I hope it is not too late to get this review in. I was one of the fortunate few who were able to view the FOTR Extended Edition at the theater in Dallas last night. It was incredible and that does not do it justice. The difference in sound was the first thing that brought awareness that this was something never seen or heard before. I must have seen the original movie in theaters eight times or more and have watched it at home at least that many, but this was spectacular! The combined effect of the surround sound with the enhanced sound nearly lifted me out of my seat. When the musical themes swelled, the whole theater felt it–literally and emotionally. It does justice to Howard Shore’s score.
The only word that comes close is “seamless.” The introduction of new music and scenes and dialogue was all perfectly seamless. Even when you know where it is different, it is so well done it feels right–like the difference between the movie and the book. It was so true to the spirit of the original that the changes did not detract. The fact that Howard Shore wrote new music to accomplish this is part of the secret. The music with which you are familiar flows into the new and carries the other components with it.
Since the first few scenes were unchanged, one had time to adjust to the sound difference before being treated to the additional screen material. Every bit of added scene only complimented the original. I dearly love the way the original handled the opening and agree it was perfect for a time-limited version. This time the worlds and characters were given more depth–some of which I wish had made it to the theater cut. The viewer is given a much greater understanding of who the hobbits are and what the values are that makes Frodo who he is. The light-hearted nature of the hobbits has more time to emerge as you watch Merry and Pippin.
Likewise, the conflict in Aragorn is conveyed MUCH better. You–and especially the viewer not so acquainted with the books–now understand how deep the struggle goes in him regarding his heritage and a little more concerning his relationship to Arwen. As one reviewer put it, you see the high regard the elves have for him. And you feel the weight of the destiny he has to choose to accept or reject. The struggle in Boromir also is given new dimension.
The relationship between Legolas and Gimli begins to show glimmers of humor and depth of feeling. Both characters are strengthened by the exposure. This satisfies a little the wishes of all who wanted to see more interplay like the books portrayed. The humor introduced in all the characters such as Gandalf’s impatience with Pippin, Pippin’s over-indulgence with food, and Aragorn’s addition to the sword-training scene make them warm and authentic. They emerge as real people with feelings with which one identifies.
The scene that benefitted the most from the additional material was Lothlorien. The added exterior and interior views of the land as well as the depth given to Haldir and company was very helpful and enjoyable. The gift-giving scenes make sense out of things they will have to explain somehow in the movies to come. Gimli’s affection for Galadriel has a much greater basis for its existence now. The gravity of the situation and the respect the elves have for the Company are emphasized as the elves reveal they have never before clothed outsiders in their cloaks.
My suggestion to New Line would be to show this Extended Version in theaters in limited scope–many theaters but only limited screens–just before the premiere of The Two Towers. The fans who wanted a refresher, those poor souls who never got around to seeing the first one, and all of those of us who want to see the Extended version in all its glory would come. I know I would go again, and I have ordered the Extended DVD Collector’s Gift Set! It deserves to be seen in the theater. Nothing else will quite do it justice. It would be quite a money-maker and would only strengthen the fan base for TTT. One runs out of superlatives when talking about this movie, but they really are all that apply!