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...but oh was I thankful for it!!! All through the movie I kept on having
this big large smile sculpted into my face. For the record, I'm 25 years
old, and I've read "The Lord of the Rings" in three times for the first time
when I was six or seven years old. Ever since then, I read it at least once
or twice a year - therefore you can count me as a fan, for I follow the same
cult fan procedure with "The Hobbit" and "The Silmarillion" as well. Now
onto the movie... Gosh, I saw it more than one time, and I keep wanting more
of it. It just never gets boring! I really enjoyed the little stuff that is
found throughout the movie for fans of the books (the map on Bilbo's table
in his house comes to mind, it is exactly as the one in "The Hobbit" book
that I own), and I also incredibly enjoyed the intro sequence with the
re-telling of the battle against Sauron from the Silmarillion, never has an
ultimate evil being been so well depicted on the screen. It truly is Sauron.
Those who argue the movie cuts too many parts or that it changes the story too much are totally wrong. This movie could not have shown the whole first time in its entirety - keep in mind that the audiobook version of 'Fellowship of the Ring' lasts well over ten hours, making a movie this long would, well, make it way too long and besides, how would you financially sustain such a project? I've read a reviewer saying he'd make all three books with the time allowed for the first movie alone. I think it would be a very fast-forwarding experience of a movie with 'Alvin and the Chimpmunks' kind of voices, incredibly stupid to say the least.
Ok, so there are changes in the movie - well, this is Jackson's vision of it. All of us have our own visions of the books, which may or may not be compatible with that of Jackson's, but I can safely assume that nobody can say they have a hundred percent the same vision of the story as Tolkien; that's the thing with books: each reader has a different vision of it. As for me, I was blown away. Never before have I felt so much at home in a movie, it is as if I had taken a walk in the town where I grew up, the Shire, Rivendell, Moria, Lorien, everything felt so much like home, I was moved. I cannot tell of another movie that had me shed tears just by seeing a landscape on screen.
As for the changes, well, I found good reasons behind all of them, and let me tell you right away, I was happy that Arwen saved Frodo, yes, maybe coming from a fan it will look like absolute heresy, but I enjoyed the scene a lot. I did not enjoy it because it was supposedly politically-correct to do so, or that I find Liv Tyler to be absolutely attractive; it was just because I felt like even though it was a big change from the book, it was a very good one indeed, it makes you discover the power, determination, and courage of elves and the fact that even elven women, although great in their beauty and seemingly fragile in appearance do not have anything to envy to their male counterparts. And beside, as Arwen is to become a Queen later on, it was pretty good to see her have a great first appearance.
The actors were great, they were a lot into their characters, and for the first time, I saw elves as they were, quick, agile, terrifyingly effective in battle - just look at how Legolas dealed with the hordes of enemies without a single hint of fear in his eyes - these are elves as they should be. Gimli was great too, I know people seem to think many characters were not developed enough, but by the actions you can learn a lot. With Gimli a lot can be learned about the dwarves, their pride, deep sense of honor and family, their mistrust of elves, their love for strong beer and a good fight against anything bigger, and their sheer hatred for orcs and the likes. Aragorn was totally the ranger character, the ending scene as he walked toward the horde of Uruk-Hai warriors was great, his attitude, his clothes, everything about him just cried "ranger". Boromir was very well depicted, desperate to save the people of Gondor, by any mean necessary, robbed of all hope, yet in the end he redeems himself by showing his true valour, deep down, he's willing to die to defeat evil, and when he recognizes his king in Aragorn, on his last breath, I felt like watching a hero die, it was moving. The hobbits were all great, Frodo is deeply sad and fatalist, and Sam is just the 'best friend' everyone would like to have, just as it should be. Finally, we have Gandalf, quite frankly, he looks mighty, Ian IS Gandalf. The faceoff against the Balrog in the Moria is a memorable sequence, and just shows how strong he really is, to be able to vanquish such a foe. I can't wait for his return.
