FTLComm - Tisdale - Sunday, February 3, 2002
 
I realise that I am pretty late with this review as most people have already either seen it or made their decision not to see it but in our family movies are important and several members have already voiced their opinions and since this movie is one of three that will appear over the next two years it needs some alternative comment.

First let's consider what my brother said about the movie. He raved about it and said it is one of the best movies he has seen. He had read the books and like that way the movie interpreted them on screen. His criticism of the movie was that it was a three-hour movie with no break and young viewers as well as old became somewhat restless near the two-hour mark. I noticed this as well but though understanding the kids getting up and coming back in during the last hour of the movie I found myself checking out the theatre clock hoping that it would soon end.

My father, who is a real movie buff, gave this one a big thumbs down. He felt that a movie should be able to tell a story on its own and even if part of a three part series this one has no conclusion and he really felt that he wasted the three hours sitting through it.

As for my sons, number two son is a television and movie editor and he dismissed the thing outright refusing even to see it.

I think you would have to consider these impressions, as a mixed review so I went to the picture with what I hoped was an open mind. I had read the Hobbit but not the three Lord of the Rings books. This gave me a setting but I was hoping that I would not need the movie explained to me as with Harry Potter which is completely incomprehensible without having read the books.

The Lord Of The Rings is the first of a three part movie series that tells the stories in JRR Tolkienís trilogy of a mythical world inhabited by various beings from elves to the cheerful hairy-footed hobbits. The plot of the stories is to save the world from the totally evil bad guy of all time. To get through this the writer engages in one impossible battle after another and in this opening three-hour chronicle to its end, it is a horrifically violent war movie.

What I saw was Tolkien's vision of hell as depicted by the magic of motion pictures. Monsters of all kinds, some imported from Grimmís brothers and others of his own making are battling away, wraiths, ogres, even a demon or two, a couple of wizards and every one is scary. As my father said, "this is not a children's movie." I think he was understating the fact that as far as violence goes this one went the limit and then some.

Now for some background. JRR Tolkien was a South African whose family returned to England where he grew up and went to very fine schools. He was an officer in World War I and left the war early in 1916 because of what was called then, "shell shock". Today we know that to be posttraumatic syndrome, which essentially turns about one in every five individuals involved in combat into severely affected people. He also married in 1916 became an Oxford collage professor and in his spare time wrote about a world that he created.

As I watched the movie I realised I was viewing the therapy of a man monumentally disturbed by the horrors of war. World War I was the kind of event where the individual soldier not only felt completely helpless but was completely helpless, blasted by artillery, forced to run at machine gun placements or die before a firing squad, every man was a loser, even surviving was losing as the horror of thousands upon thousands of human beings killed in such a mechanical and remorseless manner made most survivors feel that those who died were the fortunate ones.

We have all heard that "War is hell!" Well, in the Lord of the Rings Hell is all there is. In one scene a demon composed of what appears to be a bull's head and the body composed of flames, attacks the band following in the quest to save the world. Like most of the scenes in the movie I found this one very disturbing and clearly coming from someone was struggling with overwhelming demons and much of the time losing.

The main characters are the five hobbits, timid small of stature, pure of heart and terrified beings, essentially World War One foot soldiers.

The issue perhaps, does this movie and the ones that follow in the series, have artistic and entertainment merit? It really depends on what sort of thing you want from the money you spend on your down time. I would not go to Schindler's List because I just didn't need to suffer the anguish one more time of thinking through the awful tragedy of the period of human history, nor did I go to Gladiator. So if you went to those movies and felt transcended, than maybe you will enjoy the rigours of living in the mind of a World War One survivor.

The Lord of The Rings is splendidly shot in New Zealand with absolutely outstanding sets for the Hobbit village and their homes. The mines and ruins littered with countless dead are the battlefields while these are the dead lands. The marvellous beauty of the mountains, meadows and outdoors scenes are equally and opposite in their captivating beauty. Mercifully the amount of computer graphics is woven into the scenes to in most cases not seem obvious with the exception of the ugly massed battle scene that opens the picture which reminded me of several computer combat games that use the same borrowed characters from Tolkienís stories.

Though without an ending the movie hangs together, tells a story in a series of almost Indiana Jones style adventures and is understandable without having read the book.

I do have one truly annoying complaint about the cinematography. Hobbits are little guys, bigger than dwarves but still smaller than full sized humans. The fabulous characters cast to play these folks are smallish people but the director insisted on switching to children whenever he went to a long shot of the group.

All in all Lord of the Rings would have been okay at ninety-minutes but it is an hour and a half to long. I do not recommend it especially to someone who just wants to go to a movie to be entertained. However, I feel compelled to see the next one just to see how things progress, I wonít like it, but I will likely go. When I compare it to other big name movies, this one even without an ending makes enough sense compared with the inane word for word confusion called Harry Potter but neither of these movies holds a candle in originality, creativity and story telling as was seen in Hidden Tiger Crouching Dragon.