My rating on a 1-10 scale: 10
Genre: Adventure, fantasy
Series or set: Lord of the Rings
Number in series: 1st
Primary actors: Elijah Wood, Sean Astin, Viggo Mortensen, Orlando Bloom, John Rhys-Davies, Ian McKellen, Christopher Lee, Cate Blanchett, Liv Tyler
Length: About three hours
Based on: Fellowship of the Ring by J. R. R. Tolkien
Time period: Fantasy
Year it came out: 2001
My overall opinion: Well, I’ve reviewed this before, way back in early 2011 when I first watched this trilogy, and when I had just started Austenitis. Back then, I reviewed much differently than I do now. I was still learning so much…still am, but I know more now than then! So, having now seen the movies four or five times, I figured it was time for a complete review – of a length that only true devotees would actually read the entire thing. This time, as I watched, I kept notes…and each movie took a full notebook page, with ROTK taking 1 and 2/3. Really. That review will be exceptionally long. Well, so is this one...over 2000 words (with this addition). But for now…here we go! I’m doing everything mostly chronologically here, in order of my notes.
WARNING: There is no attempt to avoid spoilers. None whatsoever. So...if you haven't seen it and you want some things to stay mysterious, don't read this. But if you have seen it...HERE WE GO!
Hobbiton: I love the cheerful hobbit scenes that are filling the beginning of this first movie. They are so light and happy and easy-going…the scenes and the hobbits (perhaps not so much the light part ;). I am a girl who loves happy things, so these scenes are a refresher to me, since I know how dark the rest of the movies get. It’s especially nice to see Frodo still healthy and cheerful and clean and smiling. He changes a lot over the movies.
Gandalf: Oh I love that guy! Sir Ian McKellen makes the perfect Gandalf! I love his hat. He is awesome and stunning as ever.
Bilbo: Well, now that Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey is out, this is the wrong Bilbo, of course. But still…he does well enough.
Soundtrack: This soundtrack is so stunning! I’m listening to it as I write…inspiration, you know. Howard Shore did an unbelievable job with it, giving places and characters their own themes, but not so many that you can’t keep them apart. I’ve listened to this soundtrack dozens of times, and there are songs that (played loudly enough) still give me goose-bumps. :)
Pippin and Merry: Everyone loves these two! I confess, I’ve never been able to tell them apart…or rather, remember which is which. I know all the classic ways of keeping them apart…I just can’t remember them. HOWEVER, I think I’m getting better with each viewing. :D They are so hilarious with the firecrackers in the beginning scenes! I do love their friendship, and they’re pretty cute little guys.
Ring: It’s so menacing, even at the beginning! However, I must admit to being very glad that they included its history like they did. Of course, it’s sprinkled throughout the three movies (especially in the opening of the third…disgusting, but that is for another review). But seeing the history is so much clearer than reading it…I’m really glad Peter Jackson included that.
Quotes: These movies are unbelievably quotable. Probably a couple of quotes will crop up yet in this review…but I’m going to try not to use too many, and perhaps later do a post on them. For now, I just have to throw in one… “Even the smallest person can change the course of the future.” – Galadriel
Black Riders and Saruman: They are both so frightfully creepy! The Black Riders are menacing, same as the Ring…hidden faces, ragged clothes…you know they’re bad. Even the bugs know…remember the scene where one of them hunches over the edge of a little dell where Frodo, Sam, Pippin and Merry are hiding, and all these creatures (creepy crawlies!) come oozing out? Yeah. It’s gross. And Saruman…how anyone could trust him is beyond me, but dislike of him is well-ingrained in me, so I don’t suppose I can judge. Christopher Lee does amazing as Saruman – truly creepy. Oh, one thing that just occurred to me…at least in the normal length editions, you never see what happens to him, do you? I don’t think so. That’s a problem.
Special effects: There are some amazing ones! I’m not sure what scene we were on when I wrote that note, but there are so many throughout all three of the films that I’m sure you won’t have any trouble remembering some. These movies are stunning with those!
Peter Jackson: FINALLY! I spotted him in Bree! He looked quite like himself too, and I’m surprised I haven’t seen him before. I think I maybe also saw him in the third movie (we’ll see once I get to that review) but not in the second. But it made my day to spot him! Here, a picture.
Aragorn: All I wrote here was “ARAGORN! LOVE.” Yeah…that pretty much sums it up. He’s so handsome, so awesome, so great with a sword, so amazing, so brave, and he says “If by my life or death I can protect you, I will.” Simply lovely! And yes…I do love his relationship with Arwen as well. He’s simply great, definitely a favorite part of the movies for me. Which makes me sound totally fan-girl…I just might be. Viggo Mortensen rocks here!
Weathertop: It’s such an interesting place, perched on top of a hill like it is. All fallen buildings and dark crevasses. And then getting encircled by the fearsome Black Riders! Oh, it’s a stirring scene. Frodo and the hobbits attacked by the Black Riders! And my favorite part? Aragorn rides in and does a fiery rescue. Ha, those Black Riders set on fire! Ah, it’s a wonderful thing.
Trolls: I spotted them! Success! And they looked just like the ones from HAUJ. Score, Peter Jackson!
Rivendell: It’s so lovely in Rivendell – these scenes always feel peaceful. Of course, here we have
Elrond’s Council – great music. And I love seeing all the races of people gathered – men, dwarves, elves. And of course, it’s at Rivendell that we really meet Elrond and Boromir and Gimli and Legolas and somewhat Arwen, though technically she’s just before Rivendell (to be met, in a part inaccurate to the book). And I love the scene at the council where Sam runs in to accompany Frodo and then Merry and Pippin pop out too. So funny! Oh, and we see Bilbo again. And he has a freaky Gollum moment…ugh.
