There are two basic schools of thought regarding Peter Jackson's The Lord of the Rings trilogy, and by about the midway point in the first film, The Fellowship of the Ring, most people know where they stand. The first camp people can fall into is the group who believe that what Jackson created is nothing short of a masterwork — a brilliantly conceived and fully realized version of Tolkien's story; an emotional, dramatic, suspenseful epic. By the time the credits rolled on Fellowship people in this camp were already drawing up plans as to exactly when they would see The Two Towers and, quite possibly, where the best seats to watch the Battle of Helm's Deep were located.
The other camp is the group who decided the film was awfully long and simply couldn't wait for the credits to roll so they could go out for Chinese food. Though this may sound harsh, the latter group is wrong. The Lord of the Rings trilogy shows exactly what great filmmaking can and should be; it shows that action need not take a back seat to story and emotion in order to create an outstanding piece and what greatness can be wrought on screen by those who care deeply for the work.
The trilogy has now come to Blu-ray… mostly. While it's the sort of thing that fans and Blu-ray aficionados have been waiting for, they will not be impressed with this release, which has the feeling — despite the massive amount of lead time that had to go into it — of being a haphazard, slapdash effort. More on that later though; first let's look at the films themselves.
Many people are already exceedingly familiar with the story here, J.R.R. Tolkien's tale of the end of the Third Age of Middle Earth. The films, while they do work separately, are far more satisfyingly looked at as a single piece, one that is broken into three parts to be sure, but a single story nonetheless. The three films were conceived of and produced at the same time, and consequently truly need to be looked at together rather than separately.
The first film, The Fellowship of the Ring, puts the pieces in play, following the story of how a Hobbit, Frodo Baggins (Elijah Wood), came to possess the One Ring, to know its evil, and to set off to destroy it, thereby destroying the ultimate evil in the land, Sauron. Frodo is initially only accompanied by three other hobbits, Samwise "Sam" Gamgee (Sean Astin), Peregrin "Pippin" Took (Billy Boyd), and Meriadoc "Merry" Brandybuck (Dominic Monaghan). At that point their quest is a small one – take a short journey a couple of towns over and meet up with Gandalf the Grey (Ian McKellen). Sadly for them, Gandalf isn't present at that meeting and they are forced to continue on with the stranger Ranger from the north, Strider (Viggo Mortensen).