The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring Reviews
I can't compare the animated film fairly to be honest but I must admit there was always elements of Bakshi's effort that worked so well. There are many elements of this Jackson effort I like also but as usual with so many modern films I do feel the over exaggerated hype simply forced people to adhere to the fact that this film is suppose to be epic.
The start of this film is perfect, everything we see in the Shire is just as you would expect and it looks wonderful. Straight away you can see the immense detail that has been put into the film with the interior sets inside Bilbo's little dwelling (look at the metal framing on the back of his front door). Clothing, decorations, equipment etc...everything within the Shire is warm, cozy and thoroughly inviting to the point that you just wanna up sticks and live there. I still think they took some ideas from 'Willow'.
We all knew what to expect with the look of the characters before hand but you still can't fail to be impressed with the quality of simple things like wigs and little items of clothing such as waistcoats. The plot trundles along nicely and like the 78 animated version its pretty similar in styles and visuals. The journey to Bree and incidents within [i]The Prancing Pony[/i] all look great and have that perfect olde English atmosphere with much ale drinking amongst shady figures.
I enjoyed pretty much everything up to the point where the heroes meet up with the Elves Galadriel and Celeborn. At this point I found myself getting bored, the sequences here were heavy going and pretty dull frankly. Not that I expected anything else but I just felt the plot and interest slip away from me. From this point I was disappointed with what I saw, the film seems to lose a lot of its genuine old world atmosphere, the orcs and especially Uruk-hai looked pretty dreadful and the fight sequences become extremely repetitive.
We know the heroes don't die so you know they will be slicing down the bad guys left right and centre but the fights looked pretty badly choreographed to me with obvious fake fisticuffs going on. The orcs just keep on coming one after another whilst the main heroes merely glance at them with a sword or look at them and they go flying to the ground in screams of agony...hmmm.
I never liked the designs for the orcs either really. They always looked like something from a bad Star Trek episode with silly fake contacts, silly fake teeth and the odd scar across the face. They are a random bunch so the odd one looked OK but I must side with the Bakshi film for this. I always loved how the orcs were in the shadows, faces obscured by darkness only allowing their eerie red eyes to glow through. The 78 animated film was much darker in tone with violence and the orc hordes, Jackson's film never captured that spooky essence for me a tall with either.
This leads me to the effects which a lot was done with CGI. Now this was to be expected of course, you can't really make a film about this fairytale without it. Back in the day CGI was blooming was used in everything but unfortunately it hadn't been fine tuned yet. The result for this film being somewhat sketchy to say the least. Upon release everyone barked on about how great the effects were, I never saw this, to me they were always pretty bad and naturally to this day now look even worse.
You can't be negative about effects on old films but like I said even when I saw this at the cinema it looked dire to me. Where it worked was landscapes, skylines and armies, there are some glorious village/kingdom shots in this film, the odd building/ruin/relic also looked good but the problem came with over the top action set pieces and creatures.
Alongside tonnes of hideously bad bluescreen effects some of the CGI is damn ropy to be honest. Sequences inside the Mines of Moria are easily the worst in the film and look awful, the huge troll the team must fight and the Balrog demon always looked fake. The orc pits surrounding Saruman's castle were another badly realised concept, looking back they really do look like PS2 sequences.
A lot of the action always did look like videogame sequences to me, much like the army battles at the start of the film and in the following sequels. The same issue that CGI had and still does really is the effects tend to look plastic and obvious.
One of the films main assets if you ask me is the attention to detail on errr everything! Jackson has tried to cover all aspects right down to the smallest detail which has to be applauded. The other main asset must be the real location shoots used for various parts of Middle Earth. Far be it from me to say but at times the film felt more of a tourist advert for New Zealand than a film, yep that's me being cynical, but honestly the location work really did expand the Tolkien universe to new heights. Much like Star Wars did with their locations.
