"The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring" Blu-ray Movie Review

9/15/2010 Posted by Admin

"The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring"

Blu-ray Movie Review

Directed by Peter Jackson, written by Fran Walsh, Philippa Boyens and Jackson, based on the book by J. R. R. Tolkien, 178 minutes, rated PG-13.

By Christopher Smith 

In the re-release of "Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring," the first of Peter Jackson’s $300 million trilogy based on J.R.R. Tolkien’s 1000-plus-page opus, a furry-footed hobbit named Frodo (Elija Wood) is entrusted to save Middle Earth from the evil looming deep within Mordor and high atop Mount Doom.

It won’t be easy.

With the Ring of Power given to him by his 111-year-old uncle Bilbo (Ian Holm), Frodo must somehow keep the ring from its vicious creator, Sauron--the dark lord of Mordor who’s seeking to reclaim the ring so he can become master of the universe--while bringing it to the fiery pits of Mount Doom so it can be destroyed.

Only there, where the ring was originally forged in a gathering of evil and hate, can its seductive powers be extinguished.

You don’t have to be a wizard to realize that the task at hand will be nearly impossible for Frodo to execute. But Frodo, with the help of his friends--the wizard Gandalf (Ian McKellen), three other hobbits (Sean Astin, Dominic Monaghan and Billy Boyd), two human warriors (Viggo Mortensen and Sean Bean), an angry dwarf (John Rhys-Davies) and a master archer (Orlando Bloom), all of whom comprise the Fellowship of the Ring--does the best he can with the sudden twist of fate life has handed him.

After a terrific opening that efficiently compresses the thousands of years leading up to the film’s present, the film slumps as Jackson takes too long establishing his characters and laying the foundation for all that’s to come.

The script, which Jackson co-wrote with Fran Walsh and Philippa Boyens, is far more lively in its next two hours, which offer substantial thrills as Jackson streamlines Tolkien’s text. But throughout the movie, he too often repeats himself, reminding audiences with dizzying reams of exposition what all the drama, bloody battles and chaos are about.

Jackson might have thought it necessary to hammer home the importance of the ring, especially given the likelihood that some in attendance haven’t read Tolkien’s books, but as dense and as brilliantly imagined as these books are, the root of their story is nevertheless simple--a timeless battle between good and evil centered around Frodo’s dreaded possession.

That said, Tolkien’s story of wars fought within mountains couldn’t have been more timely upon the film's 2001 release.  Then, its smashing connection to what was unfolding in the Middle East gave the film an enormous lift as it launched into its second hour. Here, the complications of Frodo’s quest finally take hold as bands of Ringwraiths, Uruk-Hai and Orcs--all beautifully brought to life--try to thwart him from success with their murderous intent.

Shot in Jackson’s native New Zealand, whose mountainous terrain and lush valleys prove perfect for the series, "The Lord of the Rings" remains a terrific-looking film; its sets, costumes, makeup and digital effects are outstanding.

Also strong are the performances, particularly those by McKellen, Wood and Mortensen--who take to their roles with an energy that suggests they haven’t had this much meat to chew on in years--and supporting turns by Liv Tyler and Cate Blanchett, who appear briefly as Arwen and Galadriel, two ethereal elves. McKellen, the standout, is superb, fighting the evil of Mordor with a conviction so fierce, it shakes the movie alive.

Grade: B+

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