For those of you who, like me, were disappointed by HARRY POTTER AND THE
SORCERER'S STONE, as well as for those of you who can't get enough of
magical tales, New Line Cinema has the perfect answer: THE LORD OF THE
RINGS: THE FELLOWSHIP OF THE RING.
Directed with dark intensity by Peter Jackson (HEAVENLY CREATURES), the film
pushes the limits of its PG-13 rating. Decapitations in PG-13? Excuse me?
"Are you frightened?" Aragorn a.k.a. Strider (Viggo Mortensen) in an early
scene asks Frodo Baggins (Elijah Wood), the story's convincingly vulnerable
hero. "Yes," Frodo replies with wide eyes. "Not near frightened enough,"
Strider corrects him.
HARRY POTTER works best for the eight-to-twelve age group, but THE LORD OF
THE RINGS is inappropriate for most kids under twelve. For those old enough
to see it, THE LORD OF THE RINGS is definitely the more rewarding of the
Sharing the majesty of opera composer Richard Wagner's own ring series, THE
LORD OF THE RINGS has a bold, stirring score that's easily the best of the
year. As the music moves your ears and heart, the sets will delight you
eyes and mind. Filmed in the director's native New Zealand, the sets range
from enchanted cottages to skyscraper-sized stone sculptures.
The intricate story concerns an all-powerful ring. Like many people, I've
never read any of J.R.R. Tolkien's books about the ring. Nor, for that
matter, any of the Harry Potter books. Prior knowledge isn't necessary for
THE LORD OF THE RINGS although I suspect the books' many fans will be able
to appreciate numerous subtleties that I missed. If you don't know the
story, be sure and see the movie from the very beginning as the opening
explanation is quite helpful.
The ring is an extremely challenging and dangerous possession as Frodo finds
out when the ring passes from Bilbo Baggins (Ian Holm) to him. Both of them
are Hobbits, which is a race of half-height people with wide and very hairy
feet. There are many different races in the story, as well as some quite
scary characters. One race of bad guys appears rather like the Borg from
Star Trek. The hardest monster to defeat looks like a mutant Shrek on major
steroids. Between considerations of the mythology, there's a lot of
fighting, some of which will remind you of similar scenes from STAR WARS.
But, when the going gets tough, Gandalf (Ian McKellen), Frodo's tall mentor
and protector, sometimes resorts to "Run!"
My only complaint? Like HARRY POTTER, the film could stand some trimming.
I would have liked it even more if it were a tad shorter. Having now seen
the first one, I can't wait for the two sequels, which have already been
filmed and are going to be released for the 2002 and 2003 Christmas seasons.
THE LORD OF THE RINGS: THE FELLOWSHIP OF THE RING runs 3:00. It is rated
PG-13 for "epic battle sequences and some scary images" and would be
acceptable for kids around 12 and up. The MPAA should never have said "some
scary images." There are many extremely scary images in the movie.
Copyright © 2001 Steve Rhodes