"The Lord of the Rings: The
Fellowship of the Ring"
Directed by Peter Jackson.
Written by Peter Jackson, Fran Walsh and Philippa Boyens.
Based on the novel by J.R.R. Tolkien.
Starring Elijah Wood, Viggo Mortenson and Ian McKellan.
Release Year: 2001
Review Date: 12/20/01
By far the longest film with the longest
title I have seen this year, this one was a big one on my movie
calendar this year. And amazingly, not only is this a good film, it
is probably going to garner a lot of Oscar news in two months when
the nominations are announced.
Director Peter Jackson (whose only
worthwhile film credit is the Michael J. Fox horror/action film "The
Frighteners") has a beautiful picture to be proud of. I mean,
special effects are one thing, but even those shots that DON'T
require actors in front of blue screens are truly amazing in this
film. Shots of elves never looked so good, human faces matched
against orcan flesh proves for many great transitions, and Jackson's
continuous need to show height differences between dwarves or
hobbits and rangers or wizards is pure genius in this film. The
horseback sequences are great, and the fight scenes do a good job of
being tough and violent while sticking to PG-13 guidelines.
Just imagine the pressure that Jackson was
under! This project is more than just ambitious; following the lead
of previous sequel-heavy franchises like "Back to the Future II" and
"Back to the Future III", all of the three "Lord of the Rings" films
were shot back-to-back. ("The Matrix" sequels are doing that now as
well.) Besides saving some money by shooting all of the films while
the cast could be kept together, there are obvious chronological
reasons why shooting the films back-to-back--Ian McKellan (Gandalf)
and some other cast members aren't getting any younger; keeping the
mindset of the actors through three films would be easier if shot
successively—makes sense. Oh, and there are the billions of
followers who have read the trilogy and wanted to see how faithfully
the films would adhere to the text. "Harry Potter" ain't nothing
compared to this; at many American middle and high schools, "The
Lord of the Rings" is still required reading!
Only the hardest of hard-core fans could
complain here. The performances from the B-movie stars involved
here are A-list; you will recognize folks like McKellan, Elijah
Wood, Viggo Mortenson (dozens of films, famously in "GI Jane"), Hugo
Weaving ("The Matrix"), Sean Bean ("Ronin", "Patriot Games"), Liv
Tyler and Sean Astin. And, by not using big stars, the movie cut
some big costs while at the same time providing faces and
personalities that fit the roles and make us excited for the
sequels. And, the story seems to stay faithful to the book,
inserting a joke here or there to keep things fresh, and it provides
lots of foreshadowing for the films to come. The film is long, but
the book wasn't Dr. Seuss, so you can live with it because the
pacing is excellent. Jackson throws in enough action sequences to
keep things interesting, but it doesn't depend on the action to keep
Honestly, I can't think of a bad thing to
say here. After much disappointment with overhyped films this year,
"The Fellowship of the Ring" is a true revelation. Check this one
Rating: Opening Weekend
Comments? Drop me a line at
Bellview Rating System:
"Opening Weekend": This is
the highest rating a movie can receive. Reserved for movies that
exhibit the highest level of acting, plot, character development,
setting...or Salma Hayek. Not necessarily in that order.
"$X.XX Show": This price
changes each year due to the inflation of movie prices; currently,
it is the $9.50 Show. While not technically perfect, this is a
movie that will still entertain you at a very high level.
"Undercover Brother" falls into this category; it's no "Casablanca",
but you'll have a great time watching. The $9.50 Show won't win any
Oscars, but you'll be quoting lines from the thing for ages (see
"Matinee": An average movie
that merits no more than a $6.50 viewing at your local theater.
Seeing it for less than $9.50 will make you feel a lot better about
yourself. A movie like "Blue Crush" fits this category; you leave
the theater saying "That wasn't too bad...man, did you see that
Lakers game last night?"
"Rental": This rating
indicates a movie that you see in the previews and say to your
friend, "I'll be sure to miss that one." Mostly forgettable, you
couldn't lose too much by going to Hollywood Video and paying $3 to
watch it with your sig other, but you would only do that if the
video store was out of copies of "Ronin." If you can, see this
movie for free. This is what your TV Guide would give "one and a
"Hard Vice": This rating is
the bottom of the barrel. A movie that only six other human beings
have witnessed, this is the worst movie I have ever seen. A Shannon
Tweed "thriller," it is so bad as to be funny during almost every
one of its 84 minutes, and includes the worst ending ever put into a
movie. Marginally worse than "Cabin Boy", "The Avengers" or
"Leonard, Part 6", this rating means that you should avoid this
movie at all costs, or no costs, EVEN IF YOU CAN SEE IT FOR FREE!
(Warning: strong profanity will be used in all reviews of "Hard