The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring
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Not seen in theaters, this unique version of the epic adventure features over 30 minutes of new and extended scenes integrated into the film by the director.
In every aspect, the extended-edition DVD of Peter Jackson's epic fantasy The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring blows away the theatrical-version DVD. No one who cares at all about the film should ever need to watch the original version again. Well, maybe the impatient and the squeamish will still prefer the theatrical version, because the extended edition makes a long film 30 minutes longer and there's a bit more violence (though both versions are rated PG-13). But the changes--sometimes whole scenes, sometimes merely a few seconds--make for a richer film. There's more of the spirit of J.R.R. Tolkien, embodied in more songs and a longer opening focusing on Hobbiton. There's more character development, and more background into what is to come in the two subsequent films, such as Galadriel's gifts to the Fellowship and Aragorn's burden of lineage. And some additions make more sense to the plot, or are merely worth seeing, such as the wood elves leaving Middle-earth or the view of Caras Galadhon (but sorry, there's still no Tom Bombadil). Extremely useful are the chapter menus that indicate which scenes are new or extended.
Of the four commentary tracks, the ones with the greatest general appeal are the one by Jackson and cowriters Fran Walsh and Philippa Boyens, and the one by 10 cast members, but the more technically oriented commentaries by the creative and production staff are also worth hearing. The bonus features (encompassing two complete DVDs) are far superior to the largely promotional materials included on the theatrical release, delving into such matters as script development, casting, and visual effects. The only drawback is that the film is now spread over two discs, with a somewhat abrupt break following the council at Rivendell, due to the storage capacity required for the longer running time, the added DTS ES 6.1 audio, and the commentary tracks. But that's a minor inconvenience. Whether in this four-disc set or in the collector's gift set (which adds Argonath bookends and a DVD of National Geographic Beyond the Movie: The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring), the extended-edition DVD is the Fellowship DVD to rule them all. --David Horiuchi
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The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring is the first book in the LOTR series and is set in the third age of Middle-earth, though the movie begins introducing the significance of the rings created by the Dark Lord Sauron during the second age. The rings were divided amongst nine Men, seven Dwarves, and three Elves; but Sauron also casted the One Ring which holds power over all the others and permitting him control of Middle-earth. Sauron was believed to be destroyed when Isildur sworded the ring from Sauron's hand in battle, but his life force lives on.
The movie goes on to explain how the Ring came into the possession of Bilbo Baggins, or likewise. As Bilbo retires, the Ring becomes Frodo's, but upon Gandalf the Grey's discovery of the Ring, Frodo is dispatched with Sam Gamgee to remove the Ring from the Shire while being hunted by the Nazgul. Along the way, two other hobbits, Merry and Pippin, join their party. Gandalf then meets Saruman the White in Isengard; Saruman betrays Gandalf, trapping him atop the tower. Saruman then begins to breed an army.
Once the four hobbits reach Bree, they encounter the descendent of Isidur, Aragorn, who aids them in evading the Nazgul, though Frodo is stuck by a mortal blade. Arwen, and Elf Princess and old flame of Aragorn, finds the hobbits and leads them to Rivendell where Elrond, the Elf King, heals Frodo's wound. In Rivendell, Frodo also encounters the aging Bilbo who passes along the sword, Sting, he carrier in The Hobbit.
A freed Ganalf joins a council in Rivendell where it is decided that the One Ring must be destroyed by buring in the place it was forged, Mount Doom. Those who will carry this burden, Frodo, Merry, Pippin, Sam, Aragorn, Gandalf, Legolas (Elf), Boromir (Man), and Gimli (Dwarf), become the Fellowship of the Ring.
The remainder of the movie follows the Fellowship (and Gollum) through Moria, onto the Elf city of Lothlorien, and onto Parth Green. Possessed by the Ring's powers, Boromir frightens Frodo into continuing on alone, though Sam has followed along.
The two-disc widescreen version features the film's theatrical version, "The Two Towers" 10-minute preview, cast interviews, online content, three production documentaries: "Welcome to Middle-earth", "The Quest for the Ring", and "A Passage to Middle-earth", Enya's "May It Be" video, and more.