As films in their own right, The Lord Of The Rings: The Fellowship Of The Ring; The Two Towers and The Return Of The King are some of the greatest films ever made. As a trilogy nothing rivals them. The X-Men trilogy fell at the last hurdle. The Matrix trilogy never lived up to the staggering potential of the first film. The Spiderman trilogy came close, it’s true, it was an excellent and thoroughly enjoyable adaptation from the comicbooks, yet it somehow lacks the complete immersion into another world that The Lord Of The Rings offers.
Each instalment in the trilogy is a pure demonstration of artistically and commercially successful filmmaking.
The cast list reads like a role call of the very best actors from all over the world, Britain, Australia and the USA all offer up some of their finest. And their performances are just perfect. Ian McKellen, Viggo Mortensen, Elijah Wood, Liv Tyler, Ian Holm, Orlando Bloom, Cate Blanchett, Hugo Weaving, Karl Urban, Brad Dourif, Christopher Lee, even Sean Bean! They are all excellent. Simply faultless. And perhaps topping them all is Andy Serkis who is stunning as Gollum/Smeagol.
The scale and grandeur of the whole project is astonishing. Three years in the making, the whole cast and crew living and working in New Zealand, just to be involved in any way must have been amazing.
The breath-taking New Zealand countryside is second only to the special effect shots, seamlessly embedded, which create the truly epic stage for this saga to play out upon.
Director Peter Jackson uses everything to his advantage handling proceedings with an assurance the like of which we may see never again. He manages to create an arresting sense of tension in all of the intertwining storylines and delivers an array of emotions through intense battle scenes and touching portrayals of loyalty and kinship, with considerable style.
Each chapter builds upon the last. Characters are beautifully developed and given their own personal emotional arcs. The storyline is unfalteringly and genuinely compelling.
And what does HD offer to this experience? Well it only makes it better. Bright colours leap off the screen. The New Zealand countryside looks magnificent. Grass and trees are delightfully verdant. Snow is the purest white. Fire a truly primordial hue. And the darkness is as black as nothingness. The image is perfectly clean, crisper and entirely devoid of imperfections, no grain, no artefacts, it’s excellent. Liv Tyler is more beautiful. Viggo Mortensen is sexier.
The sound in DTS or 5.1 DD is all encompassing. It’s loud when it needs to be, the clashes of swords in battle and the bloodcurdling screams all ring out in perfect clarity. It’s quiet when it needs to be, the loving whispers in Elvish between Arwen and Aragorn, quiet and intimate, yet still clearly audible.
Put simply it is essential viewing. But should you wait for the extended versions with their extra footage and special features? Yes you should. But if you can’t wait or are prepared to buy both then this will not disappoint.