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Years in the making by people devoted to utter quality, Tolkien's beloved, multilayered epic is THE fantasy, the fantasy upon which every fantasy written since then is based! And many are recognizing that the sheer scope and quality of this movie is enough to take your breath away.
After a prologue giving us insights into how the Ring came to be and how it came into Bilbo's hands, we get to see the exquisite village of Hobbiton and glimpses of the hobbits' peaceful existance, where the angelic wizard (by angelic I mean he really is, not that he acts like one) Gandalf arrives for Bilbo Baggins' eleventy-first birthday party. Bilbo's party goes off with a few hitches -- the most major of which is when he uses his magical Ring to vanish from the party. Gandalf manages to convince Bilbo -- whose personality is being swamped by the Ring -- to leave it in young cousin Frodo's keeping.
He becomes convinced that it is the One Ring, the pure evil force of the Dark Lord Sauron. And now the Nazgul (Black Riders) arrive in the Shire, hunting for the hobbit carrying the Ring. Frodo leaves the Shire with his faithful gardener and friend Samwise Gamgee, and they also end up picking up his cousins Merry and Pippin along the way. But fun and games are not in the workings for the hobbits -- Frodo is nearly killed in a confrontation with the Black Riders, on their way to Bree. In the inn there, they encounter a mysterious stranger named Strider.
Strider takes them to the Elvish citadel of Rivendell, where it is decided that the Ring must be destroyed in the distant, hellish land of Mordor. Frodo volunteers to take the Ring -- but he has only the faintest idea of the dangers, both from the evil creatures and from within the Fellowship that accompanies, that he will have to face...
The special effects are overwhelming - an avalanche, a horde of hideously realistic orcs, the rock-faced cave troll that almost squishes Sam, the slippery tentacles of the Watcher in the Water, the "fiery letters" reflected on Frodo's face, Gandalf's horrific confrontation with the monstrous "fire and darkness" Balrog, as the bridge collapses under them. Not all the special effects show -- the hobbits are shrunken down to about four feet tall using special effects, as is Gimli the dwarf. But it's all integral to the plot. Gollum is glimpsed only briefly, but creepily. Only a few of the FX fall flat, like Gwahir the eagle; and the weird swoop-in scene to Saruman on Isengard. Also one shot of Legolas leaping from off of the cave troll.
Elijah Wood appears to just EMBODY Frodo, with his wide eyes and slenderer build than the other hobbits; his luminous face will make your heart bleed or your eyes glow, depending on what is happening to Frodo. Sean Astin looks solid and dependable, just how Sam should look; he manages to make Sam loyal and caring for Frodo without making him look dumb or servile. Pippin and Merry star as mild comic relief; by the end of the movie, they are somewhat more mature.
Ian McKellen is astoundingly good as Gandalf, mixing Gandalf's sternness and latent power with a sense of humor and a tendency to bump his head; Christopher Lee throws everything into the sinister Saruman. I groaned when I heard that Viggo Mortenson would play Aragorn and Liv Tyler would play Arwen, but they both throw their hearts into it, including the most romantic scene I have ever seen in a movie. You cannot go wrong with John Rhys-Davies, who plays the endearingly crabby Gimli. Sean Bean takes the breath away as Boromir, a man tormented with love for his city and his people, and the desire to use the Ring to save them. His final scene is one of the most touching ones ever shot on film. Orlando Bloom is in a breakout role as elven archer-prince Legolas, where he embodies the right masculine elvishness for the role mingled with some of the best fight scenes since "Phantom Menace."
The lighting is astounding good -- sinister and darker for scenes with evil creatures, gritty for travelling scenes, warm for scenes in the Shire, paler and luminous for scenes in Lothlorian. The costumes are great -- mudstained and worn for Aragorn, simple and comfy for the hobbits, fancier but serviceable for Boromir and Legolas (well, they ARE princes!) and more floaty-looking, gauzy gowns for Arwen and Galadriel, as well as Arwen's sleek, immaculate riding outfit. Sets are also great, from the simple earthy stuff of the Shire to the elegant sleekness of the Elves' places, to the decaying former splendor of Moria.
