Movie Review – “Fellowship of the Ring”

If you are one of those people who is afraid that
you will be disappointed because this film will
be so hyped, I have two things to say. First,
don’t worry. I mean that, you really, really
don’t need to worry. Second, if you are still
afraid of the hype, do not read the following
review.

Premise

A ring which may be used as the instrument of
ultimate evil is found
in the possession of a hobbit. It isn’t long
before a group of
hobbits, a wizard, and other band together to
prevent the ring from
falling into the hands of the evil Sauran.

Cast, Crew, and Other Info

Sir Ian McKellen as Gandalf the Grey
Elijah Wood as Frodo Baggins
Viggo Mortensen as Aragorn
Sean Astin as Sam Gamgee
Liv Tyler as Arwen Undomiel
Cate Blanchett as Galadriel
John Rhys-Davies as Gimli, son of Gloin
Billy Boyd as Pippin
Dominic Monaghan as Merry
Orlando Bloom as Legolas
Hugo Weaving as Elrond
Sean Bean as Boromir
Ian Holm as Bilbo Baggins
Christopher Lee as Saruman

Directed by Peter Jackson
Adapted to the screen by Fran Walsh, Philippa
Boyens, and Peter
Jackson
Musical Score by Howard Shore
Original Songs by Enya
Cinematography by Andrew Lesnie
Numerous other that should be mentioned.

The complete cast and crew list is on the IMDB
and can be found here.

High Point

The amazingly prophetic first line. This was not
an easy choice to
make, so I’ve chosen the one that refers to the
events in the movie,
as well as the movie itself.

Low Point

The cave troll looked like it was CGI at moments.
There were many
other moments when it didn’t, or when the other
CGI characters looked
real, so I won’t ride them too much for it.
You may notice that this is a comment complaint I
have, but this
is only a mild case of this problem.

You may also notice that the low point in this
movie is one element of
a single scene which, and that element is still
above average.

The Review

I’m still amazed this movie got made. This is
Tolkien’s first two
books in the series, accurately translated to the
big screen. It is
accessible by those who have and haven’t read the
book.

It’s hard to say any more without either
providing spoilers or using
adjectives that have grown meaningless after
being used in every other
review of this movie. Instead, I’ll just tell
you this: I worked in a
theater for three years. One of my
responsibilities was to open the
doors in the back of the theater when the movie
was over. It was a
rare event when anyone applauded after watching a
movie, and in all
that time, I’d
never seen applause from more than four or five
people.

That changed last night.

The sold-out theater had a capacity of
approximately 500 people. I’d
estimate that approximately three quarters of the
audience applauded
when the credits came up. This wasn’t just good
entertainment, this
was a film that grabbed the audience and held on.
It was three hours
long, and I only saw four people leave the
theater, all of whom were
back within five minutes. (I was sitting in the
back row, and I’ve
been trained to pay attention to when people get
out of their seats.)
There were no conversations among the patrons.
There was nobody
rushing to leave the theater the moment it was
over. There were just
500 people who sat there, eyes on the screen,
until the end of the film.

Had the box office been open when the movie
ended, I’d have purchased
a ticket for the next available showing. Forget
Harry
Potter
; go see this one instead.

The Scores

The originality is the only aspect of
this movie that isn’t
spectacular. It is based on a book which went on
to lay the
groundwork for every other piece of fantasy
that’s been made since.
However, the movie doesn’t look like the
combination of all those
copycats. It feels like something that hasn’t
been done before. It
has its own unique heart, and unique feel to it.
I give it 5 out of 6.

The effects were amazing. There were
moments when CGI
characters looked like CGI, and there were
moments when human actors
placed on other backgrounds looked like human
actors placed on other
backgrounds. Neither of these problems occur
often, and are greatly
outweighed by the events of the flashback
sequences. 5 out of 6.

The story here has all the plotting and
interweaving of the
Tolkien novel, but none of the hindrances that
occasionally slow it
down. Arwen’s expanded role feels right. Tom
Bombadil is nowhere to
be seen, which is appropriate to the film. (It’s
three hours long;
they had to cut something.) Gandalf’s narrative,
told after-the-fact
in the book, is integrated into the film. The
writers did a fantastic
job adapting a very well read, and very well
loved piece of
literature. I give it 6 out of 6.

