Peter Jackson's The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring is certainly the grandest and most skillfully made cinematic spectacle in recent memory, surpassing even Star Wars -- perhaps the most venerated science fiction series in cinematic history -- in terms of creativity, adventure, and sheer enjoyment. Swift, economical (in spite of a nearly three-hour running time), and extremely engrossing, Jackson starts his tale with a brief and essential history of Middle-earth and its inhabitants to bring moviegoers unfamiliar with J.R.R. Tolkien's epic novel up to speed, while greatly impressing Tolkien's longtime fans with great flourish and a bit of inside humor. And so it goes from the lush and rolling meadows of the Shire to the bleak and infernal wasteland of Mordor, all vividly realized by Jackson's team of screenwriters and special-effects technicians who are all well on their way to receiving a bevy of awards for their amazing work. As for the cast, one would be hard-pressed to assemble a more perfectly suited ensemble. The three main characters -- as portrayed by Elijah Wood, Ian McKellan, and Viggo Mortensen -- are the real life force of the film's narrative, each giving astonishing performances with characters that could have very easily been made into caricatures had they been essayed by lesser actors. The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring does have some very minor narrative problems, mostly involving some very brief explanations of certain plot elements, while a handful of the secondary characters -- particularly Gimli (John Rhys-Davies) and Legolas (Orlando Bloom) -- are not quite fully characterized. These issues, however, have more to do with the audacity of attempting to cover the entirety of a 400-page novel in three hours than with some deficiency of the script. As it stands, Jackson's The Fellowship of the Ring is the ultimate fantasy film, thereby making the next chapter of the saga, The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers, one of the most anticipated films of 2002.
by Ryan Shriver review