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Reviewed January 5th, 2004 by Dan Jones


ďHe wants the precious. Always he is looking for it. And the precious is wanting to go back to him... But we mustn't let him have it.Ē

To start it out I should say that I have never read J.R.R. Tolkienís Lord of the Ring series, though I have enjoyed viewing the films up to this point and look forward to seeing the final chapter any day now.

Like my review of the first film, I would go into a detailed plot summary of this second installment of the Lord of the Rings trilogy, The Two Towers, but I have to assume anyone who is sitting here reading this review has already seen the film or read the books. Lord of the Rings has been often acclaimed as perhaps the greatest story ever told, so it is safe to say that there is a very solid plot in the Two Towers, take my word for it; plus the film made roughly 80 billion dollars (give or take) in theaters so that must count for something.

An interesting note is that after viewing both cuts of the film, I felt this extended cut to actually seem shorter or perhaps the same length as the theatrical cut. Obviously it is longer, but it seems to flow better from beginning to end.

So, on to the DVD. This marks the second special-extended edition release of the LOTR film and much like the first treatment for The Fellowship, we get a ton of specially made extras and even more added onto the film.

Video wise, Two Towers has been given a beyond reference quality 2.35:1 anamorphic widescreen transfer that is absolutely astonishing. I didnít expect much of a difference between the theatrical cutís DVD release and this, but itís obvious a different source was used and due to the disc space availability, a much higher bit rate was selected. Everything looks great; extreme detail, great colors, solid blacks, perfect flesh tones. Absolute reference.

Audio wise, we receive an improvement in audio tracks over the theatrical DVD release. Sporting DTS ES 6.1 and Dolby Digital Surround EX tracks, this is again a reference quality audio experience. With great imaging, very deep and resounding bass, excellent surround use and overall solid dynamic range, there is nothing to complain about here. The better of these two tracks would be the DTS track, with slightly better imaging and increased fidelity.

And the extras....

Starting if off, we have four audio commentaries; specifically from Peter Jackson and the writing team, the design team, the production team, and finally one from many of the cast members. While I wasnít able to sit through sixteen hours of audio commentary, I did listen to samples of each track and they are all very informative in their own ways, together covering just about anything you can think of. I found the director/writer track the most interesting and the cast track the most fun to listen to.

Onto disc three, which houses a number of lengthy featurettes. Running down the list we have: 'J.R.R. Tolkien: Origins of Middle-Earth', 'From Book to Script: Finding the Story', 'Designing Middle-Earth', 'Weta Workshop', 'The Taming of Smťagol', 'Andy Serkis Animation Reference', 'Gollumís Stand-in', 'Middle-Earth Atlas', and 'New Zealand as Middle-Earth'. While these are fairly self explanatory, some standouts are the Tolkien segment and From Books to Script, which outlines what couldnít be included in the book to film translation.

Disc four has a large amount of featurettes as well, namely: 'Warriors of the Third Age', 'Cameras in Middle-Earth', 'Big-atures', 'Weta Digital', 'Editorial: Refining the Story', 'Music for Middle-Earth', 'The Soundscapes of Middle-Earth', 'The Battle for Helmís Deep is Over', 'The Flooding of Isengard', and 'Sound Demonstration: Helmís Deep', All of these featurettes are again detailed and informative. I found the Refining the Story to be interesting, outlining the process and what went into editing a large book into a three and a half hour film.

Both discs three and four have huge stills galleries, possibly 1000 photos or more per disc. Unfortunately no DVD-ROM extras have been included, unless you consider a link to Newlineís website an extra.

And for an easter egg, in the scene selection menu of disc one, highlight chapter 30 then press down to show a ring. Pressing enter here will show Gollum's acceptance speech from the MTV movie awards.

Overall, The Two Towers is an excellent follow-up to the first in the series and this extended edition DVD presents in an extraordinary way. With tons of extras, absolute perfection in video and audio, and a little more film for those that want it, this release is an easy recommendation.


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