The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring (2001)
“Power can be held in the smallest of things…”
Director: Peter Jackson
Cast: Elijah Wood, Ian McKellen, Orlando Bloom
Synopsis: A meek hobbit of the Shire and eight companions set out on a journey to Mount Doom to destroy the One Ring and the dark lord Sauron.
You can’t fault Peter Jackson’s ambition in tackling J. R. R. Tolkien’s massive – both in terms of size and imaginative scale – Lord of the Rings story, but it has to be said that the first instalment falls short of the standards you would hope for in what is probably destined to be the works’ definitive cinematic adaptation. To be honest, it lost my vote when one of the characters uttered the words ‘from whence it came.’ Don’t ask me why – it’s probably a perfectly legitimate phrase in the world of fantasy fiction – but it sounds too much like fairy-tale dialogue for my liking.
The hero of The Lord of the Rings is Frodo Baggins – played here by Elijah Wood, presumably because of the fact that his eyes are three times too large for his face, thereby giving him a distinctly hobbit-like appearance. Frodo is the nephew of Bilbo Baggins (Ian Holm), who, sixty years ago, found a ring with a malevolent power. The ring is sought after by the evil Sauron, and must therefore be destroyed by being thrown into the fires of Mount Doom. Thus, Frodo, his friends Sam (Sean Astin), Merry (Dominic Monaghan) and Pippin (Billy Boyd) and a host of others embark on an epic quest to destroy the ring before Sauron can get his hands on it.
Lord of the Rings is basically one long chase movie, albeit one set in the fantastical locales of Middle Earth, and it has to be said that it gets a little repetitive after a while. It looks great, creating another world that looks quaintly cosy despite harbouring all kinds of dangers and being, itself, endangered. Ian McKellen cuts a commanding figure as Gandalf the Grey, Frodo’s magician friend, and the special effects mostly look terrific, although every now and then it’s either starting to show its age or revealing where the budget was starting to run a little low.
On the negative side – well, it’s a fantasy movie: elves, dwarves, goblins, that kind of thing. Great if you’re into dungeons-and-dragons style role-playing games, but otherwise just a tad too in love with its own ideas and cleverness for most tastes. Some lame attempts at humour – channelled mostly through the intensely annoying characters of Merry and Pippin – are misguided to say the least, and are totally at odds with the movie‘s otherwise portentous tone. Still, any movie in which the villain bellows, in all seriousness, the words ‘You will taste man-flesh!’ has to be worth a look.