Middle-Earth 31-Disc Ultimate Collector’s Edition (4K UHD/BD Review)

  • Reviewed by: Bill Hunt
  • Review Date: Nov 12, 2021
  • Format: Blu-ray Disc
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Middle-Earth 31-Disc Ultimate Collector’s Edition (4K UHD/BD Review)

Director

Peter Jackson

Release Date(s)

2001-2014 (November 16, 2021)

Studio(s)

WingNut Films/New Line Cinema (Warner Bros. Home Entertainment)
  • Film/Program Grade: A
  • Video Grade: A-
  • Audio Grade: A+
  • Extras Grade: D-
  • Overall Grade: C+

Middle-Earth 6-Film Ultimate Collector’s Edition (4K Ultra HD/Blu-ray Box Set)

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Review

“A review is never late. It arrives precisely when it means to…”

 Middle-Earth 6-Film Ultimate Collector’s Edition (4K Ultra HD/Blu-ray Box Set)

INTRODUCTION

Director Peter Jackson’s Tolkien-adapted Middle-Earth films are widely—and I believe correctly—regarded as the finest examples of fantasy filmmaking in the history of the medium.

The Lord of the Rings is that rare film trilogy that gets better with each installment and saves its best for last. The Extended Editions of each are among those rare films that actually improve in their longer versions. And the final installment, The Return of the King, deservingly won the coveted Oscar for Best Picture.

Meanwhile, while The Hobbit films had a more troubled production history, aren’t quite as faithful to their source material, and tend to feel a little more padded in their Extended form, they’re still enjoyable and provide a strong narrative foundation for the earlier films (set later in the vast and detailed history of Middle-Earth).

Given their broad success and popularity, these six films—twelve, if you count in the different versions—(eighteen, if you add in all the 3-D versions of The Hobbit films) have been released on disc many times in many different formats and configurations, all of which can make it frustrating for die-hard and casual fans alike when it comes to answering this simple question: Which releases do I need in order to have everything created for these films?

Let’s recap some history for newcomers…

In 2002, 2003, and 2004, New Line released The Fellowship of the Ring, The Two Towers, and The Return of the King on DVD in theatrical form, each with a few unique special features. (Click on the title links to see my original reviews of those from the original Digital Bits website.)

Several months later, in 2002, 2003, and 2004, the studio followed with the films in their Special Extended Editions, each of which made their debut on the DVD format. These sets were notable for their incredible bounty of behind-the-scenes special features, including audio commentaries and an elaborate series of documentaries and galleries collectively known as The Appendices, which were produced by Michael Pellerin. (Again, my original reviews from the time are available here, here, and here.)

Then in 2006, three new Limited Edition DVD sets appeared, which included all three films in both their theatrical and Extended versions, along with a trio of new behind-the-scenes documentaries produced by Costa Botes. (Reviewed here.)

The LOTR DVDs alone totaled nine different SKUs for home video collectors.

With the introduction of Blu-ray in 2007, New Line and Warner Bros released the theatrical versions of The Fellowship of the Ring, The Two Towers, and The Return of the King in high-definition in 2010 in The Motion Picture Trilogy box set. (Reviewed here.)

Finally, The Lord of the Rings: The Motion Picture Trilogy Extended Edition box set followed on Blu-ray Disc a year later, in 2011, complete with both The Appendices and Costa Botes content. (Reviewed here.)

That’s six more home video SKUs for collectors. And as fans may well recall, some of those sets included exclusive prop replicas, statues, and maquettes created by Jackson’s Weta Workshop.

A year later, The Hobbit films followed a similar path: An Unexpected Journey, The Desolation of Smaug, and The Battle of the Five Armies each arrived on DVD, Blu-ray, and Blu-ray 3-D in 2013, 2014, and 2015—in both their theatrical and Extended versions. These added up to a whopping eighteen different SKUs, if you chose to purchase them all, and again there were additional retail-exclusive SKUs with more Weta collectibles. (At the risk of sounding like a broken recored, you’ll find our reviews of those here, here, here, here, here, and here, with an additional 3-D review of one film here).

