The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring (Extended) (2001)
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One of the most amazing movies of all time.
Pure 3h48min of glory!
Long ago, in the years after the publication of The Hobbit, J.R.R. Tolkien wrote a three-part story titled The Lord of the Rings, which after 15 years of writing was published to critical acclaim. But few now live who remember that time. For half-a-century, the story was considered "unfilmable" by studios and personnel alike. Tolkien eventually passed on, and after two weird-animated movies, it seemed unlikely to ever become a film. But when dinosaurs were able to be created in a computer for Jurassic Park, they knew it was time. Like The Hobbit, it began in a hole in the ground. There, Bilbo Baggins (Ian Holm), during the excitement of his eleventy-first birthday party, tells us about hobbits; plain simple folk, who desire peace and quiet. After lengthy, but essential exposition, we meet Bilbo's nephew-and-heir Frodo Baggins (Elijah Wood) when he confronts Gandalf (Ian McKellen), an old friend of Bilbo's arrived for the birthday party. After a meeting of old friends, we get to the party, where Bilbo disappears suddenly, and leaves his magical ring to Frodo (After some nudging by Gandalf), who is warned never to put it on. After a trip to a distant library, Gandalf returns to the Shire and confirms that the ring is indeed the one described in the very opening of Fellowship of the Ring's exposition preceding Bilbo's (Narrated by Cate Blanchett, whose character comes into play much later): The One Ring of Power. After eavesdropping, Frodo's friend Samwise (Sean Astin) is sent with Frodo to bring the ring to Rivendell, where elves yet dwell. On the way they encounter Frodo's... distant relatives Merry Addock (Dominic Monaghan) and Peregrin "Pippin" Took (Billy Boyd) stealing from a farmer. After an unpleasant encounter with one of the ringwraiths, the hobbits go to the Prancing Pony to meet Gandalf, who is not there because he is being held by the head of his order, Saruman (Christopher Lee). After accidentally putting on the ring, Frodo attracts the attention of a ranger named Strider (Viggo Mortensen) who helps them escape to Rivendell. After another unpleasant encounter with the wraiths, Arwen (Liv Tyler) daughter of Elrond (Hugo Weaving) brings Frodo the rest of the way. From Rivendell, a group of nine is finally assembled: Frodo, Sam, Merry, Pippin, Gandalf, Strider (Real name Aragorn), Gimli the dwarf (John Rhys-Davies), Legolas the wood-elf (Orlando Bloom), and Boromir (Sean Bean) are to travel to Mordor with the ring, and what we get is a far better ensemble cast than the recent adaptation of The Hobbit: One where each one stands out and has a bigger role to play than just being there: Frodo bears the ring, Sam helps Frodo, Merry and Pippin have yet a part to play in The Two Towers, Gandalf guides and performs his magic, Aragorn stands for men who are not corrupted by the ring, Gimli and Legolas fight orcs physically and each other verbally on the pros and cons of dwarves and elves, who do not get along very well, and Boromir stands for men who are corrupted by the ring. Much more diverse and interesting than the 13 dwarves Bilbo traveled with to Erebor. The plot is straightforward, and moves reasonably fast despite the massive length (I watched the extended edition, which is three hours and fifty minutes). However, unlike The Hobbit, everything shown on screen, whether it was first on the silver one or not, advances the plot to some extent, and nothing feels forced. Howard Shore's first soundtrack for Middle-Earth is compelling and memorable, and kept out of places it does not belong. The tone is dark, but there is a glint of humor to be found here-and-there that keeps things fun. Everything is well-placed, like butter scraped over the right amount of bread.
One of the most perfect fantasy films of all time. Epic adventure, scenery, and characters. A great introduction to the trilogy.
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