a critiQal film review The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring (2001)

Plot: Frodo Baggins (Wood), a Hobbit of Middle-Earth, is visited by Gandalf (McKellen), a powerful wizard. Gandalf tells Frodo he must protect the One Ring: a ring of evil, searched for by the Dark Lord, an evil creature long thought dead. Frodo, with the help of his friend Sam (Astin), must throw the ring into the fires at Mt. Doom, the center of the evil territory...at any cost.

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  • ...this bloated first film is brought down tremendously by Wood's and Astin's horrendous performances.

A long-awaited film, The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring has been so hyped it’s been almost impossible to get away from. With a large cast of well-known actors, and the huge amount of anticipation related to this film, there doesn’t seem to be anything that could go wrong.

Despite it’s impressive box office (310 million plus), the amazing special effects, and the good cast of characters, the whole film series (The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers (2002) is coming to theaters in December 2002, and The Lord Of The Rings: The Return Of The King (2003) is coming in 2003) relies on the performance of Frodo Baggins, and Elijah Wood just cannot keep up his part of the bargain.

The characters, with the exception of Frodo and Sam, are extremely well-acted. You can see everyone from Gandalf to Aragorn becoming their character. Since all 3 movies were made together, their performances can only get better.

Frodo, on the other hand, is poorly acted by Wood. I’ve never been impressed with his acting abilities, and he continues to unimpress me. His dialogue looks forced and his face is mostly in just a state of shock.

Sam is less well-acted than ill-used. Astin (what was the last movie he was in – Rudy?) seems to have taken his character and turned him into a dumb puppy dog. He doesn’t have a mind of his own, but will just follow Frodo blindly, even to the point of nearly drowning to get on a boat with him. I kept expecting Sam to start panting, with his tongue sticking out, just like a dog out of breath.

The plot is well-done, and the movie seems to fit scene to scene very well. The Fellowship of the Ring is definitely made by admirers of J.R.R. Tolkien, and they want to show the movie they pictured while reading the novels. You can tell by watching Fellowship the genuine love that the filmmakers have with the story.

The special effects are astounding. From the entire race of orcs to a hell demon, the cast of special effects-created characters are extremely well done and realistically fantastical. The cave troll in this film, for example, is much more well done than the oafish troll of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone (2001), and much more detailed. Even the small effects, such as the writing on the ring, and Frodo’s glowing sword, are also very well done.

I believe this to be another of those movies, as Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone (2001) and Spider-Man (2002) are, that have generated impressive box office numbers based on the special effects first and foremost. This one does not rely as heavily on the special effects to carry the movie, however, which makes it a tad bit better than those other two.

With a large cast doing some impressive acting, it’s only natural that one or two characters would fall short. It’s just unfortunate for this film that two of the main characters, Frodo and Sam, fall so short of the high mark set by the rest of the cast. It brings down what otherwise would have been an astounding epic motion picture event to just another movie.

The Lord of The Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring is a definite rental or a possible buy, but I for one am not going to be waiting in line to be one of the first to own the special extended edition of the film. The 2-disc version will suit me just fine.

I still am awaiting the next film, The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers (2002), moreso to see if Frodo and Sam can act on par with the rest than to see what will happen to the Ring. Here’s hoping Frodo and Sam have become more like their characters, and faced up to this (for them) difficult challenge.

If they do, The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers (2002) will be the epic masterpiece Fellowship should have been.

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