Obviously, and like many of you who are enthusiastic fans of these films, I personally own most or all of the above—which collectively take up an entire row on my video library here at The Bits’ HQ.

Now, it’s important to note that—throughout all of these releases—director Peter Jackson and special edition producer Michael Pellerin hinted a number of times in interviews that still more behind-the-scenes content was yet to be created. In fact, they claimed that some of the very best making-of content had specifically and intentionally been saved for what they anticipated would be a future—and truly ultimate—box set of all six films, one that would contain literally everything that had come before on disc, along with a substantial amount of newly-produced content. So naturally, fans have been eagerly awaiting such a set for many years.

This anticipation resulted in a great deal of disappointment in 2016, when Warner Bros. Home Entertainment released their Middle-Earth 6-Film Limited Collector’s Edition box set, today much derided as “That Damn Bookshelf” by fans. Priced at nearly $400, it contained all of the previous Blu-ray content (sans 3-D), but nothing new other than a literal bookshelf and book-like packaging for each film. The shame of it is, it’s been revealed since that Jackson—at that time—had proposed creating his truly ultimate box set to WBHE, but they balked at the idea. Needless to say, we didn’t review “That Damn Bookshelf” (and most of you didn’t buy it).

Flash forward to 2020: With 4K Ultra HD finally coming into its own, the rush was on in the industry to exploit key catalog franchise on the format, and Warner finally turned its attention to the Middle-Earth films. Working over the course of a full year in New Zealand, Peter Jackson personally supervised the restoration of The Lord of the Rings films in 4K, along with The Hobbit films (which had originally been completed in 4K and required only new HDR grades). The result of this effort was a pair of box sets in time for Christmas 2020: The Hobbit: The Motion Picture Trilogy and The Lord of the Rings: The Motion Picture Trilogy. (Again, click on the titles for my in-depth reviews.) Each of these was 4K and Digital only—no Blu-rays were included. However, the sets did include both the theatrical and Extended versions of the films. And once again, there were retail-exclusive SKUs with new Weta swag.

In anticipation of those who wondered if there would be a complete box set of all six films in 4K or Blu-ray, Warner Bros. announced at the time that—sometime in the Summer of 2021—there would indeed be a Middle-Earth Ultimate Collector’s Edition box set with everything. Well… not quite everything. For while the set would include all six films in both 4K and Blu-ray (with The Lord of the Rings Blu-rays newly-remastered from the new 4K presentation), the set would not include The Hobbit films in Blu-ray 3-D, nor would it include any of The Appendices and Costa Botes content. The set would however add a single bonus disc of new content.

Skip-ahead to the Summer of 2021… and nothing appeared. Finally, the studio announced that the Middle-Earth 31-Disc Ultimate Collector’s Edition 4K/Blu-ray box set would street on 10/26. Then they delayed it to 11/16. Also arriving that same day: The Lord of the Rings Motion Picture Trilogy on Blu-ray (remastered from 4K) in separate theatrical and Extended Edition box sets. There’s also retail-exclusive versions of some of these with a replica of The One Ring, and of course the 4K sets have been released in various retail-exclusive Steelbook packages.

Whew! Still with me?

Anyway, now here we are. I have in my hands for review—finally—Warner’s Middle-Earth 31-Disc Ultimate Collector’s Edition 4K/Blu-ray box set. And my thoughts on it are… complicated. For casual fans who just want the films fully-remastered in Blu-ray and 4K in handsome packaging—and who don’t have, or care about, any of the previous editions or special features—this set is just the ticket.

But for diehard fans, which I know is most of you, this set is going to be every bit as frustrating as “That Damn Bookshelf,” and in fact probably more frustrating because that one bonus disc of new content contains at least one item you’ll almost certainly want to have. But more on that in a moment.