Cast wise, well I can't fault this really, every character is well cast and every actor does a good job, nuff said. Hell even the extras for the elves looked perfect just standing there saying nothing but looking so...elf-like.
Something the Bakshi film lacked but this film had was a beautifully smooth ethereal spirituality to it. Jackson captures the mythical almost semi religious tones of the story (mainly through sequences involving the elves and their folklore) and really makes it feel historically believable. All the while you are accompanied by gentle heavenly sounds and the type of music you expect from Clannad or Tangerine Dream, it is in fact Enya on occasion.
I still prefer the Bakshi version for certain aspects but I like this version for others. I don't think this film was quite dark or foreboding enough in various sequences, huge missed chances with the Ringwraiths methinks, and merely having screaming ugly drooling orcs isn't really enough to say its dark n scary. I also loved how the Bakshi film didn't cower away from showing lots of blood, something this film lacked.
First half of the film I love but from the midway point I don't like, simple as that really. It seems to go from a beautiful fable to a daft videogame mashup, think 'Legend' at the start then Conan from the midway point.
I can't rant on about the semi reasonable effects or lack of the odd bits and pieces here and there lets be frank, the film is much more than that. Even though its not a perfect adaptation of the classic tale its pretty darn close and manages to encompass enough adventure and excitement with just the right amount of emotion to thrill. I do think it has been over hyped terribly which is a common problem these days but it is still a solid film, just not as epic as you're led to believe.
No one should ignore the Bakshi animated film either I must say, a glorious piece of work that really does offer a damn good alternative to this film.
If you are wondering why it took me so long to write this review, it is due to me trying to figure out my emotions for this film. On the request of a friend of mine, I decided to buy the original trilogy of novels and reading through them I did. With me having the rich idea of the novels in mind, plus hearing so much about the films, I was curious as to how they would be on the screen. Plus, I had seen the animated film version that comprised of The Fellowship Of The Ring and The Two Towers. So, let's say that, while I tried not to, I had high expectations. Now, where they met? Read on.
The first thing that accrued to me was just how much love and care was put into this film. It was once said by the late Gene Siskel that you can tell how much a director loves people is by the care he shows his film. Jackson must adore people and the fans of these novels because this is an impressive film to look at. From the opening battle scenes that serve as the prologue to the cliff hanger at the end, this film is still mind numbing to me due to me wondering how they were able to afford this film's production.
Then you have the actors. While I will admit that these people did become these characters, there is only one man I want to talk about: Ian McKellen as Gandelf the Gray. Like a lot of people, this wise old sage is my favorite character the entire series due to his wisdom, his sacrifices me makes, plus him just being one of the most spectacular wizard on screen. He was the one I was mostly looking forward to seeing brought to life, and McKellen does so with justice. I heard that he was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor. Watching this performance, I am disappointed that he did not win. He is phenomenal.
Just to make this fast, I will write about Elijah Wood's performance when I review The Return of the King.
With only one things left to say about my reaction to this film, I will say that I am still a little surprise at how much was shoved into the script for the theatrical print. Even more shocked was how much was filmed, but then re-released for the Extended Print (much recommended. more so then the Theatrical). While watching this film, I can imagine how thick the script was and how heart broken Jackson was when he had to chop out some sections that had to be for filmed. Even more on the editing floor for this film's theatrical run. Just, this film flows very smoothly, even though it is ass numbing long (but nothing compared to the epic length of The Return Of The King).
I know I am late with reviewing this film, even more late when seeing this film. But, I think personally it is a good thing I have waited this long. In my life time as of now, I have seen countless fantasy films and I am able to judge how grand a film this is. Now, is this as grand as my all time favorite fantasy film 'Pan's Labyrinth'? No. But, in terms of being a classic, this is the best modern classic and a perfect start for the Battle of Middle Earth.
