on 10 December 2012
I've been waiting for a non-bloated version of the Extended Blu-ray versions to be released and finally, here they are. This and the other two films are spread over two discs, but given the quality and the size of the films it's not hard to see why, although the swap-over on The Two Towers seems a little abrupt.
The extended versions are easily recommended over the theatrical versions. Across the three films you're getting at least two hours of additional scenes which cover more of the story and fill in the gaps. Some of them are not plot critical, hence their original omission, but it's nice to have them all the same.
Can't fault the quality of the picture and sound, both were superb on my modest set up.
If you're not particularly interested in all the extras, interviews and documentaries, this is the ideal version to get.
on 19 November 2002
My enjoyment of the theatrical release and my enthusiasm for a live-action epic that does at least do some justice to a book that I have loved since I was a small child could not silence a nagging voice that told me the movie adaptation, no matter how spectacular, was lacking. It did not take overlong for me to put my finger on it - the theatrical release of "Fellowship" contains precious little character development, and what there is has been spread very unevenly (like butter scraped over too much bread...). Well, I could forgive this considering that there are three movies, but the second film has much ground to regain for several of the major characters in this milieu.
I am extremely happy to report that the Special Edition DVD release has all but silenced my doubts. The additional 30 minutes or so make a world of difference to the movie, making the tale more 'human' (Dwarven, Elven, Hobbitish, if you hate to anthropomorphism). Almost all of the excised material was character development, and the result of replacing it makes this DVD release the definitive version of the movie. Peter Jackson may prefer it to be considered as an additional release of the movie, where the theatrical version and this extended cut can co-exist, but I disagree. After watching the extended version I find the theatrical release even more lacking - so much so that I can't bring myself to watch it anymore.
All of the characters receive more attention: Bilbo becomes the slightly eccentric but shrewd forever-changed-by-adventure hobbit I always imagined him to be; Frodo the young nephew who has a deep love and respect for his old Hobbit uncle, and who himself can be seen enduring the change that unsettled Bilbo for life; Sam is the plant-loving yet love-shy gardener (more Rosie Cotton!) who's friendship with Frodo promises to be heartbreaking; Gandalf's love for the world and it's people shines through (especially in a new sequence with Pippin) making his ultimate sacrifice a truly tearful moment; Aragorn benefits greatly and his insecurity made so apparent and yet without apparent reason in the theatrical version now has it's background and we see him as the exiled King torn by the guilt of his forefathers, and yet the very strength he seeks to find to do what he must is bound up in his love for Arwen - love that will literally kill her (his small exchange with Frodo in the newly added Midgewater Marsh sequence is painfully poignant, and Elrond's hinted at disdain for the Ranger makes more sense); Boromir is revealed a the man who secretly and perhaps unknowingly craves strong leadership, and scenes between he and Aragorn adds to the deep sadness of the films extended climactic battle against the Uruk-Hai; both Gimli and Legolas receive more attention and we feel we know them better and their initial exasperation with one another (that look on Legolas' face when Gimli pledges his axe to help them during the Council of Elrond is a gem) turns to grudging respect and (as we know later) to great friendship; last but not least, Pippin and Merry are also given more screen time and are no longer the "idiotic comic relief" they were made to appear in the theatrical cut.
Character development aside, there are other additions to popular sequences like the Cave Troll battle, that needed to be inserted (ever wondered why in the theatrical release Boromir disappears from the action early in the Balin's Tomb fight with the Cave Troll, never to appear again until the end? Well, this sequence now restored answers that question and, boy!, must that have hurt!). There are also significant additions to the latter half of the movie. The gift giving sequence as the Fellowship depart Lorien is a mystery to me. How could that possibly have been left out? So much depends on those gifts, and not least the lembas (I love Legolas' "bread advertisement" speech) and Sam's rope, which was set up when he was checking his pack in Rivedel and muttered something about forgetting something...
The DVD transfer itself is quite beautiful and I have never see better. The picture is sharp, well delineated, the colours rich and natural and I saw not one imperfection. The sound is also worthy of praise, with the newly scored Howard Shore pieces melding perfectly with the old (some of which have been subtly altered, and to their bettering in my opinion).
The 'extras' cover 2 DVDs and are similarly of exceptional quality. Essentially and without going into too much detail, you can follow the history of Tolkien's book from the authors birth right through to post production and marketing of the movies - and everything in between! It really does make some recent DVD releases embarrassing by comparison and certain companies (you know who you are!) should hang their collective heads in shame and go stand in the corner.
In summary, no adaptation of this move was ever going to be perfect, and all will stand as pale and incomplete shadows cast by Tolkien's bestriding masterpiece. But this DVD release remains a wonderful rendition of an essentially unfilmable-as-written work of pure genius. Everything is top-notch, from the movie transfer and sound to the extras that are not mere padding but enhance one's enjoyment of the movie to the point of being essential viewing in themselves. This is how DVD should be done. Pay attention.
