Power Can Be Held In
The Smallest Of Things.
Whatever you do, just go see this movie. It doesn’t matter what I say or what someone else says, this movie rocks. This is my pick for best film of 2001. I’ve read Lord of the Rings (more than once) and I always thought that it would be very difficult to pull off a really good film adaptation. Too epic, too much material, just too much in general. Not all literature is suitable for film. Also part of me thought that this is one of the greatest works of fiction
in the 20th century and no movie could live up to that, so why try? Well, I was wrong. This film works in a big way.
Let’s start out with that cast. Oh my god. Could the cast be any better? The answer is not really. Elijah Wood is Frodo Baggins, plain and simple. Towards the end of the film you could already see the weight of the ring in his eyes. No one could have done better. Ian McKellen as Gandalf… ‘nuff said. (He was kick ass and I think the best is yet to come.) Viggo Mortensen, Sean Astin, Liv Tyler, Christopher Lee, Orlando Bloom (Legolas ROCKS), Cate Blanchett (the over the top ring tirade scene of Galadriel… WOW), and the list goes on. They even show Gollum, who is all CGI, for a few seconds and he looks cool. (They should let him loose into Star Wars Episode 3 and he could eat Jar Jar for the finale.) They even show Sauron at the beginning describing his downfall against Isildur. Finally but not least Peter Jackson manages to make the Ring itself a character of the film. What I mean by that is (like in the book) its presence and the effect it has on man, elf, dwarf, and hobbit is awesome. Very well done.
The special effects of the film overall were incredible. There were a few scenes here and there that didn’t look quite right but they still had the feel of a fantasy film, and there was nothing that jarred you out of the flow of the film. The cinematography of the film was no slouch either. Overall the whole look of the film was stunning.
In short I left the theater in awe. It’s going to be far too long till the DVD comes out, and WAY too long until The Two Towers. I have a feeling after seeing Fellowship of the Ring that once the whole Lord of the Rings trilogy is complete, there will be another famous trilogy that will be totally eclipsed.
This is why I watch movies.
SCORE: 4 Stars
All things considered, The Fellowship of the Ring is the best adaptation of a novel I have ever seen. Director Peter Jackson and crew deserve accolades (i.e. Oscar nominations) for creating an uncanny, cinematic clone of J.R.R. Tolkien's source material.
Occasionally, a movie surpasses the author's original work. The Godfather and Jaws are examples. Never mind that Mario Puzo and Peter Benchley penned fine best sellers; it took auteur directors like Francis Ford Coppola and Stephen Spielberg to turn entertaining summer reading into film greatness.
Other books transformed into movies are more like a tie. Ira Levin wrote a damn original story called
Rosemary's Baby. Yet, brilliant director Roman Polanski and vulnerable actress Mia Farrow make it tough for me to decide which is better. Likewise, Stephen King's The Shining was given excellent silver screen treatment by the late Stanley Kubrick.
And, let's not forget Harry Potter. I haven't read the Potter novel, but I gave a maximum rating for the film. The Potter movie is ideal for kids and fun for adults, but lacks the emotional complexity of Jackson's masterpiece.
Peter Jackson's The Fellowship of the Ring surpasses all of these adaptations because it is the most "unfilmable" film of its kind. Like an Olympic diver's routine, the movie must be judged on a difficulty rating.
Jackson's film could not have been made ten years ago. The CGI effects that make Gandalf (Ian McKellen) appear four feet taller than Frodo (Elijah Wood) simply didn't exist. But, effects are not what makes The Fellowship of the Ring one of the best pictures of all time. Instead, it is Jackson's overall recreation of Tolkien's original vision that is extraordinary.
First of all, Jackson captures the tone of Tolkien. The characters range from ultra-pure to outright betrayers and every layer in-between.
The look of the film mirrors the tone. We have the brightness and open green fields of The Shire juxtaposed by the stifling, claustrophobic Mines of Moria. This is one of those occasions where art directors and cinematographers and costume designers, etc. deserve full credit for their work. Yet, like the man who receives an Oscar, I don't have time here to praise everyone: thirteen producers (is that a record?), Cinematographer Andrew Lesnie, five Art Directors, four set directors, two costume designers, eight members of the makeup department, five casting directors, original music by Howard Shore and songs by Enya (no less).
Still, Jackson's vision is limited by the ability of his actors. No fear. I can't say enough about "The Fellowship." Ian McKellen is Oscar caliber as Gandalf. My favorite character from the novels is portrayed by a British Shakespearean actor capable of registering sternness and compassion in equal doses. McKellen's old, craggy face is as comforting as a soft pair of slippers, but never think him senile. As Frodo the "ring-bearer," Elijah Wood is as equally well cast as McKellen. Likewise, Legolas (Orlando Bloom) and Aragorn (Viggo Mortensen) seem to leap off Tolkien's page onto celluloid.
My final argument for The Fellowship as one of the all-time greats resides in the film's action sequences. The battle scenes are "terrific" (in the true sense of the word). I remember vividly a brief moment worthy of anything Spielberg ever filmed: Legolas lets three arrows fly in the space of three seconds. It's just one example of technically marvelous filmmaking where the sound effects and the acting and the editing make it all seem believable. There are many such action scenes in The Fellowship of the Ring.
To try and describe these scenes in writing is superfluous in the wake of J.R.R Tolkien and his capable admirer: Peter Jackson.