By PHILIP WUNTCH / The Dallas Morning
The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring unfolds with pomp and ceremony, sound and fury. Also, with a sense of fun and games.
The lavish first installment of the J.R.R. Tolkien trilogy will appease Middle-earth fanatics and please the noninitiated. Those who wish to read mystical elements into the good-vs.-evil saga of young hobbit Frodo Baggins will thrill at the movie's lofty intentions and execution. Those who just want to have a good time will feel like they're watching The Mummy, with brains and sensitivity added to the spectacle.
A few cautionary notes are in order. The film's 178-minute running time seems just like ... three hours, no more but no less. In transferring the Tolkien volumes to the cinema, the filmmakers have excluded only a few characters and situations. The result is plot-heavy rather than cumbersome, but do pick a 'plex with comfortable seating.
Also, the stupendous battle scenes are in the Braveheart mode. Although blood does not spurt from every wound, you can sense the crunching of bones and the piercing of flesh.
Ian McKellen makes a noble wizard Gandalf, and Viggo Mortensen a hearty warrior Aragorn. Elijah Wood, as the enterprising Frodo, manages to look consistently perplexed without being overly passive.
But the real hero is director Peter Jackson, who handles the proceedings with both a flair for operatic grandeur and a respect for intimacy.
Published in The Dallas Morning News: 12.19.01.
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