on July 9, 2002
Director Peter Jackson can crown this the major accomplishment of his career along with the two other movies to follow "The Fellowship of the Ring." A longtime LotR junkie, Jackson was the ideal choice to do a movie that would have so many die-hard and critical fans of the trilogy and he doesn't disappoint at all. Jackson's attention to detail is one of the highlights of this film, and makes it one of the best big-budget films to ever hit the market.
Slight digressions from the book had to be done in order to make the film watchable, and already clocking in at nearly three hours, these changes are greatly appreciated. The dialogue is a little bit lack-luster, as what can be said in a book, fantasy, no less, cannot be appropriately taken to screen with the same convincing form and tone. While I personally would have loved to see Tom Bombadil and was suprised at the inclusion of Arwen, these slight changes made the film a more cohesive and viewable piece of work.
Aside from that, the actors did a superb job keeping the film within it's context and becoming believable in their roles. Casting director Victoria Burrows picked many of the actors not on sex appeal or popularity but on how well they fit the mold of their on-screen counterparts. Orlando Bloom, Sean Astin, and John Rhys-Davies are the two most notable of these: actors who absolutely fit their on-screen molds in mannerisms, physical features, and are entirely believable in their roles. While Viggo Mortensen, Elijah Wood, and Ian McKellen are all superb in their roles, it's the minor characters that bolster them and the movie into a convincing story that can exist independant of reading the novel.
The story is what drives the film, and that's what makes this one of the most exceptional movies (and soon to be trilogy) of all time. While other director/writers who have attempted to create worlds, many of them stole directly from the depth of Tolkein's world and attempted to create something comparable, only to fade in the pyre. Jackson's exceptional knowledge of Middle Earth and it's workings make this movie unbelievable to watch and jaw-dropping in beauty and sheer possibilities, making it an early highlight of the decade and one of the largest achievements in filmmaking ever.
on July 7, 2002
I normally do not throw superlatives around lightly but for this film I do it with complete conviction & pride. Not since THE GODFATHER (I and II, respectively) have I been so enraptured by a film. It transcends its genre (fantasy) to a level that easily places it among the best of ANY genre. It is the THEMES; love, honour, devotion, sacrifice, loyalty, duty, compassion, restraint - I could go on and on with the TRUE beauty of this film....its themes. It's ultimately not about the story arc or the characters themselves, etc; it is about the magnificent underlying current of how the characters act and react with such realism. How they fit into those themes. That is why the books are so captivating as well. It's the purity of Tolkien's spirit & beliefs flowing though every page. Peter Jackson HAD to somehow get that out from the page and onto the screen & he absolutely nailed it. A beautiful film in every sense, even in the darkness and evil. Yes, there is beauty in that as well. And I agree too that the fight scenes were top notch filling me with the edge-of-my-seat tension that these characters CAN die (and some do), and the scenery, costumes, special effects, acting, etc. were all glorious in every detail as well but what makes this movie so amazing are the humanistic touches; where Aragorn gets on bended knee with tears in his eyes and clasps his hands over Frodo's and says that he would have followed him to the end; when Sam & Frodo at the end look towards Mordor and Sam comforting Frodo says that they will see their friends again someday; when Gandalf sacrifices his very LIFE to save those dear to him against a creature that basically can kick the shizit out of ANY monster EVER put to film since film was invented (King Kong, Godzilla....nope.); Boromir's fall & then redemption (and life sacrifice as well) to protect the smaller and weaker. His sense of honor and duty winning against the lure of the Ring. I could go on and on and I wish that I could but again, I say this with fierce conviction; Lord of the Rings is truly one of the best films ever made......and get this....there are 2 more on the way. With that being said this is a great time to be alive for my eyes, ears, heart & Soul are going to continue to witness such wonderful magnificence up on that movie screen. Thank you, Mr. Jackson...I cannot wait.
on July 7, 2002
Peter Jackson's first part of the collossal Lord of the Rings trilogy is nothing short of a brilliant masterpiece, with incredible SFX, great characters, and staying true to J.R.R Tolkien's story while altering some of the book's elements to make it more suitable for film.
Deeply rooted in the fantasy genre, Fellowship of the Rings sees a young Hobbit Frodo Baggins inherit a powerful mystical ring from his cousin Bilbo Baggins. The ring, worn by Sauron, the Dark Lord has ben passed down through many people until it reaches Bilbo. The mighty wizard Gandalf and a troop of dwarfes, elves and hobbits set out on a journey to destroy the dangerous ring by casting it back into the lava of Mt. Doom. But of course, there are bad guys, in the form of Saruman the White, played with relish by the brilliant Christopher Lee and his army of Orcs and Ringwaiths.
