SPOILERS FOTR Review: Eclipse Magazine (D+) – “One 3 Hour Long Exposition that Goes Nowhere”

by Dec 4, 2001Lord of the Rings (Movies)

To put this review in context, you should be aware of this announcement the reviewer, malexandria, posted on her website when she learned she was invited to the film’s screening:

“I’m catching it on Monday morning and rumor has it it’s 3 GD Hours! I already hate it. They are really being tight asses with this movie. You have to bring your pass, rsvp on the phone, and bring an id. Like they don’t know who we are (at least the regular reviewers). They also won’t let us bring any guests. It’s ridiculous the press list has 500 people on it, and they all come crawling out of the woodword for the big movies, so tomorrow there probably will be at least 300 people there. Of which I would say only about 50 people are probably legitimate reviewers. Where for a movie like Kate and Leopold only 7 people show up (the regulars).”

You will also note the factual errors in malexandria’s review: “Australian director Peter Jenkins,” “Sean Austin” playing Sam and “Sean Beam” playing Boromir.

Then, there’s the crude language used by the reviewer.

Still, it is a review that was published on an established film review site, so here it is for your perusal.

Every once in awhile a film comes along that has such a rabid, large and irrational following that any comments by a reviewer becomes completely meaningless.

New Line Cinema’s much hyped, long awaited, and overblown three hour epic Lord Of The Rings is just such a film. If I say anything other than “this film is the ‘best’ damn movie on the planet and should get nominated for every award possible”, I will get flooded with hate mail. But you know what? I don’t care. Bring on the love.

Let’s start this review with some basic background information.

“One ring to rule them all, One ring to find them. One ring to bring them all and in the darkness bind them.”

Tolkien’s work was said to have a profound effect on generations of readers, defining for many the archetypal struggle between good and evil, and was voted in worldwide polls the “Book of the Century.” Just proves to show you how useless polls are. It set the benchmark for the modern epic in its creation of an entirely new and thrillingly vital universe. It introduced an unforgettable hero – the Hobbit Frodo Baggins – caught up in a war of mythic proportions in Middle-earth, a world full of magic and lore. Most of all, it celebrated the power of loyal friendship and individual courage, a power that may hold at bay even the most devastating forces of darkness.

Since the books’ initial printing in 1954, more than 100 million people worldwide have read the tales of the Hobbit, and the Ring that started it all. Supposedly at least 10 percent of all fantasy books can trace its lineage back to L.O.R. I for one would like to know where these figures come from. Do these studios pull these figures out of their asses?

Now, the legend that Tolkien imagined is finally being brought to life on the motion picture screen, an undertaking that has required nothing less than one of the most colossal movie productions ever embarked upon. In an unprecedented move, or maybe New Line Pictures knows that it has a sure fire blockbuster on it’s hands, they spent the last year and a half producing all three films simultaneously.

Australian Director Peter Jenkins, who is best known as the creator of some of goriest sequences ever put to film, seems to be an odd choice for a fantasy movie like L.O.R. But he does a nice job of directing here. After a year of watching loud films, where the director seemed to insert himself and his “visual” style into every shot (i.e. Behind Enemy Lines, any recent Steven Soderbergh or John Woo film), it was refreshing to sit back and watch a big budget, major studio release, where the director was actually happy to let the story drive the film. He parked the camera and just let it stay there.

While watching the film you couldn’t help but marvel at the amount of love and care that went into the early shots of this film. The first half hour of the film manages to suck you into its rich landscapes, and the initial back-story about the forming of the ring. You can start to believe the hype about Tolkien having influenced almost every science fiction and fantasy writer around. I can now see tracings of L.O.R. in everything from Iron Man bad guy “The Mandarin” to the Zelda games. As a matter of fact the hobbit villages were impressive indeed, it was as though the Nintendo adventure classic, “The Legend of Zelda” had come to life in all its Technicolor glory on the wide screen.

The problem comes with its weak story and one-dimensional characters. Which becomes even more pronounced as the movie drags on. Before we go on, I must say that the Fellowship of The Ring is but one part of a three part trilogy.

In this film we are introduced to the happy go lucky Frodo Baggins played by Elijah Wood, who gets hold of a ring that has the power to destroy the world if the big bad guy gets his hands on it. Of course we never see the big bad, because he’s actually a spirit, that you don’t see, just mentioned. And his spirit is part of the ring. I would assume that in the 2nd or 3rd part we get to see the embodiment of said evil spirit. Yeah baby, seeing the film’s big bad being nothing more than an “evil spirit” really goes a long way towards making you want to believe in his evilness.

The ring has been known to corrupt anyone who has ever gotten near it, and eventually starts to corrupt his uncle (at least I guess it was his uncle because the film never made it clear what the relationship between the two were) who has lived for 110 years and has achieved immortality because of the ring. For people who haven’t read the books, think “The Dark side” from the Star Wars films. The film never really makes it clear whether or not the Frodo’s uncle was aware of the ring’s true power. All we see his uncle do with the ring is turn “invisible” in front of the entire village.

