The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring
Directed by Peter Jackson
Starring Elijah Wood, Ian McKellen, Liv Tyler, Viggo Mortensen
I hate Peter Jackson.
I’ve said it.
It’s what has been boiling inside me since the end credits rolled Saturday night when I saw part one of The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring.
I hate Peter Jackson.
“Why?” You ask.
Well, simply put, he has ruined movie watching for me.
After viewing the first third of his breath-taking adaptation of The Lord of the Rings, I am afraid that every other “blockbuster” will pale in comparison.
Before this, I could easily go watch Star Wars Episode 2: Attack of the Clones and just turn off my brain and enjoy it. So what if George Lucas doesn’t have the best actors or dialogue. It looks cool!
Before this, I could watch Men in Black 2 and say, “well, at least those aliens look neat.”
I can’t imagine going to see Batman Forever (much less Batman & Robin) after this.
I can’t imagine watching that awful Dungeons & Dragons again – although I enjoyed myself at the discount theater when I saw it the first time, tongue planted firmly in cheek.
I can’t imagine that Stallone Judge Dredd after this.
I had high hopes for Spider-Man next May. Now I’m worried.
For, you see, I was trying not to expect too much from this film. That was difficult, as I know how much Peter Jackson loved the story, and I know the caliber of actors he had with him. But I was prepared to accept whatever was out there and not be too disappointed, as I have been burned too often in the past.
Then I read a couple of non-spoiler reviews. And my hopes rose. I was afraid something would ruin it for me.
I enjoyed the Episode 2 trailer, despite the people walking in front of the screen, trying their best to ruin my day.
But, when the film rolled, I was transported to Middle-Earth.
While the prologue giving the history of the Ring was cool, and caused some cheers form the audience, I merely enjoyed it.
When the action moved to the Shire, however, I was in trouble. You see, there was Frodo Baggins, reading a book under a tree. Years before, in my Fantasy Lit class in college, I cast a dream movie for LotR. Elijah Wood was my choice for Frodo.
Maybe it was pride at knowing I had made the right decision way back in ’95. Maybe it was the incredible scenery as Gandalf rolled past those beautiful hobbit-holes. Maybe it was all of it put together, but tears began to roll down my cheek. I had waited so long to see someone care so much about something the way I do to bring it to life like this, it was too much for me.
I cheered when Wolverine first popped his claws in the X-Men movie. And I enjoyed that movie. But they didn’t go all they way. They pulled back. I know, I know – budget concerns, time constraints, rushed schedules. But it wasn’t the Marvel universe.
This was Tolkein’s Middle-Earth.
It was everything I had hoped for, and more.
I would not let mortal men distract me from this experience. Six cell phones rang throughout the movie. People behind me talked too loud. A couple of kids were crying. I did not care. I was in Middle-Earth. I was in Bag End. I was with Sam and Frodo at the Prancing Pony. I saw Rivendell and Lothlorien. I heard the Horn of Gondor.
About a quarter of the way through, I was saying, “If this film is not showered with every award, it will be a crime.” By the mid-point, I was saying, “This film is above all of those awards.”
This film transcends genres and types. It is epic, blockbuster, art, cool, fantasy, action, adventure, romance, buddy, comedy, and more.
What about the rest of the movie? Parts two and three?
Don’t I want more?
When X-Men finished, I wanted more! Right then! More mutants, more action, more character development! More! More! More!
When Unbreakable finished, I wanted to know “what happened next?”
But for this, I can wait.
The Fellowship satisfied me in a way no film has for quite some time, maybe ever.
So, for The Two Towers and The Return of the King, I can wait.
In fact, I look forward to the wait. I have two more Christmas presents for the next two years. I know that The Lord of the Rings will be waiting for me.
That is a good feeling.
But as for other movies, I don’t know if they can stack up anymore. I don’t know if I can forgive them for bad acting, writing, or effects anymore, now that I know what one crazy Kiwi is capable of giving us.
Peter Jackson is a genius. I love Peter Jackson for what he has given us. I hate Peter Jackson for raising the bar so high for everyone else.
Thank you Peter.
(Some other thanks:
To Moriarty and Harry at Ain’t It Cool News for warning me about this movie.
To Tony Isabella, on whose message board a version of this review first appeared.
To Julio Diaz, who read that post and convinced me to run it in Ink 19.
And, above all others, to my lovely wife Gina Wood, who purchased tickets for me as soon as they went on sale, shared the experience with me, and promised to repeat it for two more years.)