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The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring

Peter Jackson's award-winning 2001 film adaptation of the first volume of Tolkien's epic fantasy novel.

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Frodo Lives on the Silver Screen! or: One Film to Rule Them All

  • Jan 7, 2002
Pros: Way, way, way too many for me to list here

Cons: No Tom Bombadil?!

The Bottom Line: A fantastic book has been made into an equally fantastic movie. It will capture you and keep you in middle-earth until the end.

Plot Details: This opinion reveals minor details about the movie's plot.

Despite all the other crap that was released in the theaters this year, it certainly has been quite a year for fantasy films, a genre which seems to have dried up some time ago. First, we were given a cinematic reproduction of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone. But while Potter was certainly a worthwhile translation of the book and made a solid, entertaining movie, the film's hammed-up performances and lack of drama, suspence and humor made immersion next to impossible-the special effects wound up telling the story, and you never forgot that you were watching a movie.

Now we have an adaptation of J.R.R. Tolkien's Lord of the Rings making the fantasy knockout punch, and does it ever meet the ridiculously high expectations that the audiences, Tolkien's fans in particular, had for it. It even surpasses them, correcting the problems that Potter's execution had. But most importantly, it leaves you with the feeling that you just saw something special, something that will stay with you for years to come. I would like to go on record right now and say that this is the best film I have had the pleasure of reviewing since I joined Epinions.

Lord of the Rings is a spectacle to behold, for sure. Like Potter, it produces incredible visual effects, from the fireworks display in the beginning to the end, when the fellowship passes through a narrow canal with two giant statues of warriors as the walls. Unlike Potter, though, Lord of the Rings actually lets the visuals take a step back sometimes to let the characters tell the story, and the result is a wholly immersive experience that drags you in kicking and screaming at the beginning and doesn't let go until it's done.

It starts out by giving us a quick history of the One Ring, from it's creation by the dark king Sauron to it's journey into the unwitting hands of Bilbo Baggins. From there, we are whisked off to the town of Hobbiton some 60 years later, when Bilbo is about to have his "eleventy-first" birthday party. While at the party, Bilbo pulls a dissapearing act as a joke, using the power of the One Ring to turn invisible and quickly run back to his hole. After deciding to really go off on a journey somewhere to finish a book that he's working on, he leaves the ring behind, bequeathing his hole and everything inside it-One Ring included-to his nephew Frodo. In one of the smartest casting moves Hollywood has ever used, saucer-eyed actor Elijah Wood plays Frodo, completely unsuspecting of the mysterious ring that he inherited. Wood plays Frodo pitch perfect, using an accent and those giant eyes of his to full effect, and he is painfully believable as we watch him turn from the happy little hobbit to a character who is too scared to go on, but knows he has to because all the good in middle-earth rests on him.

So Frodo sets out, his friend Sam (Sean Astin) in tow, to destroy the ring, and the special effects and spectacular scenery (shot in New Zealand) kick into overdrive. We watch on the edge of our seats and fingernails in our mouths as Frodo, Sam and late additions Merry and Pippin are hunted down by a Ringwraith, a dark creature in a hood that is niether dead nor alive. The Ringwraiths in the film are truly terrifying. They are these massive cloaks with seemingly nothing under the hoods, and their horses add to the terror that they bring, as they let out whinnies that fill the night. We watch with excitment when Gandalf escapes from his prison, we resist the temptation to yell out war cries at the screen as the fellowship is attacked by orcs. And some of us may even cry at the fall of Gandalf. These scenes are all spectacular because they successfully combine visual artwork with the emotional impact brought to the characters by the brilliant cast.