As he slowly become more engulfed in the potential evilness that is the ring, his longtime friend the wizard Gandalf played by an unrecognizable Ian McKellen convinces him to give up the ring in order to save his “soul”. Frodo inherits the ring and all the problems that come with it.

He is forced to go on a quest to seek some elves, when the elves can’t help him, he decides to take the ring to the place it was originally created and destroy it. To help him on his quest are representatives from all the other races of the world who are also threatened by the presence of the ring.

Each member of the band have their own reasons for joining in the quest, but unfortunately the film never explains what those reasons are. For that matter we really don’t know the main motivation for Frodo’s initial quest to begin with or get any back story to what makes him tick. Other than the fact that he’s being chased by the film’s big bad, it’s never fully explained why he’s so willing to give up the ring. At times he is of course tempted by the ring’s power and actually uses it on several occasions, so maybe in the next two installments he’ll be drawn to the “dark side” so to speak. As far as acting goes, each actor does an adequate job with the material that they have.

Orlando Bloom who plays the silent but deadly Archer, Legolas has a shear presence on camera. When he springs into action, it’s fun and exciting. Elijah Wood has great chemistry with his fellow on-screen hobbits, Samwise (Sean Austin), Merry (Dominic Monaghan), and Pippin (Billy Boyd). When the rest of the fellowship is finally introduced in the elfin villages, the audience, or at least I did stopped caring about what happens to the ring or the people of middle earth.

In the beginning of the film, Andrew Lesnie’s cinematography is simply gorgeous and beautiful. The cornfields, the grass, and the hobbit huts shine and truly sparkle. The hobbit village is lush and vibrant, the fireworks sequence was truly impressive to behold. Once the Frodo began on his quest, the film took a “darker” turn. It went from being beautiful to look at to being dark and ugly. Granted the look goes hand in hand with the tone of the film, which was basically them running and hiding in the dark, but after awhile it got annoying and boring as the types of visuals became fairly plain and blah.

When the rest of Frodo’s companions are introduced, it is done in such a quick fashion that it was hard to make out everyone’s confusing names and to figure out what everyone’s true purpose and reason for being part of the fellowship was. The few times they did say each other’s names, it was in such a mumble that it was plain confusing to figure out who was who.

I know there was an exiled heir to the throne, named Aragorn (played blandly by Viggo Mortensen), someone named Boromir, (played by Sean Beam) and I swear to god, both of these guys look like the could be twins to me, the aforementioned Legolas, and a dwarf played by John Rhys-Davies. He played a dwarf, but he looked to be the same size as everyone else. After sitting there for 3 hrs, I want to see something called “story development” not one long exposition about a ring. Tell me who these people are, what makes them tick, why they are on this dangerous quest.

Now I’ve been told by several people that the books delve into further development of the fellowship members in the 2nd and 3rd installments, but again, I think it’s too easy and too much of a cop out for the audience to rely strictly on the fact that their will be a part 2 and 3 of this story. The music by Howard Shore was mediocre and non-inspiring at best. In the worst-case scenario it would have been sleep inducing if I had to listen to it without the benefit of actually watching a film.

The special effects in the film were adequate but nothing that would really make today’s movie goers go gaga over. The film’s non-descript monsters and ogres, had a ho-hum, been there done that quality. As a matter of fact they looked like they belonged in “The Mummy Returns”, several of the fight sequences, looked like they were slapped together and the camera work and lighting didn’t do anything to enhance the already shoddy look. There was nothing special about them, nothing that made you stand up and take notice,

It seems obvious that the producers and directors didn’t stray very far from their source material. I’m sure the people who have read the books will understand what the hell is going on and will look forward to the next two installments. It’ll do nothing for people who haven’t read them than maybe, making you curious enough to pick up part 2 and 3 of the book, which I may do.

As someone who has never read the books, I can safely say that I did not understand what all the hype was about. I tried reading The Hobbit, but got really bored with it and the writing style halfway through it. As a matter of fact the hype turned me off of this movie and the long running time of three hours didn’t help me get excited about the L.O.R. experience as well. So I’ll freely admit that I went into the film with preconceived notions about what it was going to be like. As I’m sure millions of Tolkien fans throughout the world will be. As I’m sure millions of people went into Harry Potter with their preconceived notions. We all have our inherit biases when we make a music purchase, or decide what films to see, it is up to the film to change our minds or live up or down to expectations that we and they set for it. Harry Potter wowed me and L.O.R. didn’t.

The film ends up being one 3 hour long exposition that goes nowhere, leaves you feeling cold and quite frankly pissed off.


Submit a Comment

Found in Home 5 News 5 Lord of the Rings (Movies) 5 SPOILERS FOTR Review: Eclipse Magazine (D+) – “One 3 Hour Long Exposition that Goes Nowhere”

You may also like…