johnlink ranks THE LORD OF THE RINGS: THE FELLOWSHIP OF THE RING (2001)

After finally getting at the first two HOBBITS, my wife and I decided to stick around Middle Earth long enough to revisit the originals. It’s been awhile since I’ve seen this, so it’s nice to see how they stand up after deriding the special effects of the new trilogy. For the record, this ranking considers the extended edition of FELLOWSHIP.

FotR

I watched THE LORD OF THE RINGS: THE FELLOWSHIP OF THE RING (2001) on 1.9.14. It was my fourth viewing of the film and first, probably since 2005 or so.

The satisfaction in watching the first movie of the original Peter Jackson LORD OF THE RINGS trilogy is still very much present. Returning to this world is so easily done. Reuniting with these characters so comfortable. Anticipating the memorable moments brings its own joy.

These movies, in the thirteen years since the initial chapter was released, have become such landmarks that it is impossible to view them in any sort of objective way. The FELLOWSHIP OF THE RING was the first entry in what is, still, the landmark fantasy series in the history of cinema.

The special effects are not as perfect as they seemed in 2001. Some of the wide shots are suspect, and some of the plunging moments (from the top of the tower into the depths of the Orc pits) feel false. Yet what Jackson does here is to move so quickly as to hide the faults. It is easy, now, to see how artificial the falling stairwell looks when crashing against the wall. When viewing for the first time, the focus was on the fellowship and their ability to survive. Where THE HOBBIT: AN UNEXPECTED JOURNEY decided to showcase its limitations in special effects, THE FELLOWSHIP OF THE RING mostly is embarrassed by them.

The cinematography is a marvel. The open beauty of Middle Earth (via New Zealand) is on display, and the specs of characters frequently move against a vast horizon to show the sheer size of their journey. Time is taken with our cast, specifically Elijah Wood’s ring bearer Frodo. We see him framed up often with a decision ahead of him. Where will he go? What will he do? The patience Jackson shows with this film is a testament both to his care for the story and the backing of the producers to give him carte blanche with the series. He didn’t film out of a fear of cutting, he filmed out of a place of love for the events and the characters. This is why the extended version is really the only way to see these movies anymore.

The acting is as good as remembered. Stars were made out of Orlando Bloom as the elf Legolas and Andy Serkis as Gollum (though Serkis appears only briefly in this chapter). Sean Bean transitioned from LORD OF THE RINGS to GAME OF THRONES with great success. Dominic Monaghan rode his Merry supporting role into TV stardom. Elijah Wood, Sean Astin, Ian McKellan, Viggo Mortensen, John Rhys-Davies, Liv Tyler, and (to a certain extent) Cate Blanchett can all consider their roles to be among the landmark performances of their career. The acting here, especially for a ‘fantasy’ film is top-notch dramatic work. When Sean Bean’s Boromir struggles with his need for the ring there is real inner turmoil spilling out into his performance. When Ian McKellan’s wizard Gandalf is about to plunge into the depths of the pit, we feel the desperation he outputs. When Orlando Bloom stumbles across a fallen comrade their is surprisingly nuanced restraint, as he both emotes and limits his display of emotion as an elf. This is a movie which could very easily fall into silliness based on its fantasy pedigree. Instead, this is powerful drama with a pleasant mix of comedy mostly provided by the hobbits.

The pacing of the movie is perfect. It is three and a half hours feeling like less than two. Consuming the LORD OF THE RINGS is an easy task, a rewarding task. While the movie isn’t an A+ when it comes to excitement, it more than makes up for that in character development and carefully crafted exposition.

Suffice it say, THE FELLOWSHIP OF THE RING still stands up as a wonderful film over a decade after its release.

SCORES

FILM: 9; MOVIE: 9; ACTING: 9; WRITING: 8; BONUS: 1

The bonus is for the wonderful musical score by Howard Shore. The major themes have become synonymous with The Lord of the Rings as an entity.

9+9+9+8+1=36

FINAL SCORE: 9

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~ by johnlink00 on January 10, 2014.

2 Responses to “johnlink ranks THE LORD OF THE RINGS: THE FELLOWSHIP OF THE RING (2001)”

  1. Last time I watched this, the nostalgia was too much for me to handle. How I’ve seen this already ten times in my rather short-life is totally beyond me, but hey, it’s a childhood favorite of mine that worked as well for me as when I saw it as a young adult of a sort. Good review John.

  2. Great review. I totally agree. 😉

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