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The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring (DVD)
Reviewed by Shane Ivey, © 2002

Format: Movie
By:   Peter Jackson (director)
Genre:   Fantasy
Released:   August 2002
Review Date:   August 08, 2002
Audience Rating:   Rated PG-13
RevSF Rating:   9/10 (What Is This?)

First of all, this is a Quick and Dirty DVD Review (QDDR), not a full movie review, which means I'm not going to review The Fellowship of the Ring. I'm reviewing the DVD. We already reviewed the movie a couple of times, so read those to your heart's content. Besides, if you've seen the movie, you already know whether or not you like it. And if you haven't seen the movie, you aren't gonna be shelling out $20 for the DVD in any event.

New Line Cinema is doing the usual DVD release thing here. They're publishing the first DVD with just the movie and a couple of low-key extras, stuff that’s interesting but which you can live without, and then a few months later they're releasing the REAL DVD, the Special Edition with extra footage and all the bells and whistles.

In this case, though, that scheme isn't a rip-off. The regular DVD only costs $20 ($16 if you got it at Best Buy like I did); it's wide-screen (unless you're a chump and bought the chopped-off version by mistake); it's got terrific audio and video quality; and the "low-key" extras are about as extensive as you can get WITHOUT calling it a Special Edition.

The extras include a long collection of previews and commentaries that appeared on TV and the Internet over the two years leading up to the December 2001 release of The Fellowship of the Ring. Truly hardcore fans will have seen this material already, but most of you will find at least a few new items. There are trailers (of course), but there are also interviews with the director, the cast, and effects people, behind-the-scenes footage, and the "Internet previews" that combined film footage with interviews.

Then there are three all-new items, a preview of The Two Towers (in theatres December 2002), a preview of the Two Towers video game (in stores November 2002), and a preview of the Fellowship of the Ring Special Edition DVD (also in stores November 2002).

The game preview isn't much, unfortunately; mainly interviews with a couple of the game designers and footage of the part of the game that takes place in the Mines of Moria interspersed with Fellowship footage of the same scene. The game looks fun, but this preview actually works against them; the movie effects of that scene were so impressive that the video game can't help but look a little cheesy in comparison. Especially when the game designers are sitting there claiming you shouldn't be able to tell a difference.

The Two Towers movie preview is better. It's in the same vein as those old Internet previews, with film footage and rough effects work hung around a walking interview with director Peter Jackson. What can I say? It works. I want to see this movie.

The Special Edition preview is kind of ironic, if you ask me, or at least it will be when people have to choose between the two editions­just look at what you COULD have gotten!­but it's a great teaser if you're enough a fanatic (guilty as charged) to plan on buying both. The Special Edition will add some 30 minutes of footage that was cut from Fellowship's theatrical release in order to keep it under 3 hours. Amazingly, the deleted footage includes all the scenes that people couldn't believe were missing, like Gimli's falling for Galadriel and Galadriel's gifts to the Fellowship, and new scenes that fleshed out the characters, like Strider's first meeting with Boromir and Bilbo's time in Rivendell. All that's missing is the much-lamented Tom Bombadil/Barrow Wights chapters; sorry, folks, it looks like those were just never filmed at all.

So. With the expectation that the extras and new footage of the Special Edition will rock every Rings fan's world and earn a 10, I'll give the regular edition a 9. If we didn't know the Special Edition was on the way, this would still be a great DVD release.

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