This is the challenge Peter Jackson was left with in creating the first in his Lord of the Rings trilogy: the collective imagination of literally millions of fans, each one filled with different intricacies and opinions concerning characters, settings, basically everything involved in production design and being a director in general. With such a burden weighing on Jackson's shoulders, no one would have blamed him if he simply curled into the foetal position and sobbed when he actually bagged the role of director. But I'm sure I speak for fans, critics and the entire world when I say that I'm so glad that he didn't.
The first in the sweeping epic of the Lord of the Rings, The Fellowship of the Ring begins with the origin of the one ring; an object created by the dark lord Sauron in order to take over Middle Earth. After a battle sequence or two, we join up with our hero of the piece; Frodo Baggins, a Hobbit from the Shire. After finding out that his Uncle Bilbo's magic ring is in fact the ring in question, Frodo is forced to undertake a journey to Mordor in order to destroy the ring once and for all. A fellowship of nine warriors is formed in order to help Frodo on his journey and the quest begins.
Even the synopsis above comes laden with backstory and explanation. What is a Hobbit? What is a Sauron? What is a Frodo? All these questions can mean that the film can become bogged down with explaining what the exact properties of Hobbit's feet are that they are able to never wear shoes or how exactly the Ringwraiths are able to survive at all. It is a credit to the script that none of this is explained, nor does it feel necessary to be explained. Even for a newcomer to Middle Earth, the escapist factor of the world onscreen is enough to dismiss any disbelief or need to find out how exactly shadow and flame combine to be a Balrog. Not only this, but the script also does a fantastic job of cutting out everything unnecessary in order to keep the storytelling lean. It also manages, while trimming the extra weight (in the form of things like Tom Bombadil), to keep the feeling of wonder that the books are so renknowned for. Many book adaptations can end up being driven by the story alone, allowing no time for the more emotional moments between characters and forgetting entirely to establish connections between them. Not so here, as every member of the fellowship is allowed their moment on the screen, from Boromir to Gimli, and all of them have their own distinct personality.
This personality distinction can also be attributed to the perfectly cast ensemble. Every single character has their perfect corresponding actor to play their onscreen counterpart. J.R.R Tolkien, the books' author, actually endorsed Christopher Lee to be Gandalf (the two were good friends up until Tolkien's death), but despite this glowing reference, Ian McKellen was cast instead, Christopher Lee playing the part of Saruman. Looking at the finished product it's impossible to imagine the roles being reversed as the two are so perfect for their respective parts. The actors themselves do brilliantly. Viggo Mortensen is almost Eastwood-like in his understated effiency as Aragorn, John Rhys-Davies and Orlando Bloom make up one of the great double-acts of the pieces, the other being the hilarious Dominic Monaghan and Billy Boyd as Merry and Pippin. In this we even get to see a little more range from Elijah Wood which is not as evident in the sequels, mainly due to his character's role later on. The standouts, despite the entire ensemble performing fantastically, are Sean Bean as Boromir who displays more talent than National Treasure would give him credit for and Ian McKellen as Gandalf. His performance is the rock that the film can stand on and he seems as though he's not so much visiting Middle Earth as he's been living there his whole life. The gravitas he holds and the empathy he evokes is simply astounding and it's not until repeat viewings that this can really be seen.
After having made limited successes like Heavenly Creatures and The Frighteners, Peter Jackson stepped up to the plate in a major way in directing the Fellowship of the Ring. As mentioned before, the strain could easily have proved too much but from the very first scene it's obvious that Jackson is more than adept at handling a sweeping epic such as this. As he deftly move through the opening battle sequences and into the beauty and serenity of Hobbiton, Jackson's camera is rarely still, sweeping through the incredible locations and swirling around his characters in a beautifully choreographed dance. Every single shot counts for something and the bare minimum is obviously never enough in Jackson's mind. This is the more beautifully photographed of the three, despite the grandeur and spectacle of the Return of the King. Rohan storming the armies of Mordor is all very well but it's scenes like the Wraiths attacking the four all but helpless Hobbits on Weathertop which leave the most lasting impressions. Jackson's versatility is also on full display here as he moves through the autumn shades of Rivendell to the cold stone of Moria to the eerie blue-green of Lothlorien, every setting is perfectly captured by Jackson's lens. And does he know how to bring the fight scenes. Mr. Bay could take a few pointers in terms of how to shoot a battle scene, whether in the dark of Balin's tomb or the leafy surrounds of Parth Galen, every moment counts and every movement is felt, rather than the mindless slugging out of giant robots.
