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It is incredibly difficult to really adapt most books into movies and still stay very true to the soul of the book. This movie does that in a very big way and really sets the mode for the following two movies. It is the hook and bait that is irresistible and even those that don't care for fantasy movies find themselves reeled into one of the greatest epic fantasy's ever told. Entering a world filled with new discoveries and incredible adventures is something that every child hopes for and thats exactly what sparked the creation of this epic. Watching this movie really brought me back to a time when life was magical and my imagination was all I needed to enjoy each day. Very few movies are able to immerse a person and make them feel very much apart of the story that is being told like this movie does.
If you are reading this review (or indeed any other) trying to assess
whether or not you should watch this film then please read no further
and just go and slip in the DVD (Extended Version) and let the sights
and sounds of Middle Earth wash over you. Nothing I, or indeed anyone
else, can say should help you to form an opinion prior to watching. I
guess the audience for the three films fall into two distinct
categories; those who have read the books and those who have not. Those
who have not, in my experience, tend to be overwhelmed by the absolute
majesty of the vision but a little non-plussed by the actual story -
seeing it as just some rather dopey fantasy; a Star Wars trilogy set in
past times for the modern audience if you like. Then there is the "yes,
I have read the books" class who in general seem to have a kind of smug
arrogance grounded in comments such as "they left out too much", "its
not what I imagined" or "Of course its all an allegory for the rise of
the third Reich".
Tolkein bemoaned the lack of an heroic mythology for the English people and he sought to create one in his Rings trilogy of books. My opinion is too humble to count - but if you want it, I believe he succeeded. The epic backdrop, the heroes and villains, the rich history, the races and the languages are all utterly plausible as a long cherished story handed down over many generations. Peter Jackson and his team must be congratulated not only for their wonderful realisation of Middle Eath and its inhabitants; but for crafting a series a movies that captured the very essence of what Tolkein was trying to achieve.
Well done also for leaving out Tom Bombadil.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
I must say I was skeptical when I first heard my favorite novels were
being made into films. I dreaded A-list tow headed actors and actresses
over-dramatizing and/or faking their way through one of the greatest
journeys ever. I feared they'd cast Tom Cruise as Aragorn, and Brad
Pitt or some other overindulgent, overconfident "golden boy" as
Legolas--a character I've loved since I first read the chapter about
The Council of Elrond.
...but then I heard That Elijah Wood, a fine young child actor now grown up, was playing Frodo. I was intrigued. Sir Ian McKellen would be playing Gandalf--and I felt it would be refreshing to see him play such a good, likable character after watching him play Magnetto in X-Men (another performance of his I enjoyed.) The rest of the cast was either unknown to me at the time, or I hadn't heard that they had been cast in it yet. Needless to say I was DYING to see this movie. Unfortunately I didn't get to see the film when it first came out. In fact, I finally got to see it several months later. Definitely worth the wait. The cast, the script, the entire production was simply flawless.
Within the first scene the shire that I read about when I was a child, came to life... Middle earth where I longed to escape as a child had come to life, and was even more beautiful than I imagined. THe characters were almost exactly how I had pictured them, and the excitement, the drama, and everything else seemed very, very real.
My hat is off to Peter Jackson for his excellent job in bringing The Lord of the Rings to life, for those of us who grew up dreaming of Middle Earth. He did a wonderful job of (more or less) sticking to the original story, and bringing his vision of The Lord of The Rings to the big screen for all of us to enjoy.
Hat's off to the cast too, who not only looks exactly like I imagined them...they act and speak, even walk just how I pictured them.
Some long-time Tolkien readers may scoff at scenes that were cut out, or rearranged...or Arwen taking the place of Glorfindel in the Flight to the Ford... Well some scenes don't always translate well onto film,...I would have been bored watching Frodo wait a full ten years at Bagend waiting for Gandalf while the Sacksville Baggins' raided and pilfered what Bilbo had left behind... The Tom Bombadill scenes would have been rather bland, and taken away from the central story... And I didn't mind at all that Arwen was the one to save Frodo...that scene was so spectacular, F/X wise! I'm not going to nit pick about a female elf saving Frodo.
Regardless of such changes, the movie is spectacular! If you don't like it...well then maybe fantasy movies, or classic literature brought to life is just not your thing. To each his own.
