This review comes by way of an insider somwhere in the world of corporate suits and meetings Ne wLine has with people all over the globe…and she/he is a HUGE Tolkien fan! So enjoy! Be WARNED it’s FILLED with Spoilers!
So I went to a special screening where they had a mini-sized theater that was pumping people through. It was crazy. We talked to the Alliance people for a minute and then we headed into the theatre.
I don’t know if you have them in Montreal but there are a few here called VIP lounges which hold about 24 people and have nice chairs and people come take your order from your seat…costs a little more and the screen is small so I never use them. Anyway, it was like that.
We sat on this big comfy couch and the screen wasn’t huge and overwhelming like the way I like movies! It was still TOTALLY…and I mean TOTALLY awesome! Let’s get to it:
The whole thing started with a little intro by Peter Jackson and Ian McKellan (dressed as Gandalf) riding along on a cart into the Shire. Peter apologizes to the audience for not being able to appear in person and then they laugh and ride off. Then the film starts and basically, I’m pretty sure that it IS the way the movie will start. We start at a mid level vantage point, Gandalf is riding into the Shire and then we close in on him as he gets out of the cart and knocks on Bilbo’s door. Everything is beautiful and when Bilbo comes to the door, they laugh and hug and we all go inside. The Hobbit hole is beautiful and goes on forever with brightly lit corridors and beautiful furnishings. Gandalf has a few moments of slapstick when he hits his head in the low ceilings but it’s a lot of fun.
The scene jumps forward to Bilbo’s birthday cutting right into his speech. He puts on the ring and turns invisible before everyone and then jumps to the hobbit hole where he takes it off laughing and Gandalf is waiting for him. Bilbo struggles with giving up the ring and at this point we see the image the ring on the palm which is in the teaser trailer and the ring doubles in size and we shoot through it to the scene. In the cannes film, we see the ring as just a single ring in his shaking palm. It then jumps forward to Frodo deciding to run away with the ring and he and Galdalf have a short discorse.
We jump into Bree and Sam says to Mr. Frodo “That dark stranger has been watching us all night!” The camera shows us Strider with his hood up and a long pipe in his mouth. You can’t see his face. AMAZING! It then skips ahead to Rivendell, to the Council meeting. Each person is volunteering in turn for their race. Awesome!
Then the hobbits break into the room, Merry, Pippin and Sam yelling that Frodo will go nowhere without them and they’ll will have to be trussed up in sacks to stop them! Awesome! The scene jumps ahead to the teaser trailer with the Fellowship coming over the hill in the mountains one by one. Beautiful again! Gandalf talks about not being able to continue and Gimli suggests Moria. The film jumps to the doors of Moria which open and the party enters. We switch vantage points from on the lake watching the doors open to inside Moria watching the Fellowship enter! It was beautiful but they didn’t seem to be rushing so I think the monster from the lake has been cut…that is totally a guess but they were slowly entering in a line. We’ll see. So now we are in Moria and this is the part where I began to cry.
It was Moria. No word of a lie. It was Moria. When you all see it, the tears will flow. It’s beauty and expansiveness and the sadness of what has happened there are all contained in the visuals. Jackson is a master and this is his master work. It was beautiful and I can’t tell you much more than that…you will understand when you see it. The group move through Moria and the camera angles show just how huge and cavernous and empty Moria is. Then they find the final battle site and the grave of the Lord of Moria. Gimli is upset and great!
Gandalf is using a blue flame out of his staff to light the way. Gandalf reads the book, recounting the story of the last of the dwarves and then Pippin knocks a skeleton into the well…wrapped around the skeleton is a chain which the bucket to the well is attached to…all of this goes in and the sound is amazing. The camera sort of follows the sound, giving us shots of Moria that we haven’t seen yet to show just how deep the well is and where the sound is going! Amazing! Gandalf delivers his “Fool of a Took” line with Ian McKellan mastery and then the drums of the deep begin. Frodo pulls Sting out slightly and it is glowing blue…Orcs are nearby!!!
This is where most of the 25 minutes is spent…on the battle and flight of Moria! They showed this entire sequence as Boromir (Sean is AWESOME!) and Aragorn bar the door and then the party sets for the charge of Orcs. They break the door slightly and Aragorn and Legolas fire arrows throw the hole…then the door bursts open and the orcs poor through. This is when you see the one image of the four hobbits with their backs all together (on that bookmark I sent in as well as a calendar image). In the images I have seen, Sting is normal but in the film, Sting is glowing blue…awesome!
