DVD spotlight

(The Daily Texan Online)

‘Lord of the Rings’ DVD isn’t all it can be … yet

In the greatest act of decadence on DVD since Michael Bay and Disney decided to release a four-disc version of Pearl Harbor in the spring, New Line and director Peter Jackson have done one better (or two, if you’re counting by disc), with Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring.

Although a November release has been set for a four-disc box set of the film, complete with brand new documentaries, audio commentaries and enough extras to make any Lord of the Rings fan squirm in delight, the studio decided to give those same fans a sneak preview with a premature release of the film on DVD that looks amazing but inevitably feels recycled.

The first installment of the Lord of the Rings trilogy is, of course, anything but recycled. A wholly original and complex adaptation of the J.R.R. Tolkien novel of the same name, Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring was one of last year’s best films. The film alone is worth the price of the disc. This becomes even more true considering that New Line, known for the image quality of their films for home theaters, has given Lord of the Rings their best visual and audio treatment to date – a stunningly deep composition on its visual presentation and an amazingly resonant audio presentation.

However, on DVD the film usually, and unfortunately, becomes the least important aspect. And evaluating Lord of the Rings from that point of view, the new two-disc set is underwhelming because it serves as little more than an extended trailer for the upcoming four-disc set and The Two Towers, which provides the disc’s only original and intriguing supplement.

Besides that, Lord of the Rings’ second disc, which houses the supplements, includes 15 exclusive Web documentaries that hyped up the film before its release, three full-length documentaries on the making of the film (ranging from 18 minutes to an hour) that already aired on TV, and trailers for the Two Towers video game and the film itself. While the DVD works as a compilation of everything that’s already been released as promotional material for Lord of the Rings, the constant glow of the PR campaign in full effect gets a bit repetitive and uncovers very little about the making of the film.

The 15 Web documentaries, which cover everything from the film’s special effects to the makeup, are actually far more informative than the three full-length documentaries. This is most likely due to the fact that these were commissioned by director Jackson himself and give a glimpse of what to expect from the four-disc set. Fans who didn’t have high- speed Internet access a year ago may appreciate that there’s no loading time for the short behind-the-scenes vignettes, but since most Lord of the Rings fans are Web savvy, their inclusion on the DVD is a nice bonus, yet not earth shattering.

As the trailer promoting the film’s second DVD release in November claims, this release was meant to tide Lord of the Rings fans over. And even though it’s not a rush job, it’s nonetheless a DVD that feels incomplete. To their credit, New Line has at least made the public aware of its intentions of re-releasing a more complete set to accompany the film, but unless you aboslutely need to have the film now, greater treasures are still to come.

– Stephen Saito

Copyright The Daily Texan