Quite frankly, I can't wait for the two other movies... In the meantime, I'll watch this one over and over again. This movie has everything that a good movie needs to have, and more. Plus, it just might bring more people to actually read books that have more pages than the average little 25¢ novel that has no value in it, which is great. Parents, maybe some scenes will frighten your kids, but this movie has almost NO blood (even though it has a good share of battle) and the foes are undeniably evil, plus it has good values in it - friendship, courage, responsiblity, sacrifice for a good cause, and the belief that anyone can help to change things. This is worthy of Tolkien, this is a movie that will go down in history as being one of the best ever, for sure.
Star Wars has been dethroned. Although George Lucas' movies are good in
their own right (except for the juvenile elements he puts in to sell toys to
finance the franchise), his scripts (which borrow heavily from
J.R.R.Tolkien, mythology & religion) can't compare with the brilliance of
the literary trilogy `The Lord of the Rings'. Granted, Lucas took on a
herculean task in writing & directing his story himself, but Tolkien's
words, along with Peter Jackson's faithful adaptation & inspired vision,
have created something no one man could equal.
Of course, it helps that Jackson insisted on at least a 2 picture deal, & New Line Cinema was brave enough to foot the bill up front for 3 movies. They spent $180 million to film all 3 simultaneously. With the New Zealand exchange rate, that equals $360 million ($90 million ea.), but since they used many of the same sets, and FX development costs were spread throughout, we're seeing $120-$150 million on the screen. This will ensure consistency in plot, casting, tone, etc.
In 3 hours, Jackson has crammed everything essential from the first novel & then some into the film, rewriting some scenes & dialogue with lesser characters for the leads, leaving out only what there wasn't enough time for. Basically, you have two 90 min. movies running back to back. There are no slow spots, just one climax after another. From the opening 10 min. backstory where the Dark Lord Sauron is shown on the battlefield wiping out men & elves 10 at a time with each swing of his mace, I was blown away. The romance between Aragorn, king in exile, and Arwen, daughter of the elf-lord, is played up for the "Titanic" quotient, but it's well done.
The story, sets, costumes & FX are so rich, you'll have to see the film several times to absorb everything. The unspoiled New Zealand locales are spectacular, providing a variety of environments to represent the different settings on the characters' journey. The location sets are imaginative, detailed & weathered, adding to their believability, while the studio sets match them in meticulousness. The costumes are at once familiar & strange, drawing on both the medievil & the fantastic, but more important, they're also functional & practical. The music by Howard Shore is appropriately sweeping, Celtic & folky in keeping with the novel, although it lacks the memorable themes of John Williams or Jerry Goldsmith, but neither would commit a year or more to a 3 picture project. The FX are as they should be, unobtrusive & unnoticed most of the time, there only to support the story not draw attention away from it as in most Hollywood movies which try to coverup illogical plots & bad acting.
I'm particularly gratified by the casting of Viggo Mortenson as Aragorn which was a last minute stroke of luck when the actor first chosen for the part backed out due to differences with the director. I've always thought Mortenson had an intensity & striking but not pretty-boy looks that could portray a flawed, dangerous hero instead of the villains Hollywood always picked him for.
A stellar cast giving some of their best performances, visuals that deliver beyond what I imagined, a perfect mix of humor, passion & tragedy, and a feeling of grandeur, scope & impending doom. Perhaps as an ensemble piece with so many characters & the inability to concentrate on any one, it can't be measured against some of the classic character study films, but even the casual moviegoer can grasp the ideas & not get lost As far as I'm concerned, it's one of the greatest films of all time.
It is with no surprise that Peter Jackson's The Fellowship of the Ring
has received such mixed critics. Many viewers refer to it as being
boring and uninteresting. Seems to me that it is bound to the same fate
Tolkien's books, destined to be a target for the same type of
misunderstandings that keep attacking this literary masterpiece many
after it's first publication.
Having read the books several years ago, I went to see this `impossible' film when it came out with many doubts on my mind. I really liked it, but left the theater with as many doubts as I had before. Was it perfect? Well, maybe not, but what an achievement. After watching it a few times on DVD, and thinking about it for some time now, I find myself loving this film more and more. Let me tell you why...
