A friend and I went to see the Extended Cut last night at a theater here in Minneapolis, MN. Needless to say my wife was not interested in more LOTR, she thinks I may be a bit obsessed (which I might be). Yesterday it was crazy around the state what with the elections, and the morning commute filled with snow! So I was more than ready to spend some time in Middle Earth getting away from it all. I must admit I did go in with a small amount of skepticism. I’ve been a DVD collector for a few years now and have been burned by Directors cuts before. But I had faith that Peter Jackson wouldn’t do this to us, but didn’t want to get overtly excited. However, I must say that after watching last nights cut, I was more than pleasantly surprised, I’m ecstatic!!!

I had already planned on buying this cut (somehow), and already own the theatrical cut. New Line was definitely preaching to the choir, as others I spoke to last night were also already planning on buying the extended cut. Most of us just felt privileged to see this cut in the theater. And let me start with that, the digital projection was flawless!!! I noticed details that I’ve never seen before: background action, colors popping out, etching on swords, just amazing. And the sound was killer, 8:1 is what the technician told us. They didn’t give us any pep talk on digital, just a brochure on DLP, the company that makes the digital projectors. Turns out this theater has had the digital projector for some time, but has had trouble getting the word out. Suffice to say that I am now tainted, and can never go back to regular projection.

And for the movie itself, the tone was different. I had read that what once felt like an epic, really was now an epic, and I don’t just mean the length. Everything had a better pace. I won’t go through the entire movie, others have done that. But here are some highlights that stood out for me. The Shire is now much more evolved. The storyline flows much better with Bilbo doing the Shire narration rather than Gandalf. Frodo’s story is now more involved, at an earlier stage. And more of the Hobbit characters that we only had a glimpse of are seen. Hooray for the Green Dragon, very cool!

I wouldn’t have minded a bit more of Bree, not much was changed here. But Frodo and Sam’s glimpse of the Wood Elves was fantastic! Where do I get the music for that? And a mention here for Howard Shore. I thought he might lengthen things a bit, with a touch here and there, but that the music cues would sound very similar. It did not! Some of the new music cues had choral singing, and it was fantastic! Aragorn has been fleshed out very well, and is now more of the type of character I wanted him to be. Not that before was bad, but now, if you hadn’t already wanted to follow him as King, you will. All the characters have been fleshed out well for that matter. I expected maybe one or two new memorable lines, but lost count as they just kept coming.

The two biggest stand outs for me were Rivendell, and Lothlorien. I felt myself becoming emotionally absorbed through these new sequences as much as I had in my first viewing. I was very impressed. And the great thing is that all of these new scenes are seamless. Only one was a bit out of pace, Haldir is still the only weak point for me. And not in a bad way, but for some reason his performance is a bit off. But don’t let that get in the way. The new scenes with Celeborn and Galadriel are fantastic. And the gift giving scene was probably the one I was most looking forward to. It did not disappoint! I’m going to make my wife watch at least that part (and hopefully all the rest of course), it is wonderful. And just wait till you see Gimli’s interaction with Galadriel, priceless!

So for any doubters out there, don’t bother doubting. There is now way this DVD won’t be in your LOTR collection. It is a cinematic masterpiece made even better in this new cut. I’m afraid this movie has set the bar so high, that ANY movie I see is going to be measured against it. It has moved me more than any movie has in a long time. Thank you again Peter and associates, you have truly hit the bulls eye this time. Ok, let me check my watch now, how much longer until TTT?