Review - Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers Extended Edition (DVD-2002)
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Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers Extended Edition (DVD-2003)

New Line Home Entertainment

Reviewed by Dennis Kwiatkowski


Unless you have been living in a cave near the earth’s core, you already know that The Lord of the Rings is Peter Jackson’s film adaptation of J.R.R. Tolkien’s celebrated literary fantasy trilogy of the same name.  The first two films of the trilogy have already been released, and the final highly anticipated chapter of the story entitled The Return of the King is about to be released in a few weeks at theatres throughout the nation.


The reason for all the fuss is that Lord of the Rings has been adapted for the screen with enormous integrity—it is a multi-part cinematic blockbuster directed with intelligence and flare and astonishing special effects which enhance, but do not overwhelm, character and content.  It is a film series which does not dumb down to its audience.


Some have suggested that this epic story of love, friendship and compassion and massive battles and struggles should, by all rights, collapse under its own weight.  That it does not do so is a tribute to Tolkien and his cinematic interpreter, as well as the archetypes that Tolkien invokes as he attempts to answer the question: What motivates and lies behind the ticking of the universe?


When the second film in the Lord of the Rings series, The Two Towers was released on DVD earlier this year, the package included not only the film but a host of outstanding extras.


An announcement was made at the time that a special extended version of the film, with scads of all new extra features would be released on DVD later in the year.  For those who bought the earlier disc, the question naturally arose: How can they possibly come up with even more supplemental features and still keep them fresh, appealing, new and interesting?  Well, somehow they managed to do it.  The new DVD of The Two Towers: The Special Extended Edition is one of the most remarkable DVDs yet released. 


First there is the film itself.  Like the first film in the series, The Fellowship of the Ring, The Two Towers theatrical running time clocks in at about three hours.  But for the special extended edition, director Peter Jackson has added 43 additional minutes!  This brings the running time to nearly four hours.  So the question is: Does the footage simply pad the film in order to sell the new edition of the DVD, or is it worth having it?  The answer to this one is a no-brainer:  it is most definitely worth it!


The first two films in the series were already more epic that just about anything created in today’s cinema.  But the extra 43 minutes of footage in this extended version takes things to a new level.  Fleshing out characterizations, motivations and connections, and increasing the already amazing scope, the new footage is almost always necessary and illuminating.  If, by the end of the film it almost overwhelms the viewer by sheer weight, it is also true that, once seen, it is impossible to conceive the film without the footage!


The extended edition of The Two Towers comprises 4 DVDs—two featuring the film itself in a pristine film transfer and two discs containing extras.


The extras on the discs are voluminous—including a choice of four different feature length commentaries—the most superb of which is Peter Jackson’s own insightful comments.  There is also an entire documentary on the creation of Gollum, one of the greatest accomplishments in digital character creation and there are extensive documentaries, interviews, special features and wonderful appendices too numerous to mention—all of this boxed in a most attractive package.  And we haven’t even mentioned the excellence of the more than 100 new visual effects shots and the Howard Shore musical score additions for the extended feature.


That Peter Jackson managed to get all three of the films in the series made for roughly $300 million will stand as a great accomplishment which has already been rewarded by box office success and critical acclaim.


The Lord of the Rings trilogy is destined to hold a special place in modern cinema.  It is an astonishing achievement.  The 4-DVD set extended edition of The Two Towers will more than prepare the viewer for the final battle for middle earth—the upcoming The Return of the King – a film which, like the first two in the series, is certain to live up to ones lofty expectations.



2003 Dennis Kwiatkowski/Celluloid Dreams



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