The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring (2001)

Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring, The (2001, NZL/USA) C-178m. SCOPE *** D: Peter Jackson. Starring Elijah Wood, Ian McKellen, Viggo Mortensen, Sean Astin, Liv Tyler, Cate Blanchett, John Rhys-Davies, Billy Boyd, Dominic Monaghan, Orlando Bloom, Hugo Weaving, Sean Bean, Ian Holm, Christopher Lee, Bruce Spence, Peter Jackson. Long-awaited fantasy extravaganza based on the epic novel by J.R.R. Tolkien represents only the first part of the famous trilogy (Parts Two and Three were filmed simultaneously, however). Director Jackson (BRAINDEAD, HEAVENLY CREATURES) takes us on an awe-inspiring journey through fantastic Middle-Earth, as little hobbit Frodo Baggins (Wood) is entrusted with an all-powerful ring by his uncle Bilbo (Holm), which ensures stability and harmony (apart from making its bearer invisible) but is much sought-after by an evil warlord called Sauron. Frodo embarks on a long journey into an uncertain future (and never before-seen places and perils) to protect the ring from the evil bloodhounds of the Dark Lord. Magnificently filmed fantasy adventure is a mixed bag(gins). Plotwise, this could be broken up into four sections: The beginning, which is nice but lacks the kind of magical charm that made the book so enchanting; the start of the journey, which seems choppy and confusing; the part set in the halls of Morin, which is when the film hits its stride, becoming a full-fledged, exciting (and scary) adventure; and the final part, which is a good continuation of part three and paves the way very well for the films to come. Excellent use of special effects (most computer-generated, but who cares when this becomes hardly distinguishable from 'real' action?). Performances are good (especially McKellen's as Gandalf), all in all film bears the marks of a production which was realized with the heartblood of all involved. Not the masterpiece expected (especially not for critical fans of the novel), but a fine thrill-ride which pulls all stops. Adapted by Frances Walsh, Philippa Boyens and director Jackson. Good score by Howard Shore.


© Ron Altman