The LotR trilogy is a fine piece of work, full of heart, surprise and wonder. This has been made even more plain since the release of The Hobbit, which is a muddy, cynical, over-long mess, lacking any of the magic on display here (in my opinion). We all know that all three LotR movies are magnificent, with scale and scope (both intimate and epic) and pitch-perfect characterisation, all tacked on to a marvellous story incredibly well-told. Here's where it all began. No one thought Peter Jackson could pull it off, but he did - in unparalleled style. Fellowship is a near-perfect introduction to Middle Earth, and the characters and themes we will come to enjoy over the course of the trilogy. Personally, I think Jackson is at his weakest when tackling comedy, and some of his more heavy-handed, cringingly unfunny moments can be found at the start of Fellowship of the Ring. Hobbits (like the dwarves in Jackson's latest return to Middle Earth) are a little cheesy as a concept. Simple country-folk, prone to pratfalls and slapstick - it all feels a bit cloyingly cosy. And no one can decide if they're from the West Country, or Wales, or Scotland, so they all seem to opt for a bit of everything. Putting that aside, as soon as we leave the Shire, FotR improves dramatically, whipping along and throwing in new characters and plotlines apace. It's a remarkable achievement.
As for the blu-ray, some of the effects and green-screen work look a bit dated, and this is made that little bit more obvious thanks to the clarity. That said, the transfer is only 'good'. Picture quality is not as crisp as some more exemplary blu-ray releases and for me, this wouldn't be a movie I'd fall back on as an example of just how good this medium can look. But it's not particularly about that - this is (currently) the best way to see and hear this beloved trilogy, and I for one have been sold (all over again).
So why only four stars? Because the only extras you'll get are the commentaries that run alongside the movie. I bought the three extended editions separately, because they worked out a few pounds cheaper than the extended blu-ray boxset (with all of its additional DVD content, crammed with documentaries and behind-the-scenes stuff and outtakes, etc, etc). You won't be getting any of the exhaustive extras here. I suppose I should've checked beforehand. I bought these as a replacement for the extended DVDs I have, but I guess I'll have to hold on to them if I want all of the additional stuff that I would've got with the blu-ray boxset. It might've been worth the few extra quid to have bought that rather than the individual films.
No matter. I still unashamedly love these movies and recommended them wholeheartedly.