Finally, I cannot recommend this extraordinary piece of film-making history highly enough. For anyone with a passing interest, it a truely great movie. For those who are Tolkien fanatics, as long as you are open-minded and can accept that the book is unfilmable as written, then you will be delighted to see that a truely great book has been adapted into a truely great film.
on 19 November 2002
Don't get me wrong, I loved the Fellowship of the Ring when I saw it at the cinema but I could recognise that there were some flaws there too. However, with this extended version all these flaws have been rectified and the movie is a lot stronger for it.
First the major one - Lothlorien. In the cinema, like a lot of people, I came out mumbling about the wasted opportunity of presenting Lothlorien in a film. I felt that it was rushed, squeezed in as though Jackson didn't really like that part of the book and wanted to get past it as quickly as possible. Not so here - the sequence is extended greatly and to the benefit of the whole film which now feels more balanced because of it. You aren't left wondering why they bothered getting an actress of the quality of Cate Blanchett for a role which in the theatrical release was a relatively minor one - as he performance in the extended scenes truly justifies her presence. Fans of the book will be particularly delighted with the inclusion of the gift-giving and the excellent comedy moment provided by the way-bread.
The extended Shire sequences are also a joy and are well worth the inclusion (if only for the fact that not only do you get to see more of the wondrous set that Weta created but you also we get a scene inside the Green Dragon complete with Gaffer!). But where this version of the movie comes into its own is in the extra space it gives the characters in the Fellowship time to develop. Gimli particularly benefits from this (his character becoming far more rounded and three-dimensional) as do Pippin and Merry. This, combined with the extra time developing and setting up plot points (an addtional scene with Aaragon and Boromir makes the former's death have much more impact, for example) means that the film is just more balanced and is a far more satisfying experience. Although Peter Jackson has claimed this isn't a director's cut and that it's just a "different" rather than "better" version, the booklet provided with this set is slightly telling when it mentions that "With no constraints on the film's running time, Peter Jackson
The quality of the transfer and the sound are second to none (although I haven't had a chance to check out the DTS track) and the only problem with the range of extra features is that they are so extensive and in-depth that you might run the risk of removing some of the mystique of this film. The packaging is superb and the
The only major flaw with this release is the fact that you have to swap disks half-way through the film. This could have been made far less jarring if they had faded out at the end of the first disk rather than just blacking out - but they at least choose a natural place in the film to have the break (just after the Fellowship is formed at Elrond's council).
Quite frankly, if that's the only flaw on this truly amazing package then it's a sacrifice that is more than worth the benefits you get over the theatrical release DVD.
on 2 July 2003
There’s only one way to start this review – if you’re a Lord of the Rings fan then buy the extended edition of Fellowship of the Ring. What you get is an extended version of the film, which is 30 minutes longer than the theatrical version, with 4 additional audio commentaries by cast and crew members. Then there’s the small matter of 2 discs full of extras including lots of different documentaries.
Is the extended version of the film an improvement? Yes! The extra footage varies from a split second shot to extra lines in a scene and even to complete scenes. The extra footage does add a lot to the film, which is a relief because I was a bit afraid that pointless scenes would be added in. This thankfully is not the case.
Of the added shots and scenes, it is apparent why they had been edited out of the theatrical version of the film. They are maybe slow the story down too much or simply don’t fit in too well. But there are some scenes that should definitely have been included in the original version. Two scenes immediately spring to mind.
The first is the extended council of Elrond scene. Boromir voices his opinion more, which cause more tension within the council. Then there’s the best moment to be added in, Gandalf speaking in the Black Tongue. It simply comes out of nowhere basically; suddenly he’s speaking in this language, which sounds so dark and almost scary.
The second scene is the gift giving at Lothlorien. It’s a well-known fact that Peter Jackson really wanted this scene included in the theatrical version of the film and now we get to see it. It follows very closely to the book, but changes are included. The scene is beautifully shot and perfectly shows the atmosphere of Lothlorien.
Other new scenes include Aragorn visiting his mother’s grave, the departure of the fellowship from Rivendell, Frodo and Sam seeing Wood Elves heading for the Grey Havens, the Midgewater Marshes and a scene from the Green Dragon Inn. Extended scenes include extended Hobbiton scenes (including Concerning Hobbits from the book), extended scenes in Rivendell and Moria, and an extended prologue.
I don’t think that this version is let down by any of the added footage. However there are quite a few quirky little comments added into this version. For example, at the door to the Mines of Moria. When Gandalf tries to open the doors and they don’t open Pippin comes out with the obvious statement of “nothing’s happening”. To some this may seem a bit childish and distract from the seriousness of the quest, but on the whole I feel that it doesn’t matter and actually adds a new dimension to the film.
