Action Movie Friday: Lord of the Rings, The Fellowship of the Ring

It is time for Action Movie Friday, where I treat an action movie like an action movie and not like a drama and stuff. All movie reviews are subjective and while I may like something, you might think it’s shit, and vice versa!

Title: Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring
MPAA Rating: PG-13
Release: 2001
Genre: action, adventure, fantasy
Starring: Sean Astin, Sean Bean, Cate Blanchett, Orlando Bloom, Billy Boyd, Ian Holm, Christopher Lee, Ian McKellen, Dominic Monaghan, Viggo Mortensen, Craig Parker, Liv Tyler, David Weatherley, Hugo Weaving, Elijah Wood
Director: Peter Jackson
Writer: Fran Walsh, Philippa Boyens, Peter Jackson and JRR Tolkien (books)
Distributor: New Line Cinema
Budget: $109 Million
Box Office: $887 Million

Rotten Tomatoes Rating: 91%

Gingersnaps Rating: Five Cookies!

Summary:

Young Frodo Baggins has inherited the estate of his Uncle Bilbo Baggins, including a very peculiar magic ring that turns the wearer invisible. But this ring is not as innocent as it seems. It is a ring of power, the ring of power. Long ago, a great sorcerer forged the ring in order to conquer all of Middle Earth and enslave its peoples. Now Frodo must embark on a long journey to destroy the ring, accompanied by eight companions. And Frodo fears that this will be no there and back again journey and that all in this Fellowship of the Ring aren’t what they claim to be, true and faithful companions.

Review:

Once again, I simply can’t be completely unbiased about the Lord of the Rings movies. There are parts of them that make me cry from pure nostalgia. Honestly, part of me wanted to write for a review: “Love this, will watch over and over, five cookies” and be done with it. I am restraining myself.

All right, since I’m watching the movies in book order instead of production order, the last time we were in Middle Earth, Bilbo had returned home to the Shire from a most unhobbitlike adventure. And on his adventure, he’d acquired a few items, a magical ring, an elven dagger, a dwarven chain mail shirt and an acorn. It’s been sixty years since his return, and he’s adopted a young nephew to be his heir and his oak tree has grown huge. In fact, he’s about to celebrate his 111th birthday with a fabulous party after which he intends to disappear, leaving everything to his nephew, Frodo, including the Ring.

I’ve read the books several times and so tend to compare the movies to them. There are not completely faithful adaptations of the books. Much is truncated for time, and little note is made of how much time actually passes between events. It’s a three hour long movie and they still had to massively edit. In some ways, it made the story tighter as in the books, Tolkien tended to hold information close until the person was available to Frodo to reveal it. In the movie, they don’t need to hold to such conventions and can show things that are happening as they are happening.

This creates more tension than there was in the books. In the books, Frodo and Sam wander the countryside for a while, meet some elves, get lost, meet up with their friends, wander some more, get almost eaten by a willow, meet Tom Bombadil, almost get eaten by Barrowhites and then finally make it to their destination. Here we cut that all out in order to ramp up how dangerous the black riders are and ignore how silly elves can be.

They left in the poignant moments which give the movie emotional heft. (This is not at all helped by the score. Howard Shore did an amazing job.)

So, I enjoy this version very much. If there was only one thing I wished, I wish that Hugo Weaving had been settled a little more into the role of Elrond. Half the time I feel like I’m watching Hugo Weaving trying to play an aloof Elven Lord and instead being Hugo Weaving and the other half the time he finally does relax into it and be the character. But it’s not such a huge deal to me that I’ll subtract any bites from the cookie. Elrond is a difficult role. And any deficiencies on Hugo Weavings part are more than made up for by the nuanced portrayal of Gandalf by Ian McKellen. One cookie.

Once again, in medieval movies, explosions are truly hard to come by. However, there were some awesome fireworks by Gandalf, the firework of the dragon was particularly well done to make one sit up and take notice. One cookie.

There is a small fight scene with Aragorn versus the Nazgul on Weathertop, but the fight scenes don’t really take shape until close to the end of the movie. They are entertaining, Aragorn setting Nazgul on fire and then later taking on a lot of Uruk Hai on his own. Legolas uses his bow and knives to good effect, but it is obvious that they don’t really start thinking on how to use him until The Two Towers. Boromir’s fight scene is heart wrenching. So, one cookie.

There are two women in this movie, Arwen and Galadriel. Arwen shows up in what was in the books the role of Glorfindel. This is a greatly expanded role than what she had in the book. Already, that is a point in Jackson’s favor. She councils Aragorn to go on this journey and has more faith in his nobility and good heart than Aragorn has in himself. She shows courage when she insists on taking Frodo to Rivendell on her horse rather than Aragorn. (She has a point. She’s lighter than he is.) Would have it been interesting to see her go on this quest with Aragorn? Well, yes. But everything else insides me winces, due to the fact having both of them go would just not have been a good idea. Issues with being royals. Plus, Aragorn had something to prove to himself. Arwen trusted him already. He needed to learn to trust himself. (The man was over sixty. It was time he figured this out.) So, while she’s a love interest. Arwen isn’t delegated to the damsel in distress role.

Galadriel, we know from the Hobbit movies, has retired to Lothlorien to rest after pushing Sauron out of Dul Goldor. She used much of her power to accomplish that feat. However, she is still a powerful elf. In the Fellowship of the Ring, Galadriel is mostly a mystery, beautiful, with the ability to read thoughts and perhaps to see bits of the future. She is known as the “The Lady of the Wood.” The forest that her home and she are one. She has power to make all respect her. Once again, she is not a love interest, a damsel in distress or overly sexualized. So, a cookie.

New Zealand is beautiful and an enormous amount of love and attention went into sets and costumes and props. The entire movie has held up fairly well in the 15 years since it was made. I can’t say more than I already said. One cookie.

The Fellowship of the Ring certainly deserved every accolade it has received. It is a tense and thrilling start to an incredible adventure based upon a set of beloved books. Five cookies.

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