First, let’s break down what this 31-disc set actually does include. Here are the details, disc by disc (note that extras on each disc, if any, will be listed below)…

 

CONTENTS & EXTRAS

Disc 1 – The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey – Theatrical Version (4K UHD)

No special features.

Disc 2 – The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey – Extended Version (4K UHD)

No special features.

Disc 3 – The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey – Theatrical Version (BD)

  • New Zealand: Home of Middle-Earth (HD – 6:35)

Disc 4 – The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey – Extended Version (BD)

  • The Filmmakers’ Commentary
  • New Zealand: Home of Middle-Earth (HD – 6:35)

Disc 5 – The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug – Theatrical Version (4K UHD)

No special features.

Disc 6 – The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug – Extended Version (4K UHD)

No special features.

Disc 7 – The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug – Theatrical Version (BD)

  • New Zealand: Home of Middle-Earth, Part 2 (HD – 7:11)

Disc 8 – The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug – Extended Version (BD)

  • The Filmmakers’ Commentary
  • New Zealand: Home of Middle-Earth, Part 2 (HD – 7:11)

Disc 9 – The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies – Theatrical Version (4K UHD)

No special features.

Disc 10 – The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies – Extended Version (4K UHD)

No special features.

Disc 11 – The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies – Theatrical Version (BD)

  • New Zealand: Home of Middle-Earth, Part 3 (HD – 6:07)

Disc 12 – The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies – Extended Version (BD)

  • The Filmmakers’ Commentary
  • New Zealand: Home of Middle-Earth, Part 3 (HD – 6:07)
  • Trailer #1 (HD – 1:57)
  • Trailer #2 (HD – 2:33)
  • Legacy Trailer (HD – 2:46)

So those are The Hobbit films. It’s odd that the only one to include trailers is the Extended version of the final film, but there it is. The 4K discs are identical to those released in late 2020. The movie Blu-rays are identical to the previous releases too, except for the fact that the theatrical BDs are all missing the second Blu-ray of bonus content that originally came with each, and the Extended BDs are all missing the two Appendices Blu-rays that came with each. The Blu-ray 3-D versions of each film (both theatrical and Extended) are also not included.

Disc 13 – The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring – Theatrical Version (4K UHD)

No special features.

Disc 14 – The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring – Extended Version, Part 1 (4K UHD)

No special features.

Disc 15 – The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring – Extended Version, Part 2 (4K UHD)

No special features.

Disc 16 – The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring – Theatrical Version (BD)

  • Trailer #1 (HD – 1:48)
  • Trailer #2 (HD – 2:29)
  • Final Trailer (HD – 2:54)
  • The Lord of the Rings Trilogy Supertrailer (HD – 6:39)

Disc 17 – The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring – Extended Version, Part 1 (BD)

  • The Director and Writers Commentary
  • The Design Team Commentary
  • The Production/Post-Production Team Commentary
  • The Cast Commentary
  • Easter Egg: MTV Council of Elrond (SD – 3:31)

Disc 18 – The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring – Extended Version, Part 2 (BD)

  • The Director and Writers Commentary
  • The Design Team Commentary
  • The Production/Post-Production Team Commentary
  • The Cast Commentary
  • Easter Egg: Theatrical Preview of The Two Towers (SD – 3:35)

Disc 19 – The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers – Theatrical Version (4K UHD)

No special features.

Disc 20 – The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers – Extended Version, Part 1 (4K UHD)

No special features.

Disc 21 – The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers – Extended Version, Part 2 (4K UHD)

No special features.

Disc 22 – The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers – Theatrical Version (BD)

  • Teaser Trailer (HD – 2:03)
  • Theatrical Trailer (HD – 3:07)
  • The Lord of the Rings Trilogy Supertrailer (HD – 6:39)

Disc 23 – The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers – Extended Version, Part 1 (BD)

  • The Director and Writers Commentary
  • The Design Team Commentary
  • The Production/Post-Production Team Commentary
  • The Cast Commentary
  • Easter Egg: MTV Best Virtual Performance (SD – 2:54)*

* Note that this should be in 16x9 widescreen, but instead it’s been incorrectly authored in squeezed 4x3. (Oops.)

