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It came to me…

While TTT news flies fast and furious (stills, songs, and even the film’s opening are now available online), the extended version of Fellowship breaks today (expect updates around here to go way down.) To be honest, I flipped through most of the new stuff last night after a midnight madness sale, and I’d say 25 of the 30 new minutes are great additions. [Spoilers in next paragraph.]

The Galadriel/Lothlorien stuff works much better now, with both Galadriel and Celeborn taking on the flavor of Tolkien’s tome. Moreover, all of the underutilized members of the Fellowship – Boromir, Gimli, Merry, Pippen, and even Samwise – are given more characterization. And it just seems to take longer to get from place to place, which might take away from the film’s dizzying pace, but definitely captures more of the feel of the book. The only insertion I don’t like at the moment, other than Isildur‘s death (which seems unnecessary), is the additional Shire stuff at the very beginning. The cut to Frodo reading after the voiceover was a powerful one in the original version, but now there’s more filler about hobbits in between, courtesy of Bilbo. Perhaps it’ll grow on me (it’s a bit jarring to see a new version of a film you’ve seen fifty times, particularly when people are saying the same lines in a different take), but at the moment the “Concerning Hobbits” segment seems a bit leaden. (I dig the Green Dragon scene, though.) All in all, I love a lot of the stuff in here, and particularly the restored Lothlorien. Definitely worth a look-see…I’m having a few gatherings this week to show to friends, and I’m curious to see how first-time viewers react to the longer film. I suspect that this version is less accessible to non-Tolkienites than the original cut, which, on its own terms, is probably the better film.

On a side note, I also picked up the Episode II DVD (more out of dutiful resignation than of anything else) and, however strange some of the hobbit additions may seem, they’re infinitely better than some of the thankfully deleted scenes on this disc. It’s hard to figure out what’s more embarrassing – Lucas’ awful “Amidalas around the dinner table” dialogue or Natalie Portman’s stilted, wooden, and grotesquely bad delivery in every scene. If you buy one DVD this month, buy Fellowship.

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