As for the extras, this is the DVD set to end all others. With 2 discs full of extras this set is the benchmark for all other DVDs from now on. What you’ve got is a good six hours of documentaries about every aspect of Lord of the Rings, from JRR Tolkien to shooting the Trilogy. Also, there are literally hundreds of still frames to go with the documentaries. Not forgetting such things as such things as videos of storyboards and special effects.
It will honestly take to hours to digest everything on the DVDs, there’s almost too much information. For Tolkien fans, the information about Middle Earth and Tolkien will be nothing new, but is still worth watching. However, the documentaries about the filming give a great insight into film production (watch out for the Bag End set test with Peter Jackson as Bilbo).
So how would I rate this DVD set? It has to be 10 out of 10. IT has everything you could ever want on a LOTR DVD. Next question is can the Two Towers DVD beat it?
on 3 December 2002
Oh boy! This Extended Version of Peter Jackson's The Fellowship of the Ring is just astounding. Absolutely magnificent!
I have had the 4 disc DVD now for 3 weeks and I still can't stop watching it! Obsessed? Yeah, probably. But that's my concern, not yours!
What on earth can I say that hasn't already been said before? Well, let me try:
First of all, I am a huge Lord of the Rings fan, so needless to say, I love the film. But very rarely will a film actually turn out to be more entertaining than the book from which it was adapted. The Fellowship of the Ring book, by J.R.R. Tolkien, is an undoubted masterpiece, but I found it to be long-winded and felt it contained a few redundant chapters. Therefore, I enjoy watching the film more than reading the book.
And I feel that is the greatest compliment I could pay Peter Jackson, Fran Walsh and Phillipa Boyens, who as a threesome, so heroically put together this cinematic masterpiece.
If you are lucky enough to have this extended edition DVD in your collection, then I promise you that you will never have to go back to your theatrical version ever again. THIS, the Extended version, is the ultimate fantasy film.
The film is spread over 2 discs: Disc 1 lasts for 1hr 41mins & Disc 2 lasts for approximately 1hr 57mins. I can assure you that the need to switch discs halfway through the film is not as awkward as it may imagine (Disc 1 ends immediately after the Fellowship is formed at the Council of Elrond).
Also on the first 2 discs are 4 audio commentaries: one from the Director and writers; one from the production team; one from the design team, and one from the cast, which is my personal favourite and probably the most entertaining of them all - the four hobbit actors do their commentaries with each other and provide a lot of laughs which will make younger, female fans smile! If it is detailed information you are after, then the best commentary I can recommend is that of the Design Team: it is most insightful.
Discs 3 and 4 are the appendices discs which are filled to the brim with never-before-seen, in depth documentaries about everything you ever wished to know about the Fellowship of the Ring production: sound, music, cameras, special effects, digital grading, miniatures, stunts - and much more besides! It has absolutely everything!
There are also documentaries about Professor J.R.R. Tolkien himself, extensive interviews with both cast and crew, as well as a fun feature "A day in the life of a Hobbit". Add to this, interactive features like stills galleries, maps, and editorial demonstrations, you quite simply have a compendium of such magnitude that it will most probably take you weeks to watch it all!
I really cannot pick fault with this DVD. If there is a better DVD out there then I have not yet seen it nor heard of it.
An absolute masterpiece. A must for every DVD fans' collection.
The first thing I noticed when I opened the package, was the scene descriptions - or chapter index. This shows that nearly every scene has been modified or extended. Some scenes are completely new. The effect that this has had on Peter Jackson's masterpiece is electrifying! Suddenly, all the relationships start to appear. The movie stops being a chain of events leading to the inevitable breaking of the Fellowship, to an intricate web of personal affinities and conflicts all superbly melded into the mainstream story. This version brings the book to life in ways I, as a long-standing Middle-Earth fan, didn't think was possible.
The two supplementary disks provide some of the answers to some of the questions left unanswered, (why was the old forest episode missed out? Why did Arwen play such an important part?). One thing is clear - the cast and crew lived and breathed the book for the 15 months of the production and a lot of care was taken to translate the spirit of Tolkein's creation as opposed to attempting to do it scene-by scene. The result is a movie which appeals not only to those who have not read the book (though I strongly urge them to do so), but more importantly, successfully brings to life a piece of 20th century literature which many people have read and loved.
I sincerely hope that the theatrical version of "The Two Towers" and "The Return of the King" will undergo the same treatment so that I can watch the whole story without feeling that vital elements have been cut in the interest of cinema throughput.
The size of the achievement effected by the LOTR trilogy on film can be best seen by the fact that just a few short years after it's release it is already thought of, even by those who don't like it, as a classic.
