on November 14, 2002
I just finished watching the extended version and it was like watching a whole new film! In every way, this version is superior. The thirty extra minutes are not wasted. The characters are fleshed out, the battles seem more desparate and the agony of the journey both to Rivendale and beyond is made plain. I urge anyone who hasn't already purchased the theater version to skip it and get the extended one instead. Anyone who already has the theater version.....well this one is definately worth forking out the extra dough to get.
on December 22, 2001
A cinematic version of Tolkien's THE LORD OF THE RINGS ranks up with the hope that Lucas will indeed make another Star Wars Trilogy, and, I think I can safely say, this is one of the most anticipated films in the movie industry's long and checkered history. You would think it's movie paradise, considering Lucas has been in the midst of another Star Wars trilogy and LORD OF THE RINGS has finally got a cinema deal (live action!), but PHANTOM MENACE proved something of a disappointment (Mesa Jar Jar Binks!), and I think quite a few people will enter into the theatre with a certain amount of trepidation.
There's a reason for that. Three animated Tolkien films have been released with very problematic results. The 1978 Bakshi release is just embarrassing; the film is both incoherent and confusing.
Rankin & Bass's two movies are fine for little kids; those two films are Tolkien for Saturday Morning cartoons. They proved my introduction to Tolkien and for that I am thankful, but the movies still fail to capture the grandeur of Tolkien's imagination.
There are two things to consider here about a work of literature. Although all good literature has a polarization effect on its readers, this work has a gigantic legion of followers which are extremely dedicated to Tolkien's vision (I count myself a member of this camp). The other camp cannot figure out what the big fuss is about and why they should care about the novel.
Now, there's a reason why all this is relevant to the film: had Peter Jackson gone to far either way the film would have fallen apart. Appeal to much to the fan-base and you loose the general movie-goer. Appeal to much to the movie-goer, and you'll lose the fan-base.
So when the fan base learned of Peter Jackson's decision to film all three films at once, an unprecedented move in movie history, most of us really wanted it to be good but were just simply afraid. We've already been burnt. Would it be so bad that it would alienate both fan base and those who are just looking for a good movie?
Not only does Peter Jackson's film work, it's glorious, beautiful, has all the myth and grandeur of the book. Jackson, a Tolkien fanatic, could have gotten so involved with bringing out the extremely detailed world Tolkien gave us that the pacing would suffer or we'd lose patience with all these obscure details which would alienate the regular movie goer. Not only does he not alienate the general movie goer, but he entices the fan base so much they can't help but fall in love with his vision of Tolkien's world.
The only real flaw is how rushed first section of the movie is. Although I can understand cutting the Old Forest and Tom Bombadil, the way they handled getting the hobbits out of the Shire was unacceptable. There is not that sense of camaraderie between the Hobbits that there is in the book, there is no "conspiracy," and Merry and Pippin just join without any questioning from Sam and Frodo. While Jackson does a good job at building the Hobbits' characters and establishing their personalities, I couldn't come up with a good reason why Frodo and Sam would just let Merry and Pippin join them.
The Prancing Pony is worst. There is no questioning from the Hobbits about Aragorn proving himself, there is no scene about him asking them to trust him, and the whole sequence feels much too rushed. Sam only questions Aragorn while they're actually out of the inn and traveling.
Thankfully, however, that is the only real flaw. The rest of the things the script changed (tightening Elrond's council, the expansion of Arwen, cutting Sam from the Galadriel mirror sequence, tempting Aragorn with the ring, etc) I can see why they did it for dramatic tension. I also liked the way they handled Elrond's council, because that could have ruined the movie like it did with Bakshi's. They had established and covered much of the material in that chapter elsewhere by means of voice-over prologue and actually showing the viewer what is happening (especially with the Isengard sequences), and as a result lessened the screentime of that scene and helping with the dramatics of it.
As for the controversial expansion of Arwen, I tend to agree with the film makers in their decision to enlarge her role. By making her part of the Ford sequence it introduces the character and establishes her in the viewer's mind, and the relationship between Arwen and Aragorn is more fully explored. As for their romantic interlude in Rivendell, not only do I agree with that but think it should have been done in the book. Tolkien did not know who Strider was when he was first writing FELLOWSHIP, and did not go back and change the scenes to further explain the romance between Arwen and Aragorn, and by not including a scene in Rivendell to establish their love for one another lessens by far the impact of their union in Part III, and (for once) this romantic scene is actually an improvement on the book. As for her role in the Flight at the Ford, for the movie they made the right choice though the book is still preferable.
In achieving the balance between fan base and the more causal fan, this film is a spectacular success. Making a movie out of a book the size of Fellowship, the fact is you will have to condense, tighten, rearrange, and make changes for dramatic tensions. The mediums are different, and you cannot have a direct translation from a book to a film. Despite of what they cut, the movie still clocks in at three hours, which is very generous. The real problem with this film, as others noted, is it's going to be a full two years before we finally get to watch THE RETURN OF THE KING.
