Showing 1 - 1 of 1 Reviews for The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring
Posted on 12/08/13 10:56 AM
The Lord of the Rings is one of the most famous film trilogies ever. They're often considered classics, masterclasses of filmmaking, and some of the best films of the 21st century. And, actually, it is a really entertaining ride, that I thoroughly enjoy. I would never go so far as to say it's one of the best films of the 21st century or a masterclass of filmmaking, but it still kept me entertained for 180 minutes, and that alone is an impressive feat.
The film opens in a calm, peaceful looking place called the Shire. This is where the Hobbits live (whatever a Hobbit is), including the Frodo Baggins and his uncle Bilbo Baggins. A long time ago, Bilbo Baggins took a very powerful ring from Gollum, some scary-looking mix between a naked mole rat and monkey. This ring that Bilbo took was actually the same ring that Sauron used many, many years ago to wreak havoc all across middle-earth.
However, one day in battle, Sauron dissolved (but didn't die; I don't get it, either), leaving the ring, for several hundred years, to stay with the monkey/naked-mole rat I mentioned earlier. After those couple of hundred years, the ring escapes from Gollum, and Bilbo Baggins finds it, and uses it for many, many years to keep old age away. One day, though, Gandalf the Grey finds out that Bilbo has the extremely dangerous ring, and that Sauron is gaining strength, and is trying desperately to find it. So, he sends Frodo Baggins and Sam Gamgee to drop the ring off at a certain place, where different hands will handle and hide it from Sauron. However, it turns out that nobody is there at that certain place, and so a team of people, each from different races of Middle Earth, head off on an adventure to destroy the ring in the same pit that it was created, the volcano...Mordor!
And it is this adventure that makes the movie as good as it is. It's fun to see this cool group of people going on their epic journey, to try and destroy their ring. It's hard not to get a goofy grin on your face when the Fellowship is walking through some fantastic landscape of New Zealand, with Howard Shore's majestic theme playing. The movie's best moments are those scenes where you get the feel that the adventure is in full throttle.
And, helping make the adventure so fun, the characters are very endearing, too. Many are a bit formulaic -- for example we have the essential comedy relief, and many other cliches-- but they're still very likable. I don't think that Gimli is a very original or creative character, but I'd be lying if I said I didn't want him safely out of all dangerous situations. Orlando Bloom's Legolas isn't really given much of a personality, but he looks so cool holding a bow-and-arrow that he endeared to me. My favorite character is Sean Astin's Sam. He's Frodo's determined sidekick, and seems like a very nice guy. The great mix of fun characters and interesting adventure is what makes the film as fun as it is.
Unfortunately, though, for an adventure to be exciting and tense, besides good characters, we also need to know what's happening, what's at stake and all that good stuff. And this, most regrettably, brings the film's biggest flaw: the exposition. The exposition is so often done in such a dull manner that it really brings the film down. The movie opens with a several minute long explanation of the history of middle-earth, and it's just boring. Although I realize that the exposition made me understand -- and therefore enjoy -- the adventure more, I wish they had done it in a more exciting manner, in a show-not-tell way. The exposition made the already overblown length (way overblown) seem even longer.
The acting, though, helps bring the film through the exposition well enough. The acting really is quite decent. Elijah Wood does a very good job as Frodo Baggins, even getting passed the cold wall of cynicism that I initially felt towards him. He does a very good job in showing that he's having trouble bringing the ring to Mordor, but without playing Frodo as a damsel in distress. He's very good...(but I still can't wait for Martin Freeman to star in The Hobbit).
The other acting is also very good, with Ian McKellen playing a good Gandalf the Grey, Orlando Bloom playing a cool archer and John Rhys-Davies doing the bearded, slightly formulaic dwarf with a bit of flair.
What the actors can't help us get through as well, though,is the exaggerated fantasy element. Being not that big a fantasy person, there were times when I found the fantasy people and world to be a wee bit silly, self-serious and exaggerated. People whisper mystically and, while I can see how that would appeal to fantasy-fans, I just didn't buy it. It's a minor flaw, yes, but, it still annoyed me when it was on screen.
That does not mean, however, that I disliked the whole fantasy aspect of this film. On the contrary; I loved the fantastical world that Peter Jackson creates. All the locations look gorgeous, from the peaceful, grassy Shire, to the dark and mysterious mine. It's all terrific.
And DP Andrew Lesnie shoots it gorgeously. The cinematography is really nice -- it rightfully won an Oscar -- helping to add to the mystical element of the film. There's some really nice use of color and cool angles all over the film. The whole film is a feast for your eyes, thanks to some fantastic special effects, gorgeous cinematography, and terrific locations.
The score by Howard Shore is also quite good. It's got a very majestic -- and now famous -- main theme and some rightfully fantastic tracks. Did it deserve to win the Oscar? I wouldn't quite go so far as to say that, but it's still a very solid score.
Although the tediously dealt exposition, and extremely long runtime, which you will definitely feel the length of at times, keep me from truly loving this movie, I still thoroughly enjoy it. An excellent start.