Critics praise one film to rule them all
By Corey Ullman
11 December 2001
LONDON (Reuters) - The early reviews are in and it looks like Frodo the Hobbit is set to run rings around Harry Potter.
After Monday's glitzy world premiere of the ambitious and much-hyped film epic "The Lord of the Rings", critics lost no time in proclaiming the boy wizard a mere pretender to the true magic of Frodo and friends.
"Forget Harry Potter, this has the true ring of greatness," the Daily Mail newspaper declared.
The Mail's film critic, Christopher Tookey, called the first film in director Peter Jackson's adaptation of J.R.R. Tolkien's trilogy "an awesome feat of imagination and daring".
"Critics who gave five-star ratings to Chris Columbus's competent but uninspired Harry Potter movie are going to have to find 10 if they are to do justice to 'Fellowship of the Ring'," he said.
"Harry Potter, be prepared to fall on your broomstick," said Daily Express showbusiness correspondent Mark Jagasia.
The Sun said the fantasy plot was brought to life by the most realistic of effects and sets, which put Potter's Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry to shame.
"No matter how far-fetched the plot or the characters, all scepticism is blown away by the sheer scale and realism of the sets, make-up and special effects," it said.
"For all its wonderful sets, Potter looks, by comparison, like it was filmed in a garden shed."
Ever since their release dates were announced, the two films -- each set in a fantasy world of magic, wizards and young heroes -- have been expected to cross swords at the box office.
Harry Potter opened in theatres worldwide last month to mammoth acclaim. But now critics say Harry Potter is child's play while "The Lord of the Rings" may become a celluloid masterpiece.
Top accolades were saved for the epic battles and grandeur of the sets in which the lush forests, lakes and mountains of New Zealand are transformed into Tolkien's mythical Middle Earth.
The three-hour film moves at a swift pace and even children should be held spellbound for the duration, young critics said.
"It is amazing as I thought it would be. I like action and there is lots of it," said 14-year-old schoolboy turned critic Richard Earl in The Times.
But a few critics did resist the power of the ring.
"Peter Jackson's three-part work is a visually impressive achievement, but utterly, utterly uninvolving," said The Evening Standard's Alexander Walker.
"Like many A-list filmmakers today, Jackson appears not to go to see other people's movies. Had he done so, he'd have realised that plenty of fantasy epics are every bit as stupendous looking -- or pretentious -- as his own."
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