But it's a must see for all Tolkien fans, all fantasy fans, and all who want to escape reality for approx 4 hours... and wander into Middle Earth.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
CONTAINS POSSIBLE SPOILERS
JRR Tolkien's staggering trilogy The Lord of the Rings is my favourite novel of all time. To call it the literary equivalent of the (original) Star Wars trilogy if anything undersells it, as much of Star Wars is inspired by it. When I heard Peter Jackson was going to make films of my `precious' books I was nervous to say the least. How could he possibly succeed?
Then, in December 2001, I breathed an immense sigh of relief combined with an almighty gasp of delighted surprise. The first film in the trilogy not only lived up to expectations, it surpassed them. If anything, the film was better than the book. I say this simply because cinema is my preferred artistic medium. What Peter Jackson did was not merely film the book (as was the case with the first two Harry Potter films) but instead translated it into cinema. Jackson emphasised what was cinematically potent, reinvented a number of sequences and trimmed a few others with the apparent motto `show don't tell', which is of course what great cinema does.
The resultant adaptation of The Fellowship of the Ring is an unmitigated masterpiece. A dynamic, epic, beautiful and sweeping work that knocks the socks of anything in the fantasy genre since Star Wars in 1977. It is nothing less than criminal that it didn't win the Oscar for best picture.
The deceptively simple plot can be summed up in one phrase: `evil ring must be destroyed'. For this to happen, representatives of all races in Middle Earth - Humans, Hobbits, Elves, Dwarfs etc - must unite against the forces of evil led by the Dark Lord Sauron who wants to regain the great Ring to rule and cover all the world in darkness.
The complicated backstory is brilliantly rendered in a splendid prologue outlining the history of the Ring and how it came to be in the hands of the Hobbit Bilbo Baggins. Bilbo's nephew, Frodo, takes up the quest to destroy the Ring with the help of wizard Gandalf and a fellowship representing the other races in Middle Earth.
The ensuing adventure is so full of excitement, adventure, humour, irony, melancholy, terror and tragedy that it really is impossible to describe the emotions of the story in a few words. Although the plot deals specifically with the timeless theme of good versus evil, it also encompasses complex issues such as immortality, temptation, and growing up. There have been several misguided attempts at pinning Tolkien's work down in allegorical terms, most recently to the post September 11th war against terrorism. To do this is to miss the point. Tolkien himself claimed his work was neither allegorical or topical. It was instead intended to be a `fake history' or mythology for England and Europe, rooted deeply in his Christian beliefs.
The casting in the film is impeccable. Sir Ian McKellen simply is Gandalf, Elijah Wood excels as Frodo, Viggo Mortensen is superbly rugged as hushed-up-King Aragorn, Ian Holm makes a tragic and moving Bilbo, Sean Bean is wonderful as Boromir - a man gradually seduced by the evil of the Ring, and Christopher Lee is great as turncoat wizard Saruman to name just a few.
The cinematography is staggeringly beautiful, making great use of breathtaking New Zealand locations. The special effects and production design are groundbreaking. Editing and sound are both first-rate.
Finally, Howard Shore's magnificent music score deserves a special mention, the best I've heard of its type this side of Star Wars. Not only does he manage to create a sweeping work similar to a full-blown opera, but he manages to incorporate Elvish poems and songs that were an frequent feature of the novel unable to be included elsewhere.
The extended edition of the film is an interesting alternative edit, with new bits and pieces which are all good (especially for fans of the book), but to be honest it doesn't matter which version you see. The film's staggering attention to detail, its unswerving conviction and its brisk pace (not a duff moment in its entire running time) make this quite simply one third of the greatest fantasy film ever made.
Before this movie was made, I had barely even heard of the Lord of the Rings trilogy. When the movie came out, it got such rave reviews and looked so interesting that I was quite eager to see it. When I finally did see it, I was SO impressed. The story is absolutely enthralling, the special affects were amazing, and the acting was superb. This movie really got me more interested in all the actors playing the hobbits, and also Ian McKellen, actually to be honest, I REALLY enjoyed all the actors, especially, Viggo Mortensen(playing Aragorn). There is not one element, one scene in this movie, (in my opinion) that could use any improvement. I would strongly recommend this movie to any who enjoys the fantasy\science fiction, even if you have not read the books. This is the best movie I have ever seen, and I can't wait to see the rest of the trilogy.
Truly one of the best films ever made! It was robbed of the best picture Academy award. This movie does not disappoint. Even those who are not fans of the books, love this movie. Set back and hold on to something, you are going to love this from beginning to end. The only thing wrong with this movie, is the waiting for the next one.
