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Lords of the Fellowship
The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring (DVD)
Member Name: Jarisleif
The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring (DVD)
Date: 28/11/12, updated on 30/11/12 (20 review reads)
Advantages: Visually stunning
Disadvantages: Very few, if any
"The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring" is a 2001 film that was adapted from the novel written by J.R.R. Tolkien, with the screenplay coming via way of Peter Jackson, Fran Walsh & Philippa Boyens. The film was directed by Peter Jackson, who has taken the helm on such films as "King Kong" (2005), "Bad Taste" (1987) and "The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey" (2012).
Warning: Spoilers will likely be given during this review.
The film was an epic 2hr 58mins in length and starred Elijah Wood as Frodo Baggins, who has been in such films as "The Faculty" (1998), "Green Street Hooligans" (2005) and "Deep Impact" (1998), Sir Ian McKellen as Gandalf the Grey, who has enjoyed roles in "X-Men" (2000), "The Da Vinci Code" (2006) and "Apt Pupil" (1998) amongst others, and Sean Bean as Boromir, who had previously acted in films like "Essex Boys" (2000), "GoldenEye" (1995) and "Patriot Games" (1992). Big names also appearing were Christopher Lee, Sean Astin and Cate Blanchett.
The plot for the film reads as follows: An innocent hobbit of The Shire journeys with eight companions to the fires of Mount Doom to destroy the One Ring and the dark lord Sauron forever.
It was 1954 when George Allen & Unwin first published John Ronald Reuel Tolkien's novel, "The Fellowship of the Ring", and it took a further 47 years for a live action version to hit the big screen. Peter Jackson's version was first worked on in 1997 when he began work on the storyboard and filming eventually began on 11th October, 1999. The film won four Academy Awards for Best Cinematography, Best Visual Effects, Best Makeup and Best Original Score, but as often with the Oscars the best films, actors and directors miss out. Is it any good? Let's find out!
The characters of the film are a diverse bunch. I'm not going to go into detail for all of them, as you probably all know there were two more in the series so I'll focus on some now and the majority in the next two film reviews.
The main hero is Frodo Baggins. Frodo is a hobbit who, at first, doesn't look like he's a warrior, but along the way and throughout the film he shows that he can fight a bit. He's kind of a reluctant hero in that he's happy to stay at home but went on an epic adventure for the greater good. Elijah Wood is the perfect Frodo. It's said that Jake Gyllenhaal and Dominic Monaghan both auditioned for the part, but Wood plays the part as Tolkien might have wished.
Samwise Gamgee seems to be a weasily character, but likes to think he can protect his best friend, Frodo, whenever a tricky situation arises. However, we see him cowering most of the time during the film's action scenes. He's a fiercely loyal friend of Frodo's who starts out immature but is left with no choice but to grow up along the way because of the importance of the quest. Sean Astin put on some weight to play the part and though he plays it quite well, his character is lacking something. It's said that Graham Norton auditioned for the part, but I agree with casting Astin as he's a little bit younger.
Boromir, played by Sean Bean, is a prince of the Stewards of Gondor and a warrior with a passion for battle. I enjoyed Bean's portrayal of Boromir and couldn't really see anyone else playing the part, though it's said that Bruce Willis was interested and Liam Neeson turned it down. I don't think Willis would have made a good Boromir, but Neeson is a different story as he's an actor I've found fits into the role he takes on with ease. Having said that, Sean Bean made the part his own and though he often strayed into his thick Yorkshire accent he still nails the acting. It's strange that his accent does slip as in the 1995 film "GoldenEye", it's near perfect Queen's English.
The film starts with an epic battle between the armies of Sauron (played by Sala Baker) and the Elves and Men. It's very heavily relying on CGI which I'm not a huge fan of by any means but you do get some good close-up live action shots. What is quickly clear about the film is the stunning scenery and cinematography. It was all filmed in New Zealand, and it makes me want to visit the country every time I see the film. I'm not sure if I'll ever get there but I can only hope.
