So with a plentiful supply of coffee, water and a few snacks along the way I settled in for a day and set forth on my 12 hour extended journey into middle earth…
#342/ 365 – ‘The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring’ (2001) – 228 mins (extended edition)
IMDb Challenge #216 / 250 – Ranked #19 – DVD Collection
In ancient times the Rings of Power were crafted by the Elven-smiths, and Sauron, the Dark Lord, forged the One Ring, filling it with his own power so that he could rule all others. But the One Ring was taken from him, and though he sought it throughout Middle-Earth still it remained lost to him. After many ages it fell, by chance, into the hands of the Hobbit, Bilbo Baggins. On his eleventy-first birthday, Bilbo disappeared, bequeathing to his young nephew, Frodo, the Ruling Ring, and a perilous quest: to journey across Middle-Earth, deep into the shadow of the Dark Lord and destroy the Ring by casting it into the Cracks of Doom.
In this first adventure into middle earth the pacing is perfect. Its not frantic, like your typical Hollywood adventure, but with its steady heart-pounding bursts you get a true epic feel that slowly draws you in with several touching emotional moments along the way. It’s like the kind you get from epics of yesteryear.
From a visual aspect, with its blend of live action and CGI it is a genuine treat for the eyes. Immense care has been taken to give each part of Middle Earth its own distinct look. The hobbits home town, The Shire is warm and inviting while Isengard is cold and shadowy.
Casting wise The Fellowship of the Ring is spot on. Elijah Wood completely inhabits the role of Frodo Baggins. Viggo Mortensen is broodingly steely and sensitive as Aragorn, Cate Blanchett is breathtaking.
Though the shining light is Sir Ian Mckellen as Gandalf, with the perfect combination of warmth, authority, crankiness with an air of regality he’s everything in what you would expect to find in a wizard. Finally, I can’t go by without mentioning horror movie legend Christopher Lee in the key role of Saruman, he was the kind of iconic actor that was needed for this role.
I’ve never read any of J.R.R. Tolkien mammoth epic. So purely from a film view Peter Jackson has crafted a magic carpet ride that near fulfills every inch of your imagination, it’s an inspiring, thrilling, terrifying, stimulating, exciting and soaring wondrous adventure that is simply unforgettable.
#343/ 365 – ‘The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers’ (2002) – 235 mins (extended edition)
IMDb Challenge #217 / 250 – Ranked #31 – DVD Collection
Sauron’s forces increase. His allies grow. The Ringwraiths return in an even more frightening form. Saruman’s army of Uruk Hai is ready to launch an assault against Aragorn and the people of Rohan. Yet, the Fellowship is broken and Boromir is dead. For the little hope that is left, Frodo and Sam march on into Mordor, unprotected. A number of new allies join with Aragorn, Gimli, Legolas, Pippin and Merry. And they must defend Rohan and attack Isengard. Yet, while all this is going on, Sauron’s troops mass toward the City of Gondor, for the War of the Ring is about to begin.
The second part of The Lord of the Rings continues where the Fellowship leaves off. With the splitting of the Fellowship we get three separate stories to fill out our time with. The Two Towers is darker and larger on scale than the first instalment whilst still retaining the rich splendor it ups the antes on the visuals. A prime example is climatic battle at Helm’s Deep, its spectacular in every sense of the word.
However the real treasure in The Two Towers lies in form of Gollum, with a blend of CGI and live action its a masterful technological accomplishment, that is brought flawlessly to life by Andy Serkis and he’s eerily convincing as any of the human characters on display. The scene where Smeagol and Gollum have a two-way conversation between the opposite sides of his personality is one moment of pure genius from Serkis.
#344/ 365 – ‘The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King’ (2003) – 263 mins (extended edition)
IMDb Challenge #218 / 250 – Ranked #12 – DVD Collection
While Frodo & Sam continue to approach Mount Doom to destroy the One Ring, unaware of the path Gollum is leading them, the former Fellowship aid Rohan & Gondor in a great battle in the Pelennor Fields, Minas Tirith and the Black Gates as Sauron wages his last war against Middle-Earth.
The epic battle into middle earth comes full circle and by this time my energy levels were starting to wane.
It’s difficult to review and compare the three instalments of Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings trilogy with each other, because they are best experienced together, as a single unit to which I highly recommend you do.
So when all said and done, this story of good conquering evil comes to an end, the ring is destroyed, the king is crowned, the adventure closes. The Return of the King, won all 11 of the Academy Awards for which it was nominated, tying it with ‘Ben-Hur – 1959’ and ‘Titanic – 1997’ for the most Academy Awards ever received for a single film.