I've waited my whole life for this film. In fact I wanted
to make it myself. The Lord of the Rings is, of course, my favorite
book of all time and I've read it at least 10 times in the last 30 years.
All this made my expectations way too high for Peter Jackson's live-action
version of The Fellowship of the Ring but I couldn't help it.
And I was a bit disappointed. I saw it again and I liked it better
but I'm still a bit disappointed. Peter Jackson has made a heroic
effort. Shooting in New Zealand was perfect. Everything looks right.
The casting is great. Unfortunately in adapting the book for the
screen, in which hard choices obviously had to be made about what and how
much to include, and about what and how much to change, Peter Jackson has
decided to make The Lord of the Rings into some kind of action-adventure
movie. What is lost is the characters and their motivations and therefore
a lot of the heart of what I love about it has been lost. After a
lot of time spent in the Shire which could have been shortened to save
time for other things The Fellowship of the Ring moves from chase
to fight and back again. Most characters come and go with little
introduction or explanation. If you've read the book, you know who they
are, if not, you'll be a bit confused through the whole movie. The
pivotal scenes where characters could be developed and introduced have
been pared away. In their place, we have Orcs and more Orcs.
Jackson builds up Saruman as some kind of super-villain. He even
has a Matrix-type fight with Gandalf. And then the story becomes
one long Orc fight. Some things are just weird if you are a fan of
the book. When the hobbits meet Strider in Bree, we never get the
scene where they try and figure out who he is. It's a good thing
they don't have the rhyme about the sword that was broken because low and
behold, Strider pulls out his sword and it's not broken! And then
for some reason, they have Elrond saying that Aragon can't be king because
he ``has chosen exile." Some changes are better than others.
It was a nice idea to increase Arwen's role by having her save Frodo at
the Ford. Although, I have to say this scene is much more exciting
in the book. This is another problem. Peter Jackson has only directed
small films before this and I don't think he is quite up to the task of
bringing an epic to the screen. The direction is pretty clunky.
The big scenes lack drama. And the music doesn't help. Another
example of what should have been an exciting scene but wasn't is when Boromir
is killed trying to save Merry and Pippin. First of all, having them
jump out in front of the Orcs and yell, ``over here, over here,'' is stupid.
Then, any drama is leeched out of the scene with the endless shots of the
super Orc drawing his bow to shoot Boromir. The main point at the
end of the first book is the helplessness that Aragorn feels as all his
decisions seem to go awry. So instead of him failing to find Frodo and
arriving too late to help Boromir, Jackson insists on instant gratification.
So Aragorn meets and talks to Frodo and then gets to lop off the head of
the Orc that killed Boromir. All this being said, the movie is pretty
good. The special effects of making the hobbits and Gimli look small
work very well. It's one thing making Elijah Wood small. He's small
to begin with but how did they squish John Rhys-Davies so small!
The other big special effects, the cave troll and the Balrog aren't quite
so good. Jackson liked the cave troll way too much. He had much too
much screen time. The entire cast including Ian McKellen (Gandalf), Ian
Holm (Bilbo), Viggo Mortensen (Aragorn), Sean Bean (Boromir) and Orlando
Bloom (Legolas) all look and act just right for their parts and it takes
your breath away to see them. Unfortunately, Jackson felt he had
to dumb down the story for the movie and stick to the action. But you gotta