The score of Shore also deserves a lot of the credit for fully immersing the audience in the onscreen world. Howard Shore's unmistakable tune is applied liberally throughout the film but it works perfectly every time. The themes and motifs which he includes according to character or even species is astounding. The nostalgia of Hobbiton is beautifully underscored with one of the more subdued peices of the soundtrack but the thundering main theme is as powerful and overwhelming as you would hope it would be and then some. It's no surprise that one of the four Oscars the first film won was for Shore's score (teehee).
It's the complete immersion in the world of Middle Earth which makes this film so incredible. Despite the film's runtime being close to 3 hours long, even longer in the extended version, it never feels taxing to sit and soak up the breathtaking surrounds. Where some films can feel like a chore at two hours, it's almost impossible to keep from loading the next film instantly after finishing the first one thanks to the incredible power to entrance the film holds. The combination of flawless production design from props to locations along with the beautifully crafted story and faultless direction makes this film one of the greatest of all time.
The attack on Weathertop. Despite being comprised of far fewer parties than many other battles in the series, the terrifying Ringwraiths more than make up for it.
Are you frightened?
Not nearly frightened enough.
One Ring to Rule Them All. One Ring to Find Them. One Ring to Bring Them All and In The Darkness Bind Them
Nobody tosses a dwarf.
If you want him come and claim him.
You shall not pass!
What did you hear? Speak!
N-nothing important. That is, I heard a good deal about a ring, and a Dark Lord, and something about the end of the world, but... Please, Mr. Gandalf, sir, don't hurt me. Don't turn me into anything... unnatural.
Saw it again! Long time since I first saw this film, it really felt like the first time because I didn't remember a lot of things, it was epic, fantastic film! Awesome story, greatly directed by Peter Jackson and fantastic cast, one of the best ever ensemble. This movie won 4 Oscars and well deserved. Highly recommended!
The prologue, spoken by Galadriel, shows the Dark Lord Sauron forging the One Ring which he can use to conquer the lands of Middle-earth through his enslavement of the bearers of the Rings of Power powerful magical rings given to individuals from the races of Elves, Dwarves and Men. A Last Alliance of Elves and Men is formed to counter Sauron and his forces at the foot of Mount Doom, but Sauron himself appears to kill Elendil, the High King of Arnor and Gondor, and Gil-galad, High King of the Noldor. Just afterward, Isildur grabs his father's broken sword Narsil, and slashes at Sauron's hand. The stroke cuts off Sauron's fingers, separating him from the Ring and vanquishing his army. However, because Sauron's life is bound in the Ring, he is not completely defeated until the Ring itself is destroyed. Isildur takes the Ring and succumbs to its temptation, refusing to destroy it, but he is later ambushed and killed by orcs and the Ring is lost in the river into which Isildur fell.
