Ask yourself a question: which version or versions of Peter Jackson’s Middle-Earth films do you currently own? The original DVDs of the theatrical release? Perhaps the Blu-rays? Maybe the special editions with extended footage? The chances are that if you’re a regular reader of this magazine then you own at least one copy of these trilogies. Now, though, comes the ultimate Middle-Earth Collection; 30-discs (that’s 30!!) containing extended Blu-ray versions of all the films and gathering together more extras than there is gold in Erebor. But if you own one of the above, do you really need it?
Well, no. But you’re going to want it all the same.
There is no need to review the films here; that has already been done more times than is necessary. Suffice to say the three Rings films are undoubted classics, while The Hobbit Trilogy is visually spectacular, if understandably a little baggy in places. You’re not here for the films, though. This collection is all about the additional material. You might think watching extensive behind-the-scenes mini-documentaries might not be that interesting, you might consider viewing the dwarf actors learning their native dialects, or how they were strapped to a spit not in the least bit entertaining. But you’d be wrong.
The intricate details that went into producing each of these epic films is simply mind-blowing. However many times you’ve seen them (and with the Rings films that’s probably a few) you’ll appreciate them in a new light; the thought and thoroughness is astonishing in both its scale and minutiae.
All this detail does come at a price, both in terms of money and time. The running times of the films vary from a relatively jaunty 164 minutes for The Battle of the Five Armies to an evening-consuming 263 minutes for the Oscar-heavy The Return of the King. Each film comes with a series of production videos, in-depth featurettes and all manner of other goodies including music videos and interviews too numerous to mention. Everything told, each film with its extras will demand at least 6 hours of your time. If you choose the “standard “ Blu-ray version of this collection your pocket will be around £60 lighter, but if you opt for the Limited Collector’s Edition, you’ll become the proud owner of a solid wood bookshelf approved by Peter Jackson himself and some faux leather book binders for the discs – yours for just £299.
Extensive, expensive, exhausting and extraordinary – this is a collection not for the faint hearted, but one that will reward the owner many times over. These are without doubt some of the most important and impressive films of the last 20 years – surely they’re worth the investment?
MIDDLE EARTH – SIX FILM LIMITED COLLECTORS EDITION / CERT: 12 / DIRECTOR: PETER JACKSON / SCREENPLAY: PHILIPPA BOYENS, GUILLERMO DEL TORO, PETER JACKSON, FRAN WALSH / STARRING: IAN MCKELLEN, ELIJAH WOOD, MARTIN FREEMAN, VIGGO MORTENSEN, RICHARD ARMITAGE, ANDY SERKIS / RELEASE DATE: OUT NOW