Should you buy the ''LOTR'' DVD now? Or should you wait for November's Director's Extended Edition? Marc Bernardin's got the answers -- and a guide to what you'll find on the first-edition disc set
The Lord of the Rings, The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring
Credit: Lord of the Rings: Pierre Vinet

Should you buy the ”LOTR” DVD now?

If you love ”Lord of the Rings,” then there’s no question you’re going to buy the first release of Peter Jackson’s fabulous fable no matter what we say about the extras. But if you’re on the fence as to whether you’ll buy this version, which has the theatrical cut and a disc of bonuses, or the super-fantastical four-disc Director’s Extended Edition coming this November, then pay attention, because we’re gonna handicap the supplements on the DVD now in stores.

‘TOWERS’ OF POWER The centerpiece of this release is a 10-minute look at ”The Two Towers,” the sequel which hits screens in December. It’s a fun little bit, in which Peter Jackson walks you through the search for the city of Rohan, the CGI work behind creating Gollum, and the staging of the Battle of Helm’s Deep. Neat stuff and, along with some new character introductions, a nice appetizer for things to come.

ALSO-RAN RAGGED You know those crappy docu-promos that so many big movies make for TV viewers? The half hours of corporate hoo-hah that serve only to advertise the upcoming release of an event film? Well, you get three of those here. The first is an in-store promo reel from publisher Houghton Mifflin, which is notable only for an interview with the guy who, as a kid, told J.R.R. Tolkien that ”The Hobbit” was pretty good, and that he should split ”Lord of the Rings” into three separate books. The other two were specials that ran on Fox and the Sci Fi channel. Since they’re essentially trailers for the film itself, why would you want to see them after watching the movie? (Let’s not even get into the fact that you’ve also just bought the DVD, so they’re essentially hard-selling something you’ve already paid for.)

TRAPPED IN THE NET During the long months until the flick’s release, the official ”Lord of the Rings” website touted a dozen original Web documentaries, and the two- to five-minute bites are all included here. They make for an interesting behind-the-scenes fix, but if you’re a fan, you’ve already seen ’em. And 30 minutes of three-minute docs is kinda like making a meal out of hors d’oeuvres — you hunger for something to really dig into. Next!

BUY-BUY, BABY Why plunk down your hard-earned cash for one piece of ”Lord of the Rings” merchandise when you can get three? Realizing that a captive obsessive audience is not a thing to waste, New Line has jimmied in a preview for November’s Special Extended Edition, which gives a peek at the half-hour’s worth of deleted scenes that are being reincorporated into the film. While that’s all well and good (and I applaud the inclusion of a $5 rebate coupon good for the Extended Edition), the weirdo infomercial for the upcoming ”Lord of the Rings” videogame is a bit much. More than a bit much, it’s deplorable. No, wait, it’s kinda slimy. Strike that, it’s just plain wrong. (Okay, it’s not that bad, but sometimes it’s best to get out while the gettin’s good. They went and got greedy.)

ASSORTED ASSORTMENTS And — just in case all that’s not enough — you get the standard passel of theatrical trailers and TV spots. That way, you can attempt to rekindle the excitement you felt while sitting in a darkened theater and seeing the first glimpse of the greatest fantasy film adaptation ever. Or, you can kill about 10 minutes and move on to the Enya music video. I’m sure there are a devoted cadre of Enya fans who were hoping that this six-minute clip was gonna be included. I’m not one of them. I don’t know any of them. And I’m sort of okay with that.

So, to wrap up, it is worth buying this release? Absolutely, if for no other reason than to be able to preserve the theatrical cut for future generations (since it won’t be included on the spiffy November box). But, if you’re looking for a scintillating supplemental experience, mark your calendar and start counting the days.

The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring
  • Movie
  • 178 minutes