The Lord of the Rings is a fairy-tale of myth and fantasy. Peter Jackson directed a film that was considered, for a very long time, impossible to make, and not only for technical reasons. The narrative roots are incredibly long and detailed, and the storyline is deeply connected with the creation of a fantastic continent from a time unknown called `Middle Earth'. It's author, Tolkien, dedicated a considerable part of his life developing this continent's background, it's mythology and origins, it's different kinds of people, cultures and languages, and therefore it's geographic references are determinant to the unfolding of the story of the One Ring.
Peter Jackson went out to achieve the impossible and came out with a recreation of the original that is pure and true to the story in every detail. The first time the four hobbits meet a black rider on the road, for example, is absolutely faithful to the feeling of the book. The assault of the riders at Weathertop is another great example, and it captures that feeling of danger, density and atmosphere that are the main characteristics of the tale. Jackson also took some liberties with the story, and made some right choices along the way. If the so called `purists' may not approve the removal of Tom Bombadil altogether, it should be comprehensible that the travel from Hobbiton to Rivendel is a very long and detailed one and could easily make a movie on it's own. I felt more uneasy with how short the Council of Elrond was. In the book, the council is where the whole story of the rings is first explained, and many passages from the past ages of Middle Earth are unveiled. It is a fascinating moment of the story, that had to be shortened for obvious reasons. Still, after some consideration, I now agree with the options made by Peter Jackson, and think that the movie prologue narrated by Galadriel was the wisest choice. The magic is all there when Gandalf shuts his eyes the moment Frodo stands in the council and says `I will take the ring'. It is there at Moria's Gate, and at the fall of Boromir. It is a powerful film that doesn't fit the rhythm of the standard Hollywood action movie. It is a film that breeds, that takes time to unfold, it's tale branching in every direction.
I could go on and on, talking about all the different elements that bring this film close to perfection, but I'll end saying that deep down, this is not about action, beards and big monsters. The greatest thing about this film, to me, is that it brought me back to a time when I was in love with a different world where everything was possible. Reading The Lord of the Rings night after night, I came to understand what this thing of `mankind' really was all about. The corruption of absolute power, the importance and value of friendship, the inevitability of growing up, the strength of hope... That this film could capture that magic, and be a new bearer to it's message of humanism, is a statement to it's greatness. Gandalf's words, that even the smallest person may change the course of the world, and have a part to play in the destiny of all, are immortal.
In the end, this is a wonderful film, but that doesn't mean you are going to like it. I cannot tell you what it is like to see this film if you don't know or love the book. But I hope it may plant a seed on your heart to discover a great world of fantasy, beauty and humanity. I believe Tolkien would have liked that.
When I first saw the trailers for "The Fellowship of the Ring," I had
had any interest in reading the lengthy tome of a trilogy. But seeing the
possibility of the movie, I immediately went out and read the whole thing,
insisted on receiving it for Christmas, and enjoyed every minute of it.
feelings I had while reading the series were heightened seeing it come to
life in the stunning movie. I thought it was a fabulous work of
I thought that having Galadriel tell what was basically the prologue of the book was a good idea, as it helped those who had never read the story. It also immediately involved me in the film; I felt I had an insider's advantage on the rest of the audience. Cate Blanchett has a wonderfully deep and emotional voice; the way she speaks Galadriel is almost as effective as her appearence as the Elven queen. Also, showing the last battle of Isildur and Sauron helped unfog a part of the novel that had me a trifle confused.
The entire movie is full of beautiful sets and landscapes. The Shire was almost exactly as I'd pictured it. Hobbiton is cute and very whimsical. Mordor was frighteningly well done, extremely real. Rivendell had a little bit of a European-tourist-trap look, but was beautiful all the same. The entire backdrop of the movie (the mountains, Moria, Isengard) was perfect; it's amazing that "Fellowship" was filmed in one country.
