The Lord of the Rings: The Motion Picture Trilogy 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray Review: The Basics

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The Lord of the Rings: The Motion Picture Trilogy 4K UHD Review: The Basics


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DISCLAIMER
The Lord of the Rings: The Motion Picture Trilogy 4K UHD was sent to us by Warner Bros. My opinions in this review are my own.





The Lord of the Rings: The Motion Picture Trilogy 4K Blu-ray
Extended & Theatrical / 4K Ultra HD + Blu-ray
Warner Bros. | 2001-2003 | 3 Movies | Rated PG-13 | Dec 01, 2020

Video
Codec: HEVC / H.265
Resolution: 4K (2160p)
HDR: Dolby Vision, HDR10
Original aspect ratio: 2.39:1

Audio
English: Dolby Atmos
French (Canadian): Dolby Digital 5.1
Spanish: Dolby Digital 5.1

Subtitles
English, French (Canadian), Spanish

Discs
Blu-ray Disc
Nine-disc set (9 BD)
4K Ultra HD (UHD)
UPC 883929704736




Story: The Basics


The Lord of the Rings: The Motion Picture Trilogy 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray Review: The Basics Screenshots Stills and Story

- The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring (2001)

With the help of a courageous fellowship of friends and allies, Frodo Baggins embarks on a perilous mission to destroy the legendary One Ring. Hunting Frodo are servants of the Dark Lord, Sauron, the Ring's evil creator. If Sauron reclaims the Ring, Middle-Earth is doomed.

- The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers (2002)

Frodo Baggins and the Fellowship continue their quest to destroy the One Ring and stand against the evil of the dark lord Sauron. The Fellowship has divided; they now find themselves taking different paths to defeating Sauron and his allies. Their destinies now lie at two towers — Orthanc Tower in Isengard, where the corrupted wizard Saruman waits, and Sauron's fortress at Barad-dur, deep within the dark lands of Mordor. Based on the novel The Two Towers, the second in The Lord of the Rings trilogy by J.R.R. Tolkien.

- The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King (2003)

The final battle for Middle-earth begins. Frodo and Sam, led by Gollum, continue their dangerous mission toward the fires of Mount Doom in order to destroy the One Ring. Aragorn struggles to fulfill his legacy as he leads his outnumbered followers against the growing power of the Dark Lord Sauron, so that the Ring-bearer may complete his quest.

Director: Peter Jackson
Writers: Fran Walsh, Philippa Boyens, Peter Jackson, J.R.R. Tolkien, Stephen Sinclair
Starring: Elijah Wood, Ian McKellen, Liv Tyler, Viggo Mortensen, Sean Astin, Cate Blanchett




The Lord of the Rings Official Trailer







Video: The Basics


The Lord of the Rings: The Motion Picture Trilogy 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray Review: The Basics Screenshots Stills and Video

The upgrade that Lord of the Rings has received on 4K compared to the DVD and Blu-ray is huge. The 4K scan and the Dolby Vision improvements are excellent. The color grading is much better, that annoying green tint is gone. However, all three movies suffer from Digital Noise Reduction (DNR) and edge enhancement. Why Warners Bros? Why?

Starting with the good. The new color grade is superb, it looks natural and vibrant. The black levels are great with no black crush, I was worried about this, but it looks great. The image at times is incredibly bright, so much brighter than the old DVD and Blu-ray. I keep referring to the old DVD and Blu-ray because that's what we've been watching for the last 20 years.

The resolution is very good from this 4K scan. Even the title at the start is so sharp, never have I seen it look this detailed. Facial detail is very sharp also.

So, the transfer is decent, but somebody at Warner decided that the film grain was too gritty? And the special effects too soft? This is where it gets bad.

The film grain on all 3 movies is soft, but it's made worse because of the Digital Noise Reduction (DNR). Sorry, but this is bad. Under no circumstances is this acceptable. This is an ancient technique that should never be used in my opinion.
Guess what they did to overcome this? They used edge enhancement (added sharpness) to overcome the softness. Again, another thing in the industry that must go. This looks terrible in my opinion. This might look good on a 36 inch TV, but not on a 77 inch OLED. I just can not believe that they used these 2 specific techniques. Was the 4K scan not high enough quality? We all know that the visual effects were probably 480p or even 720p originally. Sure, they've been 4K scanned now, but there still dated special effects. We all know that the special effects would be soft, but please don't sharpen them to try and make them look more detailed.

