The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring, Reviewed by Gash
You know you go to the cinema, there are usually a few people who eat, talk, and generally make noise? When I went to The Lord of the Rings, not one person spoke at all throughout the entire 3 and a quarter hours it was shown for. All eyes were on what was happening on the screen.
Fellowship of the Ring works in every aspect, and every aspect is intertwined with the others to create a brilliant movie. I'm not going to recite the plot word for word, but this is one of the best parts of The Lord of the Rings - it doesn't butcher the film to be completely accurate to the text, but it does stick close enough to it to be a fitting tribute, but the hardcore Tolkien addict will be picking holes all the way through it, and that is a shame, because the film works on its own level too. You are literally flung into the action headfirst.
The casting of The Lord of the Rings couldn't be better.
Elijah Wood is very comfortable in his role as Frodo, and his preference to portray the ring bearer as the humble hobbit out of his depth rather than the all singing all dancing superhero he well could have been is a wise move. Frodo also shares a great deal of dialogue with Samwise, played by Sean Austin, who also takes to his role quite superbly, and these themes of loyalty between the two are given a great deal of priority by Peter Jackson, which isn't a bad call in any sense.
Ian McKellan... Forget anything else you have seen him in, because the role of Gandalf seems to have been picked specifically for him. He acts the part to perfection, even on some of the minor scenes, such as Bilbo's (thankfully short) birthday party, and he can change the role in an instant (his anger at Peregrin in Moria is the evidence here). His opposite, Christopher Lee, I felt wasn't given enough to do, but what scenes he is in he is convincing, and not too forced at all. The only gripe is the battle he has with Gandalf - a few more Dungeons and Dragons style effects would have been nice there, rather than just falling and spinning that we actually see.
Sean Bean as Boromir is surprisingly given a lot of screen time, probably because he won't be appearing in the next two films. His role could've been approached in several ways, but Bean does it best -- he uses all of them. His final moments at the end of the film with Aragorn are magnificent, tear jerking stuff. Aragorn himself is not as comfortable as he could be, although his character makes probably one of the best entrances of any character in any movie to date - he is sat in the Prancing Pony inn, cowled and hooded, and we see his eyes in the glow of his pipe (a detail Peter Jackson thankfully decided to include, despite all the PC pressures). Although Viggo Mortensen does a good job, he doesn't make Aragorn quite "dark" enough, especially when Arwen appears so soon after Aragorn's own entrance.
Arwen herself has been criticized by many of the Tolkien die-hards. In the film, it is Arwen who crosses Ford of Bruinen, not Glorfindel, but given just how little Arwen is in the film, it isn't exactly a desperately bad move on the part of Peter Jackson. Purists, will however gripe, and that is sad. Liv Tyler unfortunately is the weak link on the cast, but given that the character itself can never be fully explored in any real depth, she does a good job. The same goes for the other big female, Galadriel. She seems a lot more of a darker character than in the fairytale books, indeed the whole film is more gritty than Tolkien's work, but she almost turns to total evil, when she is tempted by the ring, and she pulls off this scene brilliantly. Her character would have been a whole lot less without it.
John Rhys Davies and Orlando Bloom are rarely apart, and their role is a bit too in the vein of sidekick for my liking, although if you look in the text it is not too far from the truth. John Rhys Davies does have some good dialogue in Moria however, and he is certainly better than Dungeons and Dragons feeble attempt at portraying a dwarf. Orlando Bloom as Legolas could've been explored further, but he is the keystone for the fight scenes.
The actual ring is handled excellently, and it is almost a living thing in itself, the way each of the characters is tempted by it at some point in the film, and Bilbo's obsession with it is handled to perfection, as is Boromir's and Galadriel's.
The landscapes are a great interpretation of Middle-Earth, and also an excellent trailer for New Zealand. A large pat on the back has to go to the special effects team as well, as they did a brilliant job from the animation of the Cave Troll and Balrog to the statues on the river and the amazing rendition of Mount Doom. Not only does this add to the feel of the film, but the make-up department has done a brilliant job as well, and at moments you forget that people don't naturally grow pointy ears. The hairy hobbit's feet feel very natural, and the orcs and goblins move seamlessly, although they do look more at home in Night of the Living Dead than Middle-Earth.
The music is a little weak in places (a bit too Titanic-esque) but the film wouldn't be the same without it really, and where there is dialogue, the music doesn't interfere at all.
The fight scenes are spectacular, and hats off to whoever choreographed them. Not since the days of Errol Flynn has a sword fight been produced as well as this, and Gimli with his axe and Legolas with his bow prove an excellent mix. Not only that, but the full scale battle at the start is similar in vein to Henry V. Sauron immediately springs to mind, when he swings his mace soldiers are sent flying into the air.
Overall, it certainly surpasses anything of this year. Those of you who would cry about Arwen and the other inaccuracies need to really get some kind of life - the film is a masterpiece and should be given respect as such. Any omissions are there for a reason. Just think, what would be the point in going to see an exact interpretation of the book? Peter Jackson excels at what he has done with The Lord of the Rings - he has succeeded in taking the greatest literary piece of the 20th century and turning it into a great film, which does not carry any of the Hollywood PC-ness or glamour it may well could have done.
Sorcerer's Place rating: 5/5