Now to the characters. All I can say is, "Wow." I was a little apprehensive about the casting at first; I'd created such real images of the characters in my imagination, I almost didn't want them spoiled for me. However, I was not disapointed in the least. Elijah Wood, though not one of my favorite actors, was believable. You could tell from the first glimpse that Frodo was special; Wood's pale, sharp features contrast sharply with the more ruddy, robust look of the rest of the hobbits. He also cries like a little girl. But his weaknesses and strengths make his Frodo an apt choice for the starring character. The rest of the Hobbiton gang was well-chosen, too. Sean Astin ("Rudy" forever to me) was loyal and a bit bumbling, just like the Gamgee of Tolkien's telling. Pippin and Merry were congenial, slow-witted lads, but very brave nonetheless. Viggo Mortensen is outstanding. He has the ability to make Aragorn both menacing and kind. He physically represents Strider to the nines with his strength and virility; the action sequences of his are very passionate and exciting. Some may have complained about Arwen's character being slightly expanded; I thought it a good change. In the books, you have to read the whole trilogy and then rifle through the appendix in "The Return of the King" to learn the history between Aragorn and Arwen. Liv Tyler is ethereal and breathtaking, but at the same time displays the courage and magic that make the Elves the beings they are. Speaking of Elves, I can't help but gush over the handsome and ever-so-talented Orlando Bloom as noble Legolas. Bloom captured the archer's very movements; he treads lightly and fights fearlessly. Legolas's bowmanship was amazing; he looked so natural loosing his arrows machine-gun style. He was my favorite character in the books, and his essence transcends the film. Gimli was pompous and brave, as well. He is well-represented in the movie. Boromir was hopelessly lost, but at the same time valiant and strong. Sean Bean gave an emotionally-charged performance as the tortured warrior. Hugo Weaving was very good as Elrond. He was noble and cold at the same time. And Gandalf. What more can be said of Ian McKellan's showcase portrayal of the wizard? He was magnificent. He could be Gandalf, the kind old conjurer who set off pyrotechnics for hobbit-children. Then he could turn around and stun the life out of you with Gandalf the powerful wizard, facing the balrog with defiance and an iron will. His Oscar nomination is well-deserved.
Peter Jackson is a brave soul to take on a project that could have backfired in so many places. Instead of bringing us uninspired kitsch, he serves up raw emotion, graphic battles of good and evil, chilling and wonderful characters, and enough special effects (realistic, mind you) to make John Cameron's mouth water. Knowing that "The Two Towers" was my favorite of the books, I eagerly anticipate the second helping of "The Lord of the Rings."
I think it is important to remember that Peter Jackson took up this film
in order just to make a film of `The Lord of the Rings' but because he
wanted to make a 'fantasy just like the `The Lord of the Rings'" as he
himself put it. After repeating that phrase on a number of occasions the
question popped into his mind: "Well, why not the `The Lord of the Rings'
itself?". In doing this he, of course, set himself an enormous challenge:
he had to make a really good `fantasy' film, one which would stand on its
own and be true to what he had originally wanted to do but he would also,
and here the task he had set himself was enormous, be true to the original
book and to make a film which the legions of people who have loved this
would feel happy with. In the latter task he was certainly not helped by
the author or the book: Tolkein, it would seem, hated cinema. The book
itself is `HUGE': this was not going to be the kind of task that the James
Ivory team set themselves, or Scorsese nor the kind of task facing Branagh
with Hamlet; nor was it going to be like the puny task that faced Columbus
with `Harry Potter' who had the bigger budget ($130 million for one film
compared with Peter Jackson with $300m for three).
I have just seen the first `volume' and can say without hesitation that he has succeeded in both his goals. It is not the book but a reading of the book which is inventive and fascinating. It is the kind of experience that makes you want to go back and reread the whole thing in the light of the emphases that Jackson has brought to the story. He focuses on the corrupting influence of the ring and, through this focus, the character of the chief protagonists of the story are revealed. Clearly those most tempted by it are mortal men (Boromir and even, in one moment, Aragorn), those who already have power (Elrond - `The ring cannot stay here'; Galadriel; Gandalf and Saruman), and, of course, those who would not normally desire it but who by accident become ring bearers - Gollum, Bilbo, Frodo. I can see why, in this reading, Jackson decided to leave out the Bombadil episode. Bombadil, like the Balrog, is beyond the ring but the latter is important to the unfolding of the story of the fates of all the characters, Bombadil isn't.
