The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring (2001)

Alright, bring on the freaks!

Set in Middle Earth, the story tells of the Dark Lord Sauron, who is seeking the One Ring. The Ring has found its way to the young hobbit Frodo Baggins (Elijah Wood). The fate of Middle-earth hangs in the balance as Frodo and eight companions who form “the Fellowship” begin their journey to Mount Doom in the land of Mordor, the only place where the Ring can be destroyed.

Obviously with the fact that Peter Jackson is returning to Middle Earth soon with The Hobbit, I thought to myself, “It’s been awhile since I actually wasted my day and watched one of these movies. So, why not just go back to the whole trilogy and waste three days now? Woo-hoo!!” Trust me, people, it’s all for you out there so you better be freakin’ happy.

Anybody that ever talks about this movie, or the trilogy itself, always says the same thing, “You have to have read the books to fully understand.” Is that true? Well, yes, in a way, but that does not mean you can’t still appreciate it for what it truly is: a very, very well-made film. Jackson has never been a huge favorite of mine but I have to cut the guy some slack here because this direction is one of the more inspired-directions I’ve seen in a long, long time. Jackson obviously has a near and dear passion and love for the J.R.R. Tolkien novels, and that shows here with his set design and attention to detail.

Saying that everything in this movie is beautiful, is a downright understatement. Everything looks so perfect the way it is, that at times, believe it or not, I actually caught myself wondering just how they got it to look so real and put it out into a film without ever making it look cheesy one-bit. I will say that in the year 2012, the CGI and special-effects may not be as up-to-date as we all are used to nowadays, but just checking this film out from a viewer’s stand-point and realizing how much attention and detail was given to each scene really makes me want to get up, and give Jackson a big old hug. The guy really has a distinctive look with this film and made me feel even closer to Middle Earth, even though the shots were obviously from New Zealand. But you know what? Who the hell cares, because if Jackson can make it look like Middle Earth, then that’s good enough for me.

I feel like I should have been more open in this review by starting off and saying that I’m not a reader/nor have I ever read any of Tolkien’s novels and to be honest, I still think that the story made me enough sense for me to get the gist of it. In the beginning, Jackson spells-out everything pretty nice and clear for everyone to understand just what’s going on with a detailed and heavy prologue and definitely makes it clear right from the start, just what we’re in store for: hobbits, elves, dwarves, wizards, sorcery, action, violence, and plenty of other weird-looking creatures just hangin’ around. Jackson’s attention to detail in terms of setting and scenery, carries out very well into the characters and creatures that he creates but I feel like that’s a pretty obvious statement already. Let me just get it out of the way: Jackson’s direction is superb here and he pays attention to detail like no other. Also, it’s a very, very, very beautiful film! Okay, now that I got that thought out of my mind, I can move on now and just tell you that it’s a pretty fun movie once you get past all of the kookiness behind it.

You don’t generally have to be a fan of fantasy movies (like me), to enjoy the hell out of this movie, but it definitely does help. There’s so much exposition, secret powers coming out of nowhere, swords clashing, people yelling bold statements about courage, weird creatures, and more exposition. It’s exactly what you expect from a fantasy movie and I didn’t have much of a problem with that because the story kept me involved, and I found myself to have a lot of fun with it as well. The action doesn’t take over the whole  movie, but that was a-okay with me because I payed more attention to the adventure that all of these colorful characters were on, where it was going to take them, and the danger that lied ahead of them. There was definitely a great deal of suspense in the air because I never really knew when shit was just going to pop-off for these characters and their adventure, and quite frankly, I was a bit scared for them as well. It’s one of those movies where you feel as if you are on an adventure that may never end, but you sort of don’t want it to end because you feel as if you’re along for the ride, without having to worry about being killed or eaten alive by some weird-looking, monster/creature/thing.

Regardless of how fun and exciting this movie really was, it still does not make it “The Greatest Movie Ever Made”, a statement and accolade that has seemed to be given by anybody who has watched this movie. Is it a grand, sweeping epic that catches your attention right from the start and keeps you watching? Yes, but is it perfect? Awwww, hellll nooo! The reason why this movie is not perfect is because of how long it is. It comes close to clocking in at over 3 hours and even though I don’t mind that with most movies, just as long as they keep my attention, I minded that with this movie because of how many times it seemed to start-and-stop all over the place.

What I mean by this, is that every time the movie would fire-up with an ultra-epic action scene, it would just automatically slow-down, start having everybody talk in their exposition jibber-jabber, continue walking, focus on another character from another setting, have another ultra-epic action scene, and then go right back to the same pattern. At first, I didn’t really mind this because it was entertaining to see and I liked watching where Jackson went with this story, but after awhile it became a bit repetitive and I could almost tell where all of the action was going to go down and when. That’s not good for me, because I usually like my surprises, especially with my action-adventure movies and if Dan the Man’s not surprised, Dan the Man’s not happy! Waaah!