Director Peter Jackson (Heavenly Creatures, The Frighteners) has taken Tolkein's story and molded it into the perfect fantasy adventure. Some characters that were ciphers in the novel have been elevated to main characters, and while some purists may be upset over the loss of some characters, Jackson does do service to the story's originality. And the result? In a Hollywood summer of dissapointments, Fellowship was the standout, one of those rare films that come along like The Matrix that remind us of why we like movies in the first place.
In a film as ambitious as this, all the key elements are in place, the masterful storytelling, Jackson's brilliant visionary direction, superb acting (especially Ian McKellen as Gandalf and Elijah Wood as Frodo), incredible visual effects and the wealth of imagination from Tolkien's extraordinary tome. The suppourting cast is great too, with John Rhys- Davies as Gimli the dwarf, Sean Bean as Boromir and Orlando Bloom as Legolas Greenleaf.
The film takes us where we've never been before, Tolkein's world of Wizards, elves, ringwaiths, orcs and all the other imaginative creatures on display are a thrill to watch. For such a huge scale, the use of CG is of course neccesary, and the visuals are incredible, utilising state-of-the-art technology to create entire landscapes, creatures and battles. The seamless blend of FX and amazing cinematography is breath-taking. Howard Shore's brooding score adds another layer of excellence to the myraid of adventurous escapism. There are problems; the film gets very dark at times and the ending feels somewhat of an anti- climax, but we all know that the real battles are yet to come. This is a film that takes you far beyond your imagination.
on July 6, 2002
Having read the books, I went to the movie expecting disappointment. However, this wasn't the case. Aside from minor plot adjustments and skipping some areas of the book (these, in my opinion, make it into a better movie), the film as a whole is true to the book. The characters are very well acted and also true to the book. In addition to this, the scenery (New Zealand) and special effects are absolutely magnificent. It amazed me how often the scenes portrayed in the movie matched those which I had imagined whilst reading the book.
There were also areas where the movie went further than the book would be able to do so. For example, the black riders, while true to the book's description, were truly scary - something the book wasn't able to do for me :)
So whether you look at it as a movie (not taking into account it is based on a book) or whether you examine from the viewpoint of how successfuly it portrayed the book, I think this movie is a true modern day classic and well deserving of 5 stars.
on July 5, 2002
Disclaimer #1: If you hated the movie, for whatever reason, you're not going to enjoy this review. So I suggest you skip it now, as I'm sure hearing yet another fan gush about its incredibility will only make your stomach turn.
Disclaimer #2: If you hated the movie and decided to write a review of it anyway, try and keep it clean. And try and include intelligent reasons why you disliked the movie and not childish excuses like 'I don't have a good attention span so this movie bored me'. Unless you've been living under a rock, you should have known you were walking into a 3-hour long fantasy epic. If you don't like fantasy, why did you watch the movie?
Disclaimer #3: This review is directed to the open-minded movie fan. I write this on the assumption that you, open-minded fan, need a good reason why you should see/buy this movie.
The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring...
What to say that hasn't already been said? I assume that the open-minded fan at least knows the basis of the plot (Come on: LORD of the RINGS...Obviously fantasy, involving rings, etc.) so I will not summarize the movie plot. You can find that by scrolling up.
So why should you take a small chunk of your hard-earned paycheque and/or allowance to buy this movie? I'm assuming, of course, that you haven't seen it yet, or were not overly impressed with the theatrical release.
I can't change your mind, or force you to buy the DVD/VHS. These are, after all, merely words on a computer screen. But I can tell you what I would like to hear if I were an open-minded, LOTR-less movie fan.
I'd like to read about how magical and colorful the visuals of this movie are. I'd like to read about how the effort with which the cast took to become their characters was clearly represented on the screen. I'd like to read about how special FX were incorporated flawlessly into the film without making it seem burdened.
I'd also like to read about how the story--though now considered formulaic as it has been adopted many, many times--never ceases to tug at the heartstrings of the viewer. I would delight in hearing that this movie is incredibly touching and poignant without being sappy or cliched.
I'd also be ecsatic to learn that there is no sex, swearing or drugs in this movie and that the violence is not excessive but receives about as much screen time as the Harry Potter movie.
As an open-minded, LOTR-less movie fan, last but not least, I'd like to know that, when I watch this movie for the first time-- reserving judgment until the end, keeping my mind open, and allowing myself to "fall into" the movie--I will be rewarded for my three hours by being moved beyond belief in the incredible symbolism and deeper meaning of this film and will be guaranteed a true honoring of the virtues lacking in our society today but are not lacking in the characters of this movie. Yes, dear open-minded, LOTR-less movie fan, I will be shown courage, nobility, honor, loyalty, self-sacrifice and love in ways that I have never seen before.
