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The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring (2001)

  Directed by: Peter Jackson
Written by: Phillipa Boyens, Peter Jackson, J.R.R. Tolkien, Fran Walsh
Starring: Sean Astin, Sean Bean, Cate Blanchett, Orlando Bloom, Billy Boyd, Ian Holm, Christopher Lee, Ian McKellen, Dominic Monaghan, Viggo Mortensen, John Rhys-Davies, Liv Tyler, Hugo Weaving, Elijah Wood
Links: The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring on the IMDb, Official site, Buy on Video, Buy on DVD, Buy the Book, Buy the Soundtrack
Genre: Drama

This movie gets: 8.67 (3 ratings) Ranking: Ranked equal 28th of 187 movies (2 ratings minimum; see full chart)

The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring (2001) is also mentioned in pearly's review of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (2005), mino's review of Darkness of the Skeleton (2003), pearly's review of Hero (2002), mino's review of Sweet Home Alabama (2002), pearly's review of The Incredibles (2004), em_fiction's review of The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King (2003), mino's review of The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King (2003), pearly's review of The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers (2002) and mino's review of The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers (2002).

"Just because you CAN whinge, doesn't mean you SHOULD." - a review by mino

Now, clearly, I'm doing this all backwards, having reviewed The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers (2002) before I reviewed this, the first in the series. What's more, I reviewed the theatrical release of Two Towers, but I'm now going to go on and review the extended version of Fellowship of the Ring. Confusing, I know, but we'll work through it.

Many of the points I could raise here — the general theory behind the accuracy vs. pacing debate, the arguments for and against Peter Jackson's plot changes — I've already covered in that review, so that might help keep this one short. In summary, even though I'm a huge fan of the original books, I understand why Jackson has made the ‘tweaks’ he has made to the movies.

Fellowship is a great introduction to the saga the is Lord of the Rings: a couple of bits and pieces have been pulled from the start of Towers to make Fellowship into a more complete, standalone movie, and it really is a corker.

Pleasingly seamless special effects and CGI, generally great scriptwriting (though there are a couple of lines which sound rather out-of-place), and whizz-bang stunts and action sequences are all well and good, but two things stand out to make Fellowship a truly great film: the casting, and the pacing.

Now, I'm not really the sort of person who knows much about filmmaking. I sit down, I watch a movie, and I either like it or I don't. However, Fellowship stands out, even to me, as a movie that is just perfectly timed. If there's one argument that could be made against the original books, it's that they were a hard slog, with many pages of possibly very tedious (to some) explanation and backstory. Jackson — especially in this extended edition — has done a superb job of stripping the story back to its bare bones, so as to avoid making a twelve-hour movie, but still keeping it lively, fun, and interesting. There are a couple of parts where you're left thinking ‘OK, that could have been explained a bit more’; but realistically, if he'd done that everywhere possible, I'd still be watching it now. A couple of MacGuffins are used without actually being introduced, which is a little annoying, but otherwise Jackson has done a fantastic job.

Then, there's the casting. Quite a few eyebrows were raised as the casting announcements began to leak out: at Liv Tyler, for example, and probably Elijah Wood as Frodo. However, having seen both of the first two movies twice, it's hard to see how they could have done a better job casting. Virtually no-one is miscast, and given how attached people are to these characters, that's no mean feat.

If I was in the mood to criticise, I would probably complain that the one part of the movie that I thought seemed to be rather awkward was one of the most important and well-looked-forward-to (to coin a phrase), the party's visit with the Elf-queen Galadriel (Cate Blanchett). Much though I love Blanchett, I think she takes the ‘ice queen’ thing a little too far, and rather than playing Galadriel as an absolute enchantress, she comes across more as someone doped off her eyeballs on Quaaludes. Also, the special effects applied to Galadriel when she briefly covets the Ring are the most annoying and out-of-place special effects I've seen in a long time. Also, the fact that Galadriel is so beautiful and charming is kind of lost: one minute, Gimli (John Rhys-Davies) hates all Elves, the next he's all over her, with no explanation as to why. All this combines to make even the extended version of this section a little bit disappointing.

Even so, the extended edition really is an improvement over the original. Assuming you don't have some medical condition that prevents you from sitting in one spot for three-and-a-half hours, you should take the time to see it. The extra half-hour makes all the difference, and I think those purists who were displeased the first time around will be much more impressed: and rightly so. If not: well, personally, I think that arguing over essentially minor plot points, character development issues, and omitted scenes, when Jackson has created the most lush, inviting, awe-inspiring epic I've seen in a long time, is just churlish. Get over it.

mino gives this movie 10 out of 10.
Review created on Thu 18 Dec 2003

"Give me more!" - a review by pearly

If you don't know anything about The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring (which, in the interests of brevity I will, from now on, refer to as Fellowship), then you must be living under one extraordinarily large rock. Which probably means that if you haven't seen it, you don't care, and you never intend to. And if you have seen it, you've already made up your mind about it. So I guess my review is pretty irrelevant in the scheme of things, but that suits me just fine, because it means I can write whatever the hell I want.

The first thing to do when reviewing this movie is to make it clear which version you were watching. I've seen both the theatrical release, and the extended version, but most recently I saw the extended version, so that's the one I'll be chattin' about here (yes, I was one of the nutcases that bought the super-dooper I've spent so much money on this DVD that I can't afford to buy my lunch version).

Fellowship the movie is an adaptation of the first part of the The Lord of the Rings trilogy, which was painstakingly written by J.R.R. Tolkien. The movie adaptation stays pretty true to the book for the most part. Sure, it's not as though it's word-for-word - the events have been switched around and cut down, but it isn't as though Pippin has four arms in the movie in order to add some interest. The most noticeable difference is probably right up-front where Frodo's journey begins a lot quicker than it does in the book, and he is almost immediately at Bree. The end result though, is that the main noticeable differences between book and movie are omissions as opposed to changes. I think just about every fan of the books would have loved to have seen the character of Tom Bombadil make it into the movie, but given that the movie is 3 and a half hours without him, it just wasn't going to be possible.