It is a miracle of this reading of the first volume of the book that one can see where Jackson is going and one can get a feel of how the reading is going to unfold. In a sense, Jackson's real trial - as far as those who know the books are concerned - will come with the second film in the series. He has lived up to our expectation by creating even bigger ones: how can he handle the story of the chase andrescue of Merry and Pippin, the storming of Isengard etc - stories which don't really add much to the core theme that is emerging. Or is he now going to add the theme of the great contest of good versus evil to the unfolding reading?
All of this points to the fact that the film, even though it is a feast of special effects, focuses on character. And this also explains why Jackson chose the actors he did for their roles: they are not `big' names - no `Sean Connery', no `Alan Rickman', no `Brad Pitt', no `Sam Neill'etc. He didn't want them getting in the way of the story of character. Ian McKellan's talents, in particular, are used to tell a large proportion of the story: an enormous amount is conveyed simply through his facial expressions and even by the language of his body. The other miracle in all of this is Elijah Wood. Like many others, when I first heard of Jackson's choice, I groaned: but Wood has been extraordinary. He brings, as one friend said, a strange kind of androgyny to the role and this is just perfect. McKellan has already been knighted: give Wood the Oscar.
And then there is Middle Earth: this is, as someone put it, another character in the story and the New Zealand landscape, digitally enhanced on occasion, lives up to its role too.
Enough. See this film! Greatest film ever made? How can one make a claim like that! Silly really; as silly as claiming that `The Lord of the Rings' is the greatest book ever written. Can't one simply love a story, enjoy reading it a number of times amd lose oneself in it. One CAN claim that it is the greatest work in its genre as is the film.
Breathtaking. Unique. Captivating. Enchanting.
Within minutes of the start of this first chapter of an undeniably epic trilogy, the audience was left gasping at the intensity of the images on the screen. And we had nearly three hours to go.
The scope of Tolkien's masterpiece may have eluded film-makers for decades, but director Peter Jackson makes good on his promise: he has not only brought us the tale of Frodo and his bold companions, he has brought us Middle Earth. And believe me, it is BIG. Sweeping vistas and hang-onto-your-seat camera shots send us zooming through the towering cities and citadels of Tolkien's imagination.
But even more impressive than the stunning visuals and sound-effects-like-you've-never-heard-before are the actors who breathe life into the characters. Ian McKellen's portrayal of Gandalf is nothing short of awe-inspiring, and Elijah Wood's Frodo is one of the most unexpectedly captivating performances I've seen in a long time. The despair, terror, and determination of the Fellowship is all there, in spades. I left the theater aching...from tensing every muscle during the fight and flight sequences--the breathless and compelling kind we haven't seen since Spielberg gave us a desperate charge onto the D-Day beaches of Normandy.
Those unfamiliar with Tolkien's world may quickly find themselves lost in it, but happily so. The depth of his creation cannot be grasped in a few hours, and it doesn't need to be; the struggle of good against evil explodes on the screen, and leaves little room for complaint.
The movie ended with a stunned audience sitting on the edges of their seats, feeling somewhat bereft. We were exhausted, but no one wanted to wait a year for more.
Jackson's ambitious first chapter is truly unlike anything you've seen this year. George Lucas and Chris Columbus take note: this is how you deliver on a cinematic promise.
For everyone else: don't you dare miss it.
There's a very obvious problem when transferring any book to the big screen,
namely that some of us may already have seen it.
It's not that the story holds no surprises (save for the occasional controversies that surround the fate of characters like Hannibal Lecter), it's just that many of us have already read the book, and thus we've already directed our own version of the story. We've already seen it in our mind's eye.