The script varies in places from the books, sometimes to provide humor (like Aragorn whacking Pippin in the head with an apple). But this human is often dampened with a follow-up of grimness or fear. For all the fuss about Arwen and orc sidekick Lurtz, neither is really on for long. And often an addition is made to the preexisting material: Frodo's frequent glimpses of the Eye, for example.
This is NOT a movie to take children to. Though there is one very low-key kiss and no profanity, there is plenty of violence (very little blood); also, there are some hair-raising scenes, including Galadriel and Bilbo's temptations, Frodo's brushes with the Eye of Sauron, glimpses of torture (but not what happens), and seeing the Ringwraiths both with their black cloaks -- and without. And even when the violence is mild, it can still be disturbing: We don't see Frodo stabbed by a Nazgul, but his agonized expression, choked up "Sam..." and the following scenes where he struggles to survive are very affecting.
Peter Jackson clearly poured heart and soul into this film. It is perhaps one of the best ever made. See it. Now.
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on March 1, 2017
This is one of those rare occasions when I'll say it's okay to watch the movie first. I mean, the book is much better, but the films are incredibly well done, too, and can be a good "gateway drug" for fantasy literature! The one thing I feel that the films do better than the books is the kick-butt women! Arwen and Eowyn are my favorite characters, and they really shine in the films!
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I've been a Tolkien devotee for nearly 25 years and have needlessly raised my hopes over several attempts at bringing his masterwork to the screen, but Peter Jackson has done justice to what many agree may be the best literary work of the 20th century. This initial dvd offering features two discs -- one for the film itself (as released in theaters) and another for special features. ( A four-dvd edition will be released in November 2002.)

The film is a remarkable and faithful adaptation of the first volume of Tolkien's trilogy. Jackson masterfully carries this literary masterpiece into the 21st century with breathtaking sets, gorgeous costumes, sumptuous music, gloriously eye-popping special effects, and a touching attention to detail that evokes history-laden cultures. One does miss Tom Bombadil, and wonder why screenwriters decided to make Frodo ignorant of Bilbo's imminent departure from the Shire for example, but mostly one can understand the cinematic justification for changes that were made and just bathe in this beautiful film -- whether or not you are a devotee of JRR. If you are hesitant to see this film for fear of being disappointed -- race out and get it now. You will NOT be disappointed. From the introductory voiceover to a beautifully realized Hobbiton, the opening is mesmerizing and the film just keeps getting better, in some ways revealing Tolkien's rich and complex world even more clearly than the books. The characters are well-realized and the cast is exquisite. You can tell that the people who worked on this adaptation cared about the books even more than they cared about the bottom dollar, and I hope the awards start rolling in for Jackson, his right-hand man Richard Taylor and their talented cast and crew.

The special features include: three documentary features -- "Welcome to Middle Earth" (a publisher's in-store feature, 17 minutes), "Quest for the Ring" (originally aired on Fox TV, 22 minutes), and "A Passage to Middle Earth" (originally seen on the Sci Fi Channel, 40 minutes); fifteen featurettes about the cultures and locations depicted in the film; two teasers, a trailer and six tv spots; a preview of the extended dvd edition due out November 12, 2002; a preview of Entertainment Arts' video game, "The Two Towers"; an 11-minute behind-the-scenes preview of the film, "The Two Towers"; and an Enya video. There is also a coupon and rebate booklet for such varied items as sword replicas, jewelry, posters, etc.

"Welcome to Middle Earth" features a charming introduction to Robert Unwyn who, as a boy, originally reviewed The Hobbit for his publisher father and, fortunately for us all, gave the manuscript a thumbs-up with the comment "should appeal to all children between the ages of 5 and 9". Years later, as a publisher himself, he received the manuscript for The Lord of the Rings (originally presented as a single volume) and wrote to his father for advice, telling him that he thought the book was wonderful but would probably lose a thousand pounds; his father replied "IF you believe this to be a work of genius, THEN you may lose the thousand pounds" -- and off they went! This 17-minute feature also shows Tolkien's Oxford hall and home, describes two Houghton-Mifflin companion volumes and is really a wonderful treat for fans. The three features include interviews with Peter Jackson, WETA Workshop's Richard Taylor, artists Alan Lee and John Howe, and actors Elijah Wood, Ian McKellen, Billy Boyd, Cate Blanchett, Viggo Mortensen, Orlando Bloom, Liv Tyler and Sean Astin. The preview promises that "The Two Towers" will be amazing and one gets the impression that this team, as the fellowship members go their separate ways and new characters are introduced (including Gollum!), truly understand the story they are bringing to life, and will dazzle us all again soon.

