Just finished my 1st viewing of the DVD / fullscreen edition, which I got my hands on at Walgreen’s in Chicago burbs today. (they don’t seem to be carrying the widescreen version).
I agree with other reviews about the quality of the transfer to DVD – looks very good, rich and clear, even on a puny 27″ TV with no surround sound (thus I can’t really comment on the sound), with a few exceptions. There were several points where there is what I have come to think of as “DVD pause”, where, during a scene change, the frame seems to freeze for about a 1/2 of a second longer than it should. Maybe this is some kind of by-product of the reel-change mark that you see in the upper right hand corner of the film which signifies a switch to another reel at the theater. The net effect is kind of annoying, and it happens several times, most notably at the end of the secret council at Rivendell, right after Elrond says “you shall be known as the Fellowship of the Ring” and Pippin says “Great! Where are we going?” ha. There is definitely noticeably missing material on the fullscreen version, such as when the dragon firework goes off, you can’t see the burning tent at all.
I found the special features disc to be rather weak as well. Most of this stuff we here have seen before (but it’s nice to have in 1 place), although I hadn’t seen the Houghton Mifflin special and I found that very interesting, some bits of history on Prof. Tolkien and the publishing of the books, instead of the now-common “extended trailers” that those specials sort of became. I was disappointed that there was no commentary whatsoever on this version. I was expecting that. The “special features” choice on disc 1 only tells you to put in disc 2 – DAAR.
The 10 minute Two Towers preview wasn’t really what I expected, but it was very good. I thought it would be a 10-minute trailer. Instead it was some very cool behind the scenes stuff with some brief (and a few new) trailer scenes sprinkled in, with PJ giving a sort of guided tour (quite cool) – introducing the new characters – some good interview bits with cast – a lot of focus on the way they did Gollum, (with Andy Serkis in motion capture suit – nice interview bit with him) but no new footage of the finished Gollum at all, and not even a peek at an Ent. The part of the preview scene with “filthy thieves – you stole my precious and we wants it!” is much lighter and easier to see than what we saw in the online trailer – you get a much better look at Gollum there.
I feel a bit like a sucker for going for the marketing ploy (suppose I will now own 3 versions of FOTR on DVD), but hey, I suppose that’s the nature of the geek.