The acting in this movie was rare from
such a wide and
ensemble cast. There is not a single actor in
this movie who seems
like he/she is acting. Even Liv Tyler, who has
never impressed me in
the past, was perfect for the role at hand.
There were several times
in this movie that I felt there should be an
Academy Award for casting
agents, because this team (Victoria Burrows, John
Hubbard, Amy
MacLean, Liz Mullane, and Ann Robinson) deserves
one. Some actors
North American audiences have never heard of will
be seen from a lot
in coming years. (Orlando Bloom, Billy Boyd, and
Dominic Monaghan,
for example.) I can’t wait to see Brad Dourif
surface in his role
next year. 6 out of 6.

I have to rate the movie’s ability to incur an
emotional
response
now. What can I say? It was
incredible. I was hooked
from start to finish. I felt for the characters,
and more
importantly, I felt with the characters. Many
patrons were crying
when the filmmakers wanted them to cry. It’s
very hard not to get
swept up in this movie. 6 out of 6.

Now it’s time to rate all aspects of
production in a single
category. That means that a single problem with
the direction, the
editing, the score, the cinematography, the sound
mixing, the art
direction, the costume design, the set
decoration, the stunt work, or
any other of a number of categories can reduce
the score for everyone
in this category. I give this movie 6 out of 6
for production. I did
not notice a single flaw. They might as well
engrave Andrew Lesnie’s
name on that cinematography Oscar right now,
because he’ll be the one
who walks away with it. The art, costume, and
set designers will be
nominated, and are likely to win. In fact, I
wouldn’t be surprised in
the least to see this film walk away with every
technical Oscar that
is offered next year. (I also expect it to pick
up a few of the
mainstream statues as well.)

Overall, this is the most incredible
cinematic experience
I’ve ever seen. They nailed it. They absolutely
nailed every aspect
of this movie. This one is a guaranteed repeat
view for me. I not
only give this movie 6 out of 6, but I’m tempted
to go over all of my
old movie reviews and start lowering the scores.
I still can’t
believe this movie even got made. See this movie
now. Buy tickets
for The Two Towers the day they go on
sale, or you’re not
going to get them.

In total, Lord of the Rings: Fellowship of
the Ring
scored 40
out of 42.

16 replies on “Movie Review – “Fellowship of the Ring””

  1. dkichline says:

    Was concerned…

    But I am no longer. I must say that I agree whole heartedly. This was one of the finest movies I have ever seen. There is much to be said about sets and CGI, etc… But if the acting is not there, it drags everything else with it.

    My wife, who is no great lover of fantasy, enjoyed the movie. She never read the books, but was not lost at any point.

    And Moria was absolutely breath taking. The chase and finally the Balrog. I remember letting out a yell of utter delight when I first saw the Balrog shatter onto the screen.

    I want to see it again and again and again… You get the idea!

  2. hitch says:

    first two books?
    you said this is a composite of the first TWO? but, as you said, the two towers (I always used to read that “the twin towers”…geez that’s weird now…) is due out next year, and return of the king the following year…
    I hate to be a nitpicker, but what gives? (and if you say “ah, well you see they had to include parts of “The Hobbit”, I’m going to SMACK you. HARD.)

    • YaRness says:

      yes, it’s two books….

      you said this is a composite of the first TWO?

      each physical book the series is actually internally two books. check your copies, or maybe some older unabridged copies or something.

      • YaRness says:

        and additionally…
        it’s reallly ONE novel with 6 books, published as three books for convenience.

        or so says thinkgeek (of all the weird places to buy a copy, but it was the first thing a google search found).

        • fiziko says:

          Re: and additionally…

          it’s reallly ONE novel with 6 books, published as
          three books for convenience.

          or so says thinkgeek
          (of all the weird places to buy a copy, but it was the
          first thing a
          google search
          found).

          The prologue to my copy agrees with
          them. It’s one novel in six books, often published in
          three volumes. The titles (“Fellowship of the Ring,”
          “The Two Towers,” and “Return of the King”) refer to
          the volumes, not the books.

