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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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In this movie Sméagol (voiced by Andy Serkis) is truly the most interesting of the characters. The animators that dreamed up this unfortunate creature very excellently show his contrasting emotions.
Excellent, epic battle scenes.
A lot of effort when into the details of this thing, from the nicely textured box, to the hours of documentaries and special features. The box feels good in the hand, and looks almost like a thick book. It looks good on any shelf. But what makes this addition really special is the extra footage in the film. God knows how many hours were filmed for this series. The theatrical version of the Fellowship of the Ring was just under three hours at 178 minutes. This extended addition adds 30 minutes of added and extended scenes. Even at that, there's still a lot left out from the book, but the overall effect is a more complete telling of this epic tale.
I was deeply impressed with the level of quality in the additional scenes. They were produced to just the same standards as the rest of this award-winning film. The editing, the special effects, and direction were all so smooth that I had a hard time noticing where new scenes blended in with ones from the theatrical release.
The extra features are nice for those who like that sort of thing. The "making of" film was quite fascinating. This film was a monumental undertaking, and it is genuinely interesting to see how it all came together. Numerous other documentaries look into specific aspects of the film making process. Still, this would have been worth it to me for the extra footage alone. Truly an edition that no LOTR fanboy/girl/hobbit should be without.
Since it was created by a talented but weird director (who specialized in cult horror) and based on a book that had never been successfully adapted even in part, no one was entirely sure whether it would bomb or succeed. Fortunately, "Fellowship" turned out to be smashing cinematic success -- both financially and artistically.
When hobbit Bilbo Baggins (Ian Holm) leaves the Shire, the wizard Gandalf (Ian McKellen) convinces him to leave his treasured magical Ring to his young cousin Frodo (Elijah Wood). Gandalf soon confirms that the Ring is the evil One Ring of the Dark Lord Sauron, and tells the frightened Frodo to leave the Shire as soon as possible -- especially since nine dark riders are searching for someone by the name of Baggins.
Frodo, his faithful gardener Sam (Sean Astin) and his two mischievous cousins (Dominic Monaghan and Billy Boyd) quickly travel to meet with a strange ranger, and stumble into more dangers as they make for the Elven haven of Rivendell. But Frodo's journey is not over yet -- when he and a band of hobbits, Men, Elves, Dwarves and a wizard all volunteer to take the Ring to the only place where it can be destroyed.
For a long time, a convincing "Lord of the Rings" movie could not be made -- not just because of special effects and money, but because it is so difficult to translate Tolkien's work into something watchable. Goofy scripting, bad special effects, mutilated characters -- there was just so much that could go wrong.
So it's even more of a credit to Jackson and Co. that they outdid themselves. They translated Tolkien's erudite prose into solid, poetic dialogue, with lots of humor and horror, romance and taut action. And it all takes place in the New Zealand landscapes, with lots of misty forests, towering mountains and charming rural villages. And Jackson takes full advantage of these, with his trademarked swooping shots, and wild camerawork for fight scenes.
But the setting alone doesn't make a good movie, which is where Jackson's WETA Workshops came in. Sets range from the sturdy English hobbit towns to the airy elven tree-houses; and the special effects are almost shockingly realistic, including a rampaging cave troll, and a glimpse of the gruesome Gollum. He's the first fully convincing CGI character, and you can forget he is made digitally.
Elijah Wood is outstanding as Frodo Baggins. He runs the emotional gamut: fear, pain, horror, happiness, resignation, love and loneliness. Sean Astin is equally good as the steadfast Sam, who is amazed by the world outside the Shire. And some comic relief comes with Dominic Monaghan and Billy Boyd, as Frodo's loyal, chipper cousins.
But as lovable as the hobbits are, they do not dominate all of the screen: Ian McKellen is perfect as the grandfatherly wizard Gandalf. There are also some meaty roles for mysterious Viggo Mortensen, elfin newcomer Orlando Bloom, ominous movie veteran Christopher Lee, as well as Hugo Weaving, Liv Tyler, John Rhys-Davies, and especially Sean Bean as the tormented Boromir.
"The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring" is a true modern classic, with exceptional acting and amazing direction from Jackson and his friends. Absolutely stunning in every way.