanced even more so than the first two films with facial characteristics looking demo worthy in every single close up, in each piece of fabric and armor — even more, the vast landscapes meet that same bar consistently. Imagine a snowball rolling down a hill, it keeps getting larger and larger — that is the essence of the quality of this film, it just keeps getting better. I guess all I can do i say the same things over and over again to make my point. The HDR continues it streak with utter perfection constructing multiple eye-popping moments. Some of the best moments for me were the emerald green glow of Mines Morgul, the entire Army of the Dead sequence, anytime the Eye of Sauron comes into play and of course, the final scenes inside of Mount Doom. Take it in and enjoy it.
Finally, the epic battle for Middle Earth doesn’t hold back — the CGI showcases way more detail that I expected. The spanning landscape shots to demonstrate the scale of the battle equaled in quality when we dipped closer and right into the action. The final shots of the film (aka the various endings) are also a beautiful sight to behold — there is a certain tone and ascetic that feels like you are at the end of a journey. The HDR really encapsulates the vision we were all supposed to have. Bravo.
I tried to keep this final film’s notes different to avoid too many repeat sentences and similar characteristics, but it’s nearly impossible. I’ll repeat myself one more time, these discs look top notch and the final disc tops them all.
(Finally, for the third time, I can’t speak on the audio properly because I don’t have the right setup to chime in, but I can tell from my limited setup that it should be one that matches the visuals as well. Everything sounded top notch, bass hit right and all the little things were never missed.)
In conclusion —
The Lord of the Rings is not only the best trilogy of all time, but some of the greatest films ever made too. Now that I have watched all these UHD discs, I can say without a doubt that these are some of the best discs you could add to your collection. Even more, this is one of the best reasons I could give a person to jump into the 4K market. There have been a wide slew of releases over the past decade and a half, but this is currently the best.
Not only do you get all three films in the new format, you also get the Extended Editions too — that means a total of nine discs. This is just the beginning of ‘having the best’ because next year the Ultimate Collectors Edition will be coming out. Nobody seems to know what that will entail other than the inclusion of both The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings’ Trilogies. You can bet it will not only have elaborate packaging, but new content, bonus features and most likely collectable pieces any fan would want to own — at a hefty price too.
Taking everything I’ve said into account, The Lord of the Rings gets my recommendation for an automatic day-one MUST OWN purchase. Do yourself a favor, grab a copy at your local retailer today, you won’t be disappointed. It’s films like this getting a remaster that makes it more exciting to see what will get this type treatment in the future. This was at the top of my wish list and I’m beyond satisfied. The Hobbit is up next!
Are you a fan of The Lord of the Rings? Will you be picking it up to own? Let me know what you think in the comments below.
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