Worth A Look: 11.1%
Just Average: 4.81%
Pretty Crappy: 2.63%
23 reviews, 736 user ratings
|Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring, The
I've seen this movie nine times since it opened and I have to say, it gets better and I pick up more and more that I love about it with every viewing. And not once have I felt the three hours running time. Perhaps it's because I love the material so well, or perhaps it's simply movie magic. Whatever the reason, I could have sat through the next two installments with eagerness and joy.Of course, any movie, however well made, has flaws, and with this one, I noticed two major problems. At least, I consider them problems.
"The Beginning of a Masterpiece"
Arwen's role is one, and the love scene I could handle, but the flight from the Nazgul upset me because it was, in the book, a moment of strength and defiance for Frodo who shows the reader that he is indeed the one who is both strong enough and pure enough to take the ring to Mordor. In the movie, this moment was sacrificed to make Arwen's character bigger and more of the warrior princess mold that so many fantasy stories have. Her line ("If you want him, come and claim him.") at the river had me almost laughing, if I hadn't been so disgusted with it. The chase sequence was very well done and it gives me goose bumps, but it should have been Frodo's moment, not Arwen's. Ah, well ...
The other major problem I had (and why is it that both of them involve the women, I wonder?) is Galadriel's scene, when she is tempted by the ring and "passes the test". Well, the special effects team didn't, in that scene, and she seemed too much like a harpy. Cate Blanchett is a terrific actress, but she was too cold and remote as Galadriel, not the mysterious yet compassionate Galadriel I remember from the books. It's probably my least favorite scene in the whole movie, and if I have to leave for a restroom break, that's when I take it.
(On a side note: another special effect I found out of place was Bilbo's transformation in Rivendell. It wasn't needed and it didn't offer anything to the audience but a cheap shock or laugh, whichever way someone took it.)
And while not a flaw or a problem, I almost fell out of my seat in shock when Aragorn stepped up behind Frodo towards the end, after he had left Boromir. The scene played out very well, but it was startling, to say the least. Things like that make me wonder what other changes are in store for the future installments, what major events will be altered one way or another.
And also, while not a real problem to me, the pacing might be off for the uninitiated. In the books you got a real sense of the passage of time (as in the time between Bilbo's birthday and when Frodo finally leaves the Shire), and in the movie, while the feeling of urgency and fright is undeniable, you get no sense that this is taking place over quite a long period of time. As others have said before, it makes it seems as if the tale takes place over a few weeks. But perhaps the latter two installments will even it all out.
All that aside, the movie is incredible and far beyond anything I had thought possible. I was swept away from this real world and into Tolkien's world as smoothly and completely as when I read the books. The cinematography alone was worth the price of admission, and then you have the jaw-dropping special effects, the dream cast, and the inspired direction from a man who obviously loves this material.
What can I saw about the acting? Every time a character appeared, and this has been said before but I'll say it again, it was exactly as I had imagined them. Perhaps the hobbits are too "human" to be what many imagined them, but for me, they fit in perfectly with the rest of Tolkien's world. I never once got the impression of someone acting (well, okay, a few times with Liv Tyler), especially the nine who made up the title fellowship. Gandalf, Frodo, Aragorn, Sam, and all of them, perfectly cast and wonderfully realized. Perhaps a slight feeling of disappointment at how Merry and Pippin served as comic relief and not much else, but their roles increase in the latter two books and I'm hoping the same will hold true to the movies. Orlando Bloom gave a memorable supporting performance as Legolas, the archer elf, and I thought Hugo Weaving as Elrond was superb, as well. Ian Holm was both sympathetic and chilling, perfectly capturing Bilbo's struggle with the ring.
Sean Astin, I thought, was a wonderful Sam, but until the end (and just a few moments in Rivendell) his relationship with Frodo was never truly examined. This is not to criticize Astin, but I hope that with all the moving scenes between the two in The Two Towers and in The Return of The King, Peter Jackson and co. will not sacrifice this friendship to portray, for example, a more prominent romance between Aragorn and Arwen. In my opinion, this friendship between Frodo and Sam is the very heart of the tale and what it all boils down to, and I would hate to see it reduced to a side note.
And I must give special mention to three who held my attention the entire way through: Ian McKellen (Academy-Award worthy), Elijah Wood (a more perfectly cast character I've never seen), and Viggo Mortensen (incredibly charismatic). Anything I try to say as praise will seem redundant, so all I will say is that they make me ache all the more for 2002 and 2003, given what happens to them and the trials they will face and the triumphs that await them. Wood and Mortensen, especially, I long to see tackle the challenges ahead. It must be added, since I am a creature of romantic imagination, that they were both gorgeous and left me with lingering images of their eyes, their hair, or, especially with Mortensen, the very way he stood or held his sword. I guess it's called presence, and they both have it.
Aside from the acting, what took my breath away was the gorgeous scenery, absolutely enthralling and so much as I had imagined Middle Earth to be that it's a marvel hobbits and wizards don't inhabit New Zealand. And as for the special effects, they were by and large awe-inspiring and very well done. How they shrunk normal sized actors to seem like hobbits is utterly amazing. One scene that gets me each time is seeing Frodo and Gandalf sitting in the wagon in the Shire. It is so convincing that I forget that Elijah Wood is my height.
And as for the more "special" special effects: the Balrog, the bridge sequence, heck ... the entire Mines sequence, the opening battle scene, the sublime images of the Argonath
and Rivendell and the white horses at the Ford. Masterful, and yet, never overdone. (Just the two I mentioned earlier.) The time spent in Moria is beyond my ability to properly describe. Let me just say that I was, for the first time in a very long while, afraid for the lives of the characters involved, even though I've read the books and knew the outcome. It is, in a word, spellbinding.
But enough gushing.
Well, one more thing. The ending (and they do go into the first chapter of the second book) is beautiful. It doesn't end with fireworks or an epic battle won or anything like that. It ends with Frodo and Sam quietly climbing down a mountain side after exchanging a handful of simple and heartfelt words. The scene feels so natural, so right, that it leaves me misty-eyed and hopeful and all of those other emotions I felt when I first read the books. And that's about as big a compliment as I can give to the cast and crew of this masterpiece.The story seems so new and fresh to me, from the innocence of the Shire to the terror of the Mines and the burden of Frodo's quest. It all feels as if I'm discovering it for the first time. And what a feeling that is!
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originally posted: 01/17/02 13:47:31
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