There is something to be said for waiting until November and getting the four-dvd special edition, which will include 30 extra minutes of film (particularly in Hobbiton and concerning Gimli's enchantment with Galadriel). But for those of you who cannot wait -- this two-dvd set is highly recommended.
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"The Fellowship of the Ring" is a movie in a million: It has outstanding acting, directing, special effects, plotting, has romance and action and deep messages that still resonate today, decades after the books were published. It lives up to every ounce of the hype, and has deservedly made a huge mound of money. Now New Line has released it as it should be: Uncut, with plenty of extras for the raving geeks among us.
Frodo Baggins is an innocent young hobbit living in the idyllic Shire. But when his uncle Bilbo vanishes suddenly and leaves him all he owns to his nephew -- including a golden ring that makes the wearer invisible -- Frodo is told by the wizard Gandalf that his ring is the One Ring, the tiny indestructable token that contains the power of the demonic Dark Lord Sauron. The only way the Ring can be destroyed is to throw it into the volcano where it was forged, in the middle of the land of Mordor. Frodo volunteers for a perilous quest across Middle-Earth to destroy the Ring, even though he is small, weak, and not a warrior or a wizard. But he has no idea of the hideous powers that are chasing him, with the Ring threatening to turn the Fellowship of the Ring into a battleground.
"Lord of the Rings" is one of those books that you think could never be made into a good movie. If this had been made only for the money, that would have been true. But Peter Jackson, the cast and crew obviously love the story and wanted to make it as good and as real as possible, and for that I am deeply, deeply grateful.
Elijah Wood is outstanding as the tiny, unlikely hero Frodo Baggins, who is a wide-eyed innocent whose strength is all on the inside. Wood does an outstanding job of showing Frodo's childlike trust, joy and innocence being chipped away, and his growing desperation as things start to fall apart around him. Sean Astin is loyal and loveable as the extremely difficult-to-play Sam Gamgee, Frodo's best friend. Dominic Monoghan and Billy Boyd play Frodo's somewhat ditzy but well-meaning cousins. Orlando Bloom has a macho-ethereal air as the elf archer Legolas, and John Rhys-Davies is wonderful as the everything-big-but-height dwarf Gimli. Ian McKellen is the quintessential gray wizard, crabby and kindly at the same time. (Like Dumbledore? You ain't seen nothin' yet!)
The movie is extended, including a lot of material from the books that never made it to theaters, such as the Sackville-Bagginses, greater insight into the Arwen/Aragorn relationship, the awful Midgewater Marshes, more about Gollum, Frodo and his cousins dancing and singing at the pub, Aragorn's past, Gimli and Legolas's budding friendship, greater insights into Frodo and Sam's friendship, more of Sam's shy interest in Rosie Cotton, Bilbo and Frodo's sweet father-son relationship, and a "gift" scene where we see Galadriel's softer side. The movie stretches over two of the four DVDs, which also include audio commentaries that you can turn on. (Plenty of entertaining anecdotes with the actor commentaries, such as the year-long prank that the other hobbits played on the unsuspecting Elijah Wood)
The third and fourth DVDs are also treats. The third DVD focuses on Tolkien and the background of "Lord of the Rings." And the fourth DVD is also great fun: It focuses on behind-the-scenes of the movie. There is "Fellowship of the Cast," which outlines the main actors, serious and silly stuff (Dominic Monoghan can't stand pain, Elijah Wood can sleep anywhere, Sean Astin is a worrier, Liv Tyler made Orlando Bloom drive her around in New Zealand), as well as things about the supporting actors, and the scale doubles used for Gimli and the hobbits.
