Middle-Earth Ultimate Collector’s Edition                                   review by Bobby Blakey

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Love them or hate them there is no denying that Peter Jacksons Lord of the Rings and Hobbit trilogies were massive hits. Jackson brought the world of J. R. R. Tolkien’s world to epic life garnering numerous Academy Awards for the Lord of the Rings films. Now Warner Bros is bringing the entire series together in one epic collection with the Middle-Earth Ultimate Collector’s Edition.

 

The Hobbit Trilogy follows Bilbo Baggins who is swept into a quest to reclaim the lost Dwarf Kingdom of Erebor from the fearsome dragon Smaug. Approached out of the blue by the wizard Gandalf the Grey, Bilbo finds himself joining a company of thirteen dwarves led by the legendary warrior, Thorin Oakenshield. Their journey will take them

I know this isn’t the popular opinion, but I actually prefer this trilogy over the Lord of the Rings. I know they are a stretched out story from a small element of the books so may not be capturing the magic of the books, but I just found them more entertaining. It helps that in the world of Warhammer I always played with dwarves so the overabundance of dwarves made me happy over a bunch of hobbits. I also found their adventures to just be more fun along with the dark elements whereas Rings were just a downer most of the time when it wasn’t just too slow. While this one has a lighter visual tone it is still yet another brilliant piece of visual filmmaking.

 

The Lord of the Rings Trilogy follows an ancient Ring thought lost for centuries has been found, and through a strange twist of fate has been given to a small Hobbit named Frodo. When Gandalf discovers the Ring is in fact the One Ring of the Dark Lord Sauron, Frodo must make an epic quest to the Cracks of Doom in order to destroy it. However, he does not go alone. He is joined by Gandalf, Legolas the elf, Gimli the Dwarf, Aragorn, Boromir, and his three Hobbit friends Merry, Pippin, and Samwise. Through mountains, snow, darkness, forests, rivers and plains, facing evil and danger at every corner the Fellowship of the Ring must go. Their quest to destroy the One Ring is the only hope for the end of the Dark Lords reign.

 

With this being one of the biggest franchises in history I am not going to spend a ton of time on the movies themselves, but more so the 4K look and these releases themselves. That being said, as someone who was never a big fan of the Lord of the Rings trilogy upon its release I took a new fresh look at these gorgeous new releases to see if my opinion might have changed over time. While I do appreciate the overall quality and what Jackson was able to accomplish I still struggle to connect with the films as a whole. I love the genre and everything here, but the first two films feel so slow and mundane most of the time that I still can’t get fully invested and I am not sure why. Of them all Return of the King is the only one that I really get into and I am sure it is thanks to the big battle we finally get too, but even then it still has its lagging points. 

 

Forgetting my personal feelings to these films as a while as there is no doubt they are filmmaking masterpieces I fully admit that they are visually stunning from the battles to the costumes and worlds that Jackson has brought to life. These new transfers further enhance the viewing experience to make them even more epic than they already are. Fans of the franchise will no doubt love this new collection bringing them the chance to see the films the way they need to be seen.

 

The Ultimate Collector’s Edition includes the theatrical and extended versions of the six films from New Line Cinema and Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Pictures in 4K UHD with HDR - The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug, and The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies, The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring, The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers, and The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King, which won Academy Awards for Best Picture, Best Director, and Best Adapted Screenplay. 

The Ultimate Collector’s Edition comes in unique “Puzzle Box” collectible packaging and includes a 64-page booklet featuring costumes, photography and production notes from the film, and art cards featuring travel posters and images from iconic locations throughout Middle-earth including The Shire, Lake-Town, Erebor, Anduin, Rohan, Minas Trith, and Rivendell. This collection also features new special features along with the theatrical and extended versions of all six films in 4K Ultra HD and on Blu-ray discs remastered from the 4K master. 

Also included are the original Cannes Film Festival presentation reel, and footage from the recent Alamo Drafthouse cast reunion featuring director Peter Jackson along with cast members Sean Astin, Cate Blanchett, Orlando Bloom, Billy Boyd, Ian McKellan, Dominic Monaghan, Viggo Mortenson, Andy Serkis, Liv Tyler, and Elijah Wood.

Return to Middle-Earth for an extended journey and grab your copy of the Middle-Earth Ultimate Collector’s Edition 4K set when it comes home on November 16th from Warner Bros Home Entertainment.  

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