Peter Jackson. Release Date: December 19, 2001. DVD Release Date: August 6, 2002.
In the world of British fiction, it is possible to lose yourself in the meaningless words that separate the outer cover of a book from the first action of consequence of the story. The Fellowship of the Ring drives that point home, then proceeds to beat you over the head with the book for something close to an hour before anything of any real significance occurs. It's a problem for someone with my limited attention span, but there are folks out there who think this is pretty close to the Bible.
When this movie had stopped being rumor and started being truth, I was excited. When I learned the date of its opening night, I made plans to see it, and to this day, Fellowship remains the only movie I've ever seen where I had to change my plans because tickets were sold out, even in the little town of Monterey, California. When I finally got in to the theater, I was stoked.
And then, it happened. There was one seat between me and the aisle. The person who sat in that seat was, of course, of the basement troll variety. Unshaven cheeks were slightly hidden by the wool cloak. Yes, I said cloak. Forest green, as I recall, although it could have been any dark color of the "forest" milieu. The hood was up, making him look a little like the Unabomber. When he started whispering the dialogue before it was spoken, I checked to make sure my Coke wasn't spiked with something unpleasant. When it was clear that I wasn't in full-shroom, my temples started to pound. That idiot ruined this movie for me. I don't have any doubt.
In the very basest of terms, I find this movie painfully slow and tedious, filled with worthless prose before something of interest FINALLY happens. It feels like there's a forever spent plodding through the relationships forged in the fellowship and the "history" of Middle Earth. Even today, I thought I should have found it of interest, but somehow, I did not. Even the scenes designed to cause tension didn't get the job done. I've tried to watch it several times in the years between then and today, but I've always had to do it piecemeal, requiring breaks to fight my wandering attention.
That being said, I get why this was Best Picture worthy. It redefined fantasy in the way that Avatar redefined science fiction. It's camera work and settings were stunning, even if I found the constant sweeping views to be a bit overdone after the second full hour of them. Technically, I have few reasons to complain about this movie. It's the slow, plodding British-style storytelling that drives me to distraction. In my world, the Hobbits would be throwing the occasional pie at the Ringwraiths, or maybe flashing their junk at them as they fled. The heroes aren't nearly scrappy enough for my sensibilities. That's probably the reason I've never been able to get farther than 50 pages in to the book.