The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring (DVD, 2007, Limited Edition with Movie Pass)

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Finally, the hype is fulfilled!

Jan 6, 2002
Review by  
Rated a Very Helpful Review

Pros:brings Tolkien's masterwork to life with great alacrity and poise.

Cons:musical score a tad too extravagant; a tad melodramatic in parts

The Bottom Line: This is an epic, mindblowing film which achieves all which it set out to achieve, bringing to life one of the great sagas.


While I realize that submitting the 158th, or thereabouts, review of a movie is not likely to cause any major upheavals in a person’s deciding whether or not they would like to see said movie, I have to say that this movie in particular affected me in a way which prompts me to put keyboard to Word document. Since I am generally a rather harsh critic (or you could merely point a finger at me and yell “cynic”), its not all that often that I find a movie which I, almost, unreservedly recommend.

In the case of Lord Of The Rings: Fellowship Of The Ring, this is most certainly the case. I have never before (at least in my memory, which is never a trustworthy thing) been to a movie twice while it was still out in the cinemas. I got one of my uncles to reserve a ticket for me on opening day, which here happened to be Boxing Day, 26th of December. I went with about a million other people that day, and of course I was late. I can tell you, sitting in the second from front row in front of a screen as large as my house is not a very good antidote for a sore neck.

I also went three days later with a gaggle of friends to a midnight session (can you tell we’re keen?), which had about 20 people packed in. My group pretty much made up the majority of the audience, which is of course the beauty of late night sessions. All of that aside, here is the movie.

The Movie
The movie, as you know, is based on a masterwork by a certain J.R.R Tolkien. I won’t bore you with details, which you should already know. If you don’t know, then you are a very bad person. *Ahem*

After about half a dozen trailers were out of the way (and I can tell you, it was quite a kerfuffle trying to move the deranged occupants out along with them), and the requisite ads for Croydon Plastering and the Candy Bar (we’ll milk you dry and then some! Come and buy, now! Eat lollies!), we are given something of a scene-setter, voiced over in appropriately dramatic tones by Galadriel (Cate Blanchett, go Aussie!) showing how the ring was first taken from Sauron, the baddie, by the humans, then lost by the silly humans, and then eventually falling into the hands of the unprepossessing Hobbit, Bilbo Baggins.

After all that is out of the way, we settle into a picturesque and merry vista of The Shire and the arrival of Gandalf the Grey (Ian McKellan), illuminator extraordinaire and wizard in his spare time. Our innocent widdle anti-hero, Frodo Baggins (Elijah Wood, who is surely about fifteen) is introduced, as a bookish and happy fellow who is quite happy to read and hear about his uncle’s exploits, rather than pursuing them himself. After all, Hobbits are sensible creatures who do try to keep themselves out of harms way at every opportunity.

As everyone knows, Bilbo is eleventy-one years of age, and decides it’s time for a holiday. Unbeknownst to him, he has possession of the One Ring, an evil artefact which has slowly subverted him. After a struggle against inner demons and all that kind of thing, Bilbo gives up the Ring into the possession of his nephew, along with everything else, and heads for a life of voluntary exile in Rivendell.

In the book, seventeen years passes. In the movie, it is not made clear, but a decent amount of time does pass as Gandalf goes searching for information about the ring and scouts out Mordor, the tremor-wracked domain of Sauron, who is on the comeback trail. Gandalf returns to advise Frodo to, essentially, make like a tree and get the hell out of the Shire with the Ring and make for Rivendell and the Elves. Frodo’s friend Samwell Tarly, whilst “clipping the lawn”, overhears the great quest and is bundled along too. After much ado, Merryweather Brandybuck and Pippin Took meet with our two mates as they run away with a farmer’s carrots and cabbages. And thus the tale begins in earnest.

The tale continues through the chase by the Nine Ringwraiths, or Nazgul, the nine human kings duped by Sauron and forced to his will and that of the Ring. The Hobbits are introduced to Aragorn son of Arathorn (Viggo Mortensen), the uncrowned heir to Gondor, realm of humans. It continues through Frodo’s convalescence in Rivendell after being run through by Mordor-forged steel, the introduction to Arwen, Elvish Princess (Liv Tyler) and the formation of the Fellowship Of The Ring by Elrond, the Elven leader (Hugo Weaving), subsequent travails in the Mines of Moria at the hands of Saruman the White, a powerful and once-wise wizard turned by the power of the Ring (Christopher Lee).