Disc 24 – The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers – Extended Version, Part 2 (BD)

  • The Director and Writers Commentary
  • The Design Team Commentary
  • The Production/Post-Production Team Commentary
  • The Cast Commentary

Disc 25 – The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King – Theatrical Version (4K UHD)

No special features.

Disc 26 – The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King – Extended Version, Part 1 (4K UHD)

No special features.

Disc 27 – The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King – Extended Version, Part 2 (4K UHD)

No special features.

Disc 28 – The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King – Theatrical Version (BD)

  • Trailer #1 (HD – 3:00)
  • Trailer #2 (HD – 1:03)
  • The Lord of the Rings Trilogy Supertrailer (HD – 6:39)

Disc 29 – The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King – Extended Version, Part 1 (BD)

  • The Director and Writers Commentary
  • The Design Team Commentary
  • The Production/Post-Production Team Commentary
  • The Cast Commentary
  • Easter Egg: Interview with Dominic Monaghan & Elijah Wood (SD – 9:00)

Disc 30 – The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King – Extended Version, Part 2 (BD)

  • The Director and Writers Commentary
  • The Design Team Commentary
  • The Production/Post-Production Team Commentary
  • The Cast Commentary
  • Easter Egg: MTV Ben Stiller & Vince Vaughn “Sequel” Interview with Peter Jackson (SD – 5:53)

So those are The Lord of the Rings films. Note that the movie Blu-rays are all newly-authored discs that feature the films remastered from Peter Jackson’s new 4K presentations, which represent his preferred versions. Also, each of the theatrical BDs originally came a DVD bonus disc—those extras are missing. Also, the Costa Botes DVD documentary discs—one for each film—are not included. And once again, the Extended version Blu-rays each included two Appendices DVDs that are not here either. So really, the vast majority of the existing bonus content for these films has not carried over to this new box set. The shame of it is, all of this content—which again was originally contained on 4 DVDs per film—could likely have been collected into a single Blu-ray for each film. Obviously, that would take time and money to author and replicate such discs, but it’s a pretty straightforward process. Anyway…

All of that aside, you do at least get one new bonus Blu-ray Disc in this set. So here’s what is included on it extras-wise…

Disc 31 – Special Features

  • Alamo Drafthouse Presents The Lord of the Rings Cast Reunion: The Fellowship of the Ring (HD – 39:39)
  • Alamo Drafthouse Presents The Lord of the Rings Cast Reunion: The Two Towers (HD – 32:25)
  • Alamo Drafthouse Presents The Lord of the Rings Cast Reunion: The Return of the King (HD – 29:50)
  • Festival de Cannes Presentation Reel (HD – 26:55)

The good news? This new content is all worth having. The Cast Reunion featurettes were originally produced to be shown at Alamo Drafthouse theaters after screenings of each film in 2021 (in honor of the 20th anniversary of The Fellowship of the Ring). Each is hosted by Tolkien super-fan Stephen Colbert. The Fellowship reunion features Elijah Wood, Sean Astin, Billy Boyd, and Dominic Monaghan. The Two Towers reunion includes Cate Blanchett, Orlando Bloom, Viggo Mortensen, and Liv Tyler. And Return of the King includes Peter Jackson, Ian McKellen, and Andy Serkis. Unfortunately, given the realities of COVID and the costs of actually getting people in the same room together, they’re virtual—produced over Zoom, with each of the participants in their own window. This means the image quality isn’t high, but that can be overlooked because the discussions are fun, lively, and engaging, featuring interesting stories and memories of the productions.

