Review By LIAM O BRIEN, 5 out of 5

Keep it secret. . . . keep it safe. . .

Now here is a release, that will almost certainly have more people complaining about ?oney grabbing company??and ?ip offs?than actually buying the damn thing. But that? not to say that this massive four disc set will not do well, because, if it get what it deserves, this will be the biggest home release of the year.

Director Peter Jackson LOVES dvd. He makes this clear from the sheer effort and energy he has put into creating this incredible box set. He has not just created a version of Fellowship that has a few extra bits here and there that do not move the plot along, or are even needed (stand up Terminator Two: Special Edition) but has recreated and re -structured the whole film, that does not take away from the original, but adds to the memory.

The film is almost thirty-five minutes longer, thanks to the extra footage. Highlights include a bigger opening sequence, more from Bilbo ?oncerning Hobbits?the gift giving sequence involving Galadriel, and many other extended moments ( more Gollum, longer fight scenes).

But the real strength of this new cut is not that its length has altered, but that it really feels like a totally new film- it feels fresh, and new. The visuals are still breath taking, the characters still strikingly original, yet it has a new gloss, an extra sheen, that adds to this already classic film like an encore. The incredible thing about this set though, is that with two more films to come, you can be assured that this is one film series that will live on for a long time to come.

But this very special experience does not merely end with the film. These awesome discs (I do not over exaggerate) are crammed to the brim with detail. The menu screens made with care, the music that accompanies it striking and wonderful. But now onto what (apart from the film) sets this collection apart. The extras.

Featurettes, script to screen comparisons, commentaries, storyboards, special effects breakdowns, masses of cast/ crew interviews, JRR Tolkien profiles and biogs, the writing of the books, documentary? covering the making of the whole film, from writing to filming video clips, galleries, design process, editing featurettes, music videos- the list is truly, endless.

There is not hours worth of material here, but weeks. Everything could not, and should not be absorbed in one go. Everything on this disc is compulsive viewing, and, that the film in its original form is worth ?5, the fact that this set boasts an extended and better cut of Fellowship, but also the best making of package ever put onto dvd disc, makes the an absolute must buy.

To add to all that, the packaging of this set is wonderful. The box appears as a book, housing four brilliant looking sketches on the discs, and behind them, more pre visualised artwork. The twelve-page collector? booklet adds to the class, as does the wonderful Allan Lee painting of the Fellowship? entry into the mines of Moria.

All in all, this is definitely the best set you will buy this year. Peter Jackson and his team have created something very special, and have raised the bar for all future special edition releases.

The only thing that can detract from the sheer scale and extravagance of this set, is that, as many disgruntled fans will know, Fellowship was released in early August as a two disc set (that is still available). That set now pales in comparison to this, but it is still a version of a brilliant film. But the question on the lips of the many that bought the two-disc set is this: is it worth shelling out another ?5 for the four-disc set? The answer is an unhesitant yes- this is a lovingly made set, packed with features, crammed with detail.

All we can hope for now, is that this incredible set is given the success it deserves to warrant this treatment for the Two Towers and The Return Of The King.

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