Musings for Wednesday, February 10, 2021: or, Mo Better Blu-Rays!

I’m not a tech-savvy audio-visual expert, nor a LOTR nerd, so I’m going to share a review by an expert on the franchise.

Hi there, Dear Reader. It’s mid-morning here in New Hometown, Florida on Wednesday, February 10, 2021. Currently, the temperature is 68˚F (20˚C) under dense fog conditions. With the wind blowing from the east southeast at 3 MPH (5 KM/H) and humidity at 94%, the feels-like temperature is 68˚F (20˚C). Per today’s forecast, we can expect partly sunny skies and a high of 84˚F (29˚C); tonight, the skies will be partly cloudy and the low will be 66˚F (19˚C).

I received my Amazon order of The Lord of the Rings: The Motion Picture Trilogy some time after 6 PM last night; it’s a nine-disc set with both versions of Peter Jackson’s adaptation of Tolkien’s high fantasy masterpiece – the 2001-2003 theatrical releases of The Fellowship of the Ring, The Two Towers, and The Return of the King in single BD-100 4K UHD discs each, and the Extended Editions in two BD-100 4K UHD each (the films are divided into two parts).

From what I read on Blu-ray.com about the 4K reissue of  The Lord of the Rings: The Motion Picture Trilogy, which Warner Bros. Home Entertainment released on December 1, 2020, this $89.99 no-frills box set is just a test run for a larger set that is expected to be out later this year, which is why it has six discs less than the 2011 box set of the same name.

Per Randy Miller’s November 27, 2020 review on Blu-ray.com:

Continuing their banner year for 4K catalog releases, Warner Bros. has released Peter Jackson’s The Lord of the Rings trilogy (as well as The Hobbit trilogy) on the format as a complete set that includes the theatrical and extended cuts of each film. This surprise holiday release tests the waters as a nine-disc “movies only” edition, with each theatrical cut getting a triple-layer 100GB disc to itself and the extended cuts split between two discs apiece. An even more lavish trilogy collection — with the possibility of brand-new extras — is planned for release sometime in 2021.

(C) 2020 Warner Bros. Home Entertainment

I’ve read J.R.R. Tolkien’s “trilogy”[1] a few times since my high school days, and although I enjoy it, I’m not such a devotee that I’ll read it once a year or buy any collectibles (such as statuettes of Gandalf or Frodo Baggins). I did see Peter Jackson’s films in theater in the 2000s; the first two in Miami, and The Return of the King early in 2004 when I was visiting my then-girlfriend June in the Tampa Bay area. I watched them frequently when they were released on DVD, and a few years before my mom died in 2015 I splurged on The Extended Edition box set with six Blu-rays with the films and five DVDs that contain the extras.  So, really, I have no need to double dip when Warner Bros. rolls out its larger set.

Because Amazon delivered my package in the late evening, I was already too sleepy to watch The Fellowship of the Ring, which in its extended version has a runtime of 228 minutes (19 of which are devoted to the fan club credits). Still, I wanted to check out what The Lord of the Rings looks like on 4K UHD, so I watched the first 30 or so minutes of the Extended Edition of Fellowship.

Even though my TV set is small – a sore point in my relationship with the Caregiver because my original 50-inch set is installed in the master bedroom and is too large for my room – and has not been connected to the soundbar – movies with special effects (such as Star Wars, Superman, and this one) look and sound better on 4K UHD. As Blu-ray.com’s Miller writes in his review:


Each film in this trilogy has been granted a new 4K restoration by WETA Digital, which involved a full 4K scan of the camera negatives and visual effects filmouts (with digital VFX upscaled from 2K elements), as well as tasteful new color timing made possible by HDR enhancement; all were supervised and approved by director Peter Jackson. Depending on your 4K TV’s capability, this enhancement will be displayed using standard HDR, HDR10, or Dolby Vision. Please note that both the theatrical and extended versions of each film make use of the same restored source material.

