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The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers (Extended Edition) | DVD | (18/11/2003)
from £8.99 | Saving you £11.00 (55.00%) | RRP
With significant extra footage and a multitude of worthwhile bonus features this extended version of The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers is as colossal an achievement as its predecessor, The Fellowship of the Ring. There are valuable additions to the story, including two new scenes which might appease those who feel that the characterisation of Faramir was the film's most egregious departure from the book; fans will also appreciate an appearance of the Huorns at Helm's Deep plus a nod to the absence of Tom Bombadil. Seeing a little more interplay between the gorgeous Eowyn and Aragorn is welcome, as is a grim introduction to Eomer and Theoden's son. And among the many other additions, there's an extended epilogue that might not have worked in cinemas, but is more effective here in setting up The Return of the King. While the 30 minutes added to The Fellowship of the Ring felt just right in enriching the film, the extra footage in The Two Towers at times seems a bit extraneous--we see moments that in the theatrical version we had been told about, and some fleshed-out conversations and incidents are rather minor. But director Peter Jackson's vision of JRR Tolkien's world is so marvellous that it's hard to complain about any extra time we can spend there. While it may seem that there would be nothing left to say after the bevy of features on the extended Fellowship, the four commentary tracks and two discs of supplements on The Two Towers remain informative, fascinating, and funny, far surpassing the recycled materials on the two-disc theatrical version. Highlights of the 6.5 hours' worth of documentaries offer insight on the stunts, the design work, the locations and the creation of Gollum and--most intriguing for avid fans--the film's writers (including Jackson) discuss why they created events that weren't in the book. Providing variety are animatics, rough footage, countless sketches and a sound-mixing demonstration. Again, the most interesting commentary tracks are by Jackson and writers Fran Walsh and Philippa Boyens and by 16 members of the cast (eight of whom didn't appear in the first film, and even including John Noble, whose Denethor character only appears in this extended cut). The first two instalments of Peter Jackson's trilogy have established themselves as the best fantasy films of all time, and among the best film trilogies of all time, and their extended-edition DVD sets have set a new standard for expanding on the already epic films and providing comprehensive bonus features. --David Horiuchi
The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers (Two Disc Theatrical Edition) | DVD | (26/08/2003)
from £2.78 | Saving you £11.40 (76.10%) | RRP
With The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers, the focus of Tolkien's epic story moves from the fantastic to the mythic, from magic and monsters towards men and their deeds, as the expanding panorama of Middle-earth introduces us to the Viking-like Riders of Rohan and the men of Gondor. Which is not to say that Peter Jackson's three-hour second instalment doesn't have its fair share of amazing new creatures--here we meet Wargs, Oliphaunts and winged Nazgul, to name three--just that the film is concerned more with myth-making on a heroic scale than the wide-eyed wonder of The Fellowship of the Ring. There's no time for recapitulation, as a host of new characters are introduced in rapid succession. In Rohan we meet the initially moribund King Theoden (Bernard Hill); his treacherous advisor Grima Wormtongue (Brad Dourif); his feisty niece Eowyn (Miranda Otto); and his strong-willed nephew Eomer (Karl Urban). Faramir (David Wenham), brother of Boromir, is the other principal human addition to the cast. The hobbits, though, encounter the two most remarkable new characters, both of whom are digitally generated: in Fangorn Forest, Merry and Pippin are literally carried away by Treebeard, a dignified old Ent; while Frodo and Sam capture the duplicitous Gollum, whose fate is inextricably intertwined with that of the Ring. The film stands or falls with Gollum. If the characterisation had gone the way of Jar Jar Binks, The Two Towers would have been ruined, notwithstanding all the spectacle and grandeur of the rest. But Gollum is a triumph, a tribute both to the computer animators and the motion-captured performance of Andy Serkis: his "dialogues", delivered theatre-like direct to the audience, are a masterstroke. Here and elsewhere Jackson is unafraid to make changes to the story line, bringing Frodo and Sam to Osgiliath, for example, or tipping Aragorn over a cliff. Yet the director's deft touch always seems to add not detract from Tolkien's vision. Just three among many examples: Aragorn's poignant dreams of Arwen (Liv Tyler); Gimli's comic repartee even in the heat of battle; and the wickedly effective siege weapons of the Uruk-Hai (which signify both Saruman's mastery and his perversion of technology). The climactic confrontation at Helm's Deep contains images the like of which have simply never been seen on film before. Almost unimaginably, there's so much more still to come in the Return of the King. On the DVD: The Two Towers two-disc set, like the Fellowship before it, features the theatrical version of the movie on the first disc, in glorious 2.35:1 widescreen, accompanied by Dolby 5.1 or Dolby Stereo sound options. As before, commentaries and the really in-depth features are held back for the extended four-disc version. Such as they are, all the extras are reserved for Disc Two. The 14-minute documentary On the Set is a run-of-the-mill publicity preview for the movie; more substantial is the 43-minute Return to Middle-Earth, another promotional feature, which at least has plenty of input from cast and crew. Much more interesting are the briefer pieces, notably: Sean Astin's charming silent short The Long and the Short of It, plus an amusing making-of featurette; a teaser trailer for the extended DVD release; and a tantalising 12-minute sneak peek at Return of the King, introduced by Peter Jackson, in which he declares nonchalantly that "Helm's Deep was just an opening skirmish"! --Mark Walker
