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Movie Review: LotR - The Fellowship of the Ring
"One Thing to Rule them all, One Thing to find them,
One Thing to bring them all and in the Theatre spell-bind them..."
Okay, so I have to work on my rhythm, or meter, or something, but it's a good couplet at the moment. It, of course, speaks of the newest movie to hit theatres, at least at the time this was written: "Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring." I've waited three years for this, my friends, three years preaching the Glory of THE MOVIE and on Wednesday, I felt vindicated!
This movie is quite possibly the best picture of the year, and maybe, just maybe, the best picture so far this millennium. That's not much competition, so I'll say it another way. Every way you can think of New Line Cinema to have messed up this movie, every twisted little scene they could've added that would've diluted the Tolkein, every line they could've changed to appeal to the masses, every little detail they could've gotten wrong, up to and including making Sauron look like a Knight of Ni they didn't.
Yes, there were scenes added, and yes, there were some cheesy lines, "Let's hunt some orc," comes to mind. But even the absence of my favorite rambling, arboreal Bohemian, Tom Bombadil, couldn't shake my eyes from the utter goodness that is this movie. It's simply... Tolkein, and that's that.
*@* Warning: Spoilers Ahead. If you haven't read the books, you might want to read carefully. Or not. If you have read the books and don't desire to know how the movie changed, then do the same. Or not. *@*
The movie, my friends, opens with scenery, wonderful scenery. Just imagine, Middle Earth, the end of the Second Age, on the last battlefield between the Orcish armies of Sauron and the Last Alliance of Men and Elves. I for one wasn't of the mind that New Zealand could play a good Middle-Earth, but the numerous Enzed sheep have some mighty fine looking land to graze on. The sets and scenery throughout the movie are awesome, whether New Zealand or computer animation. From Barad-Dūr, to Minas Morgul, to Minas Tirith, to Isengard, and finally, my friends, to the Shire.
After a brief description of the end of the Second Age, and how Isildur got the One Ring, and the One Ring got to Gollum, and then to Bilbo, with certain glossings over, we end up in the Shire. I'll say this. I want to live in a smial. That's Hobbitese for a Hobbit hole. (Or Kudukese for a Kuduk hole, if you want.) Hobbits, my friends, are a rare commodity in the Real World, but New Line managed to get people who appeared to be suitably Hobbity, and they were Hobbits. They also got suitably Elven people, and they were Elves, and they got suitable short, intoxicated people, and they were Dwarfs. The point, my friends, is that Elves look like Elves, and Orcs look like Orcs, and it's all amazingly well done. And, of course, there's the Nine Riders. They're not really a race, but the Nazgūl were perfection, dark, dark, and darker.
Speaking of Nazgūl, i.e. Ringwraiths, if you've never read the story, we come to the journey to Rivendell, apparently a journey where you can't take a step without one of the lieutenants of the Dark Lord hunting you mercilessly. This is good, if you think about it, the journey in the book built the suspense with Narration, and Narration is hard in a movie. So, obviously, some scenes were cut and some were added. There's more Nazgūl, less Barrows, more Arwen, no Bombadil. It's a trade off, my friends, and it works well. All of the scenes added were in the books, some of them were merely mentioned, "off-page" so to speak, but the movie uses these scenes to keep itself like the book. It's true to the spirit, not the letters.
Once Frodo and the rest of his merry midgets get to Rivendell, we see more scenery, and more importantly, more characters. The actors in this film are simply amazing. So, well, I can't name them off the top of my head, but Wood as Frodo Baggins and McKellon as Gandalf were simply two of many fine choices. Including, I might add, the New Zealand Armed Forces, who volunteered as extras for most of the movie's shooting, but were called away by the tragic events in East Timor before the end of filming. Fine people, and, if I may brag, the home to an acquaintance of mine, from whom I received advance sketches of what the Gondorian and Elven armor looked like. She's also part of the Rohan High Guard, so Tarrod, your Sluaghness, I'll be watching for the fake beard!
I'll leave the movie at Rivendell for two reasons. One, because this reviewer has already said that which he wishes, and two, those who've read the books know mostly what'll happen, and those who haven't should be enticed to see the movie. Go see the movie.
P.S. FRODO LIVES!
P.P.S. In true Gandalf fashion, I leave multiple post-scripts.
P.P.P.S. Easter Eggs for those who've read the books. Listen for the names of chapters from the books, and keep an eye out for Tom, Bert, and Bill.
P.P.P.P.S. There's no truth to the rumor that I am Radagast the Brown in disguise.