|Star:||Elijah Wood, Ian McKellen, Viggo Mortensen, Sean Astin, Sean Bean|
|Cert / Year:||PG - PG13 / 2001|
For the Story you should really read the books, but for the MTV generation here goes. In the distant past a number of magic rings were made and given to various races humans, elves, and dwarfs. Sauron, an entity of great evil created another ring, the ring of power, which had the ability to control all of the others. He was defeated in a great battle but the ring was lost. Many years later the evil is returning to the land and the ring is now in the possession of a gentle Hobbit called Frodo Baggins. Gandalf the wizard delivers Frodo a dire warning that the ring is evil and must be destroyed or all races will be consumed by the Sauronís forces that even now search for the ring. A small band of heroes are assembled for this quest: the hobbits Frodo, Sam, Pippin and Merry, Legolas the elf, Gimli the dwarf, humans Aragorn and Boromir and the wizard Gandalf. Together they are the fellowship of the ring.
Trying to summarise the complex and rich plot of this film in one paragraph is a difficult task. Much like trying to summarise the superb JRR Tolkien novel into a film, and this was always going to be the key question facing this film. Could they do it without losing what the book was all about? I am more than happy to say that Peter Jackson and his writing team has done a brilliant job. I know that there are always purists who will undoubtedly sit there saying this is missing and that is wrong, but hey this is a movie you have to make changes to make it work within a limited time frame. This film version of the first book of the Lord of the Rings trilogy captures the story within the book perfectly and retains an amazing amount of the books plot, characters, and locations. I for one think the book takes far to much time to get going and in some ways actually prefer the film (thatís annoyed many Tolkien fans then).
The Lord of the Rings books were a major milestone in the fantasy genre. They provided a complete universe of characters; races and monsters all bound together in a mapped out kingdom. To realise this on screen was going to be a challenge, mainly due to the expectations of nearly everyone who has read the books and the complexity of what was described in them. Well thanks to some clever use of models, fantastic sets and cutting edge CGI the end result is simply stunning. Forget Star Wars this is light years ahead. From the beauty of Rivendell to the dark halls of the Mines or Moria (and the Teletubby land that is Hobbiton ;-) Lord of the Rings is jaw dropping gorgeous.
The most impressive effect in the film are not the sets or the CGI battles but the way in which similar height characters are made to look smaller or larger than they are. The humans and elves tower over the Hobbits and the dwarfs even though in real life this is not the case. The overall effect is totally convincing and very impressive. It must have been achieved through some very clever camera work and new methods of CGI.
Of course you need a good cast to do all of this justice luckily we have got one and it is truly international affair. Elijah Wood is a fine leading man (Hobbit?) with strong support from his fellow Hobbits, especially Ian Holm as Bilbo. Ian McKellen is nothing short of excellent as Gandalf and he adds a degree of acting experience and skill for the younger cast members to learn from. Viggo Mortensen is likeable and truly heroic as Aragorn (impressive, as his previous work is not that well known). The bad guys are a generic bunch of Orcs save for their leader Saurmon played buy the ever-superb Christopher Lee. Impressive and commanding his scene presence is distilled malignant evil, and for this sort of role he is unsurpassed. Putting aside my general dislike of Kate Blanchet and the strange voice that Liv Tyler used the cast are of top quality and could not have been better chosen. My only concern (and it is only a small concern) is that some actors have been rather typecast. You just know Christopher Lee is going to be the bad guy, and to never trust Sean Bean, in the end this does detract from the impact of the story in a small way.
There is so much more I could say about this film (the fantastic battle scenes, the great Orc makeup). Letís just say that the story is of course brilliant. Peter Jackson's direction is impressive in both the scope of vision and its execution. The cast is excellent. The effects are the best seen to date and are real cutting edge stuff. Forget the new Star Wars trilogy this film has moved the goal posts far beyond George Lucas's reach. In short this film is a classic. Stop reading this and go and watch it, and if you've watched it before go and watch it again.
|Dolby Digital 5.1 THX||Amazing a real workout for the sound system|
|The Main Feature|
|Preview making of featurette for the sequel The Two Towers|
|Houghton Mifflin Welcomes You To Middle Earth|
|Quest For the Ring: Fox Network TV Special|
|The Path To Middle Earth: Sci-Fi Channel TV Special|
|Various other small featurrettes|
|Various Trailers||This is a fairly good two disc set, so why the low score. Because this is the worst example of distributors screwing the consumer ever, don't buy this disc as a better four disc set is due in a couple of months. There is no excuse for this crass commercialisation.|