THE LORD OF THE RINGS: THE FELLOWSHIP OF THE RING
New Line Home Entertainment, $39.99
THE GREAT THING about geeks is that they demand precision, fidelity, and detail. I love that, and so does LOTR director Peter Jackson. So, too, will New Line, which will profit handsomely from its second and third (!) sets of Fellowship on Nov. 12, which follow the initial Aug. 6 theater-cut DVD. (The Two Towers opens Dec. 18, in case you haven't already tattooed that date on your forearm in Elvish.) The less expensive "special extended edition" four-disc package will delight Tolkien freaks with its wealth of Middle-earth arcana. Its first two discs present Fellowship with 30 minutes' worth of new material (and a revamped score); no deleted scenes—they're integrated seamlessly into three and one-half hours.
Jackson and his two co-writers (including his wife) provide the best of several commentary tracks. Jackson mentions James Bond and Indiana Jones movies as influences in the effort to keep the elephantine narrative moving; accordingly, this new extra half-hour mainly builds quieter inter-character relationships instead of piling on action. One great touch: Commentators are identified with titles above the dazzlingly sharp letterboxed image. And those Kiwi accents lend considerable charm to the chat.
The second two discs offer a trove of "appendices" detailing all the behind-the-cameras stuff. (You'll recognize some of the friendly visual- and special-effects crew from the Oscars.) Elaborate miniature models are dubbed "big-atures," while the various stages of production are detailed—from rough pencil sketches to crude PC renderings to full CGI glory. And here's a shock: The menus are clear and well thought out.
Oh, and the $79.92 collector's edition? Fancier packaging, little statuary bookends (!), trading cards, and two more making-of featurettes. Hold on to your wallet.
FANS OF REESE Witherspoon may wish to get ahold of The Importance of Being Earnest. Also out Nov. 12, Disney's pushing several kiddie titles; Bad Company drags its sorry ass to disc; and Star Wars II debuts (yawn). On the semi-obscure side, the band Widespread Panic is captured on the concert doc The Earth Will Swallow You. The tragic-pathetic Andy Warhol "superstar" Edie Sedgwick's 1972 Ciao! Manhattan reaches DVD with lots of extras. Shred-heads will dig Fruit of the Vine, a skateboard doc shot on Super-8 in locales including Seattle.