The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring

By Mark Ramsey | 2001/12/08

So much fuss over a ring. It is, you see, the ring that rules all other rings – the ring-leader, so to speak.

The ring seduces, the ring poisons, the ring brings great power and carries with it great evil. The ring’s magnetically attracted to its Dark Master like O.J. to a tee time. Fore!

The ring was “forged by the Dark Lord Sauron in the fires of Mount Doom,” an unfortunately titled location unlikely to appreciate even in the most robust real estate market. Hey, who would have pegged the Dark Lord for a craft-maker? Where does he find the time betwixt all that evil-mongering? Didn’t he also create the Suzanne Somers collection on the Home Shopping Network?

lord_shoot.jpgThe Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring, like the classic adventure book on which it’s based, is set in Middle-earth, home to Dwarves, Humans, Wizards, Elves, and Hobbits.

Hobbits are little moppet-haired humanoids – picture the kids from Eight is Enough with hairy feet. When these bite-sized Hob-lettes fight it’s like a skirmish between goofball Gary Colemans. Do you punch his lights out or pinch his cheeks?

Wizard Gandalf joins Hobbit Bilbo for a smoke. Bilbo puffs a smoke ring and Gandalf puffs a tall ship to sail through it, thus solving the riddle of what it was they were smoking.

“Do not take me for a conjurer of cheap tricks,” Gandalf warns Bilbo, as he greets some kiddies and conjures cheap tricks.

Bilbo, who holds the powerful ring, is growing old and is evidently going nuts, so he gives the ring to his nephew, Frodo. But Frodo must destroy it in order to permanently squelch its evil. And that means un-making it in the place it was forged.

Thus begins Frodo’s adventure.

Along the way, Gandalf seeks the help of his wizardly peer Saruman. Alas, Saruman has turned to the dark side, which Gandalf should have expected since Saruman is played by Horror icon Christopher Lee. Chris is the Face of Evil – in fact, there’s definitely something evil on his face and I believe they call it the “nose.” “Beware,” said Chris, “I can navigate without light or stars, simply by triangulating the scent from every Mrs. Fields franchise in Middle-earth.” It’s remarkable that Chris’s neck doesn’t call it quits and send his chin crashing into his chest!


Frodo and his crew are chased by Ringwraiths, Goth black-cloaked figures on charcoal steeds – the Marilyn Manson equestrian team. They are neither living nor dead, but instead exist in that netherworld where one finds the cast of Beverly Hills 90210.

Frodo gets stabbed by one of the bad guys and requires Elvish medicine which, it turns out, does not mean the kind from Viva Las Vegas. It means doctoring by the Elves, those magical, creative folk, who live in a community which seems to contain Middle-earth’s largest concentration of Bette Midler fans and eventual residents of Key West. The Elves are master archers as well as future masters of arch comedy. In the heat of battle, they feverishly launch a firestorm of arrows in a fiesta of Freudian symbolism.

Elf Queen Cate Blanchett nymphs about, glowing white. “Frodo,” she says, “even the smallest person can change the course of the future. Just look at Jeffrey Katzenberg.”

Over hill and dale go our intrepid team, encountering many opportunities to look more like pixels than people. They also run into some fantastic demons, including one monstrous beast with genitals the size of Manhattan. “Hello, 42nd Street!” quipped one Elf.

There are tons of weapons in this movie: Swords and arrows and axes. You’d think folks who’ve mastered magic could whip up a gun or two. “Ah, background checks are a bitch,” explained Gandalf.

Fellowship boasts breathtaking images and, thanks to Mr. Tolkien, a story that’s second to none. But it’s not for the weak-bottomed; this is the long, scenic route through Middle-earth, folks. Nevertheless, it’s an entertaining and worthwhile journey, better than Harry Potter in that this adventure for all ages isn’t preteen-centric.

If Frodo fails and the Dark Lord regains the ring, it’s the end of the world. Shouldering this burden is an enormous strain on poor Frodo who wishes the ring had never come his way.

“So do all who live to see such times,” says Gandalf. “But we can’t choose our time. We can only decide what to do with the time given us.”

Good advice for all times.

Photos Copyright ©2001 New Line Cinema


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