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The Fellowship of the Ring (2001) – Movie Review

The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring

Written by: Philippa Boyens, Peter Jackson & Frances Walsh, based on the novel by J.R.R. Tolkien
Directed by: Peter Jackson
Starring: Elijah Wood, Ian McKellen, Viggo Mortensen, Sean Astin, Sean Bean

My Advice: Don’t miss it.

Thousands of years ago, there were a series of rings handed around. These were symbols of great power. But there was a ring forged in secret, in the dark lands of Mordor, by the evil Sauron. Using this ring, Sauron waged war on all of Middle Earth–but was eventually defeated. The ring changed hands a few times, finally winding up in the possession of the hobbit Bilbo Baggins (Ian Holm). As he plans on retiring from public life, the ring must fall into the hands of his heir, young Frodo (Wood), who is under the protection of the grey wizard Gandalf (McKellen). But once the ring is revealed for what it is, dark forces seek it–and a decision must be made. What does one do with the ultimate corrupting power of the ring?

[ad#longpost]I thought that Harry Potter had nailed its adaptation. But nothing I have ever seen or read could have prepared me for what I have just seen. I am just flat out stunned. And in the parking lot of the cinema, I just kept thinking–what am I going to tell my VHS copies of Willow and Legend? How do I tell them I’ve fallen for another film? They’ll be heartbroken. But indeed, there hasn’t been a genre film this powerful and compelling since the original Star Wars.

The casting is perfection. McKellen’s Gandalf is good-humored strength incarnate. Wood’s Frodo is the wide-eyed innocent who is indeed not like his dear relative Bilbo. Viggo Mortensen is a veritable bad ass with a sword, and when he pledges his service to the fellowship, I got chills. Standouts among the cast would have to be Sean Astin‘s Sam, who is so loving and self-sacrificing, you easily forget this guy was a Goonie. Orlando Bloom‘s Legolas would be another: sheer deadly elegance with a bow.

And speaking of bows–the fight scenes in this thing are immense. Tightly choreographed works of lethal art, my friends, and no two are the same. The sequence in the mines under the mountain in particular is incredible. Other action sequences you might have seen, in other films recently that have been completely driven from my mind, are put to shame. Not to say that the thing is a swordfest from end to end. There are moments of emotion and just awful wonder that almost bring tears to the eyes.

Jackson‘s direction is both complicated and confident, and multiple times during the viewing I wondered that a hobbit-like guy could completely upstage George Lucas when it comes to delivering what was promised. Also worth noting is the score by Howard Shore, assisted by Enya. It served its purpose, the perfect balance that you want from a musical score: you notice it’s there only when prompted to do so.

The film manages to be not only for those rabid fans of the book, but anyone who likes a good fantasy film. This is the best film I have seen thus far this year. It is an amazing achievement and must not be missed.