In the end, we get a movie that stays true to the SPIRIT of the book. This is what we Tolkien fans have long been waiting for. Thank you so much Peter Jackson and your cast and crew.
on June 8, 2002
AWESOME is the one word I can think of to describe this instant classic.
But I am not here to extol the wonders of "The Fellowship of the Ring" as much as to clarify the confusion some reviewers might have out there. What I want to clarify is this: Yes, New Line Cinema is releasing 3 versions of FOTR.
The first is the theatrical cut (meaning: the exact same movie that you saw in theaters) on August 6. This is a 2-disc set that includes the specials "Welcome to Middle Earth" (by Houghton-Mifflin), "Passage to Middle Earth" (Sci-Fi channel behind-the-scenes special, and "The Quest for the Ring" (Fox special)....
Then you have the 4-disc Special Extended Edition (*which is what this DVD is*) which includes an additional 30 minutes of footage incorporated into the film. The add'l scenes include more Aragorn back story, more "character moments," and a slightly different introduction to hobbits as narrated by Bilbo Baggins. Discs 1 & 2 are the film and commentaries of more than 30 participants including Peter Jackson, Richard Taylor, Elijah Wood, Sean Astin, Ian McKellen, Howard Shore and much more. Discs 3 and 4 contain over 6 hours of in-depth behind-the-scenes footage. Disc 3 is "From Book to Vision" which explores the screenplay, design, special effects, costumes, armory, locations, storyboards, etc. Disc 4 is "From Vision to Reality" with features such as "Bringing Characters to Life," "A Day in the Life of a Hobbit," "Principal Photography: Stories from the Set," as well as picture galleries and much more!
The 3rd version is the Collectors Gift Set (also released on November 12th) which includes the Special Extended Edition DVD, 2 collectible Argonath bookends and The National Geographic special DVD - "Beyond the Movie."
So the question is: how big of a fan are you? Casual fans may just want the theatrical version DVD. More avid fans (who could never get enough of The Lord of the Rings) will want the theatrical version DVD (to be released on 8/6) and the SEE. Avid fans and collectors will most likely want the theatrical version and the Collectors Gift Set. The wonderful thing is having choices. The beauty about these releases is that they DO NOT OVERLAP. Meaning: what you get in the theatrical version DVD does not show up again in the SEE DVD. They are completely stand-alone. All I can say is, thanks to New Line and Peter Jackson for such a wonderful (early) Christmas present!!!!
on December 31, 2001
Considered both as fantasy adventure and as an adaptation of a beloved literary classic, Peter Jackson's film of "The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring" sets new standards for cinematic excellence. Everything about this film feels exactly right, from the casting to the screenplay to the special effects. The last are amazing, putting to shame anything George Lucas has come up with, and yet they always serve to advance the story; unlike Lucas, there's never any hint that Jackson is merely playing with his toys. Jackson shows great respect for Tolkien's text, but not slavish devotion. Certain characters--such as the lovable Tom Bombadil and Frodo's poisonous Aunt Lobelia--are missing, and Tolkien would be chagrined to find that the little poems and songs he loved to write are nowhere quoted. But if Jackson gives short shrift to Tolkien's whimsy, he more than makes up for that by giving us Tolkien's intensity, pathos and moral vision absolutely undiluted. Above all, Jackson never forgets that Tolkien's chief emphasis was always on the characters he created. Jackson casts wonderful actors to play those characters and--again unlike Lucas--he actually allows them to give performances. How wonderful to find the great Sir Ian McKellen, a uniquely commanding and charismatic actor, as Gandalf, or the charming and touching Elijah Wood as Frodo. You can go straight down the list--Viggo Mortensen as Aragorn, Sean Astin as Sam, Ian Holm as Bilbo, Cate Blanchett as Galadriel--and find nothing but perfection. This is one of the very few big-budget blockbusters that unqualifiedly deserves its success, and all we can do now is look forward with excitement to the release of "The Two Towers" in 2002 and "The Return of the King" in 2003. Like the books they came from, these three fillms will be cherished by future generations.
Given the major competition that is out there for "The Lord of the Rings," I think it is helpful to point out those who have not read the Trilogy will fare much better watching "The Fellowship of the Ring" than those who are uninitiated watching "Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone." In fact, this may well be one of those movies where the novices will enjoy it more than those soaked in hobbit lore and the history of the Rings.
Elijah Wood is a credible Frodo, although there are almost as many shots of him looking worried about what is happening as there are close ups of the ring (I might be able to recognize the skin patterns on Wood's hand in my sleep). Ian McKellen, as would be expected, makes the most of playing Gandalf the Grey, bringing a most human dimension to the role while avoiding chewing the scenery except for those moments when the wizard unleashes the full force of his power. Cate Blanchett is a rather cold Galadriel, missing the spark that should take our breath away just looking at her. But ultimately the performances are almost incidental to the rest of what is happening in this film.