And this is the problem that plagues The Fellowship of The Ring. You'll see a lot of reviews here proclaiming it as nothing short of the second coming of cinema, and a few that dare to knock its serious shortcomings. Let me clear this up right now.
The first issue that many may raise is that this is not a faithful adaptation of the book. Quite right, while taking pains to ensure that they stayed faithful to the novel, Jackson et al have not simply been able to lift their screenplay directly from its pages without a few necessary changes. There is a great deal of mindfulness in the film about the portion of the audience (and it will be large) who are unfamiliar with the novels.
Accordingly a great deal more emphasis has been placed upon pacing and storytelling more appropriate to a classic film narrative. Hence we need to see Gandalf's protracted bid to escape the clutches of Isenguard interspersed with the Hobbit's journey to Rivendell. It simply isn't appropriate to expect an audience to bear with the Hobbits' journey, no matter how good the actors are or how enthralling the story is, for upwards of an hour without constant reminders of the films other protagonists OR the threat of the evil they face. Having Gandalf just turn up at Rivendell and tell his story via CGI-filled flashbacks simply wouldn't have had the necessary effect.
Secondly, the omission and reworking of characters. Yes, it was sad that Bakshi felt his animation didn't need Tom Bombadill, and given that he features strongly in Tolkien's other works this has to be frowned upon by the die-hard fanatics, but introducing diverting, but ultimately pointless episodes into the list of the challenges the Hobbits face is hardly going to keep you riveted to your seat is it? I mean, a man who stops the Hobbits being eaten, very slowly, by a tree with his power of song is just quite frankly ludicrous in this day and age. The film is already stretching the audience's suspension of disbelief as far as it can go. Hence the chaff of Bombadill is cut. He isn't relevant to the rest of the story so he can be done without. It's sad for Tolkien fans for him not to be there but there's only so much celluloid available, even with a film this long.
And yes, Arwen Undomiel never saved Frodo from the Dark Riders, but please, remember your girlfriend needs to have something to sink her teeth into as well, not just midgets and men with beards looking mean or scared as they fight monsters. So, for gender representation and a bid to prevent half the potential market (please remember that like all film, this is a product to be packaged and sold) her character gets a drastic overhaul. Go sister!
There are numerous other issues relevant to the faithfulness of the adaptation from novel to screenplay but please, let's be content with what we've got here. It's a hard task to do all this well and Jackson, along with the rest of the boys and girls at Wingnut and WETA, should be commended for what they have achieved.
That said there are some definite flaws in the film, even those that can't be overlooked by justifying the needs to relate to the popcorn and nachos audience.
Firstly, we've got the Fellowship itself. Now, Merry and Pippin, while not really being established as Frodo's friends and thus not having the same kind of bond with him as they do in the novel are moderately well integrated. However, at the arrival of Boromir, Gimili and Legolas we just get left in the dark. None of these three characters, all representing important races, cultures and locations of the world of Middle Earth are given no more than token arrival-shots to introduce them, and little or no back-story as to how they came to be where they are or why they feel compelled to join Frodo's quest. Offering their various weapons is noble, and it sounds fantastic in the trailer, but when we finally get down to it we just don't know who they are or what they're about. Accordingly we don't ever really have time to care about any of these three, save for Legolas whose fighting proficiency alone makes him stand out. Sadly, Sean Bean is allowed little more than to switch from foreboding bad guy to friendly companion and back again (thus betraying his characters ultimate fate from the first time he opens his mouth) and John Rhys Davis is left with little more to do than scowl and look short. It doesn't help that both these characters seem to get a pretty raw deal for screen time, especially Gimli, who is barely in the film at all. We won't even begin to go into the seemingly superficial relationship we see between Sam and Frodo.
All of this is indeed a shame. The film's greatest strength after its story are its strong characters. However, whereas in the book they have the space to develop and flesh themselves out here they have little more to do than look in awe at Gandalf, perhaps not with a humble air so much as a wonder that he's being allowed to soak up all the screen time.
