I came into the theater not knowing how much I really knew about the Tolkein world - I hadn't read the books, but there was something familiar in my head from my youth that was pretty sketchy. As the film unfolded, it seemed I was aware of the events in The Hobbit, the prequel to the Lord of the Rings trilogy. In that sense, the movie was largely new to me, but it served well to have some background.
It seems like I've reviewed a lot of films "based on previously published material"... and there's a common set of problems with them. Characters don't seem to be developed well, gaps appear in the story, and there's just a general feeling of something missing.
Fellowship makes an extraordinary translation to the screen. The producers should be lauded for allowing for three movies instead of one, and more so for boldly going for a three hour film (at least for this installment). The reason it works is all about the pacing. The characters are given a chance to breathe on screen, to show more of themselves than just how badass they are in battle. Without this characterization, and being able to see how the characters all relate to the Ring, the whole thing would be a beautiful big failure.
The effects and scenery obviously are the work of a lot of money. And such money is seen so often these days, it's beginning to lose its impact. That's why it's so important to have a balanced effects film to keep the audience's mind off guard. Mind-numbing effect after mind-numbing effect will produce thoughts of "oh, this is supposed to impress me" in the audience.
But, no, the movie is not perfect. There's stuff that's skipped over or only explained in passing. There are too many characters. It's not as bad as it could have been though. It can be followed by anyone, though fans of the books will surely enjoy it more.
Full profile for The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring
Offsite info: Internet Movie Database
Review: Above Average 4/10 mastadonfarm
Review: The One to Rule Them All 8/10 SillyconJester
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