Then, I'd like to know that this movie hurt my heart in a beautiful way and that I am all the richer for having it with me whenever I want to feel that heartache again.
on July 4, 2002
Well, they don't come any better than this. And I think I can can say that with some confidence, being a life-long Tolkien fan and specialty idiot/nerd/encyclopedist of Tolkiens parallel universe.
I fretted over this movie when it was in the making in NZ - the leaks were very unnerving. (Not unlike the distant rumors of resurgent Mordor coming to the Shire in the beginning of the book, by the way.)
I needn't have. The movie is an independent creation, not a soulless, Soviet-style copy with every line and scene anxiously copied, but Peter Jackson's absorption and view. The movie, mirrored through Jackson's temperament, heart and soul, is a living, enthralling thing - as real as life itself (or more!).
The cast is eerily perfect, absolutely dead right on the money.
Elijah Wood just absorbs Frodo's personality and walks around in it. Ian McKellen must have rehearsed his role for most of his life (did he see this movie coming?). Viggo Mortensen, Sean Astin, Christopher Lee and everyone one else are an All Star Team, no less. And I thought Liv Tyler was just an MTV-videorette! She is a grand actress with passion, composure and poise - I am reminded of a beautifully cut diamond with more beautiful facets than the eye can keep track of.
And the acting is beyond perfect - it is just life, real as life itself, in a universe as real as our own, and Jackson was just there with his camera.
Special effects, scenery, settings throughout are all as good as they come - or better. Maybe a little like Simon & Garfunkel's best songs that are beautiful enough to stop your breathing - then take a slightly unexpected turn to a beautiful final chord.
See this DVD ... Make your life a little better, and yourself a better and wiser person. Just sit back, press PLAY and take it in.
on July 3, 2002
THE FILM: I would give The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring 10 stars if possible! This movie is absloute perfection, and I think that it is just plain better than A Beautiful Mind. Every single cast member does an outstanding job, and I really do think that J.R.R. Tolkien's book was adapted as best as possible. The colors on this DVD jump out at you, the film translates beautifully to the small screen. While this movie runs three hours long, I found myself wanting so much more of the story- although I guess I'll have to wait until December 18th when The Two Towers is released.
SPECIAL FEATURES: I found the special features on the FOTR DVD of better quality than most people did- obviously the preview of The Two Towers is the best and most anticipated. I really enjoyed watching the trailers, featurettes, and the music video in a good quality, they are very nice to have. I would have liked even a bare bones commentary, but that's what the extended version is for, I guess. Overall, good quality specs.
MY GRADE: A+
on July 2, 2002
"One Ring to rule them All;" not to mention the world and the box office. The first installment of the epic "Lord of the Rings" trilogy does not fail to please and it even throws in something extra. Now, the first thing that you notice is the sets: wow. The year it took to set them all up in pre-production paid off. You have never seen locations like the Mount Doom, Hobbiton, Rivendell, Moria, Lothlorien or Argonath. Next, the cast shines through with heartfelt, moving performances. The actors include Ian MacKellan (Gandalf), Christopher Lee (Saruman), Viggo Mortensen (Aragorn), Elijah Wood (Frodo) Sean Bean (Boromir) and Sean Astin (Sam).
The plot is fairly simple: Frodo is a hobbit who inherits a powerful Ring made thousands of years ago by the dark lord Sauron, and if Sauron gets it back, he will rule Middle-Earth. Frodo, with the help of his companions Merry, Pippin, Sam, Gandalf, and Aragorn to name a few, go on a perilous flight to Sauron's stronghold in Mordor where the Ring can be destroyed. But all the while, Saruman is plotting to take the Ring for himself.
Director Peter Jackson, along with thousands of extras, production assistants, designers, writers and actors have brought the "Lord of the Rings" in all its splendor, emotion and granduer to the screen. This movie has set a new bar for fantasy movies, but will probably be reset by the next two movies. I highly recommend this movie to anyone. Lovers of Tolkein books or not.
on July 1, 2002
I have changed my rating from four stars to five. The quality of the transfer is so good it makes an improvement on the big screen. The scenes in Moria are clearer and you can see the balrog much clearer. The negatives I wrote in the earlier review seem to be much less noticeable or important now. The extras on disc two are interesting and the previews for the extended version and TTT accomplish their purpose extreemly well.
***original review below.***
First the bad.
