(Sidenote... I think that the Harry Potter films, as a whole, also deserve the distinction and recognition for what they have done... But if they don't get that recognition, I blame the casting abomination that is Bonnie "Ginny Weasley" Wright. She's beautiful but uncomfortably dull.)
Now... this box set is not for the passive fan. (More after the jump)
This box set is for someone who LOVED the films and the books. This is for the motherfuckers who own sword replicas and ring necklaces and practice their Gollum voices. Though pretty badass, this box set isn't for me. It's just... too much. Each film is now about 4 hours long, and each film is broken into two different disks. I'd watched the original, theatrical films many, many times, so I knew what was new and what wasn't. And, really, the new scenes in the extended editions offered a more complete story (though not necessarily a better one) but did very little to advance the plot better.
For example... and this is my favorite example... I had always wondered what happened to Saruman after The Two Towers. In the theatrical release of Return of the King, they essentially mention he won't be bothering anyone, but they never explain what happened to him. The special edition of Return to the King plays host to a ridiculous back-and-forth between Saruman and Gandalf and a bunch of others. Saruman and Grima Wormtongue are in a tower. Gandalf, Aragorn, Gimli, Legolas and Theoden are at the bottom... and their conversation boils down to almost 6 minutes of this:
THEODEN: Come down. We want to kill you.
GANDALF: Come down!
GANDALF: Come onnnnnnn!
SARUMAN: YOU JUST WANT INFORMATION!
GANDALF: Come on!!!
SARUMAN: Nuh-uh! You can't make me!
THEODEN: Well, fuck.... How about you, Grima? You wanna come down?
THEODEN: Come down!
SARUMAN: No! He stays with me!
GRIMA: Can I...
SARUMAN: No! (SARUMAN slaps down GRIMA. GRIMA then stabs SARUMAN, and LEGOLAS shoots GRIMA with an error. SARUMON falls and is impaled.)
Don't believe me? Check for yourself
But they weren't all bad. In fact, I can't remember many of the good additions because those fit in nicely and added to the characters' development. I think of the Star Wars special editions... how those new, special scenes and new effects were totally inconsequential... How they neither added to the plot or characters. And thus seemed to only try to cash in on the consumer's need to buy the latest Star Wars thing. This is not the case with the Lord of the Rings extended editions. I liked that they weren't just deleted scenes plugged in. Musical score was added, and Peter Jackson took pains and made concerted efforts to make them fit... but sometimes, they just stop the movie dead.
The blu-ray picture is nice... Nothing to write home about, though. I was expecting something wicked-amazing, especially during the fights, but it seemed like DVD quality on my big ass tv.
I haven't even bothered with watching the nine disks worth of extra features. I'll go out on a limb and say that they're awesome and full of amazing insight. Tell me I'm wrong.
It's packaged very nicely in a collector's edition box. Looks very pretty.
So... if you are crazy about the films and are dying to know more (without wanting to read the books) and don't mind dropping a little dough (it's actually not that expensive for almost 12 hours worth of movies), buy this... But if you liked the originals and found them perfect as they were... and you don't feel a need to know any more about the characters... and you already have those DVDs, you're not missing much.