IN THESE WANING DAYS of physical media, one would think movie studios would be enticing customers with more value, not screwing them over with less. And yet: Those who're still buying movies on disc have become intimately familiar with the "double dip"—studios' attempts to sell the same product over and over. (Last year, for example, those who bought Warner Bros.' Watchmen on DVD or Blu-ray opened their new purchases to find an ad for a forthcoming "ultimate cut" of the film.)
Warner Bros. is hardly the only culprit in the double-dip game, but they're also the ones who, earlier this week, finally released Peter Jackson's The Lord of the Rings trilogy on Blu-ray. The Rings films, with their stunning visuals and epic storyline, are the perfect movies to experience in HD, and there's no denying that these Blu-rays look and sound great. (Also conveniently released on Blu-ray earlier this week is Ralph Bakshi's animated The Lord of the Rings from 1978, which remains as trippy and crappy as ever.)
Only problem? These aren't The Lord of the Rings you want. Following the Rings films' theatrical releases, Jackson meticulously created an "extended DVD edition" for each, adding extra footage—with finished special effects and new music—and an incredible amount of insightful special features. These extended DVD cuts weren't only superior to their theatrical versions—they were also proof of what a robust medium home video could be.
These Blu-rays? Not so much. In addition to some blurry "digital copies" of the films you'll probably never use, these Blu-rays contain the theatrical versions of the films, accompanied by boring-ass DVDs that contain a smattering of tedious, useless, and/or goofy special features. Jackson's extended editions? MIA. Special features worth watching? Nope. Commentaries? Yeah, right. And yet: The suggested retail price for this set is one hundred goddamn dollars. Considering that a Blu-ray release of the extended editions—with all their special features intact—is no doubt in the works, this half-assed release is the very definition of Warner Bros. trying to trick you into buying the same stuff twice. Don't fall for it.