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

The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring (2001)Poster.jpg

Directed by Peter Jackson

Written by Fran Walsh, Philippa Boyens, and Peter Jackson; based on the novel by J. R. R. Tolkien

Cast: Elijah Wood, Ian Holm, Ian McKellen, Sean Astin, Dominic Monaghan, Billy Boyd, Hugo Weaving, Viggo Mortensen, Sean Bean, Orlando Bloom, and Jon Rhys-Davies

Length: 2 hours and 58 minutes

Genre: Adventure, drama, fantasy

MPAA Rating: PG-13

Description from IMDB:
“A meek Hobbit from the Shire and eight companions set out on a journey to destroy the powerful One Ring and save Middle-earth from the Dark Lord Sauron.”

Frodo Baggins (Elijah Wood), an unassuming Hobbit from the Shire, is thrust into a world of danger when his uncle (Ian Holm) passes down a ring of power; a weapon used by the dark lord Sauron thousands of years ago in an attempt to rule the world. He is aided by the wizard, Gandalf (Ian McKellen), and fellow Hobbits Samwise Gamgee (Sean Astin), Merry (Dominic Monaghan), and Pippin (Billy Boyd) as they try to take the ring into safe hands. After side-adventures and trials, they arrive at the court of Lord Elrond (Hugo Weaving) in Rivendell where it is decided that a fellowship of the free peoples will try to take the ring back into Mordor to destroy it. The other members of the Fellowship are the ranger Aragorn (Viggo Mortensen), captain of Gondor, Boromir (Sean Bean), the elf Legolas (Orlando Bloom), and the dwarf Gimli (Jon Rhys-Davies). The group sets off on an adventure that will challenge them as and this installment is only beginning.

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Oh you know; just chillin’ in some roots.

The prologue of the film gives exposition and world building to bring audience up to speed, including the events of The Hobbit and how Bilbo came to have the One Ring. However, the story does take a bit of time to get off of the ground since the relationships between characters need to be established and the world must be built. Being the first film of a trilogy, this can be forgiven since the audience has to become invested in the characters before events that cause considerable change, occur.

The Fellowship of the Ring is a story of friendship and camaraderie overcoming the lust for power. The Hobbits all start as a little more than acquaintances and end up becoming closer through their shared hardship. The fractured relationship between Aragorn and Boromir is mended in the end, though at a mortal cost. Legolas and Gimli begin with prejudices against each other, but come to respect one another as the journey continues. The story has some heavy implications in the actions of the Fellowship, so it is necessary that the Hobbits bring comic relief at times, and it this done in a way that doesn’t undercut the darker content of the film.

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I’d vacay there.

The special effects used in the film still hold up well by today’s standards. The film makes great use of forced perspectives in order to take advantage of having two characters on screen of vastly different size (Frodo and Gandalf, for example) and using the camera’s angle, sight-lines, and distance to create the illusion. CGI is used, but often to augment miniatures in the form of aerial shots of Barad-dûr and Lothlórien. The lovely costume and set design of the film also speaks to the detail put into the visuals that help to create the credibility of Middle Earth. Each culture has its own unique pallet and style; the Hobbits wear earthy tones and live an agrarian lifestyle, the elves use leaf motifs and flowing lines, while the dwarf halls contain rigid and rectangular masonry that is mirrored in their armor. Howard Shore really doesn’t get enough credit for the amazing work he did with the motifs in the soundtrack. I still get chills when hearing the Shire’s theme and the way the musical references weave throughout the background imparts the importance of sound in film. Both music and sound-effects themselves carry this load,  such as the how The One Ring, which would normally make a light, clinking sound, falls with a heavy thud to demonstrate the burden it is upon the bearer.

This was my first time watching the standard edition of the film in over six years, so it seemed to fly by since I am used to the extended cut. There isn’t too much lost from the extended edition, but what was left out is easily missed while watching the theatrical version. There is character development that was cut in favor of progressing the plot forward, and though it isn’t as big of a case in the first film as it is in the sequels, it still made me wish for the longer cut. I actually didn’t see the first film until months after its release (even going so far as to skip the part of a friend’s birthday party where they went and saw it in theaters because I was an easily frightened child); however, I soon became enamored with the world and the quality of the film, seeing the following two movies in theaters and watching them more times than I can count. As an adaptation, I think The Fellowship of the Ring is successful in its ability to bring new fans into the franchise (I definitely wanted to read the books after seeing the movies, though that wasn’t accomplished until my early twenties).

Verdict: 4 close-ups of Frodo fondling the One Ring out of 5  

Recommended for: Those who like golden rings, those who enjoy film adaptations, those who didn’t like the Hobbit movies, fans of the Lord of the Rings series of books, those who enjoy fantasy films, and those who like walking.

Not recommended for: Fans of Tom Bombadil, Tolkien purists, those who loved the Hobbit movies, or those who dislike walking.

The images featured in this post can be found through the hyperlinks below.
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17 thoughts on “The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring (2001) – Review

  1. I’m rereading the book for what I am pretty sure is the first time since before I saw the first movie in the theaters…which would be the longest period in my life ever not reading The Lord of the Rings. Cut Tom Bombadil sure…but it hurts to lose the Old Forest and the Barrow Wights. Of course if you’re going to complain about a slow start, the book is positively glacial in comparison. My biggest complaint, though, is that the movies really do an injustice to Pippin and Merry.

    I’ve never seen the extended versions, but I finally broke down and picked them up on blu-ray. (I also picked up the Hobbit trilogy on blu-ray. I chose…poorly.)

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I definitely agree that, by comparison, the movie is a sprint in terms of pace. Maybe it’s because I saw the movies before reading the books, but I don’t see how the Wights and Old Forest could be present without taking too much focus from the main narrative in the way the film is structured.

      Haha, we all make mistakes! I think you’ll enjoy the extended editions since they have more content that, I think, makes better connections and creates a more full story.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I’m not sure I have seen the extended cut 😮 I have the DVDs so I’ll have to put them on and watch the extended version. I usually watch them around Christmas, but that is usually because they’re on TV.

    ‘4 close-ups of Frodo fondling the One Ring out of 5’ hahaha 😀

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Emily

    Great review! I couldn’t count how times I have watched these films, but I completely agree – they still completely stand up to today’s graphical expectations. They must have been absolutely groundbreaking at the time and are, in my opinion, still some of the greatest films around.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. I will be the odd duck here – I didn’t enjoy the movies and I still believe they do injustice to Tolkien’s work (which I’ve read for the first time years before I watched the movies ;)). Of course, they’re immeasurably better than Hobbit movies, and not so bad when taking into account only the film side of things, but I believe that if an author very clearly and on many occasions forbade making movies based on his books, jumping at the first opportunity after the copyright expired seems like a really low blow.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. hahaha love your “for/not for” section as usual- I definitely fit into the “for” and I couldn’t stand the Hobbit movies. Great review! I really do think that the CGI stands up to today’s standards (but I’m totally biased, because these films are my favourites 😉 )

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Hard to believe it has been seventeen or so years since Peter Jackson’s first Lord of The Rings movie transported us to Middle Earth. The Hobbit movies had very good parts to them and parts that felt like a Super Mario Bros version of Middle Earth. That barrel ride down the river in the second movie is a good example of Nintendo Middle Earth.

    Liked by 1 person

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