The Lord of the Rings (Special Extended Edition) (VCD)

Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring
(Original VCD)

Elijah Wood, Christopher Lee, Viggo Mortensen, Ian Holm, Sean Astin, Orlando Bloom

Disc 1:
- The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers final trailer
- The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring
Special Extended Version

Disc 2, Disc 3, Disc 4:
The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring
Special Extended Version

Special Feature: A Day In The Life Of A Hobbit

Movie: * * *  
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So you've heard about the made especially for DVD version of Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring, which adds about half an hour's extra footage. Whether you'd be keen on actually seeing this version depends on your geekiness. Most of the people I spoke to could only remember numb butts from the cinema: "Three-and-a-half hours long? I don't know . . ."

Whether you'd buy this Special Extended Edition on DVD however unfortunately doesn't only depend on your geekiness. It also depends on your budget: the four disc DVD set would set you back US$39.99 at (list price). This is a lot of money, no matter where you are from.

Here in South Africa I can roughly buy ten new release music CDs with what this box set costs. No matter how big a Tolkien fan you are, the chances are that you'd spend more time listening to those ten music CDs than you would watching the longer version of Fellowship . . . even though it is a pretty long movie. (One can also buy a cheap DVD player in South Africa for that price. Sort of puts it in perspective, doesn't it?)

If, like me, you'd rather have some more Jimmy Smith or Joe Henderson CDs nestling in your collection, then there is another option: the Special Extended Version sells for a mere $12.97 at Eureka-Movies.Com. This is almost half of what it would cost you on VHS ($24.99 list price)!

THE DISCS: This is one of the handsomest VCD collections I've ever seen. The packaging is almost identical to that of the DVD set and fits in nicely with all my other DVDs in the handy DVD rack my wife bought me for Christmas. (It looks like a small brownish book that you can fold open to reveal the four discs and some beautiful artwork under the trays.)

You also get a small booklet outlining the new scenes added by director Peter Jackson as well as the new musical cues added. Very neat and professional - remember that these are the official VCDs. This is a set you can definitely show off to your friends.

On the fours discs you get the Special Extended Version stretched out over four discs, sandwiched in-between the full trailer for The Two Towers sequel and a small featurette titled "A Day In The Life Of A Hobbit". This featurette details the hours of make-up sessions the actors who played the Hobbit leads had to go through each day.

In case you missed it, Hobbits have huge hairy feet and like one actor remarked you could see this only in a few scenes in the final movie, whereas the actors had to undergo all those tortuous make-up sessions during each day of filming!

(Luckily this featurette is at the end of the movie and not the start. Otherwise I would have counted how many times you can see the feet of the Hobbits - something I found myself doing while watching The Two Towers later on!)

The movie itself is presented in its original aspect ratio. The sound is excellent and the image quality due to the VCD compression is of the best I've seen in this format yet. No complaints there - you only notice artefacting if you sit too close to your TV screen, something your mother should have taught you not to do.

WORTH IT? Checking out The Fellowship of the Ring again before seeing its sequel is a good idea since Two Towers has no small sequence at its start to get you up to speed again. (My wife and I watched it a week before go to see the second instalment on the big screen.) Also, I found myself enjoying the movie more the second time around. (Maybe its earnest bombast is less grating on the small screen - I don't know.)

Some of the added scenes are quite good and it is a pity that they never made it to the theatrical version. Fans of the movie would definitely want to check out this version: I never found it to be a long slog despite it running for three-and-half hours maybe because my sitting room sofa is a lot more cushy than most cinema seats.

RECOMMENDATION: At about a third of what the DVD will cost you, this set is a bargain. With the money you saved you can even buy three other movies on VCD at Eureka-Movies.Com such as Lilo & Stitch, Minority Report and E.T.


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