There is "Day in the Life of a Hobbit," which shows the makeup-feet-ears that were done for the hobbit actors, how they filmed, and what they did in their time off. (It involves a lot of bleeped-out cursing) There is then a careful run-through of how they shot the different locations, followed by studies of the "big-atures" (enormous scale models), special effects, and computer-generated creatures. After a slightly monotonous section on editing the film to how it showed in the theaters, we get a glimpse of how the movie was received across the world.
Hypothetically this movie should be for Tolkien geeks -- the in-depth studies of Tolkien and a fair amount of the extra movie material center on things that won't make sense to those who haven't read the books. But if you don't mind not knowing, for example, who Morgoth is or where Valinor is, then it won't bother you at all. "Fellowship of the Ring" and its extras are funny, touching, cute, intense, smoother and richer than before. A must-buy, for geek and non-geek alike.
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VINE VOICEon November 25, 2002
I am a lifelong fan of the "The Lord of the Rings" and as such, I'm sure I wasn't alone in fearing that a film adaptation would ruin the magic of the story. I needn't have worried, as Peter Jackson's first installment "The Fellowship of the Ring" does a remarkable job of transferring Tolkien's work to the big screen. Yes, Tom Bombadil is absent, and Arwen is given a greater role to offer something for female fans, but the essence (along with almost all of the substance) is there.
In the "Extended Edition" the viewer is treated to an additional half hour of footage. There is more exposition on Hobbits at the beginning of the film, the battle against the goblins and cave troll in Moria was extended, and a few other vignettes were added. However, what long time fans will be most pleased to see is Galadriel's gift giving scene. The whole scene is beautifully conceived and executed, and Sam, and particularly Gimli reveal new aspects of their personalities through it.
Now for the specifics of this set:
Discs 1 & 2 comprise the film and commentaries. For those of you who haven't seen the film yet, the director, Peter Jackson, chose his native land of New Zealand as the location of Middle Earth. I can't imagine that he could have made a better choice. While there is a great deal of CGI in this film, for the most part it is used to supplement, rather than replace, the landscape. For instance, a ruin might be inserted to imbue with history an otherwise gorgeous, but perhaps disconnected, landscape. As a result, the cinematography has a feeling of being grounded, of being "real", that one would never get from a George Lucas effects extravaganza.
The film begins with a history of the Ring of Power drawn from not only "The Lord of The Rings" and "The Hobbit" but "The Silmarillion" and other of Tolkien's writings as well. While not true to the form of the novel, it does a superb job of imbuing the rest of the film with a real sense of history. In fact, throughout the film, it is Jackson's ability to ground the film in an alternate reality that makes it so successful. The viewer doesn't feel so much like they are watching fantasy, as they are watching the history of some remote time.
I haven't listened to all of the commentary yet (at almost 16 hours, it will take a while) but the pieces I listened two were for the most part interesting and lively, which is surprising considering how dry such features can sometimes be. One thing that struck me is how much passion everyone associated with the project has for it. It really comes across that this was a labor of love, which goes a long way towards explaining why the film was so successful.
Discs 3 & 4 are without a doubt the best collection of behind the scenes special features I have ever encountered. From the start, which is an absolutely brilliant history of Tolkien and his works, all the way through to the final post-production tweaks, the viewer is treated to an in depth, but never dull, look at the creation of Middle Earth. I rarely watch of the behind the scenes footage on other discs because it has a tendency to be dry and geared towards the real film nut. In this instance though, there is enough substance to satisfy even the most voracious film historian, while not being overwhelming to the layperson. Furthermore, all of the features are always firmly rooted in the context of "The Fellowship of the Ring"; the documentary never strays into theoretical jargon or technical challenges. Rather it focuses on how the film was made, and the obstacles that were overcome.
In addition to the Tolkien biography that I already mentioned (and which is the best I have seen anywhere) I particularly enjoyed the features on the cast and the costumes. The cast feature does a remarkable job of showing how the primary actors really gelled into a real life fellowship of their own. And the costume feature is absolutely brilliant, as I shows the overwhelming volume of costumes, and particularly armor, that was required the make Middle Earth come alive.