Ah, the cast. Enough good things have been said about them on this website already to fill several books, but it still doesn't do them justice. But since time prevents me from rambling on about every one of them, I can only mention a few of my favorites. Elijah Wood plays Frodo, and I mentioned him a couple of paragraphs ago, so there's no need to mention him again. Aside from him, the most important character is the great wizard Gandalf, played by the legendary Ian McKellan, who plays his character with turns that are both comic and tragic, stealing many of the scenes he's in, yet never going out of character to go either way. The underrated Viggo Mortenson plays Aragorn the Ranger, aka Strider, with a mystique that somehow comes off as warm and friendly. Hopefully, this film will be Mortenson's breakout role, and maybe he will even recieve an Oscar nomination for it. Another underrated actor, John Rhys-Davies (you may know him from Raiders of the Lost Ark or as Arturo on the TV series Sliders), plays Gimli, loud, booming voice dominating his performance. And Liv Tyler deserves special mention for proving that she can act if she wants to, portraying Arwen with a flawless accent, even speaking elf convincingly. The chemistry between the cast members perfectly reflects the tight friendship of the fellowship, as they often go out of their way to protect one another.

Tolkien fans can be assured that all the essential ingrediants that made the books so memorable are all in here, but one thing might still bug them-the complete absence of the character Tom Bombadil, the merry, magical song singing friend of the hobbits who has been around since the beginning of time, and whose powerful magic songs rescue the hobbits on more than one occasion. In fact, the whole section involving the living forest was cut out due to time constraints. But this is not something that should be dwelled on (I didn't), as dwelling on it may keep you in the theater while everyone else is there in middle-earth, laughing at the antics of Merry and Pippin or chearing on Aragorn as he fights an orc leader.

Lord of the Rings was a masterpiece of fantasy as a book, and it is now a masterpiece of fantasy as a movie. Every detail of the book has been replicated so well, it's like the filmmakers opened up your head, pulled out all the images right down to the smallest, most insignificant detail, and ssplashed them all over the silver screen. It is magnificent, and you would be nuts to wait for it to come out on video. You can bet that when the second part is released in the theaters this December, I will be there.