Even better however—and arguably of much more interest to diehard fans—is the Cannes Presentation Reel. This was literally the first look anyone outside the production was given of The Lord of the Rings films at the Cannes Film Festival in France in May of 2001, shortly before the first teaser trailer for The Fellowship of the Ring was released by New Line online (about a week later). It includes little bits of footage we’ve never seen before—unused takes, extended lines of dialogue not in the final films, early cuts of key scenes, and even a few early effects shots. It starts with early moments from Fellowship, features big chunks of the Moria battle sequences from that film, and then ends with a tease of footage from Two Towers and Return of the King. It’s set to early pieces of music from composer Howard Shore, as well as temp tracks from Hans Zimmer’s Gladiator score. This reel is one of those things that fans who saw it live have long wished to experience again, and every other fan has been eager to see for the first time.

But is it worth the cost of this box set just to get the new content? No, it’s not… not in any way, shape, or form.

And there’s so much more content that’s yet to be released! There are true deleted and extended scenes as yet unseen (as much as 30-minutes worth, it’s rumored, though many of these would have to be “finished” with VFX to some degree). There’s hundreds of hours of behind-the-scenes footage (literally thousands of hours of such material was shot during the production). There’s the 36-minute pitch reel used by Jackson to sell the project to New Line in 1998, there’s the original feature-length storyboard animatic versions of Fellowship of the Ring and Two Towers, there’s the 2-minute Internet Preview from April 2000… etc, etc, etc. Trust me when I say that there’s a LOT of content we haven’t seen yet. Will we ever see it at some point? Only time will tell.

 

PACKAGING

So let’s talk for a minute about what is good with this new box set: The packaging is gorgeous. It’s essentially four sturdy slipcovers, each with foil printing and film imagery, that are attached—almost hinged—on one end. And the four are held together on the other end with magnets. When you pull them apart, the box opens almost like a puzzle box or an accordion. The upshot is that you can present them in three different configurations: The way the box comes, side-by-side, or four cases end to end. Whichever configuration you choose, lovely film imagery wraps around the outside. Here’s a sequence of images to illustrate…

Middle-Earth 6-Film Ultimate Collector’s Edition (4K Ultra HD/Blu-ray Box Set)

Middle-Earth 6-Film Ultimate Collector’s Edition (4K Ultra HD/Blu-ray Box Set)

Middle-Earth 6-Film Ultimate Collector’s Edition (4K Ultra HD/Blu-ray Box Set)

Middle-Earth 6-Film Ultimate Collector’s Edition (4K Ultra HD/Blu-ray Box Set)

Middle-Earth 6-Film Ultimate Collector’s Edition (4K Ultra HD/Blu-ray Box Set)

Middle-Earth 6-Film Ultimate Collector’s Edition (4K Ultra HD/Blu-ray Box Set)

Middle-Earth 6-Film Ultimate Collector’s Edition (4K Ultra HD/Blu-ray Box Set)

Middle-Earth 6-Film Ultimate Collector’s Edition (4K Ultra HD/Blu-ray Box Set)

Middle-Earth 6-Film Ultimate Collector’s Edition (4K Ultra HD/Blu-ray Box Set)

Inside the set, each slipcase holds a pair of multi-disc Amaray cases—one for each film. Each of these comes with its own matching “o-card” slipcover. Here’s a look at those…

Middle-Earth 6-Film Ultimate Collector’s Edition (4K Ultra HD/Blu-ray Box Set)

Middle-Earth 6-Film Ultimate Collector’s Edition (4K Ultra HD/Blu-ray Box Set)

The exception to this—oddly—is the Special Features disc, which comes in its own cardboard box. Inside this is a disc-sized Digipack that holds the bonus BD, along with a 64-page softcover book called The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings: A Collection of Costume Sketches, Photography, and Production Notes, a set of 7 travel posters for various locations in the films (done in 1930s Art Deco style, including The Shire, Lake-Town, Erebor, the Anduin, Rohan, Minas Tirith, and Rivendell), and Digital copy codes for The Hobbit Trilogy and The Lord of the Rings Trilogy (which redeem for 4K versions of both the theatrical and Extended versions). Here’s a look at all that…

Middle-Earth 6-Film Ultimate Collector’s Edition (4K Ultra HD/Blu-ray Box Set)

Middle-Earth 6-Film Ultimate Collector’s Edition (4K Ultra HD/Blu-ray Box Set)

All in all, it’s a really handsome package, aside from the fact that’s I’d prefer to have the Special Features disc in a matching Amaray case rather than an odd-thumb Digipack.