While much is to be said for the stunning set designs, of which the mines of Moria stand out even above the Elven havens of Rivendell and Lothlorien, equal measure must be given to the enchanted New Zealand landscapes. The visual spectacles hinted at in the trailers are revealed in all their glory throughout the entire film. The fight sequences hold up well against the current contemporary standard, albeit without any wire work. Surprisingly with all the swordplay involved it is Legolas with his bow and arrows that stands out during every single battle. The orcs are suitable horrendous (and numerous) and the balrog certainly exceeded my expectations. But what really makes this film work is that the hobbits seem hobbit size and after the first time you see Frodo and Gandalf together you never give it a second thought.
In terms of the controversies that exist, I think omitting Tom Bombadil was a wise editing move (the film is almost three hours long as it stands and there are plenty of other characters in the tale who refuse to take up the ring and the burden from Frodo), and buffing up Arwen's role does not bother me a bit. Tolkien's world is clearly male dominated, the Lady Galadriel and Eowyn being relatively minor figures in the tale despite their respective powers, and I can appreciate the idea that Arwen should be more than the elf babe who shows up and marries the King at the end. Now she will be a worthy consort who offers the hero encouragement and support along his journey. I have more second thoughts about Merry and Pippin being more so the comic relief than Sam than I would either of those. Overall, the movie is extremely faithful to Tolkien's vision: the door to Moria is just as it appears in the book, down to the proportions. The maps, the elvish runes, the lettering on the letter, are all precisely and perfectly rendered. Even more importantly, the key lines are all preserved from "I will take the Ring, though I do not know the way" to "Fly, you fool!"
There are DVDs. There are special edition DVDs. There are special edition DVDs loaded with extras. Now, there is THE LORD OF THE RINGS: THE FELLOWSHIP OF THE RING SPECIAL EXTENDED DVD EDITION. I don't think there has been anything like this in home viewing ever. It has been suggested that this Special Edition set is the closest thing one can actually get to having been a part of the movie and I would have to agree.
It will take a person about two weeks of 4 hours of viewing each day to get through all the features in this set.
First of all is the film. The movie has been extended by over 30 minutes of extra footage not seen in the theatrical release. Though some of the scenes would have perhaps dragged the film down some in the theatres, they are a great addition here, tying up a few loose ends and making the novel come to life even more.
The movie itself takes up 2 discs. There are four different commentaries to go along with the film. I found the one with Peter Jackson to be my favorite.
The third disc is called "From Book to Vision". It includes six different documentaries ranging from one on Tolkien to one on Weta Workshop. There are also maps, galleries, and slides consisting of over 2,000 images. Besides that there are also a bunch of storyboards which give even greater insight into the development of the film.
The fourth disc has several more documentaries (around seven, if I'm not mistaken), several galleries, and behind-the-scenes photographs.
This special edition DVD set also includes a free ticket for THE LORD OF THE RINGS: THE TWO TOWERS that is accepted at just about any chain movie theatre.
There is so much in this set, that I can't discuss it all. I mean, it took me two weeks to just view most of it. Wow. If you are a LORD OF THE RINGS fan, this is a must have, far better than the original DVD release and something to hold onto for life.
on November 17, 2002
If you saw and loved the theater version, you won't want to miss this extended edition. I won't go into detail about the theater version; instead I'll assume you've seen it and write about the new scenes.
I was very excited to learn that these new scenes weren't going to be a "special section" of the DVD. Instead the extra scenes were added into the movie, edited and polished to blend perfectly. There were some scenes which were altogether new; at other times a familiar scene would include added dimension.
Every added minute (I believe there were about 30 altogether) was thrilling and illuminating! For example, I enjoyed learning more about Hobbits and life in The Shire! This extended opening to the movie gave a broader foundation to those of us who knew nothing about Hobbits before seeing this movie.
Though there was some great battle footage added, a great deal of the added footage included conversations amongst the characters. These conversations gave the characters--cherished and beloved as they already were--a greater depth and warmth. It caused the obvious brotherly link of the Fellowship to make greater sense. One example is an added conversation between Boromir and Aragorn while they are well into their journey to Mordor. I'd already felt sorry for Boromir and his well-intentioned weakness for the ring, yet my husband couldn't understand why I felt endeared to him. But after hearing the conversation between the two men, my husband was more able to understand my pity for Boromir.
Another example is the last fight scene in the movie. In the theater version, Peregrine and Merry seemed to have run off and hid throughout the battle, until they saw Boromir shot. But in the extended version, we see the courage and heart of these two Hobbits as they fight these huge, intimidating creatures with everything in them and using every resource available--even stone-throwing! I was so proud of them that I clapped my hands as I watched!
