Okay, here’s the first installment of my longer Fellowship of the Ring review. If you were here for the first one, you’ll remember that I was intentionally uncritical. Now I’m feeling freer.
First, let me begin by saying that Peter Jackson had to make the movie that he thought would sell. He bled it, so he gets to pick how he’s going to make it. I don’t know what would appeal to the masses. What would appeal to me is an adaptation as close to the books as possible. That didn’t happen.
This review comes to you courtesy of me sitting in ‘FotR’ the second time with my Palm Pilot light on, hastily punching in notes on the pop-up keyboard. I gave myself a head-ache, as you might imagine, but it’s worth it for you, faithful reader!
Many things were done extremely well: the change in the size of the ring, the battle in Mordor between the Last Alliance of men and elves and Sauron, the opening synopsis, the eye of Sauron fx, and lots of other stuff that I may list more exhaustively later.
Christine and Ancalagon the Black made a good point: any time spent on the stuff Peter Jackson made up was time taken away from Tolkien’s time-tested vision. We thought some of the stuff here was way too over the top and took up time that could have been devoted to something else, or even cut.
(Note on Ancalagon: His Complete List of Film Changes is messed up on The One Ring. I can only get it to come up sort of properly in the Google caches. So here are the first two: One Two. This dude composed an exhaustive list. It's amazing, and a little scary. He did it before the movie ever came out.)
As much as I liked parts of Viggo Mortensen’s portrayal of Aragorn, he’s just not the man for the job. If memory serves, Aragorn is almost a hundred years old when ‘FotR’ takes place. He lives so long because he has some elvish blood in him, way back. Viggo can’t pull of this kind of experience and wisdom. Also, Aragorn is highly educated, having grown up in Rivendell, and knows a lot of ‘lore’. Again, that’s not Viggo’s bag. For whatever it’s worth, I think Liam Neeson would have been a better choice for Aragorn, though not as if portraying Qui Gon Jinn. Neeson can play the older action hero, and wisdom and experience and deep emotions. Then we’d need a different Arwen (Liv Tyler). More on that later.
Jackson makes the decision to portray Aragorn as reluctant. Elrond says he’s chosen exile. That’s not the book’s treatment at all. Now I appreciate Aragorn’s fear that he will repeat Isildur’s folly. Peter is probably especially bringing this out in light of Aragorn’s aspiration to wed Arwen. Elrond is obviously disapproving of men (which was also overdone. In the book, Aragorn is merely reluctant.) This issue could have been handled better.
I like Viggo as an action hero. And that’s part of the problem: Aragorn is not a Hollywood action hero. The fights become progressively more choreographed, less resembling how a fight might actually go. At the end, on Amon Hen, after letting Frodo go, Aragorn faces the entire Uruk Hai force. Wrong. Sorry. He kills the chief Uruk Hai. But after almost being defeated, he really seems scarcely winded. Jackson wrote and directed Aragorn as too spry and too fancy.
I really dislike Jackson’s portrayal of Galadriel (Cate Blanchett). I’m sorry, because I love Cate Blanchett, and I thought she was a perfect choice for Galadriel. But this Galadriel is too perilous. She talks funny too much (how else to describe it?). Yes, Galadriel could be hard. But she was also gracious, much more so than portrayed here. In general, Jackson's Galadriel is too over-the-top, especially at in the scene with her mirror and anytime she's talking funny in someone's mind.