In anticipation of The Hobbit, I will be reviewing each installment of the marvelous Lord of The Rings trilogy, starting here:

This one’s a Must-see!

A cinematic milestone; infinitely impressive

In my reviews of The Dark Crystal and The Abyss, I’m pretty sure I mentioned that movies that require an unimagainable amount of work in terms of special effects, sets and costumes are pretty much extinct at this point, as practically everyhing is done with computers nowadays and we always know how it’s done. How, do I wonder, could I think that and forget about The Lord of The Rings?

The fellowship, ready to simply walk into Mordor. (The eagles were on vacation at the time, so you know…)

This here is a film that requires no introduction, as I think all of you have already seen it. If you haven’t, well, then you need to stop reading this right away, sit your ass down and watch it!

Based, obviously, on the first book in J.R.R Tolkien‘s classic trilogy, The Fellowship of The Ring brings us to Middle Earth, a world often threatened by the evil forces of Sauron (Sala Baker). But during a battle against evles and men that cost him his physical form, he lost a powerful and evil ring that contained most of his power to a man of Gondor, Isildur (Harry Sinclair). Isildur, refusing to destroy the ring after its narcotic powers seduces him beyond help, instead lost it to a deformed creature named Gollum (Andy Serkis), who himself had it stolen by an innocent and very short person, lost inside Gollum’s caves – a hobbit, to be precise. Bilbo Baggins (Ian Holm).

Sixty years after finding this strange, powerful ring Bilbo still resides in Hobbiton, the Shire, but departs after a wizard named Gandalf (Ian McKellen) finds out that he has the evil ring in his possession. This means that Bilbo’s nephew Frodo (Elijah Wood) now bears the ring that once belonged to the dark lord of Mordor and he is asked by Gandalf to bring the ring to Rivendell, before Sauron’s ringwraiths, the Nâzgul, find and destroy him. Alongside his friend Sam (Sean Astin) and plucky comic reliefs Merry and Pippin (Dominic Monaghan and Billy Boyd), the little hobbit begins his great journey and soon has to volunteer as the one to bring the ring back to the fiery pit from whence it came, Mount Doom.

He and his hobbit companions are eventually joined by a ranger named Aragorn (Viggo Mortensen), whose royal blood and relation to none other than Isildur himself he’d rather not bring up, as well as a quick and stoic Elf named Legolas (Orlando Bloom), a grumpy dwarf named Gimli (John-Rhys Davies), a prince of Gondor named Boromir (Sean Bean) and of course, Gandalf. Together they make up the Fellowship of the Ring and from Rivendell they start their march towards Mordor. With a left turn, to be exact.

Thwarting the fellowship are Sauron’s army of Orcs, the Nâzgul and Sauron’s underling, the evil wizard Saruman (Christopher Lee), once a friend of Gandalf. His army of Uruk-hai – modified Orcs, created from Saruman’s twisted experiments – are soon on the fellowship’s tale. They also encounter Aragorn’s love interest, the Elf lady Arwen (Liv Tyler), her father Elrond (Hugo Weaving), who was there when Sauron fell and the ring was lost, an ancient Elf queen named Galadriel (Cate Blanchett), some goblins, a fire-breathing monstrosity known as the Balrog and of course, Gollum. But he’s only seen follwoing them in the Special Edition, if I’m not mistaken.

The direction is by Peter Jackson and I’ve reached the conclusion that it is, in every way, scientifically impossible for anyone, no matter how divinely gifted, to think of a more pitch perfect way to adapt J.R.R Tolkien’s The Lord of The Rings to the big screen than Jackson’s way. The casting, costumes, music, characters, sets and imagery – his enormous team nailed it, all of it! The insane amount of work put into getting every detail, every effect, every camera trick, every piece of armor and every bit of mythology as right as possible is work well worth the time.

The actors are brilliantly selected and they play their part beautifully. Elijah Wood’s Frodo is a lovable protagonist, Astin makes for a lovely sidekick, Mortensen is a fantastic Aragorn, Christopher Lee is as menacing a villain as ever and as for McKellen’s performance as Gandalf, well, let’s just say that there’s a reason he has become the punchline to a multitude of forced meme-jokes.

Dreaded wizard Saruman, with one of his first Uruk-hai.

The music by Howard Shore is equally superb and it compliments the imagery well. As most of you know, Middle Earth is played by New Zealand and it gives us a look at some truly breathtaking landscapes. I just don’t know what else to say than stating that Mr. Jackson really knew what he was doing with this one. But let’s not solely focus on the physical stuff, like sets and make-up, shall we? The CGI too is damned impressive, but this is only warming up for the first really good look at Gollum in the next film. Trust me, the films only get even more fantastic from here.

Oh, you can act as if  Harry Potter and Twilight are better films; you can obsess over those geeky franchises, or perhaps others, all you wish; but it is the incomprehehnsible amounts of effort and work that Peter Jackson, his giant crew, his humongous cast and countless other human beings put into these films that – I’m sorry – simply makes them superior movies, not only to the films of the franchises I’ve mentioned, but to most of the other films I’ve seen during the entire span of my life. There has seldom been this much attention to detail in the world of filmmaking. Will this magnitude of effort be topped? Well, we’ll see what The Hobbit brings us this December.

Great characters, great drama, great effects, great humour, great music, great movie! No matter how much I go on, I feel as if I don’t praise this film enough. I suppose I will conclude by saying this: The Fellowship of The Ring and its sequels need to last forever, because they are films that deserve to be remembered as some of man kind’s greatest creations. Calling this film a masterpiece is nowhere near enough.

5/5 whatever

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