The Fellowship of the Ring
When one begins to write one's sentiments regarding a movie such as Peter Jackson's adaptation of J.R.R. Tolkien's classic Lord of the Rings trilogy, the main problem isn't having difficulty finding things to remark upon - the main problem is knowing where to begin. The Fellowship of the Ring essentially redefined the term "quality", in its extraordinary ability to vastly succeed the already unreasonably high expectations of audiences and die-hard fans of the novels everywhere.
It becomes difficult to avoid bias by painting the film with outlandish and likely unreasonable praises, but I must confess I could go on for literally pages pointing out how blown away I still am by virtually every aspect of this movie, the first, and in my opinion, strongest as a film of the trilogy. So I'll try to keep it concise - Jackson has truly brought the novels to life in a fashion one could never have imaged short of actually seeing it for themselves. The sets and appearance of Middle Earth are among the greatest ever created, an impeccable blend of CGI, constructed sets, and the already breathtaking landscapes of beautiful New Zealand. The beautiful cinematography brings this all to light again, in the best sense of the word - seldom does a movie look so, simply put, beautiful. The costumes and appearances of the various creatures and inhabitants of Middle Earth are once again, mind-blowing - some of the best and most convincing computer generated images are on display in these movies. This is all punctuated by Howard Shore's simply gorgeous and incredibly moving Oscar winning score.
Acting is also simply nothing less than astounding, with every cast member not only seeming torn straight out of the pages of the novels, born to play their role, but also turning out pretty much flawless performances around the board. There are standouts of course, especially Sir Ian McKellan's now career defining turn as the warm yet incredibly wise and powerful wizard Gandalf, Viggo Mortenson's wonderful flawed yet noble hero Aragorn, Sean Bean's excellent and truly touching portrayal of the quintessential flawed male character Boromir, Elijah Wood as the good hearted lead character, the innocent hobbit Frodo Baggins, and Sean Aston as his faithful and loyal companion Samwise, and Christopher Lee as the corrupted and now evil wizard Saruman the White. Cate Blanchett is a huge scene-stealer, as the regal (and briefly chilling) elf queen Galadriel, while John Rhys-Davies is perfectly gruff and hilarious as cantankerous dwarf Gimli, and Liv Tyler is breathtakingly elegant as Arwen (and thankfully given more to do than simply stand around pining, as in the next two films). Then there is of course the absurdly underrated Andy Serkis' mind blowing portrayal of the creature Gollum. Though mainly seen in the next two films, Serkis already manages to make a powerful first impression with his 2 minutes or less of screen time.
Again, it seems entirely fair to say the Lord of the Rings movies are among the greatest movies ever made, for their incredibly detailed attention to the details of Tolkien's novels, and their still surprising ability to exceed expectations in every possible way in film-making and storytelling terms. This is epic storytelling at its best - if you are among the very few who have yet to see these movies, strongly consider doing so - it will be well worth your while.
Tracking all the making of information leading up to the film, it seemed
like Jackson was doing a great job. The scenery, props, casting, makeup,
effects all seemed beautifully authentic. And in action, they deliver. But
the script (it's always a danger when you see three writers and one of them
is the director) spoils the magic.
It's more than making Arwen's role more significant (and a completely different character) in a blatant attempt to beef up the roles for women. I didn't like that, but women's roles are admittedly sadly lacking in the original story. It's that Jackson puts his clumsy fingerprints all over Tolkien's themes and tells the story from the perspective of Men. Apparently, modern moviegoers need to identify with their race. (Side note: all the critics who say how the movie has preserved the magic of the books probably haven't read them since college.)
The relationship between the four hobbits isn't set up at all in the movie; aside from Frodo the other three hobbits seem thrown into the quest by chance. Rather than being a reluctant, conflicted hero, Frodo is praised by all the other characters but actually does little but squeal, get stabbed, and look on the elves in wonder. Saruman (a lesser character in the fiction who only appears the first book through Gandalf's recollection) takes up far too much time in the movie. And by the end we've seen Sauron's eye so much I wonder there's anything to reveal of the dark lord in the second and third movies. I expected changes, but I fail to see the rationale for many of Jackson's edits--they don't make the story better or the action flow more smoothly.