Therefore, I'm going on record to say that the worst change that Peter Jackson and co. made when putting the script together was that they changed around all the storylines involving Arwen (played by Liv Tyler). Her character has been really beefed-up, and while I can understand that they were probably just trying to create a movie that actually had some females in it for more than 4 seconds, it just makes me mad whenever I think about it (and this coming from a girl - the sex which, I assume, the changes were made for in the first place). I mean, on the poster, her photo is bigger than Samwise's is! That's just wrong.

Okay, I've calmed down a bit now. What you can expect from this point of my review onwards is pretty much a series of statements about how great this movie is. Just warning you up-front, so that if you're not interested in that, you don't have to bother reading any further.

Yeah, so, like, wasn't this movie, like, just so, like, awesome and stuff? Ahem. Here's a bunch of things that I liked about this movie:

  • The emotional journey. It sounds pretty lame when you put it like that, but lots of the highs and lows that I felt when I read the book were there in the movie too. I was sitting there barracking for the goodies and booing the baddies, and felt sick in my stomach when the baddies got one up on the fellowship.
  • The effects. I'm not the kind of person who is impressed by special effects, in fact, I think most movies that are popular almost solely because of their effects are boring. The thing about Fellowship though, is that the effects are of a different breed. The kind of thing I'm talking about is the way that they managed to get you to believe that Elijah Wood is actually hobbit-size and heaps shorter than Ian McKellen, and the way that this trickery is sustained throughout the film.
  • The sets and costumes. It really is like all these things you've read about are coming to life. Everything looks just so, and you can tell that every minuscule detail has been thought about for a lengthy period of time (and probably worked and re-worked to near perfection). Hobbiton is amazing, and leaves me longing to pop over there for a visit. But if I couldn't visit there, I'd settle for Rivendell or Lothlorien - big treehouse cities. Cate Blanchett looks simply stunning, Gandalf's hat is even better than I imagined, and John Rhys-Davies is a man (dwarf) transformed.
  • The acting. Elijah Wood was a superb choice for Frodo. I must admit that I was a little worried about Sean Astin and Viggo Mortensen playing Sam and Aragorn (respectively) initially - both because these are two of my favourite characters in the book, and particularly because Astin just seemed oddly cast, and Mortensen didn't seem as charming as I had imagined him. They both managed to turn me around though - particularly Mortensen (and even more so after having watched the special features on the DVD). The Aussies (Cate Blanchett and Hugo Weaving) put in two of the best smaller performances in the whole movie (not that I'm biased in any way). Also, Ian McKellen comes across as very wise indeed, Christopher Lee is pure evil, and the other two hobbits in the fellowship (Dominic Monaghan and Billy Boyd) are heaps of fun.
  • The extra scenes. Doing a comparison between the two versions, the best thing about the extended version is that the audience get to linger with most of the scenes for just a little longer. The most obvious addition is the gift-giving scene, where Galadriel hands out little treats to each of the fellowship (Samwise = funny). It's scenes like these which will make the next movie flow better, as more of the past has been spelled out (though it does leave me wondering how things that were not in the original version will be explained in the next film - e.g. the elven rope that Samwise receives from Galadriel).

So, with all this praise, why am I not giving Fellowship a 10 out of 10? There are a couple of reasons. Firstly, in the event that the second or third films (and let me just say right now that I doubt it'll be the second) far eclipse the first, I want some moving room. But, more importantly, I don't think that Fellowship was close enough to perfect to warrant the big 10. One of the reasons for this is that I feel like a fair few of the members of the fellowship got skimmed over in order to lengthen other parts of the story which weren't as important - the fellowship are, after all, at the crux of the thing. Gimli hardly gets a look in, and Sam and Frodo's relationship is not cemented enough (and Sam's friendship with Bill, for that matter), which leaves Jackson behind the eight-ball for their partnership ahead. I've already mentioned my distaste at Arwen's fighting abilities (Eowyn's the only chick who can fight, dammit!).

But I can't deny it. I love this movie. I absolutely consumed the special features on the DVD, and I'm hoping to be there on opening day for The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers (2002). You should enjoy this film, even if you haven't read the books (but be sure to remember that there's more to come, so the ending isn't extraordinarily satifsying in itself - it just makes you want to see the next bit). Just give yourself a few quiet hours, a comfy chair, and some tasty snacks on hand - and make sure you're watching the extended version, especially if you're a fan of the book. And if you don't enjoy it, I pity you.

pearly gives this movie 9 out of 10.
Review created on Sun 1 Dec 2002

Movie review statistics

Ratings given without reviews:

Number of reviews: 2
Number of ratings: 3
Average rating: 8.67
Lowest rating: 7 (by em_fiction)
Highest rating: 10 (by mino)
Rating Percentage

Reader comments

  1. I like the first one

    Rating given: 10

    A comment from Summer Dufer on Mon 09 Feb 2004 09:57 #

  2. This is great!

    Rating given: 10

    A comment from evannah on Wed 22 Sep 2004 12:51 #

  3. Brilliant adaption of Tolkien's well known trilogy. Full of drama, excitement, adventure and an excellent cast!

    Rating given: 10

    A comment from Lisa on Fri 07 Jan 2005 11:53 #

  4. Good starter, explains a lot, love it

    Rating given: 10

    A comment from hdsfjhkryui on Fri 07 Jan 2005 12:00 #

Those who have commented give this movie: 10.00 (4 ratings)

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