The Fellowship of the Ring
This may contain spoilers, but no ending is revealed. As if you'd need me to reveal the ending to this one.
In keeping with tradition, I'll make the font white so that you have to highlight text to see it.
Before I get into my raving about this film, let me preface with a disclaimer. I am a Tolkien fanboy. No written word has impacted my life so much as The Lord of the Rings. It began in the 7th grade when my friends and I would pass notes in class written in the runes from the Hobbit. Since then, I have often pondered on how I would make a film version of this story if ever given the chance. I've cast the parts of the saga, down to insignificant extras, too many times and in too many different incarnations to count. I've waited with a measure of dread and eager anticipation of this day for years. Could Peter Jackson
, or any person for that matter, bring off a screen translation of this my most beloved tale?
The answer simply is a resounding "YES!" I have never in my life sat through a film experience that even approaches the majesty that unfolded before my eyes this afternoon. The opening historical sequence of the Last Alliance of Men and Elves captures the mythic proportion of the Silmarillion (if you haven't read it yet, do). The places that I've pictured so vividly in my mind were constructed as if they sprang out of my own vision. The Shire, Bree, Rivendell, and most of all....Moria. This is Tolkien's world.
I also must admit a large degree of trepidation from the cast list. I was particularly nervous about the casting of Sean Astin
as Samwise and Liv Tyler
as Arwen. Sam is my favorite character from the trilogy, so I was understandably hesitant to see him played by "that Gooonies kid." However, Astin delivers Sam spot-on, with the intense loyalty, devotion, and emotion that the character demands. Tyler is solid as Arwen, and the changes to the original story to accommodate her as a more significant character are small. Most fanboys were really upset about her, but it worked well, and I have no complaint. Basically, this film was expertly cast. Kudos to Elijah Wood
managed a depth of acting ability that I never thought possible for him. He fully comprehended the complexity of Frodo, and portrayed his transition from a carefree, happy Hobbit to the troubled, beleaguered ringbearer who carries the weight of the world around his neck. Sean Bean
was even able to bring balance to Boromir, a character that has never previously held any compassion from me.
MINOR SPOILER ALERT!!! His final battle scene is one of the most powerful character deaths I've ever watched, reminiscent of John Wayne's death in The Cowboys.
The technicals. Here's where I have to put in the obligatory nod and say that the special effects were stunning. They were, but I don't care. The purpose of special effects is to make the world immersive and the story believable...to help the viewer suspend their disbelief. FX for their own sake are neat, but do not make a piece of crap into a spectacular film. (Are you listening George? You used to believe this.) With some notable exceptions, the effects in Fellowship are so seamless as to do just that. They highlight and support the story, not the other way around. There are a couple of obvious matte jobs, and I was not particularly pleased with the treatment of Galadriel's test. Also, I must admit a smidge of disappointment in the Balrog, but I won't elaborate. The battle scenes are better than anything I've seen on film, more awesome than Braveheart
, more moving than Saving Private Ryan
. Jackson delivers them in a mixture of fast-paced frenzy and agonizing slow motion that makes me feel like I'm reading them again for the first time, eagerly picking up my reading pace to see what happens next.
Comparisons to Harry Potter
are inevitable, the two coming from such beloved books and being released so close to each other. I've said it before elsewhere that an adaptive film can be loyal to its source by two measures: by literal translation, or by attempting to capture the (for lack of a better term) soul of a story. HP was to me a truly faithful adaptation using the former approach, and a very good film in spite of its failure to deliver a lot of the magic that made millions love the books. Fellowship goes the latter road. Lots of things are changed, moved around, or left out entirely. But I never felt cheated. The spirit of Tolkien's story is not only captured by the film, it oozes from every character, every scene. It is to me, much more faithful to its original than any adaptation I've yet seen because it wasn't just about putting a visual up in front of me. I felt the same way I did 17 years ago when I read the books. The same sense of awe and wonder, the same emotion (I cried twice in this movie), the same surges of eager anticipation.
I'm going to have a hard time separating this film from the two to come. In truth, they are one movie delivered in three segments, and I'll probably treat them as such. But for now, The Fellowship of the Ring has made an indelible mark upon me, and catapulted its way into my personal Top 5 list. If Frances Walsh
doesn't earn an Oscar
for best adapted screenplay, it'll be a crime. engel, this is the definition of a tour-de-force. Everybody roll over and make room for Peter Jackson, he just made it into "The MAN club."
Select below for more of where the movie differs with potential spoilers.
I can nit pick this movie to death if I were so inclined, but for those of you who want some discussion , here goes. The timing between Bilbo's departure from the Shire and the beginning of Frodo's quest is altered significantly. This creates some problems later on as it appears that Bilbo has aged a number of years in an extremely short timespan, whereas in the story, a time lapse of about 17 years separates the two. While I understand why it is done, it annoys me whenever someone adapts this story and leaves out Tom Bombadil. The entire Crickhollow/Old Forest/Barrow Downs section is omitted for time. If you have to make a cut, that's the place to do it though, even if I don't like it. I thought that the tone of the Council of Elrond was too combative, and smacked more of an angry UN meeting. The entire sequence at the Argonath where Frodo is confronted by Boromir is re-worked with significant changes, but I actually felt that this worked quite well. One of the alterations that I dreaded most was the treatment of Saruman's breeding of the Uruk-Hai. I was pleasantly surprised that this remained as loyal as it was to the books, and did not feel that it significantly detracted. These are the biggies. There are a thousand little nits to pick, but for what purpose? If any of you really want to pick nits together, I'd be glad to discuss it in Comments or on #userfriendly.
Posted by Mithrandir at 04:51 PM
Behind Enemy Lines
Yup, another high rated movie. Not really deserving it you may say, after hearing other reviews of it. Yes, Owen Wilson needs his nose fixed, and yes, Gene Hackman really really
needs to un-brand himself (well, I'm not sure about that). This movie however, I went into with pretty slim expectations. I hadn't heard that much about it, but I did see a few interesting looking trailers. It looked like a standard war type movie. And you know what? It was.
It's a pretty simple plot. Some Dude (Owen Wilson) is a navigator for a recon jet that is part of the NATO forces for the Bosnian war. Dude gets sent to take pictures. Dude gets shot down. Dude must get out alive. It's actually the plot of 99% of the other war movies out there.
First of all, if you're a plane buff of any type, or a flight sim buff, you are going to absolutely love
the flying scenes. I have no frame of reference for how "accurate" it is, but it seemed more "real" than other movies. The sequence where the F-18 is shot down was absolutely amazing, worth the $9.50 CND admission in itself (IMHO). Just awsome
. The rest of the film goes pretty much as expected, with a few twists and turns here and there, and lots of great action sequences.
The only thing that I found really annoying about the movie was some of the action sequences were filmed in ShakeyVision(tm), first perfected in Gladiator. Sometimes they'd go into that weird half-the-frames-and-dull-colors mode that we first saw in the first battle in Gladiator. Other times the director (John Moore) does this artistic stop action thing. I suppose it depends on if you like that sort of thing. It wasn't over-used or overly annoying, but I thought it was worth mentioning. As far as the script goes, don't expect Shakespeare here, no, not by any means. It's adequate and the people involved play pretty much their expected parts. The young buck, the old man, the bad foreigner, the evil hunters, and the even more evil stalker. My rating, 4.5/5, but then again, I'm a big plane buff, so YMMV :)
Posted by Arcterex at 04:49 PM