Lord of the Rings The Lord of the Rings
The Fellowship of the Ring
R E V I E W   B Y   R I C H   C L I N E
fellowship of the ring one of shadows' all-time best films The first part of the long-awaited trilogy is here, and Kiwi director Jackson somehow manages to exceed expectations with one of the most astonishing action epics in memory. The film buzzes with passion, emotion and life, overflowing with complex characters and the amazing situations they find themselves in. It's also that rare film that can satisfy those who have and those who have never read Tolkien's novels.

At the centre is Frodo Baggins (Wood), a Hobbit who is drawn unwittingly into a seriously ambitious quest, leaving his home behind and collecting fellow travellers along the way until they form a nine-man fellowship: three more Hobbits (Astin, Boyd and Monaghan), Gandalf the wizard (McKellen), the elf Legolas (Bloom), the dwarf Gimli (Rhys-Davies) and two noblemen, Aragorn and Boromir (Mortensen and Bean). Along the way they encounter a myriad of others--good, bad and somewhere in between--as well as epic battles, dark escapades and even some comic relief.

Jackson's achievement here is enormous, creating a massive film (it feels like at least three movies in one) that's never dull for a second, and in which every single character grabs our interest. The cast is impeccable, with McKellen stealing every scene as the dangerous, charming and powerful Gandalf. But others add just as much depth and meaning in quieter ways, while Wood wins our hearts as the little guy caught up in events far greater than he could imagine--hating the fact that he's dragged his friends into such danger, and surprising himself at his own untapped courage. The film's technical side is equally impressive--staggering NZ scenery blended with flawless effects work and production design that perfectly creates Middle-Earth without resorting to cliches. Jackson creates a very real-looking fantasy world on screen--funny, horrific, endearing and exciting on every level. If there's any complaint, it's that after the cliffhanger ending we have to wait a year for Part 2. And another year for the conclusion.

cert PG themes, suspense, some grisly violence 10.Dec.01

dir Peter Jackson
scr Fran Walsh, Philippa Boyens, Peter Jackson
with Elijah Wood, Ian McKellen, Viggo Mortensen, Sean Astin, Cate Blanchett, Liv Tyler, Sean Bean, Christopher Lee, Orlando Bloom, John Rhys-Davies, Billy Boyd, Dominic Monaghan, Hugo Weaving, Ian Holm, Andy Serkis, Martin Czokas
release UK & US 19.Dec.01
NewLine 01/New Zealand 2h58

The Hobbits. Astin, Wood, Monaghan and Boyd

wood mckellen blanchett
mortensen tyler lee
R E A D E R   R E V I E W S
send your review to Shadows... one ring to rule them all "I have never been a fan of LOTR, I shudder to say, because I could never really get into the books! I now wish that I had (I will give them another try). There have been several movies over time that have helped us shape the way we interpret what our mind's eye sees! I think here may indeed be another. I would like to say that this is a movie that, though rich in the beliefs of the old, is a movie with soul! There have been liberties taken in the presentation which will leave some fanatic fans dispairing, but on the whole it is a movie that brings to visual life the very essence of a place and time that live in the hearts of millions around the world. I would urge anyone who is looking to lose themselves in a world not their own to go and see this movie if for no other reason than to see that trust, loyalty and friendship do stand for something, and that evil in whatever form is out there! As we have all seen in recent times. JRR Tolkien created a classic that has stood the test of time; I would hazard to say that I think this movie may well do the same. Shame the other two are just sitting there waiting, and not to be seen soon enough!" --Bernie, Christchurch, NZ 22.Dec.01

"This was the best movie that I have ever seen. The character portrayal, scenery, storyline and intensity was at a fantastic peak. It was beyond what words can say. Incredible. It inspired me to read all of Tolkien's works. " --Heidi, Iowa 24.Dec.01