          • hitch says:

            Re: and additionally…

            The prologue to my copy agrees with
            them. It’s one novel in six books, often published in
            three volumes. The titles (“Fellowship of the Ring,”
            “The Two Towers,” and “Return of the King”) refer to
            the volumes, not the books.

            alright, I’ll buy that. I take back my indignant picking of your nit. and humbly submit myself to a wet noodle lashing.
            I actually have read quite a lot of books that are one novel split up into lots of parts for publishing convenience. Jack Chalker is a good one for this – it looks like he’s writing a ton of series’, but if you read them they really don’t make good standalone works. it’s more along the lines of one huge book. or novel, if you will. I don’t even want to get into the semantics of that the difference is between a “book” a “novel” or whatever. if it’s one novel in six books published in three volumes, that’s good enough for me.

          • eclectric says:

            The Scoop on the novel form.
            You can read all about this in Letters, but Tolkien basically wrote the book as single work (hard-core fanboys such as myself never call it a “trilogy,” it’s “The Book.”) Publication being what it was at the time (paper shortages) the publisher told Tolkien he had to break up the book into three parts. I instead broke it into six parts, and put two in each Volume. Interestingly, the book titles were (this might be wrong, I don’t have my Letters with me)

            Book 1: The Return of the Shadow
            Book 2: The Fellowship of the Ring
            Book 3: The Treason of Isengard
            Book 4: (I’m not sure of this one.)
            Book 5: The War of the Ring
            Book 6: Sauron Defeated

            Incidentally, when the three books were published, he wanted to call the third volume “The War of the Ring” because he thought the “Return of the King” gave too much away.

            By the way, I’d recommend to everyone the recently re-issued single volume trade paperback form of The Lord of the Rings. First, it has many errors corrected, and the text has finally been electronically stored, so all editions have the same text. Second, it’s only $20, cheaper than buying three mass markets. Third, it’s a freaking cool book to hold all at once. Please note that these aren’t the ones with the movie covers on them, so you might not be able to find them.

            • hitch says:

              Re: The Scoop on the novel form.
              just a question – are we talking typo style errors or editing style errors or major plot changing (or confusing) errors. examples?

              • dcheesi says:

                Re: The Scoop on the novel form.

                just a question – are we talking typo style errors or editing style errors or major plot changing (or confusing) errors. examples?

                AFAIK it’s just the former, although in some cases, changing a single word can change the meaning of an entire passage. In practice, I’ve never had a problem with any of the versions currently available; but then I’ve never deliberately compared them.

                ObOnTopic: Did anyone else not like the opening narrative exposition? Something about it just rubbed me the wrong way. Maybe it reminded me too much of the opening in Dune? Even the voice was similar…

                • AnCatDubh says:

                  Re: The Scoop on the novel form.

                  ObOnTopic: Did anyone else not like the opening narrative exposition? Something about it just rubbed me the wrong way. Maybe it reminded me too much of the opening in Dune? Even the voice was similar…

                  I think the opening narrative might have been better placed in the Council of Elrond, where it appears (more or less) in the book itself. This may have left some people scratching their heads up to that point, particular people who’ve not read the books (or those who have not read it over and over). However, I think having it later would have created some more tension in the beginning of the movie. Also, they would not have to repeat the same clip of the hand and the ring falling three times! I did, however, like the structure of the piece–the Quenya behind (not sure who spoke it) with Cate Blanchett’s Galadriel providing the translation.

                  • studmuffin says:

                    Re: The Scoop on the novel form.

                    However, I think having it later would have created some more tension in the beginning of the movie. Also, they would not have to repeat the same clip of the hand and the ring falling three times! I did, however, like the structure of the piece–the Quenya behind (not sure who spoke it) with Cate Blanchett’s Galadriel providing the translation.

                    As someone who had not read the books (in about 25 years) and had INTENTIONALLY not read reviews, hype, story synopsis, and so on before seeing the film, I will say that without the exposition at the beginning I would have gotten lost.

