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on August 11, 2002
Well... where to begin? I myself have read the entire trilogy no less than 20 times. I've also read ALL of Tolkien's supplemental works as well as some of his unrelated poetry and prose. I can speak some of the ancient languages Tolkien used to develope some of his own languages in Lord of the Rings (Welsh, Cornish, etc.) So I imagine you could say that I am a nutfanaticgeekandwhatever of J.R.R. Tolkien.
As far as cinematics are concerned, the movie was excellent. It portrayed most of the characters, places, languages, as they were very well supposed to be. The way The Shire was depicted left me in tears as I know that we will never see a place and people so happy and carefree and beautiful while we live on earth.
The battle in which Sauron was deprived of the Ring was absolutely stunning. The orcs were, for the most part, well-done- although no Orc was ever any shade of green. The detail of weapons and armor was exquisite. The scenery altogether made me want to gather an army and claim New Zealand for myself.
The story line, however, was not very well stuck to. Some of the most terrifying and bizzare and entertaining parts of The Fellowship of the Ring were left out entirely. The part where Fatty Bolger awaited the Ring-Wraiths at Crickhollow, the Old Forest, Tom Bombadil, the terror of the Barrow Downs, etc (if you've read the book)... all were left out entirely! Some of the characters were changed as well. Instead of meeting Glorfindel on the way to Rivendell, they met Arwen (va-va-voom by the way!) Galadriel wasn't even as remotely beautiful as she was in the book. I could go on...
Altogether, it was... better than okay. I loved it for this, hated it for that. But I'll probably watch it as many times as I've read it. I'd like very much for Christopher Tolkien to write a review here.
Ffarwelio y nes trenydd!
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on August 11, 2002
The Fellowship of the Ring is a three-hour film that feels like a mere 90 minutes. The story is so well-paced and the characters so absorbing that one hardly notices the passage of time. When the film ends, it's as though one has awakened from a trance, and there's an acute feeling of loss, of wanting the story to go on. Happily, two more installments in the epic fantasy saga have already been filmed and will be released in months to come.
For those familiar with Tolkien's works, no review is needed. The Fellowship of the Ring is simply a great movie. For those who really only prefer comedies, romantic melodramas, and those odd foreign films, this movie is simply not for you. However, for lovers of action/adventure, suspense, horror/thriller, fantasy/sci-fi, and high drama there's something for you in this movie. The movie is paced like an action-adventure film, acted like a piece of high drama, and pervaded with gorgeous special effects which blend with the story and support the cast rather than upstaging them. There's also a good bit of horror in the film, though it's far from being a gore-fest. It's not fundamentally a violent film, but it doesn't pull punches in depicting the bad guys as thoroughly, nightmarishly evil either.
You've never watched a movie like this before because there's never been a movie like this made before. It's a fantastic movie for a night alone or a party, and appeals to people of all ages. If you want a movie to pick you up from your easy chair and take you away to another world for a while, this is one you won't want to miss.
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on August 10, 2002
Occasionally, a controversy arises in advance over whether Hollywood can do a book justice in the movie version. In the case of Lord of the Rings, make that three movies. New Line Cinema gave New Zealand director Peter Jackson hundreds of millions of dollars to film the entire J.R.R. Tolkien trilogy. These were shot simultaneously in Jackson's native New Zealand. The first, The Fellowship of the Rings, was released last Christmas and is now on video and DVD. The second will open in theaters in December, the third in December 2003.
So far, Jackson has triumphed. While some purists have complained about certain elements of the movie (for example, about the lessening of the Hobbits' roles in fighting the forces of evil), most fans seem quite pleased. The movie has been a huge hit both here and abroad, which indicates its appeal goes far beyond the books' rabid supporters.
The Lord of the Rings is an epic tale about courage and the dangers of power. It takes place in a time long ago in a place called Middle Earth, which both is and is not of our earth. It is peopled by far more than mere humans beings. There are hobbits and dwarfs, elves and goblins, wizards and assorted strange creatures.
Once upon a time, a great but evil wizard forged powerful rings in the fires of the Mountain of Doom. The mightiest of these he kept for himself, but he lost it during a great battle. One day, a hobbit named Bilbo [Ian Holm] found it and kept it. Now he has decided to pass it on to his favorite nephew, Frodo [Elijah Wood]. There is great danger for Frodo because the wizard will stop at nothing to get it back. With the help of another wizard, Gandolf [Ian McKellan], and others, Frodo begins a long and treacherous journey to where the ring was created, for that is the only place where it can be destroyed.