Not only that, noise reduction was used on non-digital shots also. Simple shots with Legolas and Theoden King -- where Aragorn gets dragged off the edge. This scene is offensive to my eyes. Legolas and Theoden King are talking to each other and the worst of the worst DNR is used, awful.

Edge enhancement is also used throughout all 3 movies and it's heavy. It's worse in The Two Towers and The Return of The King. You can see this by looking at hard edges and seeing a huge edge line next to it. I had to check that my sharpness wasn't at 100, but no it was at zero. I also checked my reference disc, The Shining, and no, it was perfect. Again, applying sharpness to a soft movie is unforgivable for me, let the 4k scan do the work. This is not what makes good picture quality, and I wish that the industry would understand this.
So you want soft digital shots? Yes, if that what it takes for an image to be as native as possible, yes!

This is how the movie looked so why change it? Accept the fact that there's soft shots, stop playing with it and making it look worse.

The movies also have ringing around hard objects. This is sometimes to be accepted. The Wizard of Oz for example had this on the 4K UHD, I think I was the only one to pick up on this. This is a camera artifact and is seen at its worse with lower resolution cameras. If this has nothing to do with the transfer, for the most part, I'm okay with it. However, in The Lord of The Rings, it is heavy. One thing with these movies is the number of different cameras used, there must have been so many. Because of this, the consistency between shots is all over the place. There are some great close-ups, then soft, and then soft far shots, there is no consistency.

Do I still recommend these movies on 4K UHD? Yes!!! Yes, yes, and one more yes. With all of its flaws, its quality is incredible vs what we've had before. The upgrade is honestly huge, the Dolby Vision color grade is a game-changer.
Am I happy with it? Yes and No. The DNR and edge enhancement are unforgivable. But, it's still the best way to watch these absolutely amazing movies.

Googly eyes syndrome -- My first impressions were of shock and amazement. However, remember, most of us are coming from the DVD and Blu-ray generation. We know how these movies look so graphically. Switching to 4K is a massive upgrade. So why do you review it low? Because I don't review movies based on its Blu-ray counterpart. I review movies based on the current state of the art 4K UHD. If I review this 5 out of 5, compared to what? The Blu-ray? Sure?
Should I compare a Blu-ray to the Netflix stream? Why not? because there 2 completely different formats. This is why I don't compare to an old generation.

Recommended even with its flaws.

UPDATE: I just wanted to explain that The Fellowship of The Ring is certainly in a different class to The Two Towers, and Return of The King. Reviewing all 3 movies together is slighly disengenous. However, I will upping my review score from 3.5 (Original Review Score) to a 4. I think that 4 is a fair score, but there are still issues with the last 2 movies. Thank you.

UPDATE 2: Review scores for individual movies.
- The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring -- 4.5
- The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers -- 3.5
- The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King -- 3.5

Video Score Updated to reflect the mean average score.

VIDEO SCORE: 3.8 OUT OF 5

THE BASICS: DNR/EDGE ENHANCEMENT -- DOLBY VISION CARRIES IT




Audio: The Basics


The Lord of the Rings: The Motion Picture Trilogy 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray Review: The Basics Screenshots Stills and Audio

The upgrade to Dolby Atmos is the complete opposite of the video. The audio is absolutely excellent. The audio alone is a big enough reason to upgrade. This is how it's done, and this is amazing.

Dialogue is super clean, and at perfect reference volume, good stuff. I can't tell you how much I dislike low volume dialogue and loud movies, but this gets it right.

The surround sound effects are superb, and now we also have Atmos height effects. Well done, well done! This is excellent Dolby Atmos' work. Another movie released in 2020 with an Awesome Dolby soundtrack.

The bass? I felt that it was a little low for my taste, and isn't in the same league as the 300 4K UHD. However, the Balrog scene provides very nice deep bass. However, generally speaking, the bass isn't as good as modern-day movies.

Because the Atmos effects, and surround sound is so good, the slightly low bass isn't really a concern. I wanted more punch, but I think that what we have is good. This is how the movie sounded and nothing was done with equalization to change that.

I'm very happy with this release, this is how all Atmos mixes should sound. Excellent.

