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The Lord of the Rings: The Motion Picture Trilogy (4K Ultra HD Blu-ray Review)

REVIEW OVERVIEW

The Collection
The Films
The Video (Overall)
HDR Effect
The Audio
The Supplements
Overall

SUMMARY

A stunning 4K Ultra HD restoration of The Lord of the Rings Trilogy arrives.

J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings trilogy as adapted by Peter Jackson for the big screen in his three epic films, The Fellowship of the Rings, The Two Towers, and The Return of the King, are all gathered here on 4K Ultra HD for the first time in new restorations of the theatrical and extended editions overseen by Peter Jackson himself. The fantasy epic tells of Middle Earth, the “One Ring to rule them all” with immense, evil power, coveted by many but mostly by the evil Sauron, and the unimposing hobbit Frodo Baggins upon whom the task falls to carry the ring to the one place in the world where it can be destroyed. Frodo is joined on his perilous journey by his fellow hobbits, Samwise, his best and most loyal friend, and Merry and Pippin as well as the wizard Gandalf the Grey, a dwarf named Gimli, a human Ranger named Strider, another human, Boromir of Gondor, and an Elf named Legolas. The Return of the King, the final film in the trilogy, won Academy Awards for Best Picture, Best Director, and Best Adapted Screenplay. This trilogy is one of the greatest fantasy epics of our time joining TV’s Game of Thrones and Harry Potter as one of a generation-defining set of works.

The Video

All three The Lord of the Rings films were originally shot in the Super 35 format on various Arri cameras and framed at 2.39:1. These new 4K remasterings were done with a 4K DI and overseen by director Peter Jackson. They come to 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray in HEVC 2160p (4K) with Dolby Vision HDR. It is apparent immediately that these are going to be awesome. They at first appear to follow the color grading of the Extended Edition Blu-ray box set, but the color has been corrected a bit so flesh tones are a little more natural and push less into that peachy look. We also have a lot more shadow details courtesy of a fantastic use of the Dolby Vision grading. When the Fellowship head into the Mines of Moria. For example, there is a lot that can be seen on the walls of the caves, which also brings us to how the highlights really ‘pop’ in these transfers. Flames on torches absolutely blaze against dark backdrops like they want to spark off the screen and set a fire in your home – let’s hope that doesn’t happen. The eye of Sauron is another object that really ‘pops’ and shows a lot of depth of color. One thing I did notice is that the detail in this 4K release is so good that there are times when it exposes the artificiality of some of the CGI backdrops that looked so gorgeous and realistic originally. It doesn’t look cheap at all, but it does leave them a little less masked, a little more exposed. You can also take a look at the rough comparison shots below taken on my iPhone 11 Pro Max with no filters applied from my OLED65CXPUA between the 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray Extended and the Extended Edition Blu-ray. The frame doesn’t match up exactly and of course these are photographs from a smarthphone of a screen, but I believe they do convey the better color reproduction and far better shadow detail in the new 4K editions.

The Audio

The three films come with a new Atmos remix and they sound really good, but if you had these before and were setup for it, the previous Extended Editions were in lossless 6.1. Having had a 7.1 and then a 9.1 setup, I will say that the audio mixes for this trilogy was always really great. Now with my 5.2.4 Atmos setup they sound pretty similar, with only some slight hints of overhead sounds and better “voice of God” effect such as when Galadriel speaks to the Fellowship telepathically.

The Supplements

This set has no bonus features outside of the included Movies Anywhere digital copy code, so if that is something that really matters to you, you may in fact want to hold off for the Six-Film “Middle Earth” Ultimate Collector’s Edition with new bonus content coming in summer 2021.

On publication the only included supplement was in fact the digital copy, well now it turns out the digital copy also includes many hours of bonus features for the Extended Editions, over 8 hours for the first two films and over 9 hours for the third film. iTunes has updated each film with iTunes Extras including new bonus features. As of this update, the digital extras appear to be exclusive to iTunes as they do not appear in Vudu, FandangoNow, GooglePlay or Prime Video. The rating has been update accordingly.

The Final Assessment

This collection is fantastic, from the gorgeous artwork to the reference quality sound and picture with excellent Dolby Vision grading, this is the best a fan could ask for, for this epic trilogy. Brilliant!

The Lord of the Rings: The Motion Picture Trilogy is out on 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray December 1, 2020 from Warner Bros. Home Entertainment



  • Rating Certificate: PG-13
  • Studios & Distributors: New Line Cinema | WingNut Films | The Saul Zaentz Company | Warner Home Video
  • Director: Peter Jackson
  • Written By: J.R.R. Tolkien (novel) | Fran Walsh (screenplay) | Philippa Boyens (screenplay) | Peter Jackson (screenplay) | Stephen Sinclair (screenplay)
  • Street Date: 1 December 2020
  • Aspect Ratio: 2.39:1
  • Video Format: HEVC 2160p (4K)
  • HDR Format: Dolby Vision (compatible with HDR10)
  • Primary Audio: English Dolby Atmos (compatible with Dolby TrueHD 7.1)
  • Subtitles: English SDH | French | Spanish
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