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…and my first stop on the journey is Peter Jackson’s turn-of-the-century blockbuster trilogy, The Lord of the Rings. Tonight, I lay my first offering on the alter of fantasy films:

The Fellowship of the Ring

2001

Do I have to name the cast? Really? Ugh.

Elijah Wood as Frodo Baggins, a Hobbit
Ian McKellan as Gandalf, a gray wizard
Viggo Mortensen as Aragorn, a mysterious man
Orlando Bloom as Legolas Greenleaf, an elf prince
Ian Holm as Bilbo Baggins, Frodo’s Hobbit uncle
Sean Bean as Boromir, an honorable man
John Rhys-Davies as Gimly, a dwarf
Hugo Weaving as Elrond, an elf
Christopher Lee as Saruman, a white wizard
A whole bunch of other well-known actors as men, elves, dwarves, Hobbits, and wizards
Directed by Peter Jackson, father of two adorable Hobbit children

Don’t ask. It just felt right.

Synopsis: a ring of power has been discovered, and along with it, a growing sense fear and darkness, sweeping its way back into Middle Earth. Once the decision is made to destroy the ring, the Fellowship is formed to aid the ring-bearer, Frodo Baggins, on his quest. We only see part of the journey, since it’s a trilogy; you’ll have to devote another 6 hours to the second and third installments. The first contains plenty of back story to tie in the legendary characters from the prequel, The Hobbit, as well as adventures, new friends meeting, and new enemies uncovered. It’s an epic fantasy tale that, while long, still isn’t as long as the book. So if nothing else, that’s a plus.

The first film in a trilogy is always where one sets the bar in terms of quality, and I feel that Jackson and his team nailed it. Why? Well, here’s a small handful of reasons:
• The cast. Holy CRAP. It’s a who’s who of fabulousness. Among the principle cast (the first 20 or so, I suppose), there have been (to this date, not the release date) dozens of acting nominations and wins. So much talent. They really become their characters. In this chapter of the trilogy, I think the Hobbits and Gandalf really take the cake. Light the fireworks. Wash the dishes. Shock everyone with their resilience. Take care of business.
• The sets and locations. The cinematography won the Oscar, and the nomination for set design was well-deserved. What amazing locations! I absolutely adore Hobbiton and Bag End! Filming in New Zealand was the perfect choice.
• The little bit of humor sprinkled in. It’s very subtle, but more noticeable than in the book. I love it dearly, and will reread it for the rest of my life (every few years; it’s long!), but it’s very…wordy. The screenplay helps everyone appreciate the magic of Tolkien.
• I love getting to know the Hobbits at the beginning. Seeing them in their natural habitat. Drinking and singing in the pub. Chillin’ in the gardens. The simple life. I think I could be a Hobbit. I’d have to live in a community of Hobbits, though…those feet would get in the way in other types of society, methinks…
• Moria. A very awed, hushed, breathy woooooow. As much as I love the outdoors in Fellowship, this may be my favorite location. Figures…CG. Couldn’t be real.

Weepy Meter: 5/10 The movie’s long enough that you get attached to the characters, so of course you’re going to be affected by their situations. Bad things happen to good people/Hobbits/dwarves/elves/whoever, and you feel. I feel at about an 18/10, but that’s me. As you know.

Man Meter: 6/10 Epic fantasy adventure. Fights, weapons, creepy adversaries. But he’s already seen it (or he’s not worth your time…this is a good way to judge the character of your movie date). Since it’s long, you may have a hard time convincing him to watch it again. Unless you lucked out and picked a nerd…they get this whole fantasy thing.

Overall Rating: 8/10 Excellent. But for me, there were a few unanswered questions, a few scenes that could have a bit more in terms of explanation…unless you’ve already seen the other two films, in which case you know the answers. The best is yet to come. Stay tuned…

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