As I write, I'm the process of watching the second of the two "making of" DVDs. The first contains the process from book to movie concept. It includes a short but interesting biography of the writer, J.R.R. Tolkein (though it doesn't mention his Christian roots). The DVD also contains much of the process of making the book into a movie--the creation of the sets (using real locations, miniatures, and computer graphics, etc)., the creation of the creatures, and the costumes. The first DVD itself is long and gets a little dry after a while, but it's well-divided so that you can watch it a piece at a time or skip the less interesting parts.
I haven't finished watching the second DVD, but it's already a lot of fun! So far it's mainly made up of character interviews where the actors talk about what it was like to work with one another. I've also enjoyed seeing the make-up process.
All that to say this: I highly recommend this set! If you're a fan of the first installment of this movie series, you won't be disappointed!
on November 19, 2002
This is not so much an extended version of the theatrical release as it is the complete, uncut version (although the director denies this) - not complete in terms of what Tolkien wrote but complete in terms of the scope of the film production. Next to the theatrical version it contains many extended scenes and some altogether new scenes all of which work very well indeed and add a great deal to the movie in terms of content and pace. The overall pace is a little slower and more measured with greater emphasis on the journeys and the relationships of the Fellowship - more satisfying and truer to the book. A number of scenes omitted from the theatrical release which set up events in the later books are included - these are generally so crucial to the plot that it is difficult to understand why they were left out in the first place. Characters such as Haldir and Celeborn, who had little more than cameo roles in the theatrical release, are much more fleshed out and Galadriel is allowed to show her kinder, softer aspect in addition to the dark, dangerous elf queen seen in the cinema version.
The extras -
A superb and mind boggling array of by far the best thought out and most generous special features that I've ever seen on DVD. Documentaries on all stages of production from Tolkien's childhood through to the opening night in Wellington, maps of the shire, several commentaries, stills, and more - all accessed via a beautifully designed set of suitably Tolkienesque menus.
I would not have believed it possible but all of the additional footage in this extended version of The Fellowship Of The Ring adds up to a vast improvement on the theatrical release. Add to this the truly superb special features and improved theme packaging and you have a DVD set that should be indispensable to any fan of the book, film, tolkien or just good movies in general. Buy it - you'll never watch the theatrical release again.
on January 8, 2003
Peter Jackson has again shown his genius. As if the theatrical version of the Fellowship of the Rings wasn't brilliant enough, Mr. Jackson has outdone himself with the extended version of one of the best films of all time. The additional 30 minutes of the film were seamlessly inserted into the original and they add greatly to the overall effect of the film.
The additional scenes in Hobbiton and the sequence where the gifts of Galadriel are revealed were particularly beautifully done. Of course, I am a fan of Cate Blanchett, so I would like to see as much of Galadriel as possible in the three films.
I purchased both the theatrical version, as well as, the extended version and I was not disappointed by either. I look forward to similar dual releases for the Two Towers, which I saw last weekend. Although darker and more violent, it is even better than the Fellowship..., if that is possible.
Thank you Peter Jackson, thank you New Line and thank you to the magnificent cast and crew who have brought Professor Tolkien's masterpiece to film. I have been waiting for this for 30 years.
on December 8, 2001
I was lucky enough to see the media release on Dec 6, and I have to say I thoroughly enjoyed the film.
I am a huge fan of Tolkien, and refused to see the animated LOTR all those years ago because I thought a cartoon could not do the film justice. So it was with mixed feelings that I went along to see the film of the book that I have to say changed my life when I read it at the age of 11.
Was it good? Yes.
Was it as good as the book? No.
Would I see it again? Absolutely.
Positive comments: The cinematography is excellent, the locations are excellent, the special effects are incredible (especially the fight scene on the bridge in Moria). It is obvious Peter Jackson is a big fan.
Negative comments: There are a few corny Americanized comments from the characters; Gimli's last words in the film should be edited out! Obviously done to keep the interest of those (few) who have not read the book.
Arwen is a little too heroic, but not as bad as I feared.
The film is too short! I felt hurried as I watched the epic, there were whole sections from Lothlorien missed out, and the storyline has been changed in places to fit into a 2.45 hour format.
My biggest regret: more of the original dialogue from the book should have been included. Too many times the characters spout sentences that were not written by Tolkien, and JRRT's wonderful descriptions of the woods and vales are sadly missing. Still, the director has made a magnificent attempt to bring the majesty and wonder of the book to the screen. It is impossible to fully include everything from the book, and I think he has done well.
I would definately recommend the film; I took my wife who has not read any of Tolkien and is not a fantasy fan, and she enjoyed it. I myself got goosebumps watching the film as all the memories came flooding back.