The Lord of the Rings is an elegiac tale of the passing of magic from the world and of the heroic struggles of those races passing from the world to preserve goodness. In Jackson's eyes, history is told from the perspective of the victors, the Men. Hobbits, who drive the action in the books, are along for the ride while Aragorn, Boromir, et al are the real protagonists in the movie.
I give Jackson full credit for taking on a task of this scale and achieving an epic feel. If only he'd started with a script as good as his scenery.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
This comment contains spoilers in that it directs you join me in seeing
through the thin veil of Hollywood, and directs you inward to know what
really need and want instead of just explosions and effects...
Seriously, this could have been one of the best movies ever made. That's right, I'm saying it is not. Even the casual movie fan (movie fan, not one of the mindless herd) has to admit that he/she can sense the fear in the producer's hearts behind every scene in this movie. They took a great risk in making an expensive trilogy like this, and they did not want to get the short end of the stick. The result is a compromise; a combination of good effects and good acting counterpointed with unnecessary cheeze-ball action and, well, bad acting. The result is a bizarre movie with brilliant scenes followed by terrible scenes.
Everyone knows the plot summary, so I will skip it.
Every cool scene of dialogue, every touching moment between old friends, and every time we felt the pull of evil, we were quickly (before any of the sheep dozed off), bombarded with a scene of the gang struggling along on their trek fighting creatures and getting blown up.
Apparently, according to my friends, I was the only person who noticed the tragedy in the cave troll. After slowly being disappointed for several hours, I was quite pleased to see the action take an interesting turn like this. When the cave troll was led into the room, and had a collar on with a "leash" (a chain). Right away I assumed he was a trained beast, made ferocious by being beaten and tortured over time by his master, much like some people do with pit bull dogs, etc... When the troll was fatally shot through the mouth by the arrow, he had on his face a moment of unexpected (for me) realization of the wrongness of his actions. Perhaps this was brought on by his own severe pain and sense that his life would be over in a few moments. When I was ridiculed for this by my friends, I said perhaps I was just trying to read something interesting into this unnecessary action.
Elijah Wood. I had trouble at first putting a description to his particular form of bad acting. I came up with the phrase, "blank acting", because he always has that one blank look on his face. You know the one, and the example that comes to mind is the look on his face in the scene where the ring "accidentally falls through the air and lands directly over his finger". A friend of mine found a review that had a better description than mine: "What he does is not acting, it is face-making, and anyone can do it".
Is this a good movie? As much as "Gladiator" was a good movie, so is this one. I know the mass herd of movie go-ers return over and over again to see John Woo (and Ridley Scott) and whoever else who claim to have a "new" movie where they just blow stuff up in the same old predictable way, and the people that made this movie know it too. In order to preserve their bank accounts, they put the explosions in for the sheep to wow over. My plea for the future is this: If you are going to take a risk, take it and don't compromise. Make a great film. Don't let Hollywood or anyone shape all of your craft into one boring blob. If you can't do that, then you are not a real movie maker.
"With the help of a courageous fellowship of friends and allies, Frodo
embarks on a perilous mission to destroy the legendary 'One Ring'.
Hunting Frodo are servants of the Dark Lord Sauron, the Ring's evil
creator. If Sauron reclaims the Ring, Middle-earth is doomed,"
according to the DVD sleeve description, "Winner of four 'Academy
Awards', this epic tale of good versus evil, friendship and sacrifice
will transport you to a world beyond imagination."
Reading the original J.R.R. Tolkien novels was an intellectual rite of passage; whilst young, you read and enjoyed "The Lord of the Rings" trilogy willingly - prepping with "The Hobbit", of course. "It's a job that's never started that takes the longest to finish," someone said. Writer/director Peter Jackson's "The Fellowship of the Ring" is the first of an extremely well-produced trilogy. Understandably, it's made into a special effects extravaganza, without taking many breaths for thoughtfulness.
"The Bridge of Khazad-Dûm" (#30 on your DVD menu) sequence is a highlight; it climaxes with the wizard Gandalf (Ian McKellen) and the demonic Balrog (CGI) falling into an abyss, from which return seemed impossible This was one of my most memorable "Lord of the Rings" reading experiences - a future without Gandalf was unimaginable. Mr. Jackson and company recreate some emotional scenes extraordinarily well. At one time, it seemed impossible to think that such literature could be brought to cinematic form.
******** The Fellowship of the Ring (12/10/01) Peter Jackson ~ Elijah Wood, Ian McKellen, Viggo Mortensen, Orlando Bloom
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