Film Review © 2001 by Trip Reynolds


Directed by Peter Jackson; Screenplay by Peter Jackson, Fran Walsh, Philippa Boyens and Stephen Sinclair from the book by J.R.R. Tolkien; Produced by Peter Jackson, Barrie M. Osbourne, and Fran Walsh; Executive Produced by Michael Lynne, Mark Ordesky, Robert Shaye, Bob Weinstein, and Harvey Weinstein.

Starring Elijah Wood (as the ring-carrying Hobbit, Frodo Baggins), Ian McKellen (as the master wizard, Gandalf), Ian Holm (as Frodo's friend and guardian, Bilbo Baggins), Viggo Mortensen (as the human warrior, Aragorn), Sean Bean (as the human warrior, Boromir), Sean Astin (as Frodo's Hobbit friend, Samwise Gamgee), Dominic Monaghan (as Frodo's Hobbit friend, Merry), John Rhys-Davies (as petulant Dwarf warrior, Gimli), Billy Boyd (as Frodo's Hobbit friend, Pippin), Cate Blanchett (as the beautiful and mystical, Queen Galadriel), Liv Tyler (as the beautiful and mystical Elf princess, Arwen), Orlando Bloom (as never-runs-out-of-arrows Elf archer, Legolas), Hugo Weaving (as Princess Arwen's father, Elrond), Bernard Hill (as Theoden), Christopher Lee (as the wonderfully evil wizard, Saruman), and Sala Baker (as the evil, Sauron).

What a surprise! This second chapter in the film franchise is much better than its predecessor, "The Lord of the Rings: Fellowship of the Ring." Film is longer by 14 minutes but it's better paced with sharper editing by Michael Horton and Jabez Olssen.

Film picks up where predecessor left off. The "fellowship" is split into two smaller groups with Frodo leading one group to the heart of Mordor - still intent to return the ring; and the other group of human, elf and dwarf warriors heading to face Saruman's demon warriors in an epic battle for the last opposing monarchy to Sauron's rule. Plus, of course, Gandalf's cliffhanger fate from the first film is realized by his expected majestic return in this sequel. Much more than the first film, this second chapter in the film franchise is worthy of an "epic" status to coincide appropriately with J.R.R. Tolkien's book.

This time out director Peter Jackson focused more on storytelling and action, and steered away from so many "establishing shots" of mountains and valleys and rivers and fields and so forth and so on. Consequently, film moved faster, with less pseudo-awe and more real excitement. There's an especially exciting scene with Gandalf leading the forces of good against the forces of evil. The visuals associated with this shot, the angles, the lighting, the thundering horses, and the combined special effects truly make this an epic shot. Great film making. In fact, if you missed the first film, you really won't lose much if you start here.

Again, film does not suffer from bad acting, with all players continuing first class performances from the first installment. As also mentioned in a review of the first film, in relationship to all other humanoids the Hobbits are supposed to be small people, but film does not consistently maintain the proper ratio between the Hobbits, warriors, and elfs. Hopefully, in the final installment, "The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King," the special effects team will finally figure out the correct calibrations.

Film is capably directed by Peter Jackson.

Film has an evenly paced running length of 179 minutes.

Recommendation: See it and get ready for the final (really?) installment, "The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King."