For my money 'The Fellowship' is the best of an outstanding trio, the world that is evoked draws you in and there's a charm to the whole atmosphere that is unmatched in the later films.
If you go to the original extended release reviews you will learn all you need to of just how brilliant they are, this review is simply for this new release.
What you get for your money, over and above the previous releases, is a documentary. Now in fairness it has to be said it's a good one. The director, Costa Botes, simply lets the camera roam free. It's not a structured piece like the ones you will have seen on the other releases but rather the style is to capture those involved when they are relaxed and so a more natural atmosphere is produced.
The documentary is spread across all 3 films.
There are no new scenes in these new releases and in all honesty unless you are a LOTR completist,( in which case you'll have ordered these anyway),it is hard to really reccommend these over and above the original extended releases. This is particularly so as though the picture quality is as good as before the sound most certainly isn't. There is an awful lot crammed into these 2 discs and something has to give. Unfortunately it's the quality of the surround sound which before was exemplary is now neither so clear nor so detailed, if you have a good system you will notice the difference. The chances are you will go back to watching the film itself on the original discs.
So there's your decision, whether to buy this new set simply for the new documentary and the excellent new covers or to stick with your original editions and wait for the inevitable 'anniversary' edition that is bound to eventually come along? The road goes ever on eh?
on 18 June 2002
I can't disagree with the last review more. Yes, large sections of the book were sacrificed but in my opinion, that doesn't matter one jot. This is not a book, it's a film. To have translated every single part of the book into the film would have made for a pretty terrible film. They are two radically different media, accept it. The important thing to realize is that the main themes and spirit of Tolkien's work survived the transition.
Looking at the film qua film, there's nothing to fault here. The casting is spot on, nail on the head perfect with top-notch acting. The special effects, make up and cinematography are breathtaking - New Zealand IS Middle Earth. Even with a running time of 3 hours, it doesn't feel 3 hours. The fast editing pace ensures that the audience never gets bored yet the narrative remains comprehensible. Howard's Shore's score is beautifully evocative; it underscores the themes and emotions wonderfully. Also, despite taking in many different musical styles (Celtic, psuedo-religious choruses,bombastic fanfares and eerie modal passages to name a few) he somehow manages to make the whole thing stylistically coherent. Take a bow Mr. Shore.
As an adaptation, this is as good as you're going to get. The film is meticulously researched and so what if certain roles have been expanded? Arwen, although having little page time in the book does play a very important part. There's plenty of textual evidence to suggest that she is always on Aragorn's mind. That can be evoked easily in text as background but it's nigh on impossible to achieve a similar thing in film so it makes sense to bring Arwen out of the appendix and make her a fully fleshed out character to make Aragorn's motives make sense. Secondly, the extra Arwen material was not written "for" Liv Tyler, she was simply hired to play a role, that's how the part was written anyway. As for Saruman's expanded role; a flesh and blood person makes for a much more effective cinematic villain than "a great eye, lidless and wreathed in flame" would. It works fine in the book but not for a film. Any changes made were sensible, they make for a better movie. I would much rather have a very good film with changes than a slavishly faithful bad one. Thankfully, this film falls into the former camp. And with the DVD extras, it should become even better!
on 2 December 2002
The original theatrical version left me a little cold, and frustrated at the sheer amount of storyline missing, rushed or changed for seemingly no good reason. Upon seeing this new extended edition my opinion couldn't of changed more. The new cut of this film makes all the difference. Small things, alternate takes, new music and the new scenes are all perfect and give the movie a more fluid feel. More breathing space. Slicker. Far more true to the book than I thought would of been possible. I can see the film would now make more sense to people who do not know the story at all and will please those like me, know and love the books. I would call the original film no more than a rough cut compared to this. Absolutely brilliant! I am now looking forward to The Two Towers, and before I was not. I think the only critism I have, is the new extended version is on two discs, and feel Peter Jackson missed an opportunity to end the 1st disc where the 1st book ended at the river.
The extra's are massive and in depth. You'll be worn out if you watch them all in one go. Hehe. I do recommend this new version greatly if you felt let down by the first version or indeed loved it, because this is much better.
on 9 October 2006
The 3 stars rating is for this edition rather than the movie.
For what concerns the movie.. It's GREAT! Worths 10 stars in its extended version, and I would reccomend this to anyone who still haven't seen it.
This new edition is not adding much to the previous ones. The ONLY difference is this documentary (that you can find elsewhere without the movie) which in my opinion is quite boring and way too long.
Honestly, I am a fan of LOTR but this goes beyond and shows you the people involved in the project more than the project itself.. So, if you're interested, walk on, but I wouldn't reccomend it, unless you still don't have the movie in any of the previuos editions.