Friday, January 7, 2011

Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring

Lord of the Rings is an interesting series, in that it starts out extremely strong with this movie and sort of subtly decays the rest of the way. Naturally the worst of the three films is the one that won best picture, but this movie probably should have. The extended cut is alright I suppose, it extends the first half of the film which is the best part of the series, but after Khazad Dum the extra portions are fairly unnecessary.

The best villains in the series are all in this movie. The bodily form of Sauron right at the start, the Nazgul on Horseback which are infinitely more terrifying than those on Winged Beasts, the first Cave Troll, and the Balrog. Those Nazgul in particular are amazing, sort of chilling every time you see them and their massive horses. I very much like the parallel between the horse's sounds and those of the Ringwraiths. While I suppose they are somewhat easily defeated at this point they're still riveting for that hour or so that they show up. One thing I would've liked to seen more in the movies is the Naz taking on 40 or 50 guys and winning easily, but alas. The Balrog is probably the most visually impressive thing in the series and the whole Moria sequence is fantastic. Even the last part of the movie at Amon Hen is great because Boromir is awesome.

Sean Bean is a strange actor, he dies in every movie he's in but he's great up until he dies. While not precisely a villain in this you still get a nice sense of dread every time he's on screen mixed with a blend of heroism. He is the most human character in the films, Aragorn and Gandalf (well, eventually) are both untouchable Gods basically, Legolas and Gimli are invincible foreign beings, every Hobbit except Sam is worthless until the third film, but Boromir is sort of a natural arrogant man whom anyone could show compassion for. Faramir is pretty solid too, but not quite as epic nor ever dichotomous.

Characters aside this movie is nearly flawless in presentation and music/sounds. While the soundtrack gets tiring by the third movie it was still fresh and excellent in this film. This was filmed in New Zealand and many of the sets and areas were actually built or filmed. While there is a lot of CGI it blends pretty well, possibly still the best use of immersive blended-CGI in any film, while Avatar may be more visually impressive the entire damn thing is CGI, as are many modern movies. However Peter Jackson managed to make these films a perfect mix between the two, only using CGI when necessary and rather famously building the a fullscale portion of Minas Tirith. The first hour or so of the film is mostly scenes of the Shire's countryside which is all lush and beautiful and it really does draw you in along with the cheery music at that point.

Alright, there's one really obvious flaw with this movie and that is the last scene. It can be summed up as "And they walked over a hill; the end," there's about a hundred different ways they could have ended the movie to make it more interesting and still draw interest from the sequel, but that sure as hell wasn't one of them. While the ending is still better than Return of the King's extremely boring slog for an hour it is still not very good. The Two Towers has an excellent ending, and while it is not better overall it still holds up pretty strong and is quite re-watchable. Return of the King is going to be painful to watch as always but oh well, here's to next week!
Fellowship is a Masterpiece.

Final Grade: 9.5/10

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