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The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring
2001 - PG-13 - 178 Mins.
Director: Peter Jackson
Producer: Peter Jackson, Barrie M Osborne, Fran Walsh, Tim Sanders
Written By: Peter Jackson, Philippa Boyens, Fran Walsh
Starring: Elijah Wood, Billy Boyd, Bill Boyd, Dominic Monaghan, Ian McKellen
Review by: David Trier
   
Although plagued by the exact same problems that made Harry Potter so dismal, Peter Jackson captures and maintains a visual style that makes it at the very least, a good try.

Well, the story of Lord of the Rings is quite simple. It not only has a few hundred characters and a basket-full of subplots, but the good fortune to be based on a really really long book. So there's this guy named Lord Sauron and he apparently lost this ring that's more powerful than its own good. After many ages, it ends up in the hands of Bilbo Baggins (Ian Holm), a Hobbit, who leaves it to his nephew Frodo (Elijah Wood). A hobbit is a midget with pointy ears and hairy feet, ok? At the request of a larger-than-life wizard called Gandalf the Grey (Ian McKellan), Frodo, being unlikely to succumb to the ring's power, must take it to a big hole in the ground far away where it can be destroyed forever. Bad ring, bad! Joining in his quest: three young Hobbits, a dwarf (kind of a mean hobbit with a beard), an elf (taller, less hairy, lots of skills) and two warriors (handsome men in uniform). Making the quest more difficult: Saruman the White (Christopher Lee), a good wizard gone bad, and several kinds of freaky monsters with silly names. Fellowship of the Ring centers on the creation of nine good guys who swear to finish their quest and stick together to the end. Of course, this installment ends with them making this decision, so we'll have to wait for the next two films to see if it was a good idea.

Why is this movie worth seeing? First of all, any film directed by Peter Jackson, good or bad, is worth seeing. Meet the Feebles to see puppets having porno-sex, Bad Taste to see people eating vomit, Dead Alive to see them eating puss, Heavenly Creatures for a sad story about schoolgirls and The Frighteners to see Marty McFly battle evil ghosts. Lord of the Rings, is a beautifully shot film with cool special effects. The Shire is wonderfully captured and I plan on retiring there if Berkley won't have me.

Why is this movie mediocre? First off, no matter how meanignful the book is, this is still the story of a hobbit named Frodo taking a ring through the woods bla blah blah... Now, the film tries its best to follow the book and, like Harry Potter, suffers in pacing because it is in fact a movie. But Jackson deserves credit for getting the book into screenplay form, which must have been an extremely difficult task. However, just because it's a popular book, doesn't mean it has to be a movie at all. If I recall, there was a Lord of the Rings cartoon (Raph Bakshi, 1978) that seemed to be sufficient.

Again like Harry Potter, for something along the order of three hours, our funny little heroes are chased by a wide variety of funny little (and big) foes. After each obstacle is cleared, a new one with a sillier name has presented itself. While the battle sequences are a treat for the senses, it's a little hard to buy that these nine freaks can so easily defend themselves from thousands of well-trained militiamen with sharp teeth and tails.

Not to sound homophobic, I don't necessarily mean this as a bad thing, although perhaps there could be a better forum, Lord of the Rings is one of the most homo-erotic films I have ever seen. After every obstacle, the men have renewed love for each other, usually followed by some hugging. In fact, when Frodo's hobbit friend pursues him in the end, I was damn sure they were gonna kiss. The same goes for some highly melodramatic sequences between the two warriors (Viggo Mortensen and Sean Bean).

Still, despite being a movie with little arc and a lot of repetition, performances by Ian McKellan and Ian Holm combined with excellent production value and direction, make Lord of the Rings something that won't go away. I'll be there for the sequel about a week or two after it opens. If I recall, Star Wars was pretty silly too.
 
Movie Guru Rating
An excellent film.  Among the best in its Genre.  Worth seeing in the Theater. An excellent film.  Among the best in its Genre.  Worth seeing in the Theater. An excellent film.  Among the best in its Genre.  Worth seeing in the Theater. An excellent film.  Among the best in its Genre.  Worth seeing in the Theater.
  4 out of 5 stars

 
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