The Ring is found two-and-a-half millennia later, and eventually it comes to the creature Gollum, who takes it underground for five centuries, giving Gollum "unnaturally long life." The Ring leaves him however, and is found by the hobbit Bilbo Baggins, much to the grief of Gollum. Bilbo returns to his home in the Shire with the Ring, and the story jumps forward in time sixty years. At his 111th birthday, Bilbo leaves the Ring to his nephew and adopted heir Frodo Baggins. The Wizard Gandalf soon learns it is the One Ring, and sends him to Bree with Sam, with plans to meet him there after Gandalf goes to Isengard to meet the head of his order, Saruman. Saruman reveals that the Nazgūl, or Ringwraiths, have left Mordor to capture the Ring and kill whoever carries it; having already turned to Sauron's cause, he then imprisons Gandalf atop Orthanc. Frodo and Sam are soon joined by fellow hobbits Merry and Pippin. After encountering a Ringwraith on the road, they manage to reach Bree, and there they meet a Man called Strider, who agrees to lead them to Rivendell. They agree only because Gandalf isn't there to guide them. After some travelling, they spend the night on the hill of Weathertop, where they are attacked by the Nazgūl at night. Strider fights off the Ringwraiths, but Frodo is grievously wounded with a morgul blade, and they must quickly get him to Rivendell for healing. While chased by the Nazgūl, Frodo is taken by the elf Arwen to the elvish haven of Rivendell, and healed by her father, Elrond.
In Rivendell Frodo meets Gandalf, who explains why he didn't meet them at Bree as planned. In the meantime, there are many meetings between various peoples, and Elrond calls a council to decide what should be done with the Ring. The Ring can only be destroyed by throwing it into the fires (that is, lava) of Mount Doom, where it was forged. Mount Doom is located in Mordor, near Sauron's fortress of Barad-dūr, and will be an incredibly dangerous journey. Frodo volunteers to take the Ring to Mount Doom as all the others argue about who should or shouldn't take it. He is accompanied by his hobbit friends and Gandalf, as well as Strider, who is revealed to be Aragorn, the rightful heir to the throne of Gondor. Also travelling with them are the Elf Legolas, the Dwarf Gimli and Boromir, the son of the Steward of Gondor. Together they comprise the Fellowship of the Ring. The Fellowship set out and try to pass the mountain Caradhras, but they are stopped by Saruman's wizardry. They are forced to travel under the mountain through the Mines of Moria. After journeying partway through the Mines, Pippin accidentally gives away their presence to a band of orcs. The Fellowship then encounter a Balrog, an ancient demon of fire and shadow, at the Bridge of Khazad-dūm. Gandalf confronts the Balrog on the bridge, allowing the others to escape the mines, while he falls with the creature into the abyss below.
The group flees to the elvish realm of Lothlórien, where they are sheltered by its rulers, Galadriel and her husband Celeborn. After resting, they decide to travel on the River Anduin towards Parth Galen. Before they leave, Galadriel gives Frodo the Phial of Galadriel. After landing at Parth Galen, Boromir tries to take the Ring from Frodo, who manages to escape by putting the Ring on his finger and vanishing. Knowing that the Ring's temptation will be too strong for the Fellowship, Frodo decides to leave them and go to Mordor alone. Meanwhile, the rest of the Fellowship are attacked by Uruk-hai. Merry and Pippin, realizing that Frodo is leaving, distract the orcs, allowing Frodo to escape. Boromir rushes to the aid of the two hobbits but is mortally wounded by the orc commander Lurtz, and Merry and Pippin are captured. Aragorn, Legolas, and Gimli find Boromir, who regrets attempting to steal the Ring and dies. They decide to pursue the orcs and rescue the hobbits, leaving Frodo to his fate. Sam joins Frodo before he leaves, and together the two head to Mordor.
First of all, the acting was really amazing. Elijah Wood had an amazing performance and before this movie, his only other good performance was in "The Good Son". He took enormous steps in this movie. Viggo Mortensen and Ian McKellan also pulled of fantastic performances.
The battle scenes were really good too. Normally, I like to shy away from this subject so I don't sound like a 9 year old, but they were really well choreographed.
The script was amazing as well as the directing. Peter Jackson is my 3rd favorite director, and he was practically flawless taking the reigns of this franchise. And to think this was originally going to be one movie.
I can go on for tons of paragraphs about this movie, but everyone knows how great it is. If you haven;t seen it, it is highly reccomended by me!