(Originally posted on 11/30/03)
Earlier this year, I stated (in the pages of Stumped? magazine) that Peter Jackson's The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers paled slightly in comparison to The Fellowship of the Ring. However, after watching New Line's four-disc extended version of the trilogy's second installment, I now enthusiastically revise my opinion. Featuring forty minutes of additional footage not found in the theatrical cut, this extended Two Towers is a significantly improved, and astonishingly fleshed-out, adventure. While I found the extended Fellowship's new footage interesting but not vital, the same can't be said of this disc's new scenes. Whether it's learning about Aragon's advanced age, witnessing the relationship between brothers Boromir and Faramir and more of Merry and Pippin's adventure with the Ents, or relishing hints about Golum's nefarious plans to reclaim the ring from Frodo, this longer cut is richer, more exciting, and a more fulfilling build-up to next month's Return of the King. In fact, it's now clear that the theatrical cuts of these films are just rough drafts -- or, one might say, studio-mandated neutered editions -- that function as tantalizing previews for the fuller, more mesmerizing, final versions released months later on DVD. Even though I'm sure the success of these discs merely further encourages studios and filmmakers to unwisely tinker with their films for profitable (but unnecessary) "Director's Cut" DVDs, when it comes to these comprehensive, supplement-stuffed extended Lord of the Rings discs, one can only salute Peter Jackson for creating what are undoubtedly the greatest fantasy films of all time.