Lord Of The Rings: The Fellowship Of The Ring (2001) – movie review

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Movie Review by EDF

Starring: Elijah Wood, Ian McKellen, Liv Tyler, Viggo Mortensen, Sean Astin, Cate Blanchett
Director: Peter Jackson

At last it’s here, probably the most highly anticipated movie ever, even more so than any other fantasy movie so far and that includes the likes of STAR WARS and HARRY POTTER. Voted the best book of the 20th Century, a previous animated version from 1978 was the only attempt ever made to bring this story to the big screen. Due to its lack of success, a sequel to complete the story was never made. This, until now, has been the troubled history of bringing THE LORD OF THE RINGS to cinema audiences.

As someone who has never read the books, I am a fan of Peter Jackson’s movies and someone who appreciates well-told stories, regardless of genre. What is presented here to the average moviegoer is probably the biggest, most ambitious epic ever made.

Beginning with a history lesson about Middle-Earth and the creation of the Rings, we find that a vile creature, Gollum (Andy Serkis) who keeps referring to the Ring as “My Precious”, allows the Ring to corrupt him for 500 years. When Gollum loses the Ring, of all the people to find it is an adventurous hobbit called Bilbo Baggins (Ian Holm). 60 years later we find Bilbo is now celebrating his 111 th birthday and he hasn’t aged in all that time due to the power of the Ring. Bilbo’s old friend, Gandalf (Ian McKellen), a very powerful wizard, joins in on the birthday celebration but notices that Bilbo is acting strangely.

Revealing that he is to leave all of his belongings to his nephew Frodo Baggins (Elijah Wood), Bilbo says farewell to the residents of Hobbiton by using the Ring to vanish right in front of their eyes. Not one to be fooled by Bilbo’s actions, Gandalf confronts him at Baggins cottage as he returns to collect some belongings. Revealing the Ring to the old wizard, Gandalf has his suspicions about the Ring and will not touch it for fear that its power will corrupt him. Frodo later turns up at the cottage only to find Gandalf with a haunted look repeating the words “My Precious”. Warning Frodo never to wear the Ring, Gandalf asks him to keep it safe until he returns. Gandalf has a sneaking suspicion about the Ring and goes off to search for some answers.

In the meantime the Dark Lord, slowly regaining his power, captures Gollum and tortures him into telling him who is the one in posession of his Ring. Crying out the name of Bilbo Baggins, the Dark Lord despatches nine Black Riders to regain The Ring.

Upon his return, Gandalf warns Frodo that he has to leave The Shire region with The Ring, as danger is close behind. Frodo’s best friend, Sam (Sean Astin) is roped in to help out and is told by Gandalf to never leave Frodo’s side. Gandalf will rendezvous with them as soon as he seeks counsel with Saruman (Christopher Lee) the head of the Council of the Wise. Upon leaving The Shire, the two hobbits meet up with the mischievous pair of Pippin (Billy Boyd) and Merry (Dominic Monaghan), fun loving hobbits with a nose for trouble.

Without revealing too much of what happens next, the four hobbits team up with the brave and rugged Aragorn aka Strider (Viggo Mortensen), Legolas (Orlando Bloom) who is lethal with sword and bow, the brave and fearless Boromir (Sean Bean) and Gimli (John Rhys-Davis), the quick laugh and quick tempered dwarf. The team of nine, now known as The Fellowship of the Ring, are sent out to destroy the Ring, by throwing it down the volcano from where it was made.

First of all the quality of the cast on show is remarkable. Due to a fantastic and at times humorous and emotional script, the performances are top rate and cannot be faulted. With this story, we are not dealing with stereotypical characters who’s actions you could nearly second guess. What we are presented with instead is the way each decision and event effects the emotions and judgements of the characters which helps the audience to sympathise with the story as it develops. Although I haven’t read the books I would think that the interpretations of the characters seem to be spot on.

Not to forget the special effects either, the way Hobbits and Elf’s are shrunk down to proportion is very impressive. The countryside of Middle-Earth is a mixture of fabulous New Zealand landscape and CGI. Due to the expertise of the WETA Ltd effects house, everything from the interiors of hobbit holes to the heights of Mount Doom look so realistic that you begin to convince yourself that such places really do exist. Watch out ILM, your time might be up.

So what exactly are the bad points to the movie? Other than one or two below standard effect shots, which only last for a couple of seconds anyway, there is not much to nitpick on. Other than that, I cannot find any other fault with the film.

So if you are planning to watch two movies this year and you haven’t watched one yet, go and see this one twice. Gripping, exciting, suspenseful and visually fantastic, this is what good cinema is all about.

6 out of 6 stars