So the Orcs poor into the room (some even climb the walls to get over other orcs) and there is total chaos. Legolas continues firing with the bow while Aragorn and Boromir hack and slice. Boromir with his round shield is amazing! Gimli cuts with his axe and Gandalf uses both Glamdring AND his staff in a two-weapon whirlwind that is amazing! Sam looses his sword and begins swinging with a cast iron pot, doing a great job! The hobbits fight well! Then the Cave Dweller busts into the room! It’s HUGE and carries a huge hammer and a chain hangs from it’s other hand. It whips at everyone and then decides it wants Legolas who has now moved up to a walking area above the melee. The chain whip comes at Legolas a few times which he dodges and then it gets wrapped around a pillar. Legolas takes the moment of confusion the Cave Dweller has and runs along the chain, up the arm of the Dweller to stand on it’s stooped neck and fire point blank into it’s back. He then jumps clear but the Cave Dweller isn’t finished. Everyone is still fighting all around and the Dweller stalks Frodo around a pillar a few times…sniffing him. It grabs him and pulls him out. Aragorn sees this and charges grabbing a halberd with a spear point on his way and sticking the cave dweller in the stomach. But the dweller backhands Aragorn who flys away! It takes the halberd and sticks Frodo! With that the Fellowship finish off the Orcs and turn their attentions to the Dweller. Gimli and and Gandalf step in, hack and step back. The thing is huge and keeps striking out and screaming. We can see Legolas on one side though with an arrow knocked, biding his time. The dweller screams again and Legolas looses his arrow through its open mouth, through it’s brain to stick out the back of it’s head! AMAZING!! It crumbles to the ground and the group run to Frodo.
When Aragorn rolls him over though, he is fine and he reveals his mithral shirt! It looks beautiful! They quickly run and we go to a high shot of the Fellowship running past the massive columns of Moria. But Orcs are pouring out from all sides and even climbing down the columns like crazed monkeys!!! It’s terrifying and exciting! The Fellowship are soon surrounded and prepare for a final battle where they will obviously die (there are thousands of orcs!) when a roar tears through and the shot shows columns further down the hall glowing with a red light. The source is undiscernable but you and I know who is making it! The orcs all scream and run off in terror. Aragorn asks Gandalf what it is while Gimli laughs, attributing their fear to the bands fighting prowess! Gandalf concentrates for a moment and then answers…”Balrog.”
The party runs for a set of stairs. These stairs are amazing as they are MASSIVE and set in free standing squares the spiral down into darkness. You can see them for a split second in the second trailer as I will describe in a moment. So the party races down the stairs and come to a part where the stair has fallen away. Legolas leaps over the gap and helps Boromir and Gimli across. Suddenly arrows begin to be fired in and around them, none finding their mark. Legolas draws his bow and turns. There are orcs high overhead firing down on them. Legolas fires and the camera follows on the arrow’s head as it strikes an orc. Legolas continues to fire, taking out each orc with beautiful precision!! It was amazing. Meanwhile, there is a huge shudder at the top of the stairs where the party came from a normal sized doorway. The Balrog is battering the wall to get through and at them. The Fellowship all make it across as bits of the stair keep falling away.
The hobbits are tossed across the gap to the people below until only Aragorn and Frodo are left on the top stairs and the rock falls away again so that they cannot make it. Another crash comes from the Balrog and a huge chunk of stone falls crashing through the stone stairs above Aragorn and Frodo. Now the chunk of stairway they are on is cracking loose for the main set of stairs and as Frodo and Aragorn move, the thing begins to topple! Aragorn yells “LEAN FORWARD!!!! FORWARD!!!!” and the pair do. The stairs fall forward towards the rest of the fellowship and the duo jump onto the stair and to safety. They quickly flee down the stairs as the Balrog thunders behind them. As they close on the bridge that will free them from Moria, Gandalf tells Aragorn to lead the party and turns to face the Balrog. The Balrog finally comes into view. It was still encased in darkness as it lands before Gandalf and it’s HUGE…GIGANTIC!!!!!!
It’s head is horned like a bulls…nothing like the Lion-headed one from Ralph Bakshi’s version. Gandalf yells “You Shall Not Pass!” and the scene cuts to darkness. Then the party is in Loth Lorien and there is an expanded version of the discourse between Frodo and Galadriel and then they are given their cloaks and set out in the boats! It’s beautiful and other-worldly!
The film then continues on showing us snippets from the other two films including Arwen riding a horse (I swear she is taking Frodo across the Ford to Rivendell. There is nothing else I can think it is!) We also see Eowyn making eyes at Aragorn. Frodo with Faramir and his men. Theoden King in a terrible state. Arwen looking ghostly white on a bed (like she was dead!). Grima Wormtongue being thrown out onto the stairs. The battle at Helm’s Deep. Bits of Saruman and Gandalf’s meeting when Saruman declares his true alligence. There was a scene of the sword being reforged for Aragorn. Aragorn putting on armor for the battle at Helms Deep (AWESOME!)
Sam fighting the Orcs on his own as he tries to rescue Frodo from their Tower in Return of The King. Sam holding Frodo (both look TERRIBLE like they should not having food or water for so long!) and saying he can’t carry Frodo and the ring!
Then, the final sequence…which was almost too much of a spoiler for me…was Frodo in Mt Doom with the ring. “I will not throw it in. The Ring is MINE!” as he is about to put it on his finger. The End!
We didn’t get to see any Ents or Gollum…not that I expected to. It was so amazing and I know within my heart of hearts that this movie is what we have all been waiting our lifetimes for. The music was perfect, the effects were seamless, the acting was flawless. Absolute perfection. Without doubt. All hail Peter Jackson, cast and crew…and that Tolkien guy too!