The movie is a visual feast. Computer generated imagery techniques have truly come of age. When you mix these cinematic tricks with the naturally awesome and exotic landscapes of New Zealand, the effect is magical. Some, but not all, of this is lost on the small screen, for The Lord of the Rings is designed to be seen larger than life.
One of the movie's great accomplishments is the way it seamlessly matches the small and large characters. You would swear that Elijah Wood is a midget in real life, and Ian McKellan a giant.
The cast is superb. Especially notable are McKellan as Gandolf, Holm as Bilbo, and Wood as Frodo. These actors will forever be known for these roles. Also mesmerizing is Kate Blanchett in her fairly small role as Queen Galadriel.
The Lord of the Rings will not please all viewers. It runs three hours. The characters travel on and on and on, in much the same way Peter O'Toole was forever trooping across the desert in the 1962 classic, Lawrence of Arabia. Also, because this is the first in a trilogy, it doesn't have a true climax. It simply ends with the main characters planning their next moves. I personally can't wait to find out what they are.
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on August 7, 2002
First off, I want to say that I enjoyed this movie and found it better than I'd expected, with wonderful special effects and a clear attempt to be faithful to Tolkien's structure and plot. It was clear that this was not just another Hollywood vehicle but a serious effort - from the casting to the script.
Even so, I found some significant shortcomings in the movie. I felt that the book's emotional and spititual essence did not reverberate through this movie. Perhaps this was simply because this was an "introductory" movie, one of only several to follow and the director felt that the plot needed to be emphasized. But I didn't find myself thinking about this movie for days nor did I find that it had an emotional resonance, the kind of resonance that makes you want to see the movie again and again (just as I wanted to re-read the books). There were a few words of wisdom that stood out but, for the most part, it seemed as though emphasis was given to action and adventures at the loss of characterization.
I know there are plenty out there who will disagree with me and I can certainly agree that Hollywood could have done worse. Elijah Wood is a warm and winning Frodo and others in the cast are equally appealing - to a point. But I urge viewers to think carefully about what makes a movie a classic, especially movies which have elements of fantasy. I'd argue that there has to be something enduring, a movie that goes beyond state of the art special effects and spectacle and gives equal weight to Tolkien's words, language and enduring soul. I didn't quite find that depth in this movie.
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on August 6, 2002
Let me say that The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring is one of the BEST movies ever made and I am VERY happy to have it on DVD. But beyond the movie itself, the 2 DVD set I just bought was very disappointing. The "extra" features included are nothing but the same interviews and behind-the-scenes footage rehashed nearly a dozen times over the course of four TV features and a dozen or so web-featurettes. By the time I was finished with the nearly two-and-a-half hours of Extra features I was almost sick with boredom from seeing actors and the director make the SAME comments from the SAME interviews nearly half-a-dozen times in each of the different features and many of the featurettes. The Two Towers footage was the only real treat. What upsets me most is that I have to now wait THREE MONTHS in order to BUY THE MOVIE AGAIN! - just to see the additional 1/2 hour of footage not included in the theatrical release (among other extra features - rumored to be more in depth than the ones included here). Because this was such a great movie, I did not want to wait another three months to view it at home. If you can wait another three months to own the definitive version of this excellent movie, then I recommend it. ...
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on August 6, 2002
I waited for two or three years for this film to come out. I have been a Tolkien fan since the age of eight, when I read The Hobbit. I waited and hoped that I would not be disappointed. I was not. Indeed, it transended all of my wildest dreams. I was especially impressed with Rivendale; it was exactly as I had pictured it in my mind. The special effects struck me as better than any other movie that I have seen in my life. It seamed more realistic because of the setting. It didn't have to incorporate any of our modern day junk into it.
One of the things that made me the happiest was to find out who was playing Saruman. I have long been a fan of Christopher Lee, and feel that he doesn't usually get a part that befits him. I haven't seen him in anything for a long time and it was wonderful watching an old villian return in honor and glory. Especially since he is the last one alive of the great horror movie group of the '50's and '60's. This role seemed to fit him wonderfully. He brought more life to the role than I had ever imagined was possible. I can only hope that he does as well in the next installment.