AUDIO SCORE: 5 OUT OF 5

THE BASICS: NOT REFERENCE BUT EXCELLENT




HOW I REVIEW THE BASICS


I just write what I see, nothing super in-depth; just what I see. Do I see noise in the blacks? Edge enhancement? Digital Issues? Scaling Problem? I will let you know if I see any errors in the discs, and explain how good they really look. Same with the audio; a very simple review method. I have no agenda other than finding and reporting what I see and hear. My reviews will not get a reference certificate unless it's flawless, and I will not be giving out 5/5 video/audio without merit. I'm going to keep this really simple, and I hope you enjoy that side of my Reviews. Thank you.

REVIEW SCORES

1
2
3
4
5
5 REFERENCE (ONLY FOR THE ABSOLUTE BEST)

EQUIPMENT I USE TO REVIEW


  • POWER CONDITIONER - FURMAN ELITE-15 PF I
  • DENON - X6500H (DOLBY ATMOS, DTSX, AND AURO 3D)
  • ELAC - UNI-FI FLOORSTANDERS UF51
  • ELAC - UNI-FI BOOKSHELF UB51 (INCLUDING DOLBY ATMOS)
  • ELAC - UNI-FI CENTER SPEAKER UC51
  • ELAC - TWO SUB3030 SUBWOOFERS
  • PANASONIC - UB9000 4K ULTRA HD BLU-RAY PLAYER
  • LG - C9 77 INCH - (ISF CALIBRATED - DOLBY VISION)

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Post a Comment

11 Comments

  1. Did you see these movies on 4K UHD yet? What did you think?

    ReplyDelete
  2. So, the FX shots were done in 2K. In some cases these were printed to film, then scanned at 4K. In other cases, they were upscaled. Your (laughable) claim of 480p or 720p digital effects in this era leads me to believe some of your other claims may be spurious as well.

    Maybe it would be a good idea to include some side by side comparisons of the DNR on these discs; it was quite atrocious on the DVD’s and BD’s, but really not very heavy-handed in this release.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. They were probably originally done in 480p or 720p. At least, that's the quality that they look to me. Sure they've been upgraded and scanned at 4K, but it's obvious that the effects are still dated no matter what they did to them.

      I know that they were scanned at 4K, it say's so in the press release. The original effects were probably 720p, it's possible that they were 1080p, but I doubt it.

      I'd like you to check this scene out if you get a chance.

      -- Disc 2 extended, two towers, 14:30 to 14:50
      -- Theodan and Legolas's face.


      Then tell me that my claims are spurious Legolas.

      Delete
  3. The VFX shots were rendered at 2K res. That’s very well documented. Do your homework.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Could you link me that? I'd just like to see how the special effects were done.

      Delete
  4. Just watched all 3 movies on a 3m wide screen, using a Sony 790 4k projector, and I fully agree with everything you say. Atmos was great, bass a bit light, dialogue excellent, but picture quality all over the place. I actually thought something was wrong with my player initially, as some close ups looked brilliant, then the next scene soft / poor vfx, then somewhere in the middle. Annoying as the good shots look great, so the bad ones are disappointing. I am glad I saw this review as everywhere else is calling it reference and I thought I was having some sort of hardware failure!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. So, have you tried disabling that projector’s HDR Enhancer? It’s a very good home model, but far from reference...

      Delete
    2. Its connected to a lumagen radiance pro 4242+, calibrated by the leading calibrator in the UK, so I will have to disagree. I also tried some scenes on my 65" OLED and they looked the same.

      Delete
    3. Well, it’s an objective fact that your equipment is a high-end consumer grade device, but again it’s far from reference quality itself.

      Under typical viewing conditions, I’m sure it’s quite good.

      In addition, have you reviewed any of the “making of” featurettes made 20 years ago?

      The Director of Photography and Director made stylistic choices on cameras and camera filters, with the sole aim of crafting certain scenes in a highly stylized way.

      This is in contrast to how most would shoot a film, yet yields surreal qualities, and helps transport the viewer.

      My guess is you and the reviewer have misinterpreted some of these stylistic choices.

      Delete
    4. Thank you Pete. I'm glad you've spoken out about this. I think giving these discs a reference score is absolutely ridiculous. I'm not denying the 4K UHD improvements, but the claims of a "perfect transfer" are quite simply laughable.

      Delete