"I agree this is an awesome film--brooding, intense and beautiful. It may in fact be the best film ever made. My only criticism would be that the first book is too short, breaking the sense of the length and hardships of the journey. What if Jackson had made FOUR films, each 2.5 hours long, with releases at Christmas, summer 2002, Christmas 2002 and finally summer 2003. Show the swamp after Bree, and show the forests of Lothlorien. Maybe they'll be on the DVD version.... Anyway, an astounding film!" --Don O, Colorado 25.Dec.01 blanchett and wood mckellen as gandalf

"Like many a Tolkien fan, I had been anticipating and dreading the release of this film since I heard about it a couple years ago. I first read the books 24 years ago at the age of 13. Needless to say, the well worn novels that Tolkien penned are seared into my memory and I wasn't sure how I would handle the changes to my beloved books. I was also concerned about the casting of Liv Tyler and Elijah Wood--nothing against those actors, they just didn't fit my idea of what the charactors should look like. Any misgivings I had were erased shortly after the we were introduced to Frodo and company. Wow! Jackson really pulled this one off. I am an unabashed fan of this movie and I am stunned with Wood's performance, as well as Liv doing a fine job--kudos. I underestimated both of them. This movie has it all ... wow! It really captures the soul of the novel. While I noticed the departures from the novel, I didn't care, because the departures worked in the film. Everything ultimately worked and came together better than I ever would have imagined. What a fine, early Christmas present." --Lynai, Minnesota 25.Dec.01

"I first read JRR Tolkein when I was 11 years old. I am now 45, and I have reread the Lord of the Rings at least three dozen times. So I had very decided ideas about how Middle-Earth should look and feel. When I saw Jackson's Middle-Earth, it felt as though he had read my mind! The film is perfect. The orcs are much scarier than I had dreamed. The balrog is terrifying. Galadriel is beautiful. Saruman is scary. Everything is absolutely perfect. I have seen the film twice and will definitely go again! It actually feels too short, which is incredible for a three-hour film. I don't know how I can wait another year for the second part!" --Anne Rose, Richmond, Virginia 27.Dec.01 wood as frodo mortensen as aragorn

"Most excellent. Captured my idea of Middle-Earth completely. Takes you away for 3 hours of total indulgence." --Mark Headley, Tampa, Florida 27.Dec.01

"As a fanatical reader and re-reader of Tolkien's epic story, I approached the film with some trepidation. How much would the 40-year-old director pander to the tastes of young audiences for action, gore and special effects at the expense of dialogue, interpersonal relationships and complex philosophy? The answer: A fair amount. Why did we have to waste six minutes on the cave troll and cut out some potentially beautiful cinematic scenes which any devoted reader would love to see performed onscreen? (Answer: Because young men wouldn't like the movie if it didn't spend six minutes on the cave troll, and they don't care about Galadriel's soul-probing of other members of the company, or Gandalf's letter to Frodo about Aragorn, and whatever became of the reforging of the sword and its new name?) Points were won back by superb casting, breathtaking visual effects and plaintive, haunting music, plus those good scenes which WERE preserved. What surprises me most of all is that I liked some of the changes in the story! Arwen substituting for Glorfindel as Frodo's rescuer on the road to Rivendell constitutes a big plus. At last we get to see her DO SOMETHING and prove herself worthy of Aragorn. And isn't he a dish? (Casting him was a shrewd move to assure the female vote!) Boromir's climactic scene is ever so much more moving in the film than it is in the book. In fact, Boromir is just plain a more complex character here than in the book; you can read his face and it makes for good reading. I loved the legend comes to life Ian McKellen as Gandalf (perfect casting) and Ian Holm as Bilbo. I'm very eager to see what Jackson makes of the Riders of Rohan, Eowyn in particular. Alas, it seems like a long time till next December. In summary, the movie is not the same as the book, but it is very powerful. I've already seen it twice and would gladly go back for more." --Meg Mitchell Rosenfield, Santa Rosa, California 29.Dec.01

"I love this movie! I only read The Lord of the Rings in November, and I've read it at least 4 times. This is almost how I imagined Middle-Earth. It's a shame that Tom Bombadil was cut out but nothing's perfect!" --Skye C, net 20.Jan.02

© 2001 by Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall