Okay, I’m sorry, didn’t we just go through this nonsense twelve months ago? The theatrical editions of the Lord of the Rings films were released on Blu-ray to great controversy last year, partly due to transfers that didn’t seem to live up to most expectations and partly due to the exclusion of the much-lauded Extended Editions. And now, after the studio and director Peter Jackson himself assured us that the less-than-ideal Blu-ray releases already in our hands were only to tide us over until the mega-perfect Ultimate boxed set would be released many years down the road, along with the coming of The Hobbit, we now find out that Warner is on the verge of unleashing the longer cuts on Blu this year! Bill Hunt at The Digital Bits got the scoop:
“We suspect that, now that The Hobbit films are finally about to begin filming, the studio is eager to get more product on store shelves to keep the franchise fresh in the minds of fans. The Extended Rings films on BD are the obvious choice for this year. Farther down the line, of course, there will be the obvious Blu-ray and Blu-ray 3D versions of The Hobbit films, and sooner or later an “ultimate” box set of all the films with all new extras custom created by Jackson. Anyway, our sources tell us to expect some kind of official news on all this (re: Rings: Extended and Kubrick) from the studio in the next several weeks.”
That “Kubrick” news he mentions is regarding the upcoming European release of Lolita and Barry Lyndon on Blu-ray Disc on May 18th and what that might mean for us, over on the other side of the Atlantic:
“…we’ve checked in with our industry sources on this again today, and they’ve confirmed that Warner Home Video IS going to be releasing Lolita and Barry Lyndon on Blu-ray this Spring (here in the States and elsewhere) as part of a larger Kubrick promotion.”
These are both very exciting rumours but I can’t but feel that the timing for another Rings release is way off. What do you think? Will you pick up the Extended Edition films on Blu this year, if they’re indeed released? Do you feel a bit burned by the potential of yet another double/triple-dip?
Annnnnd we’re back. It’s been a long, long weekend for The Blu-ray Blog. Everyone was taking some time off, spending the days with family and just taking the opportunity to get in some rest and relaxation. I traveled back home to Ontario to celebrate my nephew’s tenth birthday! Many video-games were played. Many Blu-ray discs were watched. Many cupcakes were scarfed down. I think, between the sedentary celebrations and the cornucopia of food this weekend I probably put on a few pounds. Time to work them off by…writing this exciting Top 5 Blu-ray discs column? I think I’d probably burn more calories by playing more Tekken 6.
This is, without question, the release of the week. But it sure isn’t for everyone. Aside from the ongoing arguments regarding the potentially flawed picture quality of the discs, The Lord of the Rings: The Motion Picture Trilogy set only features the theatrical cuts of all three films. Now, that’s not a big problem for guys like me, who enjoy watching both these and the longer, truer-to-the-book extended cuts, but I understand that this is heresy to some. Rest assured, the extended editions will make their way to Blu in due time. But if you count yourself among the few fans who aren’t crying “double dip” and can’t wait for the longer cuts to hit the shops, you can grab your own copies of the films on Blu today.
Absolute, bat-shit crazy Werner Herzog adaptation of Abel Ferrara‘s bat-shit crazy, original cult film. This time around, featuring a mind-altering performance by Nicolas Cage that reminds us, for the first time in years, that the man is actually talented and can bust it up onscreen when he feels so inclined. I can’t speak to the quality of the Blu-ray disc itself but at this super-low Amazon price, I doubt you’ll go wrong by taking the risk and buying blind.
Once upon a time, before the days of Sphere and Jimmy Hollywood, director Barry Levinson made films as great as The Natural. This is one I didn’t think we’d see on Blu-ray any time soon, as I assumed it would need a lot of t.l.c. to make it shine in 1080p. I’m not sure what magic elixir Sony used to bring it to life in high-def but man, this is a beautiful Blu-ray disc! Packed with tons of extras, an incredible transfer and a killer lossless audio track, The Natural is a…home run.
Another adaptation this week which sees a classic film being recreated into a second, more contemporary yet still awesome film. The Thomas Crown affair took the Steve McQueen/Faye Dunaway original and gave it a slicker, more action packed pace, along with some electric chemistry between stars Pierce Brosnan and Rene Russo. Much like the Bad Lieutenant film, I haven’t given this one a look yet so I can’t attest to the quality of the audio and video. But priced at only $11.99 on Amazon, how can you possibly pass this one up?
Ahhhh…Steve Guttenberg, aliens and old people. The ideal mix of ingredients to make cinema magic, right? Uhhhh… I was never a big fan of Cocoon growing up but it’s a really well done, classic 80s film from director Ron Howard, finally available on Blu-ray this week. For less than twenty bucks you get the film, an Opie commentary, a bunch of featurettes and trailers. Sounds pretty good for those of you who are fans of 80s movies, Ron Howard or magical grandparents.
As it has been for a while now, the brand new boxed set edition of the BSG: Complete Series is priced well below the MSRP on the Canadian Amazon site. As well as being priced well below its US counterpart. If you’re at all interested in this Blu-ray set, updated with BSG: The Plan and a trimmer, more practical case, you should jump on this low price now before Amazon.ca jacks up their price.
Members of the AVS Forum who have had a chance to preview the upcoming Lord of the Rings Blu-ray set are reporting that the transfer/encode does not live up to expectations. The first film in the series, The Fellowship of the Ring is noted as purportedly being particularly soft and subject to overuse of Digital Noise Reduction (DNR), which causes faces to look waxy and detail to disappear.
Member eric.exe has posted a lot of screenshot examples, comparing the new Fellowship of the Ring Blu-ray with a previous HD broadcast of the film. He goes further to show the differences between the same shots used initially in Fellowship and then repeated in a montage sequence in its sequel, The Two Towers. Here are a only a couple of his many examples:
CLICK TO ENLARGE: Fellowship of the Ring Blu-ray
CLICK TO ENLARGE: Fellowship of the Ring HDTV Broadcast
CLICK TO ENLARGE: Fellowship of the Ring Blu-ray
CLICK TO ENLARGE: The Two Towers Blu-ray
Please visit the discussion thread on AVSForum.com for further screencap examples.
I don’t know about you but I’m going to hold off judging this release until I can inspect it in person. For the record, writer/director Peter Jackson has signed off on these new Blu-ray editions of his film trilogy and in most cases, that should be a ringing enough endorsement for anyone. There could be any number of reasons for these anomalies in image quality, from poor post-production on original film elements to a simple change in colour timing and contrast. It’s even possible that some DNR was added to cover up sloppy CGI in places. But like I said, at this point, for me, it’s too early to tell.
I’ll still be picking up the boxed set in a couple of weeks. I’ll let you know what I think of it at that time.
Oh boy. I remember this animated version of Lord of the Ringsquite fondly from my youth! This is some amazing, groundbreaking Ralph Bakshi animation. And while the rotoscoping technique isn’t favored by everybody (actors in costume were traced to create the animation) the result has now become a timeless classic. But I didn’t imagine we’d be seeing Lord of the Rings on Blu-ray this soon in the formats life cycle. It’s clearly being released as a compliment to the live-action Peter Jackson films, which hit the shops on the same day, April 6th. Can’t wait to see it again!
LORD OF THE RINGS (1978)
(April 6, 2010 – MSRP $29.99)
Video: 1.85:1 1080p
Audio: English: Dolby TrueHD 5.1
Forging through the Darkness: The Ralph Bakshi Vision for The Lord of the Rings