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I must admit I have not read the book, so I can't comment on its adherence to the novel. But as a straight fantasy adventure film it's wonderful. The epic scope of the visuals is amazing, breathtaking. George Lucas was so right when he said we are in a time of filmmaking where any image or idea is possible.

The tale begins in the land of the hobbits, a small race that live simple lives. Bilbo Baggins (Ian Holm, THE SWEET HEREAFTER) has held onto for years a magical ring that holds great power. He hands over the responsibility to his nephew Frodo (Elijah Wood, THE ICE STORM), who has always been curious about his uncle's adventures. Once, the wizard Gandalf (Ian McKellen, X-MEN) discovers the hobbits possess the One Ring, he travels to see Saruman (Christopher Lee, ATTACK OF THE CLONES), the leader of his order, to find out what should be done next. Now an agent of the evil Sauron, Saruman imprisons Gandalf and sends ringwraiths to kill Frodo and take the ring so Sauron can rule the world.

In the company of his dedicated friend Sam (Sean Astin, RUDY) and troublemaker hobbits Merry (Dominic Monaghan, TV's LOST) and Pippin (Billy Boyd, MASTER AND COMMANDER), Frodo goes on the run, falling into the aide of Strider (Viggo Mortensen, CARLITO'S WAY), who takes them to the elves, where they meet Strider's love Arwen (Liv Tyler, ARMAGEDDON), elfin leaders Galadriel (Cate Blanchett, ELIZABETH) and Elrond (Hugo Weaving, THE MATRIX) and elfin archer Legolas (Orlando Bloom, BLACK HAWK DOWN). A council is called and Frodo agrees to carry the ring to Mount Doom where it can be destroyed. In the fellowship, he is joined by the three other hobbits, Strider, Legolas, dwarf Gimli (John Rhys-Davies, RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK) and the steward of the land of Gondor Boromir (Sean Bean, RONIN).

I love Elijah Wood as the hobbit Frodo and Ian McKellen as the wizard Gandalf. Wood brings a subtly scared and noble performance to a character, who is swept up into an adventure that he didn't really want to sign on for. McKellen is such a wonderful actor that he took the image and ideology of the wizard and made it very human and real.

My only complaint would be that the film focuses so much on the plot that character development seems thin. I can't wait until next Christmas for the second film in the series THE TWO TOWERS. Like STAR WARS: EPISODE 1 I truly feel this film is just the first act of a much larger epic.

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Rick DeMott
Animation World Network
Creator of Rick's Flicks Picks