And yes, what you've heard is true; the fight sequences are shockingly bad. Well, perhaps that IS an overstatement. The fight sequences aren't exactly bad, they're riddled with good ideas and clever moves, but the camerawork and editing is so erratic that you'll have a hard time picking out anything to inspire awe or respect. The problem here is that the benchmarks for on screen fighting have all been established nowadays by The Matrix, Crouching Tiger and The Phantom Menace, and all of these films use lengthy shots to allow us to soak up the fight imaginative fight choreography, rather than have us crane our necks and dart about the screen with our eyeballs trying to glimpse it like a rare bird or nipple-flash at a premiere.
Now, these, yet again, are only a few of the problems. There's the geography of Middle Earth, some ropey special effects moments and the clumsy ending to deal with. But you can read the books and see the film for yourself; I've already typed enough about all that here.
BUT, now that I've just spent the main chunk of this review telling you about the shortcomings of The Fellowship of the Rings as both a movie and an adaptation let me tell you, it is good, exceptionally good.
There is no denying that the storyline itself, acting, effects, props, sets and so on and so forth are all spot on. Visually the film is a triumph and WETA has now, without question placed itself ahead of Industrial Light and Magic in terms of industry leading special effects. There are bags of style to proceedings, with some sequences displaying the sheer amount of vision of the whole team to bring somewhat vague sections of the novel to life.
All parts are played to perfection by the cast, and the casting is literally some of the best and most appropriate seen in years, none of this who-hot-and-who's-not Jerry Bruckheimer trash, it's a case of the best possible person for the part at every stage of the film. We'll give particular credit to Sir Ian Mckellan, Christopher Lee, Ian Holm and Elijah Wood again here. No doubt they've had scores of favourable and loving reviews already but these performances truly are worth mentioning just once again.
The film is a masterpiece from start to finish. Yes, it does take perseverance, no it's not entirely faithful to Tolkien's work and there are some serious flaws, but in a year that has been so barren of even five decent mainstream movies I think it's safe to say that no matter when this film had been released it would have outshone its competitors.
The reason why this first part of Jackson's 'Lord of the Rings' is
to his latter two parts is because of restraint. Jackson was restrained
over doing it with the CGI and "epic" battle sequences, which in my
does not make a story epic. Part of the reason was simply because Tolkien
did not have very many battles in the first part of his book, which
thankfully forced Jackson to focus on creating a believable world rather
than a believable hack-n-slash action movie.
I don't find much entertainment in watching people mutilate each other, but I love it when a movie engages me in a world, and 'The Fellowship of the Ring' does just that. Certainly the most breathtaking scenes in the movie are the moments of patient observation, when the camera pans around and captures the beautiful settings of Middle Earth. I must give Jackson credit. He did hire some very extraordinary artists that have envisioned one of the grandest interpretations of Tolkien's world.
There are about five particular moments that stick out in my mind and gave me that tingle of goosebumps down my spine when I saw them for the first time. The first is the introduction to Hobbiton. After the somewhat awkward prologue, I was beginning to have my doubts to whether the movie would live up to the book. But the movie surprised me. Hobbiton is perfect. The houses have flower patches and old fences, the roads look worn and made through decades of travel, and the Old Mill spins with the laziness of a quiet town. Every color is vibrant and every moment looks as through it was taken out of a picture book. Although I still don't agree with the particular look of the Hobbits, I believe everything else in Hobbiton is worthy of Tolkien's words.
The second moment comes after Frodo's awakening in Rivendell, and the third, during the exploration of the Halls of Moria. In both moments, the camera pans away from the characters and outward into a static shot of their surroundings. The moments make us feel like we're turning our heads and gazing at the world around us just as the characters do. The golden waterfalls of the elven city mark an interesting contrast with the dark halls of the dwarfish mines, but each are inspiring in their own ways and add to feeling of being engaged in a living world.