And to be honest, it was even worse when these people would go off on these rants and raves in this jibber-jabber, that really seemed to get in the way of any type of excitement or energy this movie had going for itself. When I thought the movie would continue to go at the pace it was going at, it just slows down, focuses on a character talking a whole bunch of nonsense that only people who sleep with the book would be able to comprehend, and loses that steam for the longest time, that is, until the next action scene files in and picks the movie right back-up from where it was left off in the first place. A couple of scenes where these characters had these “talks” really seemed to come out of nowhere, and maybe should have gotten a call from Jackson’s editor to cut that one the hell out. One scene in particular is where Cate Blanchett comes in out of nowhere and starts to go crazy about the ring, and even though it is visually-stunning, it’s still pretty obvious and serves no purpose to the story or the message other than, “everybody is obsessed with this ring and wants it like Grandma’s secret meat loaf recipe”. Yup, I think I got that idea right from the beginning of the story when I saw how bat-shit crazy this ring made everybody go so it didn’t necessarily do anything for me when all of these characters kept falling for the same bag of tricks over and over again.

But I can’t rag on this film anymore, really, because it still kept me entertained and kept me watching a great ensemble, do fantastic jobs in each of their own, respective roles. This whole cast is jam-packed to the core with familiar-faces and superstars of the silver-screen, but the one who really stood-out for me was Ian McKellen as Gandalf. McKellen owns it as Gandalf because he gives this character a great deal of warmth and sympathy that it makes it real easy for us to believe why so many people feel comfortable around him, and why they don’t have to fear for their lives whenever he’s around. I also liked how McKellen didn’t really ham it up and kept everything very straight-forward with what he was going to do next, and why. I also can’t forget to mention Viggo Mortensen as Aragorn. The guy just looks intimidating and definitely holds his own as the only guy who could be considered an “action hero” throughout the whole movie, but there’s going to be a lot more of him talked about in the future reviews of this trilogy so I won’t go and spoil it now. Just be ready, everybody, as I wastes my life away watching swords, sorcery, and stones.

Consensus: Lord of the Rings: Fellowship of the Ring may be a tad overstuffed with scenes that feel unneeded, but it’s epic-nature still cannot be denied with it’s fine, fine, fine attention to detail from Peter Jackson, and engrossing story that makes you feel as if you are along for this ride in Middle Earth, where nothing is safe and nothing is sacred. Not really sure if that’s the right statement to use for this movie, but you get what I mean.



  1. Excellent review. I too enjoy the LotR movies and although the first one is my least favourite of the three, it is by no means poor in quality. Jackson has been faithful to the books in a lot of ways, none moreso than the detail thing. Tolkien I felt embellished his text too much a lot of the time, spending complete paragraphs on the description of a leaf, but thats just me being picky, but you can see why Jacksons obsession with Middle Earth is so. I have been contemplating allowing my 4 year old to watch the first movie as he loves fantay films such as Labyrinth, The Neverending Story and The Dark Crystal, but I think that it may be just a little TOO dark for him just now. He has seen the first 4 Harry Potter movies and loves them, but we have stopped short of going further as they do get a little scarier for a 4 year old. I would agree with your assessment in terms of score and I hope that you review the other two movies to see if they match up to my views.

    • I have no idea why, but I loved all of these movies when I was a kid and saw them all when I was still 10-years old. It’s not a perfect movie to show your kids, let alone a perfect movie none the less, but still one that excites and entices us, just as much as the material did to Jackson. Thanks Dale!

  2. Great review, Dan!

    I really loved the Lord of the Rings movies when they came out, though over time I found myself caring about them less and less. Still great movies, don’t get me wrong, but they don’t quite stick with you the way you’d hope from a series as grand as epic as this one.

    Definitely agree that the length is it’s biggest flaw, particularly the third movie (which also happens to be my favorite of the three nonetheless). And it’s this length that worries me the most about the upcoming Hobbit films. Breaking down a single book that itself isn’t even the length of a single LOTR novel into three 3 hour long movies seems more than excessive, even if he is including passages from appendixes and whatnot. I’ll still give ’em a shot, but I can’t help but feel that, as you said, they’ll be filled with scenes that, in the end, are quite unnecessary in the grand scheme of things. But we’ll see!

    • Thanks Chris! I’m a bit skeptical of Jackson returning to Middle Earth with not one, not two, but three movies, however, I do feel like he’ll do as good of a job with those as he did with these.

  3. nice review 🙂 but even with all its strengths, this is still the only movie in my entire life that made me fall asleep 😀 probably because it’s “a tad overstuffed with scenes that feel unneeded” 🙂

  4. Out of curiosity, are you reviewing the theatrical release or the extended ones? I ask because when I was this originally, I wasn’t that into it. I thought it was mainly because I wasn’t a book reader, but when I saw the Extended Cut, I fell in love with it.

    On another note, this movie made me want to go back and read the books (which I’ve done since seeing the movies). It’s one of the few movies that’s compelled me to do that.

    • I saw the original and trust me, that’s what I’ll be doing for the next couple of movies because I cannot stand by anymore footage added to these already long-ass movies. Thanks Erik!

  5. Love this film even with its setup story beginning. But when it sets the pieces in place it really takes off and that’s what I love about it. Fantastic review

  6. Nice analysis, Dan. Though I have never heard people refer to this film as the “greatest movie ever”. True, it is well-made, but after several watchings it simply does not hold up. Eventually it does get boring, as all the action and “big” points in the plot happen in the other two movies.

    There are few movies that I woild categorize as the “greatest movie ever”. All movies have flaws, even the greats, but the “best” one are those that can’t really be changed in any way without downgrading the movie (at least story-wise. All movies can be visually updated in HD, or with newer CGI, but thats besides the point). Take Back To The Future, for instance.

    That movie is painfully close to “perfection”, but really, any change would in fact make it an inferior movie.

    Perfection really doesn’t exist, as no movie is perfect, however the greats tend to be painfully close.

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