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Lord Of The Rings - The Fellowship Of The Ring

''Even the smallest person can change the course of the future'', says the Lady Galadriel, Queen of the Elves, and no truer words were ever spoken. Fans of J.R.R. Tolkien's classic trilogy will finally get to experience firsthand the epic journey of one small and brave hobbit on a quest to destroy a powerful--and small--circle of gold.

Story

It all begins in the quiet village of Hobbiton where Gandalf the wizard (Ian McKellen) comes to visit his old friend Bilbo Baggins (Ian Holm) on his 111th birthday and talk about the ring Bilbo found many years ago. Gandalf discovers the ring is indeed the One Ring of Sauron-the Dark Lord who once ruled Middle-earth with a terrible hand and has now risen to reclaim the Ring and rule again. Bilbo gives the Ring to his nephew, Frodo (Elijah Wood), who learns how it gives its possessor unspeakable power and why it has now put his village in danger. Suddenly Frodo is thrust into a treacherous mission. With his hobbit friends Merry (Dominic Monaghan), Pippin (Billy Boyd) and Samwise (Sean Astin), Frodo leaves his beloved home to travel to the Cracks of Doom and destroy the Ring before it falls into the wrong hands. The journey is fraught with dangers--from the evil Ringwraiths, Sauron's henchmen, to the powerful wizard Saruman (Christopher Lee) and his army of horrible mutants called the Uruk-Hai. Luckily the hobbits receive help along the way from Legolas (Orlando Bloom), an elf, Gimli (John Rhys-Davies), a dwarf and the brave humans Aragorn (Viggo Mortensen) and Boromir (Sean Bean), who all join the Fellowship of the Ring to protect Frodo and help save Middle-earth. But can they escape the lure of the Ring?

Acting

The all-star cast does an admirable job bringing the vivid characters of Tolkien's books to life. They've all managed to personalize their roles while dealing with the responsibility of portraying fictional icons. The film belongs to Wood, who has proven he can carry a film (even at the tender age of 11...remember Radio Flyer?). His Frodo is so wrought with emotion and gets kicked around so much, you feel like joining the Fellowship yourself just to help him out. Yet, the hobbit's strong resolve is also quite evident. As Gandalf, McKellen seems to personify the kindly wizard as if Tolkien had written the part for him, and as the hyper-kinetic Bilbo, Holm tries on big, hairy feet and brings something new to his repertoire of characters. Other worthy performances include Bloom as the ultra-cool elf Legolas, Astin as the stalwart Sam and Bean, an underrated actor, as the tortured Boromir, who falls under the Ring's spell and sacrifices all to break from it. Some of the other characters didn't have the same amount of screen time but will more than likely be getting more play in the sequels, including Mortensen's heroic Aragorn, the man who would be king, and his lady love, the elven princess Arwen, played by the beautiful Liv Tyler. It'll be interesting to see how the cast will handle their characters in the sequels to come.

Direction

Lord of the Rings looks nothing less than spectacular. What is even more impressive is the fact that director Peter Jackson decided to film all three of the books at one time, no easy task by any stretch of the imagination. He uses all the technology and wizardry available to filmmakers today and thrusts the audience deep within the treacherous and exciting Middle-earth. From the diminutive hobbits, to the Elven city Rivendell to the dark Mines of Moira, it's all there. The amount of talent involved in creating the film--the conceptual artistry, the production design, the costumes--should be recognized come Oscar time. The pacing of the movie is excellent, with enough down time and heartfelt, if sometimes stilted, speeches to counteract the incredible action sequences. You hardly notice the three hours passing by, and it leaves you at the end wanting the quest to continue. The only one deterring fact is that the film really is for its die-hard fans. Certainly in the literary world, Tolkien's story is the mother of all epic fantasies, and Jackson has remained faithful to the material. In that, the movie doesn't necessarily have the universal appeal of, say, a Harry Potter. Nonetheless, Rings is a breathtaking piece of filmmaking.

Bottom Line

If you are a true-blue Rings follower, or even if you enjoy a good epic fantasy quest, the film has it all and will certainly not disappoint you.