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The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring (Extended Edition) | DVD | (19/12/2001)
from £16.16 | Saving you £3.83 (19.20%) | RRP
In every aspect, the extended edition of Peter Jackson's epic fantasy The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring is superior to the theatrical version. No-one who cares at all about the film should ever need to watch the original again. Well, maybe the impatient and the squeamish will still prefer it, because this extended edition makes a long film 30 minutes longer and there's a wee bit more violence. But the changes--sometimes whole scenes, sometimes merely a few seconds--make for a richer film. There's more of the spirit of JRR Tolkien, embodied in more songs and a longer opening focusing on Hobbiton. There's more character development, and more background into what is to come in the two subsequent films, such as Galadriel's gifts to the Fellowship and Aragorn's burden of lineage. Some additions make more sense to the plot while others are merely worth seeing, such as the wood elves leaving Middle-earth or the view of Caras Galadhon (but sorry, there's still no Tom Bombadil). On the DVDs: The Fellowship of the Ring--Extended Version comes in two distinct packages: choose either the four-disc set itself, handsomely presented in a hardback book-style fold-out, or the huge and more expensive Collector's Box Set, which has the same four-disc set accompanied by two chunky "polystone" sculpted Argonath bookends, both of which are solid enough to support either your DVD or Tolkien book collection. The discs themselves have extremely useful chapter menus that indicate which scenes are new or extended. The only drawback is that the film is now spread over two discs, with a somewhat abrupt break following the council at Rivendell, due to the storage capacity required for the longer running time, the added DTS ES 6.1 audio, and the commentary tracks. But that's a minor inconvenience. Of the four commentaries those with the greatest general appeal are the one by Jackson with cowriters Fran Walsh and Philippa Boyens, and the one by 10 cast members; but the more technically orientated commentaries by the creative and production staff are also worth hearing. The bonus features (encompassing two complete DVDs) are far superior to the largely promotional materials included on the theatrical release, delving into such matters as script development, casting, and visual effects. This extended edition DVD set is the Fellowship to rule them all. --David Horiuchi
A Knight's Tale -- Superbit | DVD | (14/10/2002)
from £3.99 | Saving you £-7.99 (-61.50%) | RRP
There's no rule against rock anthems from the 1970s in the soundtrack for a movie about a medieval jousting champion, but if you're going to attempt such jarring anachronisms, you'd better establish acceptable ground rules. Writer-director Brian Helgeland does precisely that in A Knight's Tale and pulls off this trick with such giddy aplomb that you can't help but play along. Upon witnessing a crowd of peasants at a jousting match, singing and clapping to the beat of Queen's "We Will Rock You", you're either going to love this movie or dismiss it altogether. Other vintage rock hits will follow, but Helgeland--the Oscar-winning co-writer of LA Confidential--handles this ploy with judicious goodwill, in what is an otherwise honest period piece about a peasant named William (Heath Ledger) who rises by grit and determination to the hallowed status of knighthood. As if the soundtrack weren't audacious enough, Helgeland (recovering from the sour experience of his directorial debut, Payback) casts none other than Geoffrey Chaucer (wonderfully played by Paul Bettany) as William's cohort and match announcer, along with William's pals Roland (Mark Addy) and Wat (Alan Tudyk), and feisty blacksmith Kate (Laura Fraser). Of course there must be a fair maiden, and she is Jocelyn (newcomer Shannyn Sossamon), with whom William falls in love while battling the nefarious Count Adhemar (Rufus Sewell) on the European jousting circuit. Add to this an inspiring father-son reunion, Ledger's undeniable charisma, a perfect supporting cast, and enough joyful energy to rejuvenate the film's formulaic plot, and A Knight's Tale becomes that most pleasant of movie surprises--an unlikely winner that rises up, like its hero, to exceed all expectations. --Jeff Shannon, Amazon.comOn the DVD: From "The Rock Music Scene in 1370" to "You Never Know What You'll Find in a Czech Prop House", this disc doesn't scrimp on the special features. Offering a wealth of information regarding the making of this $41million film, from the jousting (which many of the actors actually performed) to justification for the rock soundtrack and Audrey Hepburn-esque dresses in Medieval Europe. Along with these mini-documentaries, (most lasting for only five minutes) there's a mini interview with the new heartthrob of Hollywood, Heath Ledger and a great selection of deleted scenes. The commentary--by director Brian Helgeland and Paul Bettany (who plays Chaucer in the film)--is a lively and enjoyable romp that makes it clear that the cast and crew bonded on set. The disc comes with a Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack to improve the "raucous rock" and an anamorphic 2.35:1 aspect ratio to bring the "modernised medieval mood" to life. --Nikki Disney