As in all films, this one is not perfect. The thing that bugged me the most was the way that Merry and Pippin were portrayed. They are more like blundering idiots than intelligent spy-like characters that they are. They don't pull their weight as they did in the books. There were things that were skipped that were desperately needed. The thing that pulls the whole going away together was not used. They needed to show more of how hobbit-like Frodo was, instead of making him seem more like a human, which might be easier for us to relate to, but that is what Aaragorn is there for. Also, the introducing of characters that are not supposed to be there was very annoying.
On the whole, this was a magnificent effort. The actors were well chosen and the film was well researched. They looked beyond just the trilogy and looked at The Lost Tales for more information, which helped cinematic viewers that want to know all of the secrets without any hassle. A commendable film.
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on August 6, 2002
Back in the 70s, viewers from around the world praised the epic journey known as Star Wars. It was a grand adventure and George Lucas changed the art of filmmaking forever, usually known for being the "creator of special effects". It had everything a brilliant film could have: Emotion, wit, imagination, fantastic characters, gripping storyline and genuine special and visual effects. Never since that trilogy has a film created so much of what I stated above. But that was before Peter Jackson's epic adaptation of probably the greatest novel of the 20th century. I'm talking about The Lord of the Rings. J.R.R Tolkien's beloved classic has finally been adapted to live-action films, which includes The Fellowship of the Ring, The Two Towers and The Return of the King, which will all be released annually, with Fellowship released in theaters in December 2001. This movie had a lot to live up to. After the horrible failure of Ralph Bashki's animated Lord of the Rings movies, filmmakers did not bother to touch the epic classic. That until it was announced in 1998/1999 that filming would begin in 1999 for all three films, Fellowship of the Ring, The Two Towers and The Return of the King. So, I was there at the theater on that fateful day of December 18, 2001, eager to see if the movie lived up to Tolkien's beloved beauty. I was so relieved to see one of, if not my absolute, favorite book of all time faithfully reproduced on screen and more. Star Wars: Episodes 4-6 were the last movies to accomplish something this great. It has everything a great movie should have and more. The film features real emotion, terror, character and a great set of visual effects. And unlike Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone, The Fellowship of the Ring can appeal to viewers who haven't read the book. If you haven't read the book, it's still a great movie. The story is THE story that started fantasy. The Dark Lord Sauron seeks to enslave the free peoples of the mythical realm of Middle-earth by recovering a mighty ring of power he forged in the fires beneath Mount Doom. After many generations, the ruling ring, cut from Sauron's hand by the human hero Isildur, has fallen by chance into the keeping of the hobbit Bilbo Baggins (Ian Holm). Guided by the wizard Gandalf (Ian McKellen) and assisted by companions representing the free races of elves, dwarves, men, and hobbits, Bilbo's heir, Frodo (Elijah Wood), embarks on a perilous quest to destroy the ring before Sauron's minions can recapture it. The actors are terrific. The fantastic cast is why this movie is just so good. Elijah Wood plays the wide-eyed and innocent hero Frodo Baggins and his faithful partner Samwise Gamgee played by Sean Astin. Let's briefly run through the cast:
Ian McKellan, however, does not appear in this film. He is transformed into the old wizard we know and love. Viggo Mortensen plays the part of Aragorn pretty well. Physically he's fit for the job and is a fantastic actor. Sean Bean is usually an actor for villains of many flicks. Here, he joins the Fellowship as Boromir of Gondor. He's perfect. I had not heard of Orlando Bloom before he was announced. Though he is fit for the job of the elf archer. How cool is this? John Rhys-Davies delivers some humor and plays our favorite dwarf well. There pretty well-done, Frodo and Sam. Pippin and Merry also provide high-spirits. Christopher Lee is famous for villains. He plays Saruman at just the right speed. Liv Tyler is a decent actress but her role as Arwen surprised me. It's her most realistic role yet. I was skeptical about this. However, Cate Blanchett delivers Galadriel. The set pieces are absolutely staggering. New Zealand is perfect for the role of the wondrous Middle-Earth. From the Shire to the Great River Anduin to the mines of Moria, Director Peter Jackson has given