My other favorite moments come during the exploration of Lothlorien and the passage down the Anduin. And while I won't go into detail about the scenes, since they really should be experienced without any prior expectations, they are monuments in imaginative cinema. 'The Fellowship of the Ring' is one of those rare movies that I always wish I could reexperience for the first time. Unfortunately, Jackson turned away from exploring Middle Earth in his next two movies, and instead, turned to fighting and warfare. He seems to take a lot of pride in the love story and battle sequences he created in 'The Two Towers' and 'The Return of the King,' but it is was in his first movie when he really got it right. In 'The Fellowship of the Ring,' it's okay if the characters are uninteresting and have silly dialogue. Middle Earth is the star, and the characters are the ones seeing it for the first time.
'The Lord of the Rings' is one of my favorite books, I have read it several
times, and remember thinking the last time, about 3 years ago that if I made
a film I'd want to make it of this, but wouldn't it be almost impossible.
You can then imagine how strong my expectations were when I went to see the
eagerly awaited first installment.
This film impressed me hugely, more than anything else because of how true it was to my imagination, both in the characters as well as in the effects and setting- a sentiment I have heard consistently from other fans of the books. Elijah Wood brought across the character of Frodo with the kind of haunted, frail courage that Tolkien captures so well in the books. Nor could I find any fault at all with Ian McKellan's Gandalf, Viggo Mortensen's Aragorn, and Sean Bean's Boromir, all of whom I thought were portrayed excellently. I could pick out instances where I did think, 'no, that's not right', however their seldomness in number would only serve to illustrate the excellence of the overall portrayal. One thing that did stand out for me was Cate Blanchett's performance as Galadriel, the part itself became so perfunctory in the film that to me her alternation between benevolent seer, and figure of potential terror seemed little more than a slightly confusing detour with no real connection into the plot other than as a vehicle for a glimpse into the future. But that was it.
I thought that the points where Jackson did deviate from the text were completely the correct ones to do so. Shortening the opening Shire scenes and cutting out the whole Tom Bombadil bit was great since frankly they bored me slightly in the book anyway. Also, expanding the role of Arwen was a sensible decision.
However this film is by no means above criticism. The dialogue was in my opinion terrible and purely there to drive on the plot. Normally this would ruin a film for me (as in "The Matrix"), making it almost intolerable to view, however fortunately here it proves little more than a minor irritation. Also, the film seemed overall to be excessively plot-driven and at times a mad dash from one action scene to another, the characters, for all their truth to the book did seem flat and sometimes little more than stereotypical fantasy characters. This is perhaps my major quarrel with the film- I would have liked these characters to have come alive as people in a way that was made impossible by the sparseness of the script and the rollercoaster nature of the plot. In general the whole film lacked the depth of context that I think distinguishes Tolkien from other fantasy writers. However to have achieved this would have required a very different movie, and you can't fault an action film for being an action film.
This movie is undoubtedly not for everyone. A lot of people just don't get fantasy- other than Lord of the Rings, I don't particularly either. However in my opinion Jackson really has made an incredible achievement- his and Tolkien's vision carried through suberbly by a breathtaking setting and stunning special effects, as well as by a cast clearly as enthralled as he was. He has taken on a huge task, and is dealing with it with breathtaking success.
I absolutely love this movie, partly because the acting is really good,
but also for the CGI effects and the good storyline. I watched the
extended version and realized that it isn't boring like some people
think because some people I know think that FOTR is quite a lengthy
movie because of all the talking, but in my opinion, if there's not
talking, there's no story! If they just jumped to the fighting scenes
without any of the introduction, then you won't know where the movie
started from. I love the scenes where they get to fight, whether Orcs
or Nazgul, the fighting scenes are still the climax of the movie.
Another good movie to see after FOTR is TTT, of course. It is the second part of this great trilogy and there are more climatic scenes. Most probably, you'll enjoy that more than FOTR but don't shun this movie just because it's a bit lengthy.
Overall, it's a great movie to see and it is really worth spending the money to buy/rent the extended/special DVD to watch too. Definitely a 10 out of 10 on my scale! Actually, in my opinion, 10/10 doesn't even come close!
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