I finally got to see the 2001 blockbuster The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring. Mind you, I really enjoyed the books when I read them oh so many years ago, both the trilogy and the prequel, The Hobbit, but it wasn't a burning desire of mine to see the movie, to the aghast astonishment of a few of my friends! I read some very funny reviews of the movie and DVD, from more disinterested bystanders, and it just didn't seem all that special to me. But I did finally watch it, and I'm glad I did. But I wasn't so bowled over that I made sure I saw the second part, The Two Towers, in the movie theater! I'll be glad to wait for that DVD, due in August 2003.
Probably not necessary to go into much depth with the story, as you either know it, and have watched this, or don't know and don't care (one of my daughter's favorite sayings, "Don't know. Don't care."). Suffice to say a hobbit, a little fellow with big feet, gets dropped the responsibility of bringing The One Ring, a ring capable of unspeakable power, to the Council to see what they might want to do with it. The party of hobbits runs into some mighty strange fellows, all of whom would like to separate the ring from whatever is attaching it to Frodo's body.
They are also advised by the Wise Grey Wizard, Gandalf, played with stoic ferocity by Ian McKellen, who I was so impressed with in the movie Gods and Monsters. They manage to extricate themselves from a few close jams, and along with Aragon, finally get to the Elf HQ and deliver The Ring. There they are volunteered for the even more dangerous journey, to bring The Ring to Mt. Doom, where it can finally be destroyed. This journey will be chronicled in the following two movies, just like the books.
It took a little while to get into this movie. I don't know, I'm just not into hobbits and dragons and wizards, oh my. But they do a good job of keeping the pace up, with a minimal amount of mumbo jumbo, and I was just getting involved when the DVD started skipping and I had to give up. When I finally got the replacement DVD, I just jumped to approximately where I ended, rather than start over, so it took me a little longer to get into it. But both times I did, and was generally swept along by the interesting characters and story.
I did have two major problems with the movie, and it isn't entirely my own fault. In both cases, outside sources put the buzz in my ear and I wasn't able to shake it. In the first case, it was a review of the DVD in the magazine The Perfect Vision. It was a very funny review of someone who was not at all taken up by the Lord Of The Rings phenomenon. And he kept calling it a "Pointy Hat Wizard" movie, where it seems like one damn thing after another happens. And yup, that's a nice synopsis of the action - too succinct!
The other was when someone who saw The Two Towers in the movie, and noticed that they kept up the swooping camera. I hadn't noticed it during my first aborted viewing, but then I couldn't shake just how many times they did, in fact, use the swooping cameras. From wizard towers to forests to long fields and mountain tops, they use swooping cameras. Almost dizzying, in fact. Reminded me a little of the long shot of the Enterprise in the first Star Trek movie, where it felt like, By God, you were going to appreciate the hard work of the special effects crew if it was going to kill you!
But I still think it is a good movie that can be easily watched by any fan of film, even if you aren't into "Pointy Hat Wizard" movies. The filmmakers do an excellent job of sweeping you along, and you might even forget it is all about hobbits and elves and wizards, at least for a little while.