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Which `Rings’ Is Right for You?

September 3, 2002 at 9:23 am by xoanon  - 

From: The Orange County Register, Calif.

There’s nothing more infuriating than buying a DVD of a movie you like and then discovering weeks later that a special edition will be coming out, forcing you to buy a second version of the same film. That’s just bad business, but it happens a lot, and it really ticks off consumers.

Several months ago when New Line announced the DVD release date for “The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring” (New Line, 2001; rated PG-13; 2 hours, 58 minutes plus supplemental material; Dolby Digital 5.1 surround sound; Dolby Digital 2.0 stereo; $29.95), it was very up-front and also announced that a second DVD, with a half-hour of restored footage, would follow a few months later (Nov. 12). That was a smart business decision. Letting consumers know where they stand is always good business.

But which DVD version of “The Lord or the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring” should you buy, the one in stores or the one coming in November? Or should you get both?

The answer depends on what you want out of your DVD. If you’ve never read the classic J.R.R. Tolkien books on which the film is based and are familiar with the story only through the first of the three films made from the acclaimed trilogy, you might want to opt for the version now in release.

The movie looks and sounds great, and a second disc contains more than hours of supplemental material.

But if you love the books, as I do, you might want to wait for the version that’s due in less than three months.

I say that after having seen the three-minute-plus preview of the extended version that’s on the supplemental disc of the current version.

On that preview it’s clear that much of the footage restored by co-writer and director Peter Jackson, a true Tolkien fan, are scenes taken directly from the book that were trimmed for time.

In any case, if you opt to buy both versions you won’t be getting any duplicated extra material.

New Line promises that the extras that will show up on the four discs in the coming extended version are different from the extras on the current version. And the extended version will have a commentary track, something the current version does not have.

So what kind of extras will you find on the current version?

To begin, there are two behind-the-scenes documentaries, “Quest for the Ring,” a 21-minute-plus film that aired on Fox, and “A Passage to Middle-earth,” a 41-minute-plus film that aired on cable’s Sci-Fi Channel. My only complaint is that much of the material in the two programs is the same.

Actually, one of my favorite extras is “Welcome to Middle-earth,” a 16- minute-plus promotional film put together by Houghton Mifflin, the American publishers of all Tolkien’s work. Part of the film is an interview with Rayner Unwin, who, when he was a child in the 1930s, was asked by his publisher father to read a manuscript of “The Hobbit” and write a book review. Unwin’s favorable review led to his father publishing Tolkien’s “Hobbit,” and that led to the publishing of “The Lord of the Rings” trilogy in the `50s.

Other extras include all 15 short films on the production that were placed on the film’s official Web site, lord oftherings.net, three theatrical trailers, six TV spots, a music video and a sneak peak at a coming video game tied to the films. My only complaint is that there’s a good bit of duplicated material here.

My favorite extra is a tantalizing behind-the-scenes preview of the second film in the trilogy, “The Two Towers,” which arrives in theaters in December. I’ve watched that preview a half-dozen times in anticipation of the second film.

Believe me, I’m psyched.

Posted in Old Special Reports on September 3, 2002 by

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