The Lord of the Rings - The Two Towers
New Line Cinema and Peter Jackson continue their string of excellence in the first release of the Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers on DVD. Presented here in its theatrical cut, the focus isn't quite heaped on the extras as much as it's presenting the film audiences saw and loved in the theaters in the most spectacular presentation possible for home viewing. Visually, The Two Towers has never looked better, with its 2.35:1 widescreen picture working as a perfect vehicle to show off cinematographer Andrew Lesnie's skillful eye and the amazing digital color-correction done in post-production. The audio as well is powerful and full, thanks to the 5.1 Dolby Digital EX Surround Sound and 2.0 tracks supplied -- for proof, look no further than the Battle of Helm's Deep, whose layers of rain, thunder, and carnage are mixed perfectly with Howard Shore's driving score, creating bombastic booms that will no doubt rock whatever sound system you're running. The rest of the two-disc edition follows the same groundwork laid by the original Fellowship DVD in which the extras are mostly just but a taste of what's to come. Even though audiences are licking their lips for the later, more beefed-up Special Extended Edition (featuring a longer cut of the film along with an unbelievable amount of extras), this edition still holds its own with bonus materials that won't make it onto its sister disc -- most notably, the ten-minute preview of The Return of the King, which finds Peter Jackson in the editing lab teasing the audience with snippets of footage that will no doubt leave fans on the floor ready for more. With equal time split between behind-the-scenes and actual film footage, for most, this is the main draw of this release and not surprisingly, it doesn't disappoint. For more sneak peeks into the third film's goodness, simply head to the preview of Electronic Arts' The Lord of the Rings: Return of the King video game, which showcases more choice footage from the upcoming film along with interviews from the cast and creators of the game. For those that just can't wait for The Two Towers: Extended Edition, there's also a preview of the four-disc set, which highlights Boromir's (Sean Bean) cut flashback scenes, along with many other large and small plot lines that are now added back into the film (which should lay rest to any of the hardcore Tolkien fans' initial complaints). There are two full specials that make an appearance on the disc, both filmed especially for the Starz/Encore and WB cable channels. Each provide the same levels of insight into the production of the second film, which are in turn, built upon in the lordoftherings.net featurettes -- eight small behind-the-scene video bits that were available on the web before the release of the film. The teaser and theatrical trailer are also supplied, along with a whopping 16 TV spots ready for you to jump into. Throwaway to most, though probably important to the remaining few, there's also Emiliana Torrini's music video to "Gollum's Song," which basically comes off as a classy, but still throw-together compilation of footage from the film and her in the studio (a duet with Gollum would have been better). Finally, one of the best things about the disc is the inclusion of Sean Astin's terribly sweet short film The Long and Short of It, filmed in the town of Wellington on an off-day from the production utilizing everything from extra cameras to various cast and crew alike, followed by a behind-the-scenes clip with some hilarious interviews with Andy Serkis and company. Far too easily written off as the lesser of the two initial releases of the film, this disc is an assurance that the original version of the film will live on for years to come.