The Fellowship suffers the loss of Gandalf to the Balrog, a demon from the depths of the mines, and rests in the forests of Loriel, where the Elven Queen Galadriel resides. After a time there, the fellowship makes it way down the Anduwin (sp?) River, where they are split and sundered by an Uruk-Hai attack. The human Boromir, son of the steward of Gondor (Sean Bean), dies after first going mad in lust for the Ring, then seeing his folly and bravely fighting to allow Frodo to escape. The film ends with Sam and Frodo on the precipice of Mordor, and the rest of the fellowship chasing after Merry and Pip, taken captive by the Uruk-Hai.

The Analysis of The Movie
Well, blah blah blah. As you might gather, this is not any old epic movie. And not because it’s bloody well longer than almost all of them, but because of the subject matter. Elves, Orcs, Goblins and such are usually the domain of C-grade sword-and-scorcery bulldust films. This was a massive challenge for any director, adapting the most popular fantasy book ever written, and even more so for a New Zealander.

As has been mentioned often, the real star here is the landscape in which it was filmed. Peter Jackson vividly brought to life the landscape of the novels, whether it was using unsullied vistas, CGI melded into the overall picture, or an entirely automated picture. While it wasn’t exactly as I had pictured it in my head when I read the books, especially Rivendell, it was certainly quite special to see a storied land come to life in a realistic and glorious manner. The CGI did not overwhelm the story, but rather supplemented it by inserting in those things which couldn’t be reliably simulated in a real-life situation. Balrogs may very well exist in the subterranean depths of the Earth, but I rather doubt we could coax one into voluntarily being photographed. All the various CGI doovies added to the experience and made it that much more vivid.

I was also quite impressed with most of the performances. Much has been said about Liv Tyler and how she was just not suitable and rah rah rah, but I actually found she did a creditable job for what little time she did have, and she most certainly has an ethereal, delicate look which is perfect for portraying an Elven princess. Although the whole love story jggerypokery was somewhat unnecessary, I still thought she wasn’t as miscast as has been alluded. I enjoyed Ian McKellan’s portrayal of Gandalf as a gruff and powerful man, yet vulnerable to the impishness and innocence of the Hobbits, with a wry sense of humour and a natural sense of befuddlement. In fact, I thought his portrayal was nigh-on perfect.

Wood, as Frodo, was perhaps a little bit too naďve and innocent, mainly because he retained this throughout despite the hardships. I am fairly certain added dimensions to his character would have contributed to the overall feel of the movie….as it was, he appeared child-like and out of his depth the whole duration, which is perhaps a bit unrealistic. The other Hobbits had enjoyable bit parts, sometimes as the light relief, which was most welcome, and also as steadfast companions.

The humans Boromir and Aragorn were also portrayed quite well, although I felt Boromir was maybe a bit too heroic, dying with 3 arrows poking out of important parts, but who knows what adrenaline does to ya. His flawed, yet honourable character came through, and the anguish he felt over his people’s plight and the use of the Ring was believable. Aragorn was suitably dark and mysterious, and Mortensen played him with the right amount of intensity and quiet competence which is a hallmark of Aragorn’s character. I thought Cate Blanchett suited the Galadriel character, even though her softly-softly voice was a bit hard to get used to. She, like Tyler, has a grace to her, which brightens the screen and fits the Elven persona. The scene in which she rejects the Ring, however, is a bit overblown and melodramatic, and could be scary for the kiddiepies.

Also of mention are of course the other members of the Fellowship, Legolas (Orlando Bloom) and Gimli son of Gloin (John Rhys-Davies). Legolas the Elf is a small but pivotal character, and also makes up I suppose part of the wow factor in the film. He portrays very well the silken grace and deadly elegance of the elves, and very much looks the part, with longbow and blond braid. He's not just eye candy. Gimli the Dwarf is an amusing yet stalwart character, tending to be gruff and blustery but, of course, with a heart of gold and all the rest of it. I thought these minor but important characters contributed a lot to the overall atmosphere of the film.

While it is difficult to review every single facet of such an epic movie, needless to say, this was well worth the wait, and the fulfillment of almost any fantasy fan’s dream. This is one of the best adaptations to any book that I ever had the privilige to witness. 5 doovies out of 5!

The End

Any comments are much appreciated! I would like lots and lots to be left, by the way, so get to it :D


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