Suite101: Look what they've done to the official Web site, Ma - Do the revisions live up to expectations?

"Maybe the most intriguing part of the site is the flash itself. Not the bells and whistles you are expected to click on, download, view, and preview. But just the constantly rotating images in the masthead. They appear to be previously unreleased scenes from the movies."
In this week's Suite101 article, Michael Martinez writes review of the new Lord of the Rings movie official Web site.

Here is an excerpt:

LOTR Web sites come and go. New Line Cinema has launched and discarded a couple of its own Web sites. But now we're finally into the 21st century and the countdown to December whenever is starting to get serious. And the media hype is heating up.

New Line's latest offering is a double whammy. They've released a trailer in theaters today and they've revamped their Web site. A select few dozen Tolkien Webmasters were invited to post a banner on their Web sites counting down six days to the unveiling of the new LOTR Web site. We were also asked not to copy any of the new content, but just to link to it. So, there ya go, guys.

What's on the new site? Lots of stuff. Gordon Paddison describes it as "the beginning of an evolving online effort dedicated to the Lord of the Rings Trilogy." He adds, "The site will be constantly changing, with content being added and updated on a weekly basis over the next four years. The resulting breadth of materials available will be unlike any other film project to date."

Well, that's cool. Four years of official updates from the official movie Web site. We can look forward to furious attempts by various Tolkien Webmasters to be the first to report updates on the official site, I'm sure. You can stay up-to-date with all the latest headlines from TolkienOnline.Com and TheOneRing.Net at Xenite.Org's Lord of the Rings movie news page. And that's my one plug for the site this week.

The official Web site is so newsworthy The Wall Street Journal devoted an article to the update. People expect a lot of Tolkien fans to check out the site. Even The New York Times got into the act. I wouldn't be surprised to find out that the Daily Planet mentions the update in the next Superman movie (if it ever flys). Perhaps The Washington Post will do an intense investigative series of articles unveiling just how the Web site was put together. Perhaps they'll even get a well-known fantasy author to write a review and tell us what a hack J.R.R. Tolkien really was.

This Web site update is so big it may even have an effect on the stock market. Think I'm crazy for saying so? If traffic to the site is not up to everyone's expectations, expect the Street to dump New Line stock in droves. Although it's not like the film industry is breathing new life into the economy right now anyway. It took a minor cut in interest rates to pull off that miracle (and I guess the fact that everyone has accepted George W. Bush as the next President of the United States helps settle things down).

At this point, I'm not sure New Line can do much to impress me. Oh, they've put up videos, translated the site into 10 languages, and have loaded my browser with flash animations. Gordon Paddison and his handful of Elves have devoted an alleged 30 per cent of their time to this redesign for about a year. That's a lot of work. (NOTE: There is a non-flash site, but I didn't look at it.)

Of course, fans are kind of disappointed with the last redesign. There were fewer updates than promised, and the "ask the director" feature was apparently never implemented. Okay, Peter has been busy managing up to five or six film crews at a time. But he gave the most recent exclusive coverage to Harry Knowles. That seems a bit of a slap in the face to New Line's dedicated Web site. Or maybe it's just the foretaste of what's to come.

So, at 12:01 AM Pacific Time I hit my REFRESH button and saw:

Transferring files from Middle Earth... Please stand by.

Ah, the anticipation mounts.

Please follow the link below to read the entire review.

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