 

VIDEO & AUDIO QUALITY

Given the fact that I’ve reviewed all of these films multiple times on DVD, Blu-ray, and 4K Ultra HD in the past, I’ll refer you to the previous reviews (linked above ad nauseam). With only one exception, all of the video and audio presentations are identical to the previous editions. That exception is, of course, the new theatrical and Extended Blu-rays of The Lord of the Rings films, which, as noted previously, have been created from the new 4K remasters.

Now… much has been made (particularly in certain quarters of the Internet) of the fact that Peter Jackson has employed a bit of Digital Noise Reduction (when working on the new LOTR 4K remasters) to reduce photochemical grain slightly to conform the films more to the look his recent (and digitally-captured) Hobbit films—something I noted in my original 4K reviews. But the matter has been much exaggerated in my opinion. I’ve been comparing the original BDs, the new BDs, and the full 4Ks on a 110-inch projection screen for many hours now. And I’ll tell you, there never was a lot of grain visible in the LOTR films. The DNR that’s been applied in the remastered image is relatively light for the most part, though it’s a little more obvious in a few scenes (the early portions of Fellowship in particular, in scenes set inside Bag End, and some of the daylight landscape scenes in Two Towers).

But compared to the previous Blu-ray editions, the new Blu-ray Discs exhibit cleaner and tighter detail, with less visible noise, and better encoding and compression. Contrast is also improved, with deeper, more detailed shadows and slightly bolder highlights, as well as more natural and nuanced colors. The grade is certainly different in places, sometimes a little brighter and bolder. The original Blu-rays actually look oversaturated in comparison in some scenes, and in others the lack of depth and detail in the shadows makes the original Blu-ray image look duller. I challenge the notion that there’s less detail in the new-remastered versions. In fact, to my eyes, quite the reverse is often true (again, it varies a little bit from scene to scene). And here’s something that surprised me today, because I didn’t realize it before: For the scenes in which DNR is visible in the 4K remaster, it’s also visible on the original Blu-rays. (Perhaps it was always there, and the HDR simply makes it appear a little more noticeable?) In any case, I much prefer the new Blu-rays to the previous ones—the improvements in contrast, color accuracy, and encoding make a real difference. If you’re used to the previous Blu-rays, however, the color and contrast differences in the new ones might be a little jarring. My suggestion is to keep an open mind.

However, the previous Blu-rays don’t hold a candle to the new 4K UHD presentations, which exhibit visibly greater and more refined detail in almost every instance in which I’ve compared them. The difference is more obvious on a large display and is dramatic in many scenes. When seen on a 110-inch front projection screen, it’s not even close. So if you’ve read somewhere (in some unruly discussion forum online) that DNR has somehow “Ruined the 4K remasters!” I challenge and encourage you to buy the discs and look for yourself. When you compare the three versions directly, you’ll see that it just ain’t so, Joe.

Note that audio on the new theatrical Blu-rays is included in English Dolby Atmos (7.1 Dolby TrueHD compatible), French 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio, Spanish 2.0 Dolby Digital, Czech 5.1 Dolby Digital (Fellowship only), and Polish Lektor 5.1 Dolby Digital, with optional subtitles available in English for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing, French, Dutch, Chinese (Fellowship and Two Towers only), Korean (Fellowship and Two Towers only), Spanish, Czech (Fellowship only), Danish, Finnish, Greek (Fellowship only), Norwegian, Polish, and Swedish. Quality-wise, these Atmos mixes are identical to those found on the previously-reviewed 4K UHD release.