us an exact replica of Middle-Earth. Everything is lush and warm, from Hobbiton to Rivendell, with the help of a few computers. This makes Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone look like it was filmed in a garden shed. The Visual Effects have won an Academy Award. Their very strong and very realistic and blend in with the environment perfectly. They put Harry Potter's CGI effects to shame. There's a cave troll, a demon Balrog, the slinky Gollum (who is only shown for a small while), forest trolls and the mixed orc breeds called the Uruk-Hai. This is filmmaking at it's best. Director Peter Jackson has created a classic and the upcoming films, The Two Towers and The Return of the King will collide with The Fellowship of the Ring to create a memorable trilogy that will be cherished for decades in the future. Folks, put this film with Star Wars: Episodes IV-VI and the Indiana Jones trilogy. It's a keeper. And now the DVD. The DVD is loaded with extras including three in-depth documentaries, "Welcome to Middle-Earth", "Quest for the Ring" and "Passage to Middle-Earth). There are 15 featurettes first made for that have interviews with Elijah Wood, Viggo Mortensen, Liv Tyler, Cate Blanchett, Ian McKellan, Orlando Bloom and more. There's theatrical trailers, TV Spots, Enya's "May it Be" music video, 3-minute preview of EA's video game, "The Two Towers" and exclusive DVD-ROM features. Now we get to the good stuff. First is a 10-minute preview of the next installment, "The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers". It hosts some new (and old) footage of the movie and goes behind-the-scenes. And last is the 3-minute preview for "The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring Extended" DVD due out for a November 12 release, which will include 30 minutes of never-before-seen-footage incorporated into the film. This is the only way to see the Theatrical Version of the movie. It has fantastic special features and is a must-own.
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on August 6, 2002
Unfortunately I have not read the LOTR books. I have read the Hobbit, however, so had some vague idea about all this before the film. And then I went to see it.
Words, also unfortunately, simply fail me when it comes to describing it. The film is faultless. The cast are perfect, headed by Elijah Wood as worried Hobbit Frodo and Ian McKellen as wise wizard Gandalf. The story's praises don't need to be sung thanks to the legendary books that based it. The music is rousing and passionate. The ending is on just the right note to enfuriate you at having to leave, and ensure that you'll return for more. And even at almost three hours, I still wanted to sit and be told more.
Peter Jackson's direction is enchanting, in one of the most picturesque epics of all time. And it is an epic - the finished trilogy will make the badly cast Star Wars prequels look like B-Movies. Yet it has so much more than visuals to offer. Everything comes together. It pulses with atmosphere, particular in the tunnel scenes when the Orcs attack... it's nail biting stuff. There isn't a moment of the movie that seems wasted.
It feels like so much more than a simple movie, so much so that you simply don't want to stop watching when it's over. No doubt Two Towers will have just as well timed an ending. The question remains, will this dauntingly perfect masterpiece topple the matrix? I'm not doubting it. Because although that's brilliant, it's basing most on looks... and LOTR could survive on cast and script alone.
It's pointless even trying to descibe the film. Just please, watch it. It is the finest movie I've ever seen. It is beyond perfect. It is beyond critisism. See it and be astounded.
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on August 6, 2002
From the begining, I was already excited to get this DVD, not to mention that a Special Extended Edition would still be released this November 12. This DVD is a far cry from the nonetheless disappointing Sorcerer's Stone DVD Release. Don't get me wrong, I'm a Harry Potter fan. I love the movie but the special features didn't do it for me. As for the Fellowship of the Rings Special Features, I was expecting a lot and my oh my, I got much more than what I expected. The various features on LOTR including the one produced by Houghton Mifflin, were a delight to watch. Immediately when I got my copy, I popped in the second disc in my player. There was more to that, the Featurettes were just entertaining. Lastly, the preview to The Two Towers was enough to make anyone crave for the upcoming installment this December in your local theater.
I've read the books! I loved the books! I'm not saying that the book or the movie is better than the other! I'm just saying that, being both a fan of Tolkien and being a collector of DVDs, you can never go wrong with this purchase!