Finally, there is a National Geographic documentary on Tolkien and "The Lord of the Rings" included, although it is separate from the boxed set. It's actually a pretty good documentary in and of itself, but it is really overwhelmed by Discs 3 & 4. There is no possible way that they could have covered the length and breadth of Middle Earth to the same degree. That said, there are some interesting moments, particularly, Tolkien's fascination with the Finnish epic, "The Kalevala".
"The Fellowship of the Ring" is the superb first installment of what is destined to be a classic trilogy of films. While not always exact in its correlation to the book, it nonetheless does an excellent job of capturing the key components of Tolkien's work: honor, duty, and above all, friendship. At the same time, the DVD's really raise the bar for what constitutes "special features". Aside from spectacular picture and sound, there are hours of fascinating features that should answer just about any question you could come up with about the film or its production.
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on September 2, 2016
The only thing that would have made it over a 10 on a scale of 1-10 would have been to show the ship reaching the shores of the blessed isles.

Peter Jackson brought my favorite series of books to life and he will always be on the top of my favorite directors list.
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on March 6, 2013
This is about the third replacement for part of the set I have purchased. I loan one part out, forget who I loaned it too and buy a new set. Love the boxed parts because they fit in a book rack nicely. All discs correct. Sometimes with aftermarket editions there are problems. the Amazon edition was perfect. Love hearing the background music even if i am in another room and even my dogs watch it. That is the ONLY thing they watch. I will stop as I am not sure whether I am rating the Lord of the rings or the format of the video.
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on July 16, 2002
I love the books and read them at least once every two years. I enjoyed this movie thoroughly. I went to the theater three times to see it and I've pre-ordered both editions of the DVD. Actually I'm almost as excited about the Special Extended Edition as I was about the theatrical release. I eagerly anticipated it for over a year.
Kudos to all involved in the making of these movies. The result was fabulous. You have boldly gone where no one dared and astutely shot all three movies in one continous effort (Are you paying attention Mr. Lucas?). Brilliant! None of you need put other entries in your curriculi. It was time someone showed Hollywood the proper way to adapt a classic.
I understand that to bring such a richly described story down to an acceptable duration for a theater session certain sacrifices had to be made. So I'll miss Tom Bombadil, time in Lothlorien was too short (it was fine but I would have liked more). Some events were oversimplified but it had to be done for the sake of time. I understand the need for this. The only thing I did not like was that Aragorn seemed timid, unsure about his destiny. I prefered his unwavering determination to seize his birthright; how he waits patiently, yearning for the time when he'll need to face unsurmountable odds to right an ancestor's folly. I find the books' Aragorn much more interesting. I suspect this was done to develop the love story a bit more than the book and the movie appealing to a broader audience. I can live with that.
Don't take my rant too seriously. I found the movie incredible. And there were a lot of very pleasant surprises. The movie was superbly cast, all the roles. Sir Ian McKellen is Gandalf and I was pleased to see Christopher Lee in the role of Saruman. The special effects were masterfully used, as they needed to be, bringing that magical and complex Tolkien world to the screen. This movie ranks way up there with Lawrence of Arabia and 2001 A Space Odyssey. I love it, this is the type of film that stretches the ratings to 8 stars, 5 stars don't even begin to do it justice.
Once again, thank you very much Jackson and company.
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on April 27, 2014
do i rely need to say anything about these films??lol they all are just epic adventures to me.i love these so much.the action/acting is on point in all 3,so don't miss out on any!!all must be owned&watched even tho they super lonnnggggg films!omg longest movies i've ever watched!amz has all 3 very very cheap.xmas time is good time to get them here etc on a super sale!Blu-ray4ever#!! ha
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on November 13, 2002
I'm always skeptical of director's cuts. Most of them merely add a few minutes of scenes that should have stayed on the cutting room floor and seem like they were added just to put a few more minutes onto the running time, but this is one director's cut that I would love to see in the theatre. The added scenes fill out the story line, add dimension to the characters and are beautifully produced just for the DVD. They blend in seamlessly to the original cut and are full of gems such as the opening scene where Bilbo gives the audience a short primer on Hobbits showing wonderful shots of Hobbiton not seen in the theatrical release. It also has many scenes of song and poems that are reminiscent of the books and add flavor to the film. I highly recommend this DVD and I only hope that we will see more director's cuts like this in the future.
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