There is a great scene with Gandalf and Bilbo Baggins where they're smoking Halflings' Leaf through pipes that I enjoyed a lot. It was almost like the calm before the storm and the two have clearly been friends for a long time. The bond between the duo is made more clear when Bilbo blows a smoke ring and Gandalf, using magic, blows a ship which sails through it. I thought that was a wonderful scene and if it had been a film with just those two swapping stories I'd have been happy.
I love how they got the size proportions right, and as Gandalf is so much taller than the hobbits and the use of forced perspective is a brilliant way of making this happen on the big screen. The sets, too, are elaborate. I especially like the hobbit houses with their quirky round doors and windows. They're just the right size for their inhabitants, but too small for Gandalf who has to bend down in order to walk around. The visualisation of the wooden beams and doorways is stunning and makes you want to live in one of their houses.
It is also good to see two acting legends and Knights of the British Empire like Sir Ian McKellen (Gandalf) and Sir Christopher Lee (Saruman) come together and there is some wonderful dialogue between the two just before their first fight scene. Their second fight scene on top of the castle shows the power of lighting as when it's something attached to evil it's dark and moody. Interestingly, Christopher Lee auditioned for the part of Gandalf but he was thought to be too old for the part.
Detail is the order of the day throughout the film and the makeup on the orcs is stunning, as is a scene where water across a wide stream turns into horses galloping. The walk through the mine is also visually appealing and I especially liked the wide pan and zoom out from its opening scene with little things popping out here and there that you'd not normally expect to see but when you do see them you're thinking that it was a nice touch to put them in there. The wide shots are amazing and the colours are vibrant and warm, almost too unnatural but the type of scenery you'd want if you were out walking in the fresh air. The score for the film compliments each scene magnificently, although sometimes it's a little too demanding. I would have preferred it if they'd have toned it down a little in dialogue scenes.
More special scenes include one where the majority of the Fellowship are arguing in the background while Frodo stares fixatedly at the ring. He can see everyone remonstrating with each other in the ring which then turns to fire. I think that's a defining moment in the film's plot and one of the most poignant. Of course, there had to be good action scenes, and there is a battle against the orcs in the mines which is visually stunning and the giant cave troll was a work of art. The last fight scene was set in a forest and was packed full of great action and well-choreographed moves that got you on the edge of your seat.
To have a good film you have to have good lines and some that stood out in particular include one where the group is drinking in a tavern and Pippin asks Merry what he's got. He says "This, my friend, is a pint" and Pippin replies "It comes in pints?" There is a part that carries weight as far as the friendship between Frodo and Samwise goes, which has Sam utter the line: "I made a promise, Mr. Frodo. A promise. "Don't you leave him Samwise Gamgee." And I don't mean to. I don't mean to." This is where, I think, Sam grew up a little and realised his importance in the quest. But the best line comes very early on in the film when Gandalf arrives in Middle Earth and Frodo says "You're late". Gandalf brushes him off and replies "A wizard is never late, Frodo Baggins. Nor is he early. He arrives precisely when he means to." I like the delivery on that and Frodo looks puzzled for a moment.
In summary, while I enjoyed the first installment of "The Lord of the Rings" trilogy very much, I still felt it was lacking in something. There could have been more scenes with Gandalf or there could have been an extra scene where Gimli and Legolas are on their way to join the Fellowship. I'm not the director, though, and I wouldn't want to take on such a mammoth task as this. To understand one you have to watch all three just like any trilogy. In this case, you will first meet the characters and get to know some of them but you won't understand it all until the very end of "The Return of the King", which I think is the better of the three. "The Fellowship of the Ring" was something very special and maybe it deserved more credit than it got. I would absolutely recommend this to anyone but I would also urge caution and say that you should get "The Two Towers" and "The Return of the King" as well.
My rating: 9/10
Summary: Not perfect by any means, but this is one of the best films of all time.