Director-star Kevin Costner's exhaustive Western ''Dances With Wolves'' has always gotten a mixed rap. For the legions moved by its Spielbergian crescendos, just as many cynics have griped that it's too PC. For every fan pleased that it won Best Picture, there's a hardcore geek who'll never forgive it for thwarting Martin Scorsese's ''GoodFellas'' Oscar bid.
Sure, the long-winded epic will never be a classic -- a fact that Dances With Wolves: Special Edition, with an extra hour of well-crafted if unnecessary footage, can't disprove. But the set's four above-par commentaries, two revealing though repetitive production documentaries, and countless testimonials about the romantic joys of staging a buffalo hunt on the South Dakota tundra underscore the fact that ''Wolves'' is a filmmaking tour de force. And thanks largely to Aussie Dean Semler's camera work and Brit John Barry's music, both landmarks in a mostly American genre, it's also an effective, if occasionally trivial, piece of storytelling.