(Check out the list so far)
The Movie: The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring (2001)
One Sentence Plot Summary: Various species team up to try and destroy a ring and end up doing a lot of walking before splitting.
Why It’s on the List: I did an entire podcast on this franchise, so I will probably keep this write-up minimal. In many ways, this is my favorite of the three even though there really isn’t a huge battle scene or definitive ending. The world building in this movie is absolutely perfect. Peter Jackson is invested in the movie and trying to get people unfamiliar with the source material to also feel invested. The way he slowly introduces Middle Earth with wide shots and seeing various different characters within the species is the kind of thing I wish other filmmakers could take note of when trying to create their own worlds.
We slowly get introduced to the main characters as well. Gandolf and the hobbits essentially dominate much of the first hour while Aragorn isn’t introduced until about a third of the way through. Then the rest of the fellowship are essentially introduced about halfway through at the big Council od Elrond. Each of our main characters are very much distinct too, both in their personality and from a visual standpoint. Although the four hobbits are important, Sam, Frodo, Mary, and Pippin have distinct characteristics. What always strikes me is the way we see Boromir bond with the hobbits and then sacrifice himself in the end. Boromir is a character who is destined to die, but Jackson makes you care about him in less than an hour.
It’s 20 years later and I continue to be impressed by all the right decisions that got made for this to be successful. So many fantasy properties, even Peter Jackson’s Hobbit trilogy, have fallen well short of what this film achieved. I will discuss more about the trilogy in the next couple days, but this is the movie that got me into fantasy storytelling and Middle Earth as a whole.
*Galadriel and Arwen, more specifically Liv Tyler and Cate Blanchett, really deserved to be a bigger part of these movies. Blanchett especially seems wasted.
*The racial overtones of the Orcs being black while all of the protagonists are white has never sat well with me, and it’s something to consider in these times.
MVP: Peter Jackson is the one who wanted to make this into a trilogy just like the books. He’s the one who had a vision for how to shoot the height disparity. Even though this movie is 20 years old, it still mostly holds up from a technological standpoint. He turned New Zealand into Middle Earth. There’s really no other option even though so many people busted their asses to make this into the visual feast it turned out to be. Jackson is the only choice for MVP for these three films.
Best Performance: Ian MacKellen is really the centerpiece of a lot of the action. He dies about two hours into the theatrical cut and really seems to serve in the Obi-Wan Kenobi role. He sells the hobbit world and integrates himself into the wizard world as well. He rightfully received a nomination for this role and probably should have won.
Best Quote: “So do all who live to see such times. But that is not for them to decide. All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given to us. There are other forces at work in this world Frodo, besides the will of evil. Bilbo was meant to find the Ring. In which case, you were also meant to have it. And that is an encouraging thought.” -Gandalf
Is there a sequel? Duh.
Check out Jerome’s podcast review of this movie.