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Reviewed September 2nd, 2003 by Dan Jones


Assuming anyone who reads this review will know the story behind The Two Towers, or saw it in the theaters, I will bypass a lengthy plot summary in favor of getting right to the meat of the DVD release we have here. Suffice to say that The Two Towers picks up exactly where the Fellowship dropped off, with Frodo continuing to Mordor to destroy the One Ring. The War of the Ring is beginning.

The time has come, the first release of the second installment in the Lord of the Rings trilogy. Like last time with The Fellowship of the Ring DVD releases, the full-boat release, including a ton of additional features, will come later on this year. This release brings us the theatrical cut, as well as a solid number of extras, most of which could have been seen on TV before the release of the film.

Presented in 2.35:1 anamorphic widescreen (and an ignore at all costs pan and scan version), New Line has created yet another reference quality disc. Detail is exceptional, colors are vibrant, darks and blacks are extremely rich and bold. Flesh tones look great and I noticed no edge enhancement problems. What more can you ask for; this is a fantastic presentation.

On the audio side of things, we get a very active Dolby Digital Surround EX mix. Overall, this is an excellent mix, with great bass presence throughout almost all of the film. Clarity and fidelity is outstanding, and surround use is active and enveloping. While I wonder how much better a 6.1 DTS ES mix would have sounded with this material, what we are given is very impressive. Reference quality. An English 2.0 track is also included, as well as English and Spanish subtitles.

For the extras, there’s a good chance you’ve seen at least a couple of these before picking up this DVD. Starting it out we have the Straz! On the Set feature running 15 minutes giving us basically clips and plot summary. Next we have a WB presentation entitled Return to Middle Earth running just above 40 minutes. The WB feature is definitely better then the Starz! effort, but still doesn’t give that much information into the film. This feature also includes an amusing countdown to an exclusive clip of the Two Towers, which at this point you’ve already seen.

The Long and Short of It is a Sean Astin short that doesn’t have anything to do with the LOTR trilogy, but is a fun watch anyways; also included is an 8-minute making of on the short. Next, we have eight web featurettes, which have been previously available online, though now we get them with improved audio and video.

Rounding out the features we have a ten minute behind the scenes preview of “The Return of the King”, providing us with a glimpse of what is to come.

Finishing up the extras we have the theatrical teaser and trailer, 16 TV spots, a music video (“Gollum’s Song”), a preview for “The Return of the King” videogame and a promo for the real-deal DVD release coming soon.

This Two Towers release is an excellent appetizer until the large extended version this November. With reference quality audio and video and a decent collection of extras, this is an easy recommendation for casual fans of the film that don’t see themselves watching the director’s cut version due out later. For the rest of us, we have a decision to make on which release we want, or whether we want them both.


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