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on August 5, 2002
It's about time a film like this be made. The book is the greatest piece of fantasy ever written. It has influenced every modern work of the genre to come after it. It deserves to be made into a film. But besides that, I don't think people realize how much we sorely need a truly good, original fantasy film these days. There have been so many attempts at it, and all have failed. Ron Howard failed with Willow. Rob Reiner failed with The Princess Bride. Steven Spielberg failed with Hook. Ridley Scott failed with Legend. Chris Colombus failed with Harry Potter. Now, finally, where all these filmmakers have failed, director Peter Jackson has succeeded.
The Lord of the Rings trilogy is about a group of men, dwarves, elves, and hobbits who try to destroy the One Ring, a magical artifact forged by the dark lord Sauron as a way to channel his power and control Middle-Earth. It is from this simple premise that the film takes off, and what ensues is a very enjoyable, very epic tale.
There is something to be said for "using your imagination" to conjure up images while reading a book, but nothing compares to the grand, unbelievably striking images and visuals that fill this adaptation. The direction is nothing short of amazing: the art direction and visual aspect of the film is some of the best I've ever seen. The settings and scenery are vast and you never see the same type of land twice. Valleys, mountains, snowy peaks, caves, forests, riverbeds, it's almost too much to keep track of. The sets are huge and varied, and the massive amount of detail in them reminds me of films like Gladiator. They have a great quality of consistency, as well: the architecture and style of buildings changes as you travel throughout Middle-Earth and enter places inhabited by different cultures. Seeing how each culture has its own style in everything from architecture to weaponry is a sight to behold; it makes this fantasy world real.
The story has a soul, and what a soul it is, full of character development and themes of friendship, courage, sacrifice, and unlikely heroes. At its core, it is a study on one thing: power, as represented by the One Ring. Through all the characters and situations we encounter, a new facet of the responsibility of power is shown. Virtually every character in the story has to, at one point, make a decision regarding what they would do with the ring - no one is left unscathed, so to speak. It creates a blanketing, all-encompassing theme, one that isn't merely discussed here and there, but is rather brought up all the time as the story unfolds. The excitement is in watching each character's reaction to the notion of power in the form of that tiny little ring.
Elijah Wood stands out as Frodo; his unnaturally large eyes project the innocence of Frodo's character. But the most impressive actors are Ian McKellan and Sean Bean, because of the different dimensions they bring to their roles. McKellan inhabits his role as Gandalf, and it's a wonder that, at one point, Sean Connery was once considered for this part. McKellan is a great actor, and here he not only projects majesty but also makes Gandalf a very human character at the same time, capable of great compassion and temptation as well. Sean Bean rivals this with his portrayal of Boromir, and it is such a crucial role too; he convinces the audience he is a good man, just one with a tragic flaw. It's probably the best performance of the film, and one of the best of the year.
Action-wise, the first part of the film is made up of the Black Riders looking for the ring and chasing the hobbits, and it simply does not work. The Riders always, always appear where the hobbits are going. They're an omnipresence, and it ruins any suspense we may feel because we realize there's no point to the film having the hobbits try to hide from them -- they'll pop up anyway. There are also examples of very poor choices made during some of the chases, such as using extensive slow motion during a supposed fast-paced pursuit scene. Why the filmmakers decided on this, I don't know.
However, the rest of the film contains much more entertaining and ambitious kinds of action. The prologue contains glimpses of the kind of colossal-scale battles we'll be treated to in the sequels, camera flying over the vast armies to give us a full sense of scale. The other major action sequences are much smaller-scale versions of this, but they work very effectively. The Mines of Moria action sequence is intense and claustrophobic and is the first time we get to see the members of the fellowship fight in battle. The finale is an extended sequence that contains violent, intense action (this is one of the most graphic PG-13 films I've ever seen) and very satisfying emotional thrills, as well, as certain characters reach the heights of their development.
Despite some weak action as well as rushed editing and pacing problems in the first half, this is a great movie, a three hour long movie that I honestly felt was two hours long. It is, without a doubt, one of the most gorgeous films ever made. They have created Middle-Earth. Each frame of the movie is like a painting in itself, everything is set up so perfectly yet so naturally in the environments. Even the most mundane shots of a forest or a glade seem so perfect.
FOTR is probably the best straight-out fantasy film I've ever had the privilege to see. Like Star Wars, it takes you away to a different world. To see FOTR is to see the heights to which cinematic visual artistry can reach. To see it is to become a living part of Middle-Earth. And we still have two more to go.
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