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9.0

Universal acclaim- based on 1439 Ratings

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  1. Apr 23, 2015
    9
    In the pantheon of fantasy writers, no diety is treated with greater reverence than J.R.R. Tolkien, who is regarded by most readers as the Father of Modern Fantasy. During the past three decades, the fantasy area in bookstores has expanded from a minor subsection of science fiction to a major category in its own right. A couple dozen titles have been replaced by hundreds. Fantasy has goneIn the pantheon of fantasy writers, no diety is treated with greater reverence than J.R.R. Tolkien, who is regarded by most readers as the Father of Modern Fantasy. During the past three decades, the fantasy area in bookstores has expanded from a minor subsection of science fiction to a major category in its own right. A couple dozen titles have been replaced by hundreds. Fantasy has gone from being a cult genre to entering the mainstream. This would not have happened without the popularity and influence of Tolkien's The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings. Nearly every published fantasy author acknowledges having read and been inspired by Tolkien's canon, and, while The Lord of the Rings may not be the longest or most complex fantasy series to date, it remains the standard against which all similar works are measured. It is the epic fantasy series.

    To say that fantasy movies have not been a big draw at the box office is to understate the matter. A lot of this has had to do with the poor quality of the product. Consider the evidence: titles like Willow, Dragonheart, and Dungeons and Dragons. Finally, 2001 has seen the belated emergence of fantasy as a legitimate cinematic genre. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone was one of the year's most anticipated releases and, by the end of December, it will be one of the top money-makers of the past 12 months. Now, along comes The Lord of the Rings, as anticipated for 30-50 year olds and Harry Potter was for their children.

    As entertaining as Harry Potter may be, it cannot hold a candle to The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring. With this production, Jackson has used The Lord of the Rings to re-invent fantasy for the cinema in the same way that the novel provided the blueprint for the written word. This astounding movie accomplishes what no other fantasy film has been able to do: transport viewers to an entirely different reality, immerse them in it, and maroon them there for nearly three hours. The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring brings Middle Earth to glorious life. From the first moment of the first reel, I was there.

    In crafting his vision of Middle Earth, Jackson has employed all of the tricks available to him: miniatures, deceptive camera angles, location shooting, impressive set design, and matte paintings. He has also made use of computer graphics, but not to the extent that another director might have. Thus, The Lord of the Rings has a less artificial appearance than might have been the case if Jackson had relied too heavily on CGI technology. Andrew Lesnie's camerawork has the grand scope expected in an epic motion picture, and Howard Shore's score, which is at times heroic and at times thoughtful, compliments the visuals without ever calling attention to itself.

    The Lord of the Rings is not an actors' movie, but each member of the cast acquits himself or herself well. Of special note are Ian McKellan, who presents Gandalf as a vulnerable and sympathetic figure; Ian Holm, whose Bilbo Baggins is a weary and tortured individual; and Elijah Wood, who shows the gradual changes in Frodo as he is transformed from a carefree hobbit to the person upon whom the fate of the world rests. Some recognizable names fill small roles - Liv Tyler is surprisingly good as Arwen; Cate Blanchett is cool and regal as Galadriel; and Christopher Lee brings his chilling presence to the part of the treacherous, traitorous Sauruman.

    The strength of Jackson's vision as depicted in The Fellowship of the Ring gives movie-goers cause to hope that we may be in the midst of a cinematic achievement. If The Two Towers and The Return of the King live up to the standard set by this film, The Lord of the Rings will become a milestone not only for its genre, but for motion pictures in general. But, regardless of what the future brings, the single movie we now have before us stands out as one of the most rousing examples of entertainment to reach multiplexes in a long time. At last, someone has figured out how to do an epic fantasy justice on the big screen.
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Metascore
92

Universal acclaim - based on 34 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 33 out of 34
  2. Negative: 0 out of 34
  1. 100
    I see it as nearly perfect: It's one of the best fantasy pictures ever made.
  2. An extraordinary work, grandly conceived, brilliantly executed and wildly entertaining. It's a hobbit's dream, a wizard's delight. And, of course, it's only the beginning.
  3. 70
    Above all, Jackson evokes an almost palpable sense of the will to power trapped within the ring. Without this evocation of the ring's insidious ability to sniff out the potential for corruption and capitalize on it, the entire enterprise would be precious drivel.