The Fellowship of the Ring is a great movie made from a great work of literature
By MIKE ROSS
There's one line in The Fellowship of the Ring that isn't in the original book.
On a quest to drop an evil ring into a live volcano, for lack of anything better to do, our adventurers pass through the dreaded Mines of Moria, where they are chased by Orcs, a Cave Troll and, finally, a Balrog, badass demon of the underworld.
With the caverns falling to bits around them, the party runs to the edge of a chasm too wide for the Hobbits to jump, so Aragorn and Boromir toss the Halflings across the gap. Then it's Gimli the Dwarf's turn. He balks, "Nobody tosses a dwarf."
That's it - the one joke J.R.R. Tolkien never came up with. The rest of this remarkable film, the first of The Lord of the Rings trilogy now in local theatres, is so true to the original novel that the avid fan might be disappointed by the lack of suspense. All the key scenes are here, rendered exactly as the author described - and Tolkien was a stickler for detail. If you've read the book, you know how it all turns out, much like Harry Potter.
Unlike Harry Potter, this is a great movie made from a great work of literature. If you haven't read the novel yet, wait.
The introduction to the film, opening in theatres today, gives all the background you need, while leaving you spellbound.
Not since the original Star Wars has a motion picture delivered such a magical, transcendent experience of pure fantasy.
Not since Jurassic Park has there been such frightening monsters.
Not since Lawrence of Arabia have we seen such an epic saga of adventure and heroism.
In a film that doesn't sacrifice story or character for special effects - which are astounding - director Peter Jackson has recreated Middle-earth and its people down to the smallest detail. It cost nearly $300 million US and three movies to do it.
The rest is easy. Just follow the story and you can't go wrong. The only thing that could ruin it is bad acting, and Liv Tyler has a small role.
As Bilbo the Hobbit, Ian Holm is perfect, as if he were meant for the role.
He portrays the Halfling hero as a kindly, noble spirit driven to the edge of insanity by the evil power of the magic ring he possessed.
Only through the ultimate strength of character is he able to give it up.
It's not just any magic ring.
The One Ring was forged by the Sauron, the Dark Lord of Mordor, to enslave all of mankind - plus hobbit-kind, elf-kind and so on.
The devil was apparently slain in a massive battle that took place 3,000 years ago. Now he's back, he's pissed, missing a finger and hunting for his treasure.
All we see of Sauron is his fiery red eye, trained on anyone who dares to wear the One Ring. It renders the wearer invisible only to mortals. The surreal ring effects are like nothing seen before.
After a close brush with the Ringwraiths sent to kill the ringbearer, Bilbo's nephew Frodo (Elijah Wood, a Hobbit actor if there ever was one) volunteers to take the evil bauble into the heart of Mordor and drop it into the fires of Mount Doom from whence it came.
He gets help from his Hobbit pals Sam, Merry and Pippin, from the human fighters Aragorn and Boromir, from the Dwarven warrior Gimli, the Elvish archer Legolas and Gandalf the Grey.
Ian McKellen is brilliant as the wizard. The actor gives a nuanced performance creating a character filled with power, mystery and human weakness.
The Fellowship is off, sallying forth across the breathtaking, digitally enhanced scenery of New Zealand, whose snowy peaks and lush valleys are as close as you can get to Middle-earth without actually building your own continent.
There is much standing in their way. Christopher Lee, the 79-year-old actor who plays the evil wizard Saruman, commands the screen with sinister glee.
The inevitable Wizard vs. Wizard battle scene makes Harry Potter look truly tame. Saruman is breeding Orcs, too, low-level monsters that wreak havoc upon all they see.
They're easy to kill - but there are plenty more where they came from.
Long as this film is - just about three hours - it never seems that long. The action rarely lets up. Remember, there are two movies to come. There's a lot of ground left to cover and at least one more central character to meet.
This attempt to bring the tale beyond the printed page delivers all the magic and adventure Rings fans dared hope for - and leaves them wanting more.
the Edmonton Sun
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