                    Plus, the ‘repeating’ of the clip with the hand was, in my opinion, a well-used metaphor for the desire of Man to have power. Each time the defeat of Sauron was shown, a little more of the story was revealed, thereby helping the overall story arc to unfold rather than just be ‘told’. A common error of many storytellers is to ‘tell’ the audience what is happening, rather than letting the audience unfold the story themselves. I thought that slowly telling what happened with the ring as the movie unfolded was brilliant.

                    And I just ordered a set of the books from Amazon, and will now read them again. :-)

                    • hitch says:

                      Re: The Scoop on the novel form.

                      Plus, the ‘repeating’ of the clip with the hand was, in my opinion, a well-used metaphor for the desire of Man to have power. Each time the defeat of Sauron was shown, a little more of the story was revealed, thereby helping the overall story arc to unfold rather than just be ‘told’. A common error of many storytellers is to ‘tell’ the audience what is happening, rather than letting the audience unfold the story themselves. I thought that slowly telling what happened with the ring as the movie unfolded was brilliant.

                      I agree…it was well done in that you began or ended from the same point
                      (the cutting of the ring from the hand) to learn more of the story behind the ring and why it is where it is and why it must NOT be used. I will say, however, that the opening exposition rubbed me the wrong way for ONE reason, and this is one of only two frustrations with the movie. they did not use the ring “poem”, you know “x for the elven somethings under the sky, x for the dwarf lords in their halls of stone, 9 for the human kings, etc. ” they said “nine rings were given to the kings of the humans…”. for some reason a lot of style and mood was lost due to that change. I’m sure they agonized over the decision, but I wish it had gone the other way. the only other thing, by the way, was the unfortunate casting of agent smith as elrond. that, however, will become less of an issue as time goes on, I’m sure.

                    • Alexius says:

                      Re: The Scoop on the novel form.

                      I will say, however, that the opening exposition rubbed me the wrong way for ONE reason, and this is one of only two frustrations with the movie. they did not use the ring “poem”, you know “x for the elven somethings under the sky, x for the dwarf lords in their halls of stone, 9 for the human kings, etc. ” they said “nine rings were given to the kings of the humans…”. for some reason a lot of style and mood was lost due to that change. I’m sure they agonized over the decision, but I wish it had gone the other way. the only other thing, by the way, was the unfortunate casting of agent smith as elrond. that, however, will become less of an issue as time goes on, I’m sure.

                      I Agree, Also, Another Low Point Was That They Left Out ‘Do Not Meddle In The Affairs Of Wizards…’ That Was My Personal Favorite Line, And That Alone Is A Reason To Read The Books.

                      I Also Wanted To Point Out That I Love How The Only things People Don’t Like About The Movie Are Both Very Minor, And Things That Aren’t In The move (As In Stuff They Had To Cut).

                      I Also Like How Thin These Colomns Get The More Replies Pile Up. 8^)

                    • ceilican1 says:

                      Re: The Scoop on the novel form.
                      One thing that I thought was REALLY unfortunate to be left out was the reforging of Narsil. In my mind, that becomes rather important later on in the series, and I’ll be a little upset if they simply relegate that to “flashback” in the next movie. There were some other, minor nits (Gimli not falling in love with Galadrial for one), but that one I felt was pretty major.

  3. starbreeze says:

    beautiful
    i finally saw the movie last night. the theater was fairly empty, though it was a large theater. i thought the movie was absolutely beautiful. the only things that dissapointed me were that the orcs looked not as much like orcs as i’ve seen others, and the sound kept cutting out, but that is loew’s fault.

    • fiziko says:

      Re: beautiful

      … the sound kept cutting
      out, but that is loew’s fault.

      That depends. When it cut out, was it
      gone completely, or just stripped down? If it was
      gone completely, that’s probably the projectionist’s
      fault (for not having enough tension on the sound
      drum), but if it was dropped from surround to basic
      stereo and losing volume, then that could be a sign of
      the most common problem experienced when printing
      (DTS) digital source disks, in which case, it’s the
      fault of the company that printed those disks.

      If anyone cares, I used to work as a projectionist for
      Landmark Cinemas.

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