(out of 5)
Sprawling adaptation of the first of J.R.R. Tolkien’s trilogy of fantasy novels (and the first of a trilogy of films) that centre around the adventures of pure-hearted hobbit Frodo (Elijah Wood), who must undergo a journey to destroy a ring that turns its bearer towards the evil pursuit of world domination. In the first of the three films made from these wonderful novels, Frodo forms a group of friends who accompany him on his journey towards the destruction of the ring he has in his possession, but it soon becomes clear that the jewel’s power over weak hearts is too much for them and they end up possibly endangering him more than helping him. Beautifully photographed and designed, the film benefits mostly from director Peter Jackson’s perfect pacing that never allows the film’s lengthy running time of three hours to ever feel tiring or overindulgent. Another plus is the casting, with an all-star roster of talented actors filling in the roles that dominate Tolkien’s imaginary world: Cate Blanchett as a powerful elf sorceress will actually stop your heart, Liv Tyler as an elf princess is stunning, and Viggo Mortensen and Sean Bean are terrific as the human men in Frodo’s company who are the most susceptible to the ring’s powers. Ian McKellen steals every single one of his scenes with his layered performance as the powerful wizard Gandalf, and the film is peppered with terrifying moments that you will never shake off before the whole adventure is over. Naturally, its being a part of a trilogy means that there really is no ending, but thanks to Jackson’s incredibly good emotional structure the film has a healthy sense of closure before it ends, making the wait for the next adventure not so grueling.
Directed by Peter Jackson
Cinematography by Andrew Lesnie
Music by Howard Shore
Production Design by Grant Major
Film Editing by John Gilbert