In ordinary circumstances, I’d probably spend some time watching The Fellowship of the Ring (either version) on my 4K TV; the picture quality is gorgeous – I can’t attest to the quality of the sound since it’s basically limited to the TV speakers – and everything looks so vivid and life-like that it’d be worth taking the time to kick back and enjoy the movie.

But today is the first day of Trump’s impeachment trial in the U.S. Senate – yesterday’s proceedings were limited to previews of each side’s case and a vote to go forward – or not – by the Senators. (In a mostly party-line vote, the upper house of Congress decided that impeaching a former President is constitutional, with 56 ayes and 44 nos.)  At noon, the House managers will present their case against Trump, who stands accused of inciting the violent breach of the U.S. Capitol by a mob of his supporters on January 6. I want to watch that, so The Fellowship of the Ring will have to wait till either later today or even this weekend.

I knew before I bought  The Lord of the Rings: The Motion Picture Trilogy that this 4K UHD box set was a ‘no-frills” offering, so I can’t complain that it has no extras – not even an audio commentary track  – to complement the movies. Truth is, though, that I have all of the extras I need in my 2011 box set, and I haven’t listened to the audio commentary tracks in that collection of the Extended Edition of the The Lord of the Rings: The Motion Picture Trilogy.  As I said earlier, I like Jackson’s LOTR films and appreciate the craftmanship and acting that went into their creation, but I’m a casual Tolkien fan, not a Middle Earth grognard.

In Other Blu-ray News…..

(C) 2021 PBS Home Video

Yesterday PBS announced that Hemingway: A Film by Ken Burns & Lynn Novick will be released on Tuesday, April 13, 2021, the same day that the remastered edition of Baseball gets its rollout on Blu-ray. Since I am not sure if the Caregiver will let me watch Hemingway on the one connected-to-cable TV when it airs on PBS, I decided to pre-order the six-hour, three-part documentary miniseries in addition to Baseball.

(C) 1994, 2021 PBS

Yes, I know. That’s two new box sets and in one fell swoop, but my life is so….limited and confining now, and I am still being a responsible adult and paying my share of the living expenses here. I have to squeeze every bit of joy that I can in this situation, so if anyone has issues with my consumer habits, tough noogies.

According to My Collection stats in Blu-ray.com, this is what my Blu-ray collection looks like, including those two pre-ordered Ken Burns sets:

Blu-ray Collection  (324 Movies, 52 TV Seasons, 246 SKUs) 

4K UHD Blu-ray Collection  (32 Movies, 0 TV Seasons, 13 SKUs)

And though the vast majority of my Blu-rays (1080p or 4K) are single titles (with one or two bonus discs), many are in convenient and economical box sets, including the Jurassic Park, Star Wars, Star Trek, Indiana Jones, and Bourne series.

Well, it’s getting close to noon – I’m not the world’s fastest typist – so I better close so I can take a quick shower, get dressed into daytime garb, and watch the impeachment proceedings on ABC News on my Smart TV. So until next time, Dear Reader, stay safe, stay healthy, and I’ll catch you on the sunny side of things.


[1] The Lord of the Rings is a single novel and was written as such; its publisher, Allen & Unwin, overruled J.R.R. Tolkien’s wishes to publish it as the first of two volumes – the second one being The Silmarillion – due to the high costs of printing in Britain’s post-World War II economy (paper was still being rationed at the time). Instead, the novel was broken up into three parts – The Fellowship of the Ring, The Two Towers, and The Return of the King – and published between July of 1954 and October of 1955.

Published by Alex Diaz-Granados

Alex Diaz-Granados (1963- ) began writing movie reviews as a staff writer and Entertainment Editor for his high school newspaper in the early 1980s and was the Diversions editor for Miami-Dade Community College, South Campus' student newspaper for one semester. Using his experiences in those publications, Alex has been raving and ranting about the movies online since 2003 at various web sites, including Amazon, Ciao and Epinions. In addition to writing reviews, Alex has written or co-written three films ("A Simple Ad," "Clown 345," and "Ronnie and the Pursuit of the Elusive Bliss") for actor-director Juan Carlos Hernandez. You can find his reviews and essays on his blogs, A Certain Point of View and A Certain Point of View, Too.

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