Legolas and Gimli: Yes, I had to give these (super cool) guys their own section. Because they’re such a wonderful part of all three movies! Of course, I’ll mention them more later. But for now…suffice to say that Legolas is simply smashing. And so is Gimli. Both so stalwart and strong and, well, handsome. Love them both! Btw...it's not just me thinking Legolas' eyes switch color, is it? Cause I'm convinced that in at least one scene they were definitely brown or at least a very dark color. And in other scenes, distinctly blue! Your thoughts?
Boromir: Oh Boromir. This was actually my first time to watch and not cry over the end of this film. It took some intense concentration. He’s got the right things at heart, the well-being of Minas Tirith, but pursues them in the wrong way. You know you should absolutely hate him, and there are definitely some times when you dislike him, but when he dies, his death is so noble…you (usually) can’t help but cry. Poor Boromir. Kind of a villain you can’t quite hate, like Javert in Les Mis. And after all, he’s the one who says “One does not simply walk into Mordor.”
Passage of Caradhras: And so the Fellowship travels on, finally coming the mountains. Oh, the Passage of Caradhras…yikes! It’s one scary cold scene. So much deep snow and so much wind. I was indescribably glad I wasn’t with them right there. Truly miserable. And Saruman controlling the weather…that’s just freaky.
Watcher in the Water: What is it anyway, some sort of overgrown prehistoric octopus? Definitely something I would like to encounter. It’s…huge and slimy and so many legs. But in the book, if I remember right, it’s an intelligent creature (or perhaps…no, I don’t think so, but maybe Saruman controls it?) and goes straight for Frodo. It obviously has enormous strength as well, because it absolutely walls them into…
Mines of Moria: You may think me strange. But? This is my favorite scene sequence in any of the three movies, with the possible exception of the entire 30 minutes or so at the end of ROTK (beginning with A’s crowning). Mines are amazing, and these are certainly no exception. Gigantic, dark, echoic, scary, monumental, impressive. I’ve oohed and aahed my way through these scenes time after time. So excuse me if I’m a little exuberant. Oh, and we get our very first glimpse of Gollum here too! (Incidentally, there is a severe lack of Moria pictures on the web, which is where I get all my pictures....just video game pix, which don't work, so excuse a lack of Moria photos).
Cave troll scene: You remember the cave troll, of course. Have you ever noticed that Aragorn uses a bow and arrows there? My question…where did he get them? He is very proficient and good with them…but he uses that instead of his sword. Random observation. And of course, the whole fight is quite fascinating. Such a slow troll, very dim witted obviously, but very heavy and strong. Dangerous. I do love it when Pippin and Merry rescue Frodo! YAY! They’re so awesome together. :D
Moria in general: There’s a ton of gray…really makes the fiery reds and oranges stand out when they reach those immense stairs. Of course, some of this whole scene isn’t accurate to the book…but I’m used to it and like it just as well. :) Their whole race along those perilous steps is unbelievable. In an amazing way. So dangerous and fast! I did wonder this last time through tho…what in the world is burning down there? Is it like a volcano or something way down deep? I don’t know. And the whole collapsing steps -- *heart-pounding scenes.* But remember…”Nobody tosses a dwarf.” Until the next movie, at least. ;)
Balrog: And then, despite that fast and dangerous race…they encounter the balrog on the bridge. Ah, the balrog is indeed a fearful creature…can you imagine fighting several, like back in the earlier Ages? Nearly invincible. But they all make it across the bridge and then Gandalf stands there… “You shall not pass!” And then! Oh great joy, the balrog falls and all is well…until the whip snakes back up and down goes Gandalf. After harshly whispering “Fly, you fools!” Oh, that scene is a tear-jerker for sure if you don’t know the books/movies...and maybe even if you do. (And yes, that picture isn't straight from the movie...close enough though.)
Lothlorien: On to Lothlorien. Such an amazing structure! I can’t imagine the work it took to build these sets, though no doubt much of it is in miniature. And here we meet Galadriel, and less importantly, Celeborn. And Haldir too, right? That bowl that Galadriel has Frodo look in is freaky…but then Galadriel resists the temptation to take the Ring! That too is a freaky scene. And here it is that Galadriel says “Even the smallest person can change the course of the future.”
Boromir’s betrayal and death: I’ve already covered this a bit up in the Boromir paragraph. Poor Boromir. He’s so awful and fully despicable and despisable (and yes, I’m making that a word). And then he turns around and dies defending two hobbits. *sob* I’m going to cry just thinking about it. SO sad and SO good. He is so brave and noble there at the end. Oh my.
Aragorn’s stand: As Frodo runs away, Aragorn fights off how many orcs? I don’t know, but it’s a lot. And maybe they’re Uruk Hai. Either way, it’s a lot of nasty beasts all against him…and he triumphs! And then Pippin and Merry also fighting and trying so hard to distract them from Frodo…which they do, only to have Boromir come rescue them. They’re such stupid brave little hobbits – did I mention I love them?
Sam: Sam has never been a favorite LOTR character for me, and neither has Frodo. But Sam chasing Frodo there at the end is great. He’s going along and there’s no stopping him. It’s a good thing too! But I love how he chases after, and then Frodo saves him from drowning. It’s good. Yup. Good.
Aragorn take 3: “Let’s hunt some orc.”
THERE! Did you read it all? If so, fist-bump! Very few people will actually read the entire thing, but even if you didn’t…hope you enjoyed what you did read. Now comment and tell me…
Do you agree with my takes on characters?
What scenes are your favorites?
Did I point out anything you hadn’t noticed before?
P.S. Go to my Spotlights page (click here) to find spotlights on several of my favorite LOTR characters!