Die Another Day | DVD | (03/11/2003)
from £2.00 | Saving you £22.80 (91.20%) | RRP
The 20th "official" 007 outing released in the 40th anniversary year of the series, Die Another Day is big, loud, spectacular, slick, predictable and as partially satisfying as most Bond movies have been for the last 30 years. Pierce Brosnan gives his best Bond performance to date, forced to suffer torture by scorpion venom administered by a North Korean dominatrix during the Madonna-warbled credits song. He traipses from Cuba to London to Iceland while feuding with a smug insomniac millionaire (Toby Stephens), who admits that he's an evil parody of Bond's own personality. There are many nods to the past: Halle Berry recreates Ursula Andress's entrance from Dr No, the gadget-packed car (which can become invisible) is a Goldfinger-style Aston Martin (albeit a brand-new model), the baddie's line in smuggled "conflict gems" and super-weapons derives from Diamonds Are Forever and the jet-pack from Thunderball can be seen in Q's lab. It's the longest of the franchise to date (two-and-a-quarter hours) and the first to augment stunts and physical effects with major CGI, though the best fight is traditional: a polite club fencing match between Brosnan and Stephens that gets out of hand and turns into a destructive hack-and-slash fest with multiple edged weapons. Berry may be the first Bond girl with an Oscar on her shelf, but she's still stuck with a bad hairdo as well as having to endure 007's worst chat-up lines. Amazingly, most of the old things here do still work, though it's a shame that director Lee Tamahori (Once Were Warriors) wasn't given a better script to play with. On the DVD: Die Another Day arrives on disc in a transfer that makes some of the CGI look less dodgy than it did in cinemas. The first disc includes two separate commentaries: an interesting, enthusiastic technical one with Tamahori and producer Michael Wilson, and a blander drone from Brosnan with input from "bad girl" actress Rosamund Pike. On Disc Two the main extra is "Inside Die Another Day", a 75-minute making-of with the usual 007 DVD extra mix of boosterism and solid background how-the-hell-they-did-it info. The "Region 2 exclusive" turns out to be another making-of, a video diary effort that takes a more interesting, wry approach to the mix of enterprise and chaos that is the Bond production machine. --Kim Newman
The Other Guys | Blu Ray | (24/01/2011)
from £4.89 | Saving you £18.10 (78.70%) | RRP
Detective Allen Gamble (Will Ferrell) and Detective Terry Hoitz (Mark Wahlberg) are a joke at the police station. Can this down and out duo nerd and hot headed tough guy overcome a plethora of humorous obstacles accidents and misunderstandings to bust the bad guys in a high profile case and gain the respect of their peers?
The Holiday | DVD | (12/11/2007)
from £5.88 | Saving you £7.11 (54.70%) | RRP
Iris is in love with a man who is about to marry another woman. Across the globe Amanda realizes the man she lives with has been unfaithful. Two women who have never met and live 6000 miles apart find themselves in the exact same place. They meet online at a home exchange website and impulsively switch homes for the holiday. Iris moves into Amanda's L.A. house in sunny California as Amanda arrives in the snow covered English countryside. Shortly after arriving at their destinations both women find the last thing either wants or expects: a new romance. Amanda is charmed by Iris' handsome brother Graham and Iris with inspiration provided by legendary screenwriter Arthur mends her heart when she meets film composer Miles.
The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers (Five Disc Collector's Box Set) | DVD | (18/11/2003)
from £22.54 | Saving you £N/A (N/A%) | RRP
This Collector's Box of The Two Towers contains the four-disc extended version of the movie (also available separately) as well as three unique additional extras. Like The Fellowship of the Ring before it, the whole is packaged in a chunky cardboard outer box. Inside is a limited edition polystone statue of Gollum, complete with fish, perched on a moss-covered base (it weighs in at a solid three-and-a-half pounds and comes with a certificate of authenticity). Unlike the "Argonath" bookends, the statue is purely decorative: sculpted by the same artist who created Gollum for the screen it's painted in faithfully "lifelike" colours and has an authentically oily sheen to its flesh that makes it a somewhat less-than-attractive ornament for your mantelpiece. Fans, though, will appreciate the attention to detail and the statue's unique pedigree. Also included is a box within a box containing yet another bonus DVD, this one devoted to the creation of the Sideshow Weta statue series. Some 24 minutes long, this documentary is introduced by Peter Jackson, who shows us his own extraordinary collection of statues; Jackson and Weta supremo Richard Taylor explain how they insisted that these models were created by the same artists who had worked on the movies, ensuring complete authenticity (the actors themselves are suitably appreciative). Taylor narrates in detail the whole production process. There's also a printed 44-page companion piece specifically devoted to Gollum, showing his evolution from early sketches to sculpted maquette to final on-screen character. --Mark Walker