Audio on the Extended Blu-rays is available in English Dolby Atmos (7.1 Dolby TrueHD compatible), French 6.1 DTS-HD Master Audio, and Polish Lektor 5.1 Dolby Digital, with optional subtitles available in English for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing, French, Dutch, Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Spanish, Czech, Danish, Finnish, Norwegian, Polish, and Swedish. It appears that there are also subtitles for the commentaries in English, French, Dutch, and Korean. Again… quality-wise, these Atmos mixes are identical to those found on the previously-reviewed 4K UHD release.

 

FINAL THOUGHTS

So there’s the thing: Is THIS the Ultimate Collector’s Edition of these films we’ve all been waiting for? No.

Hopefully, that will still happen one day. And the lack of legacy special features here is an extreme disappointment. For most diehard fans, I’d recommend simply buying the new 4K sets by themselves, and then picking up the remastered LOTR films on BD separately (available here and here—wait for a good sale price to kick in). The new Special Features disc, nice though it is, simply isn’t worth the cost of this box.

But… for those of you who don’t really care about the special features, and who perhaps haven’t purchased every previous version of these films on disc, this set is the perfect way to get the best presentations of all six films on Blu-ray, 4K, and Digital (in both the theatrical and Extended versions). If that applies to you, the bonus disc might be a nice enticement to push you over the edge and the packaging is beautiful indeed.

So in the end, I suppose Warner’s new Middle-Earth 31-Disc Ultimate Collector’s Edition 4K/Blu-ray box set is sort of recommended, but only for casual to semi-enthusiastic fans who care only about the films themselves. And you diehards need only apply if you really, really absolutely must have the new bonus disc and price is no obstacle (in which case you can add this box to your library with every other edition that you’ll still probably want to hang onto). And as for that genuinely ultimate and as-yet-unrealized Middle-Earth box set, I’ll simply quote Gandalf: “There never was much hope. Just a fool’s hope.”

But we fools can always keep hoping.

- Bill Hunt

(You can follow Bill on social media at these links: Twitter and Facebook)

 

Tags

2001, 2002, 2003, 2012, 2013, 2014, 31 discs, 4K, 4K scan and remaster, 4K Ultra HD, 5K digital capture, Adam Brown, Aidan Turner, Alamo Drafthouse Cast Reunion, Andrew Lesnie, Andy Serkis, Benedict Cumberbatch, Bernard Hill, Bill Hunt, Billy Boyd, Billy Connolly, Blu-ray, Blu-ray Disc, booklet, Cannes Presentation Reel, Cate Blanchett, Christopher Lee, David Wenham, Dean O'Gorman, Digital Copy, Dolby Atmos, Dolby Vision HDR, Dominic Monaghan, dragon, Elijah Wood, Erebor, Evangeline Lilly, exclusive BD bonus disc, Extended Editions, Fran Walsh, Gollum, Graham McTavish, Guillermo del Toro, HDR10, HFR, high frame rate, Howard Shore, Hugo Weaving, Ian Holm, Ian McKellen, James Nesbitt, Jed Brophy, John Callen, John Noble, John Rhys-Davies, Karl Urban, Ken Stott, Lee Pace, Liv Tyler, Mark Hadlow, Martin Freeman, Marton Csokas, MGM, Middle-earth, Middle-Earth 6-Film Ultimate Collector’s Edition, Miranda Otto, Native 4K Digital Intermediate, New Line, New Zealand, Orlando Bloom, Park Road Post, Peter Hambleton, Peter Jackson, Philippa Boyens, remastered LOTR Blu-rays, review, Richard Armitage, Sauron, Sean Astin, Sean Bean, shot in 3-D, Shot on 35 mm film, Smaug, Stephen Colbert, Stephen Fry, Stephen Hunter, Stephen Sinclair, Sylvester McCoy, The Digital Bits, The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies, The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug, The King Under the Mountain, The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring, The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King, The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers, The One Ring, The Shire, Theatrical Cuts, travel posters, UHD, Viggo Mortensen, Warner Bros Home Entertainment, Weta Digital, William Kircher, WingNut Films

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