DIRECTOR: Peter Jackson
May Contain Spoilers!
The Fellowship Of The Ring was the long, long-awaited first installment of the legendary Lord Of the Rings trilogy to be committed to celluloid. But, unless you were a fantasy geek, who cared?
I can’t say that I was too bothered at the time, and was often left baffled by the amount of time which was being lavished upon the film in magazines and other media of the day. I’m more into Sci-fi than fantasy but that didn’t stop me taking an interest and a pew at the local multiplex to see what all the fuss was about.
Well, after 172 minutes and a numb bum, I wasn’t too impressed. This was a three-hour, ‘part 1’ of a trilogy, rather than a film in its own right. ‘What a jip!’ I thought as I regained the use of my legs and made my way out of the auditorium. But, I liked it enough to watch it again when it came out on DVD, and it fared a little better but was far from the masterpiece which everyone was talking about.
But that November, 2002, New Line released the first of the Extended Editions, now pushing the running past the three and half hour mark but that only served to encourage me. So, a year later and after something like 220 minutes, I was a changed man, certainly as where Lord Of The Rings were concerned. Finally, I began to get it. It took the extra material to flesh out the story even more for me to appreciate that it was the story that was the story.
The plot is relatively simple. An evil lord (Sauron) has forged a pile of magical rings, passed them out to the leaders of Middle Earth and has kept the Master Ring to rule the rest and in turn, taken over the world. But, the world has risen up against him, killed him, took his ring to be destroyed but the human king failed, and was seduced not only by the power of the ring, but by its supernatural soul as it were, as it was bonded with the Dark Lord, Sauron.
So, 3000 years later and the ring needs to be destroyed as Sauron is almost ready to return and wreak havoc on the world once again. The Ring tough, is now in the hands of a Hobbit named Frodo Baggins, a member of a peaceful race of little people who are drawn into the conflict and a journey which will take him far from comfort of his home to the darkest regions of the world.
After that, it all down to the details, and there are details up on details here. This is one of the most well crafted worlds that I have ever seen, with almost nothing left to chance. The effects are brilliant, with Weta Digital, more recently famous for their work on Rise Of The Planet Of The Apes, skillfully blending CGI, Live action and Model Effects to create the perfect world.
At times though, the pacing can seem long-winded and plodding, but the more you watch it, the faster it becomes but that’s no excuse really. This long-windedness does put some people off and especially so with children who would normally be lapping up fantasy such as this. I do feel that it would have been possible to compromise a little without comprising the story in a real way, but saying that, it stands as a testament to real film-making, blending action, pacing and narrative to the maximum effect, translating a long saga into a definitive film series.
The cast are superb and the direction equally so, as were the production team at every level who got this right, and the results are right there on the screen for every to see and enjoy. This is how to make a blockbuster movie adaptation and with The Hobbit, (the prequel) due out later this year, we can only hope for more of the same.