The Lord Of The Rings: The Fellowship Of The Ring is the first part of an epic trilogy to tell J.R.R. Tolkien's tale in its entirety, tackled by the capable director Peter Jackson. Thankfully, the film begins with a brief history of the rings...namely the ring that falls into the hands of a humble Hobbit named Frodo Baggins (Wood). The ring has the ability to enslave the world if it falls into the hands of any tainted inhabitant of Middle-earth. Frodo is commanded by the wizard Gandalf (McKellen) to cast the ring into the fires at Mount Doom in the dreadful land of Mordor, the evil site where it was created and the only place where it can be destroyed. Accompanying Frodo is a brave Fellowship, sworn to protect Frodo and the ring: three Hobbits (Astin, Boyd, and Monaghan), Gandalf, two human warriors (Mortensen and Bean), an elf archer (Bloom), and a Viking-like dwarf (Rhys-Davies). The quest is a dangerous one, with the Fellowship under constant pursuit by the evil forces who want possession of the ring. Despite the deadly obstacles that the Fellowship must face, Frodo has an additional fear: will anyone in the Fellowship betray him on his perilous journey? The movie nears three hours in length and ends with a tremendous void of what is to come...in part two: The Two Towers. (Suzanne Hodges)
Disc One features Part 1 of the film and special features include commentary with the director and writers, commentary with the Design Team, commentary with the Production/Post-Production Team, commentary with the cast, The Lord Of The Rings: War In The North Trailer: The Untold Story (HD 01:38), an Easter Egg (HD 03:29), and BD-Live. Disc Two features Part 2 of the film and includes the same commentary tracks as on Disc One, an Easter Egg (HD 03:34), and BD-Live. Disc Three is the DVD of Part 1 of the film and Disc Four is the DVD of Part 2 of the film. Both discs include special features. Disc Five is also a DVD and includes a behind-the-scenes documentary. Also included in the packaging is a booklet.
While this new 2.42:1 1080p AVC Blu-ray Disc presentation, spread across two BD-50 discs, is far superior to the previous anamorphically enhanced 2.40:1 DVD reviewed in Issue 67 and the Blu-ray theatrical version reviewed in Issue 148, the picture appears different. Director Peter Jackson and Cinematographer Andrew Lesnie adjusted the film's color timing before approving the new master use for this release. The difference is not subtle. Shadows are darker, greens and cyans are more saturated, and other colors are shaded different, resulting in a revisionist appearance unlike the other films in the trilogy, both previously released on DVD and in theatrical versions on Blu-ray Disc. The blanket color shift is present throughout, though flashback scenes from Fellowship that appear in the other two films are sans the green/cyan toning. As with all the films in the trilogy, the contrasting total balances are extremely cinematic and enhance the visual weight of this stylish, epic, Oscar®-winning picture with nicely rendered images. Hues are rich and vibrant, with color schemes that suit individual locations throughout. While the Shire is filled with inviting, fully saturated greens and golds; Moria has a dank, dark, and cold feeling with lots of blue and grays; and Rivendell glows with golden autumn hues under a soft, hazy light, offering an appearance that is easy on the eyes. Of course, a softer focus is used at times, along with lighting and smoke effects, to create an aura specific to scenes dedicated to the Elves of Rivendell and the High Elves of Lothlórien. At times, minor smearing and crush is evident, but detail is nicely rendered throughout. In fact, compared to the DVD reviewed in Issue 67, resolution is dramatically improved, revealing nuances in facial features and object textures. Contrast and shadow delineation are nicely depicted, also depending on the mood and setting of the scene. While edge enhancement is not noticed in all scenes, its subtle presence is noticed at times. Still, edge enhancement is not to be confused with digitally composited shots, which reveal a soft ring around a character in full shots shared by a short Hobbit and a tall human or Elf. The source element is revealing of occasional artifacts and film grain, but these are such minor instances. Overall, the filmmakers have managed to deliver, as with the previous theatrical version Blu-ray release, a stunning presentation that is immensely satisfying and sure to enthrall fans. (Gary Reber/Suzanne Hodges)
Finally, Warner has delivered a DTS-HD Master Audio™ 6.1-channel soundtrack, which as with the previous DVD Dolby® Digital Surround EX™ and DTS ES audio rendering, was the result of a new remix for the DVD at MiCasa Studio. The center back imaging is as distinct as is evident on the DVD reviewed in Issue 67. The soundtrack presentation is superb, with an open, airy soundstage presence throughout and exemplary fidelity. An outstanding aspect of this production is Howard Shore's music score, which has been very well recorded and has a dimensional character that just seems to convincingly encircle you, providing for a downright effective visceral foundation to each setting. In Chapter 37, there is a key moment for which sound effects actually take a back seat to the music, and it is here that you can really appreciate the emotional momentum imparted through both the melodic theme and the spatial character. The dialogue is also a fine recording, with voices having particular distinctiveness. Spatial integration of the dialogue is remarkable throughout. Overall, this is a very dynamic, loud, and powerful soundtrack, with caution advised at or near reference level, as there are instances of extreme sound pressure levels and energy at the lowest frequencies. The deep bass comprises extension to well below 25 Hz in all channels. In addition to the many effects that call for substantial low-end content, the music score also has a very generous, rich, articulate deep bass character. The myriad sound effects throughout have all been very well crafted and recorded, with those that are poignant, imparting a particularly visceral presence through their sheer creativity (such as the nearly fatal arrow "hits" in Chapter 37). Their distribution throughout the listening space should speak for themselves, abundantly enveloping the listener and at other times creating an effective world of expansiveness. These are particular standout features of this soundtrack, as you should really be able to perceive a holosonic® environment that fully encircles. While the back surround channel played a major role in the creation of that wide, open, airy soundstage all around you on the DVD, and as well, there are some instances where, by itself, it becomes a creative asset, such as in the beginning of Chapter 18, which is now as effective in this remastered version. This is a wonderful, splendid soundtrack presentation and an essential element in the full experience of this epic. The team at MiCasa Multimedia, who worked with the remix and mastering of the first DVD release, as well as the original creators of the soundtrack, did an excellent job with the new segments
relevant to the extended edition. Fans deserved this treatment, and it is delivered here on the special extended edition Blu-ray Disc installments, now the definitive versions of the trilogy. (Gary Reber/Perry Sun)