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November 14, 2010
One series I need to really take a minute to put my thoughts on paper. There were too many reviews for this movie franchise that I figured I didn't need to add anything else--your review is a great read! Thanks for sharing and welcome to our little community!
November 14, 2010
Yeah, I find that a common problem with a lot of movies I really want to write about. But I usually just end up writing something up anyway, especially if my viewpoint differs significantly from what others are saying. (Like with Avatar.)
More The Lord of the Rings: The Fel... reviews
review by . November 30, 2010
I just recently saw this movie, and have not yet seen the second or third, but I absolutely love this. This is a pretty much perfect film. There is absolutely nothing wrong with it, it's everything done right. The acting, the story, the visuals, the score, and the epic battle sequences. It's as simple as that.      The performances were all great, especially Elijah Wood as Frodo, Ian McKellen as Gandalf the Grey, and Viggo Mortensen as Aragorn. The other cast did incredibly …
Quick Tip by . May 03, 2011
Still speechless, I've seen THE LORD OF THE RINGS: THE FELLOWSHIP OF THE RING four times now. The film is cinemagic. Its scope is epic. Its delivery is perfect. The acting is unforgettable, and the story is timeless. Director Peter Jackson has created a singular masterpiece that, like CITIZEN KANE, CASABLANCA, and STAR WARS, will inspire hundreds -- if not thousands -- of creative minds to pursue interests in film and writing. His adaptation of the book (note: not a literal translation like …
review by . October 13, 2010
One of the best stories and movies of all time. Just make sure you get the extended edition DVD. The "extra" material should never have been left out of these. Rarely does a movie live up to a book, especially a book which is one of the best of all time. Fellowship of the Ring delivers! Great version of a great story!
review by . June 29, 2010
The first in the epic film trilogy based on Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings, this Fellowship of the Ring is a masterful adaptation of one of the greatest fantasy tales of all time. Lengthy by movie standards, the 2+ hour feature is far too short to offer viewers the full wonder of Tolkien's universe. While this is a fantastic adaptation, nothing can compare to the book itself. Fans should definitely read it.      That being said, there are a few moments when Peter Jackson …
review by . February 01, 2010
posted in Movie Hype
The Lord of the Rings film began filming in 1997 or so, and while it took a long time to get them out there into theathers, they turned out to be well enjoyed films.  The Fellowship of the Ring dropped down near Christmas of 2001.  The marketing campaign for the entire trilogy showcased one thing: This was a big gamble.  Being based off J.R.R. Tolkein's books, there was a huge following that was already behind them.  And with the books being so amazingly well loved, The …
Quick Tip by . July 19, 2010
posted in Movie Hype
One of the greatest adventure films of all time.. it has every great element
Quick Tip by . July 03, 2010
the director is a big lord of the rings fan and int shows in his movie adaptions.
review by . February 04, 2004
posted in Movie Hype
When I went to see this movie with my son I thought I was in for a long snooze. How wrong I was. This movie grabbed me from the start. With amazing cinematography, special effects, acting, and a storyline that is compelling beyond imagining! All this and a group of characters who are kind of like The Justice League of the comics. Don't let the three hours daunt you as it is the easiest three hours you will ever spend! The hardest thing about seeing this movie was that I had to wait almost a year …
review by . August 13, 2002
In the devided land of middle earth, a new force breath's life. A ring of pure power is uncovered. A journey of epic grandeur is begun. You all know and love Lord of the Rings. And how exciting to know in your lifetime we get them brought to life. Filmed within the gorgeous land of New Zealand, no less. Fellowship of the Rings kick's off the trilogy, and sets a new standard for all fantasy films that come in the future. (Sharing that position with Mr. Potter, in my little book of course.) Peter …
review by . August 08, 2002
It is always difficult to translate the Big Screen to the small screen (no matter how good your TV and stereo are) but, in the opinion of this reviewer, the drama of the movie comes across well. Much has been said about the merits of Peter Jackson's adaptation -- and Tolkien fans will be arguing those points for many years to come. But the presentation of this DVD set is just tremendous. The bonus material just whets one's appetite for both the Director's Cut and the next movie.I have one friend …
About the reviewer
Nicholas Croston ()
Hi! I'm here in part to plug my writing and let everyone know that I'm trying to take my work commercial.      Now, what about me? Well, obviously I like to write. I'm … more
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About this movie


The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring is a 2001 fantasy drama film directed by Peter Jackson based on the similarly titled first volume of J. R. R. Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings. Set in Middle-earth, the story tells of the Dark Lord Sauron (Sala Baker), who is seeking the One Ring (Alan Howard voice). The Ring has found its way to the young hobbit Frodo Baggins (Elijah Wood). The fate of Middle-earth hangs in the balance as Frodo and eight companions form the Fellowship of the Ring, and journey to Mount Doom in the land of Mordor: the only place where the Ring can be destroyed.

Released on December 19, 2001, the film was highly acclaimed by critics and fans alike, especially as many of the latter judged it to be sufficiently faithful to the original story. It was a box office success, earning over $870 million worldwide, and the second highest grossing film of 2001 in the U.S. and worldwide (behind Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone) which made it the 5th highest grossing film ever at the time. Today it is the 15th highest-grossing worldwide film of all time. It won four Academy Awards and five BAFTAs, including Best Film and Best Director BAFTA awards. The Special Extended DVD Edition was released on November 12, 2002. In 2007, The Fellowship of the Ring was voted number 50 on the American Film Institute's list of 100 greatest American films. The AFI also voted it the second greatest fantasy film of all time during their AFI's 10 Top 10 ...
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Director: Peter Jackson
Genre: Adventure, Classics, Drama, Fantasy
Release Date: December 19, 2001
MPAA Rating: PG-13
Screen Writer: Peter Jackson
DVD Release Date: August 6, 2002
Runtime: 2hrs 45min
Studio: New Line Cinema, Wingnut Films
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