There are some movies that have been around in my life for so long that I can’t remember a time before them. The Iron Giant. Galaxy Quest. The original Star Wars movies (hey, even I was a kid at some point). And, of course: the Lord of the Rings series.
Before I even knew how to speak proper english, I knew who Frodo, Gandalf, Aragorn, and all the others were. I genuinely can’t remember the first time I watched these movies. I’ve known them longer than I’ve been cognisant! In my mind, LOTR has always been there! It’s as unquestionable as air or water!
Thankfully, I am an adult now. A critical one, at that. So, I feel like I’m prepared enough to review these movies properly now. Especially so now that I’ve marathoned them all on my day off.
Ah. Those were a fine thirteen hours.
Story: Trimming the Fat
We all know the story. Frodo Baggins is left a magic ring by his uncle which turns out to belong to Sauron, the dark lord. Now he’s got to travel to the land of Mordor and cast the ring into the flames of Mount Doom to destroy it. Helping him along the way are the Fellowship of the Ring, a group of nine companions dedicated to protecting and guiding Frodo along his perilous quest. But can he trust them, knowing the Ring may corrupt their minds?
It’s a classic fantasy tale, one that established pretty much every trope we know and see so often today. It is Tolkien, after all.
What this movie does really well is trimming all the unnecessary stuff Tolkien crammed into the book. All the excessive details are given to us visually, which makes it much easier and quicker to digest. That, and scenes that didn’t need to be there at all, like Tom Bombadil, are nowhere to be seen.
That, and it moves some of the scenes around for greater impact. For example: in the books, Boromir’s death happens at the start of Two Towers. Here, they decide to end it off on a more dramatic note than just ‘Frodo leaves’. Putting Boromir’s death here ends the first part of the saga off on a super effective emotional note.
Writing wise, this movie is definitely worthy of its name. It cuts all that we don’t need and faithfully brings that which we do to fantastic effect. Faithful enough to be an adaptation, different enough to stand on its own.
Presentation: Almost Untainted By Time
Okay, what’s the deal with the slow-mo in this movie? Did they just chop frames out in editing? It’s so odd! Especially since the rest of the editing and cinematography is just fine, save a few awkward zoom-ins. A product of the times, I guess.
Aside from those minor issues, this movie still holds up really well in the visual department. It certainly helps that everything was shot on location, which is always a win. But the costumes, sets, all of it looks phenomenal! It still holds up and it will for years to come.
The music is yet another win. The sheer number of incredible tracks in this movie puts all of its competition to shame. From the dreadful chanting of the Nazgul theme to the inspiring Fellowship theme and the jovial, relaxing Shire theme, every track in this movie is a delight to listen to. This is the pinnacle of a fantasy adventure OST.
Now, there is old CGI in this movie. And it definitely shows its age. But to be fair: it isn’t all that bad! Shockingly enough, the CGI in this movie, while it stands out like a sore thumb, isn’t as embarrassingly awful as other movies of its time. Sure, it won’t hold a candle to, say, Avengers: Endgame. But to be fair: the same will be said about that movie in about fifteen years time. Maybe less.
Performances: Everyone is Good
That’s about all I have to say, really. Every actor in this movie is phenomenal. None of them stand out for being any better or worse than the others. They’re all really enjoyable to watch. Moving on.
It’s easy to forget Fellowship when you compare it to the two movies that came after it. That was the case for the book and it’s the case here for the movie. Still, it is a movie well worth watching, even if Two Towers and Return of the King are more memorable experiences.
Let’s be honest, you’ve watched this movie already. But if you somehow haven’t, you absolutely should. If you have, go watch it again. Sure, the extended edition is well over three hours long. But they’re some of the best three hours of fantasy cinema out there.
I would say the best. But I did just watch Two Towers. And Return of the King.
Still better than The Hobbit movies, though.