DVD reviews


The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers (PG-13]

(New Line, $29.95): Installment 2 in the "Lord of the Rings" trilogy is a good one to have at home - there is so much in "The Two Towers" to absorb the first time through, it's easy to miss the plot points. The fellowship of the first film has broken apart, which means the film follows three entirely separate journeys. Frodo and Sam struggle toward Mordor with their troublesome companion, Gollum. Aragorn, dwarf Gimli, and elf Legolas track the Orcs and fight several of the most impressive and complex battles ever put on film. Meanwhile, Pippin and Merry escape from their Orc captors and try to wrangle the forest folk to aid humankind. The enhanced Dolby sound brings the many grunts and crashing metal-on-metal battle scenes vividly to life. Extras, such as the preview for "Return of the King," are lots of fun, as are the various on-set featurettes that detail the four-year process of bringing these books to film. But if you only want to buy one "Lord of the Rings" DVD, you might want to wait until November, when the four-disc special edition is to come out. (Diehard "Rings" fans should note: The features on this current disc are not repeated on the special edition.) By Gloria Goodale

Piglet's Big Movie (G)

(Disney, $29.99): Anyone who's ever been told they're "too little" to do something will have no trouble rooting for Piglet in this sweet movie. Classic A.A. Milne stories, including "The House at Pooh Corner," are tweaked so that Piglet becomes the unsung hero at their heart. Purists may object to revisionist Pooh Bear, but most will find this a charming excuse to journey back to the Hundred Acre Wood. The extras include a scavenger hunt, a singalong to the soundtrack by Carly Simon, and a treacly Book of Virtues-style featurette that owes far more to Hallmark than Milne. By Yvonne Zipp

Bowling for Columbine (R)

(MGM, $20.23): In February, six months after the Oscar-winning "Bowling for Columbine" was released, director Michael Moore fielded questions from a Denver audience of 6,000 about his controversial documentary on guns and violence in the US. A soft-spoken man from Columbine, scene of the school shootings that sparked Moore's film, clutched a microphone and said, "Your movie was very painful for a lot of us to watch." He paused. "But it did get us talking." And that has become - at least according to the Cannes Film Festival jury, which awarded it a special prize - a desperately rare accomplishment. The DVD, with four hours of special features, reaches similar heights. Whether or not you agree with Mr. Moore's arguments, or his methods, this collection of interviews and commentary could make activists out of couch potatoes. By Elizabeth Armstrong

The Decalogue (Not Rated)

(Facets Video, $59.96): DVD is the perfect format for films that don't fit normal movie-theater patterns - such as Krzysztof Kieslowski's celebrated "Decalogue," which has 10 separate episodes, each about an hour long. The best way to watch it is one segment at a time, so its meanings and emotions can be experienced and pondered to their fullest. The series is loosely based on the Ten Commandments, but the connections between specific stories and Commandments are indirect and fluid, inviting each spectator to draw their own conclusions about the links between ethical dilemmas and the teachings of Judeo-Christian morality. Extras include a pithy introduction by critic Roger Ebert, a look at the making of the series, and an interview with Kieslowski. In Polish with English subtitles. By David Sterritt

Chicago (PG-13)

(Miramax,$29.99): Renée Zellweger, Richard Gere, and Catherine Zeta-Jones went through rigorous training for this dazzling musical. In fact, Zellweger said training was like going to school. First period: singing; second period: tap dancing; third period: dancing on the main stage. (No doubles were used in the movie.) All their hard work paid off. The adaptation of Bob Fosse's 1975 musical about two murderesses who see fame as their ticket to freedom won six Oscars this year, including Best Picture. The closeknit group also learned a lot about one another. "Who knew Gere was so talented?" laughs Zellweger. It's a delight to peek at the stars practicing their dancing, singing, and "all that jazz" in the DVD extras. By Lisa Leigh Connors

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