The movie CHOPS 20% of the book -in one big chunk- (muttering a chapter title doesn't count!). The story of how Merry and Pippin become involved is cut and CHANGED. The old forest and the Barrow Wights are also missing. Some of Tolkien's best descriptions are found in the forest scenes (gnarly, old, and aware trees; gloom and darkness; spiders and other creatures lurking! The Galadriel scene is BAD. And there are two things wrong with Moria. 1. The cave troll scene is too long and it should have some texture on its skin (of fur). 2. I would have liked to see a bit more of Moria. The special effects when the ring is worn are overdone. One too many sweeping helicopter shots of the river. Finally, the scene where Sam goes into the river at the end was done all wrong!
***Now for the GOOD***
The history of the ring is told very well. Many scenes show a great deal of very good creativity. The Shire scenes are wonderful. Good humor (except in Rivendell, and taht the "conspiracy unmasked" was cut out). ***The reactions of Gandalf and especially Boromir to being near the ring really helps display the evil power of the ring. Their acting (and the direction in these scenes) is PERFECT!*** The wraiths were also done very well.
The special effects and music are teriffic. The color and "tone" of the river and the huge statues at the end are especially tastefully done. Shrinking the Hobbits was just plain unbelieveable when they were running around several other characters. The scene at Orthanc was visually spectacular and the duel was creatively and tastefully done.
Substituting Arwen for Glorfindel neatens things. The moria scenes (except for the above criticisms), are superb -especially when Gandalf "defeats" the balrog.
[All of the smaller plots of the book could have been done except it would have confused and blurred things for the unread, and the movie would have been five hours long! Maybe six movies would have been required for everything???]
***The DVDs' extras look extreemly promising!***
on June 30, 2002
I consider 'The Lord of the Rings' to be the greatest work of literature of all time. I read it at least once a year, and consequently I ventured to the theatre with an overwhelming desire to see Tolkien's masterpiece adapted with a sense of honesty, integrity, and soul. I understand that film is an entirely different medium to literature, constituted by an utterly diverse structure, and utilizing vastly different means of character, plot and thematic development. Thus, I did not expect to see the entire first book perfectly 'recreated' - it would simply be quite impossible. Therefore, I went to see what I hoped would be an interpretation which reflected, and venerated, the very essence of the epic written by J.R.R. Tolkien...
And what an interpretation it was.
It alters the story, adds or removes entire sequences and characters, and enhances or diminishes the roles of countless other elements. But it works as beautifully as it looks. It moves swiflty, with each scene enduring long enough to merely take our breath away, before quickly taking our hand and leading us to the next stage of the epic quest. From The Shire to Isengard, to Bree and to the flight to the Ford; from Weathertop to Rivendell, through the grim yet magnificent chasms of Moria and into the enchanted vale of Lothlorien; all under the shadow of Mordor and 'the Eye'. Three hours is yet barely enough to tell the basic outline. And yet, each character, in being cast so perfectly, is able to develop despite the necessary haste. Perhaps we do not see enough as we should like: part of loving Tolkien's work is delighting in exploring the glorious world he so exquisitely details. In the literary version, the reader is made to feel the weariness of the journey undertaken by the heroes, as they wander the vastness that is Middle-earth; in the film, we see this vastness, but never quite explore it. But this is no criticism; it merely enhances the sense of urgency. The Ringwraiths are, quite simply, terrifying, orcs deadly, Saruman treacharous and the mention of Mordor and Sauron casts shadows we can feel yet not see. As my 'Tolkien un-initiated' (yet immensely impressed and excited!) girlfriend whispered: "This is just like a horror film!" Yes, I thought, but here there is also infinitely more.
One never fails to believe that this is an epic; similarly, one never fails to be impressed, entertained, and excited. As Tolkien fans, our intial sense of awe at seeing the world and characters we love so incredibly and faithfully recreated lingers long after the credits signal the end of the film. As I had hoped, this film has been lovingly crafted from the pure essence of Tolkien's story. For example: If the book is likened to an enormous tree, the reach of its branches and breadth of its trunk being as impressive and complex as they are beautiful, then the film is the miniature model of the tree, fashioned from the very same wood. Smaller, and unable to exactly copy every complexity of the larger tree, but nonetheless being a faithfully rendered representation created from the very material of the original.
To Peter Jackson, all the cast, all the crew and everyone else involved, I thank and salute you. I was finally able to walk the warm halls of Bag End and the green fields of the Shire with Frodo; I was able to stand in awe of Gandalf and matters bigger than I; I could fear the terrifying nothingness of the Black Riders, and I could watch in wonder as the fellowship passed under the kings of old as they glided down the great river Anduin. Of such things, dreams are made.