The Fellowship of the Ring (Special Edition) review by The Grim Ringler

The Lord of the Rings -The Fellowship of the Ring - DVD Special Edition

The fact of the matter is that I would assume that pretty much everyone knows the details of the story for Fellowship Ahh, there a bad old ring of power that can bring an end to the world if it falls into the hands of a bad dude named Sauron and so nine cats venture out to get rid of ye old badass ring of power before the man in black can get his mitts on it. There ya have it so I wont go into some great big analysis of what has become of the biggest box office movies ever. Needless to say, in my eyes, its the greatest fantasy film every made and is an example that every director and studio should follow you can still make big movies with big ideas and big budgets, you just have to make sure you dont let a hack make the damned movie. Nerds like me pray that movies like this still exist, movies that stun and amaze you, movies that take your breath away and make you believe in a fairyland where monsters exist, where wars arent fought over oil or religion but over dominance of all things in existence. This is a love letter to all the nerds of the world, a signpost that says Dont Give Up Hope, and dammit, its about time!

Director Peter Jackson, in making the Lord of the Rings trilogy, had a lot of material to work with, and in the end, much of what is in the books were lost, for a lot of reasons, but mainly because you cant encompass all that the books are in mere films, it would never happen, and thats ok, because he, Phillipa Boyens, and his wife, Fran Walsh, have adapted the works of Tolkien beautifully, capturing the heart of the stories while making the entirety palatable for a movie audience. Not an easy feat. But in bringing the films to the screen a lot of footage was shot that wasnt right for a theatrical release, stuff that is great work, and adds a lot to the overall story but that just adds length to an already long film, and in the end it had to go. Had to go that is until now, when us lucky movie nerds get the chance to see the full realization of Fellowship of the Rings in either one of two special editions that are out one that is a four disc set and the other which features five discs, two replicas of the Argonath statues, and some other goodies (I got the five disc version, duh! Hell, I have the six disc Frighteners laserdisc set, you think I am gonna miss out on this set?), and in releasing these two sets, the masses will finally get to see what dorks like me and the other laserdisc lovers have always known Peter Jackson loves movies, and loves letting us in on that love.

The movie itself is essentially the same, the structure is the same, the action is the same, the mission is the same, what is different is that its all made a little better, a little more meaningful in the extended version. The main characters get more time to stretch, to show who they are, to make us see them as people and not as creatures serving a plot. We get to see Sam and Frodo bond, to see Aragorns tortured soul as he fights who he is and what he is meant to be, get to see a grander vision of the elves and Lothlorien, get to see the giving of the gifts to the fellowship, and in general, get to see how rich this film is. A lot of filmmakers expand their movies, some for the better, some not, but this is not a gimmick, a way to sell more DVDs and to rake in more money, no, this is a studio trusting its hired gun so much and respecting his vision so much that they give them the chance to put out the best possible version of the film, with every imaginable extra, as a thank you to the fans and people that made the movie so successful. Sure, the people that thought the movie was ok can just go get the one disc theatrical cut, and they too get some interesting stuff, but those of us that saw the movie again and again, studying the lush landscapes and falling in love with Middle Earth, we are greedy for more, needing it as a junkie needs their fix, and friends, you cant ask for more than what we were given.

Along with the movie you get about five plus hours of documentaries that are absolutely amazing, detailing the film from the very beginning and right through to the premiere. There has never been a documentary as thoughtful, engaging, or as interesting and informative than this one is and the closest I can think of is the four hour doc featured on the Frighteners laser. This is not stuffy talking heads stuff, no, this is a heartfelt explanation of all that it took to get these wonderful films made, and I truly doubt you will hear actors and production people this in love with a film they have made. And it is not fake masturbatory talk because they dont want to gossip, no, its honest adoration for one another and for these films, and its refreshing to hear and makes the movies all the more special.

Along with the documentary are thousands of still photos, four separate commentaries, two hidden items, and just a whole lot of glee on my part. The Argonath statues are pretty damned cool, made of something called polystone and felling very much like heavy-duty statues, they are a beautiful way to keep what is likely to be a large collection together. The fifth disc, a National Geographic special about the locations of Middle Earth is fluff but is interesting fluff and has a couple extra short docs that are interesting. And all of it is put together in the most beautiful of packages, the four main discs put in a binding that looks as if it is a book in and of itself, the interior illustrated with stunning productions drawings from the movie. And there are other knick-knacks included, a small magazine sampler from the fan club, some trading cards, and a free ticket to Two Towers, but the movie sells itself. And I cannot recommend the special editions enough. Either version is a wonder, the best example out of what can be done with film, and especially with DVD technology. A lot of people will carp about the double dipping of releasing special editions after the original release of the theatrical cut, but really, this is one of those movies that doesnt feel like a cheat when they do it but as if it was a way to thank the people that fell in love with this world and its people, and a way to honor what is destined to become a landmark in film. A must for fans of DVD and the art of film. cr

10 out of 10 Jackasses

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