“Lord of the Rings” rings in skeptical reviewer

This review must start with me stating that I have never read any of the Lord of the Rings books and never wanted to, even though my brother kept saying I would like them.

Well, I’ll be darn, he just may have been right – for once.

If the J.R.R. Tolkien books are nearly as engrossing as the intensely exciting and detail-filled three-hour film, I just might have to read them.

I went into the movie knowing next to nothing about Hobbits and their involvement with a ring that is capable of turning even good creatures into evil ones. Now that I know some, I want to know more. So I either read the books or wait a year for the second film in the trilogy. “The Two Towers” will be followed a year later by “The Return of the King.”

The backers and the filmmakers believed in the material they were working with so much that they took on the risky venture of filming the movies back-to-back. Usually they wait to see if the first one is a success before committing to additional films. They need not worry “The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Rings” should be a resounding success.

The little known, but quirky and talented New Zealand (the movie was filmed there) director, Peter Jackson (“Frightners”), deserves kudos. Long have the book’s fans wanted to see Tolkien’s world realized. I think he has succeeded, but I’m no expert on the author’s work. I just know Jackson has made a fine film.

You know you’re in for something special as the film opens and we get a back-story on the Rings and the havoc that has been caused by them. A battle in Middle-earth makes the battles in the most recent “Star Wars” and “The Mummy Returns” look like something done by a filmmaker with a limited budget and even more limited scope and vision.

From there, just about every scene is a marvel. There’s one new land after another and this novice never knew what was next. When events got too intense, I had to remind myself to breathe and relax. “Sally there’s two more movies coming, so all the good guys are not going to die yet – calm down” I’d say to myself.

After learning the background of the rings, we meet Frodo Baggins (Elijah Woods) a young, idealistic Hobbit whose fate will soon be ruled by the most powerful and evil of rings.

So the ring can be destroyed where it was forged, Frodo – with help – sets off for Mount Doom. That sounds ominous and it is. Three fellow Hobbits are with him on the dangerous quest: Sam (Sean Astin), Pippin (Billy Boyd) and Merry (Dominic Monaghan).
Rounding out the fellowship are Viggo Mortensen as Strider, Sean Bean as Boromir, John Rhys-Davies is the Dwarf Gimli, the handsome Orlando Bloom is Legolas and Gandalf the Wizard is played by the always fascinating Ian McKellen.

“The Lord of the Rings” is a basic story of good versus evil, but the movie is filled with such sincerity and attention to detail that it surpasses most in the genre. Some even say its better than the other good against bad story filled with magic and wizards currently playing in theaters, but I have to reserve judgement – not having yet caught “Harry.”

In the meantime, I know this movie is highly entertaining. So engrossing that after the three hours – just about every minute soared by – I was tired. It was if I’d been on their adventures with them.

There were a few times when I did not know what was going on and I wanted to lean to the expert on the subject sitting next to me and say “What?” But in the end everything I needed to know was revealed – except for the good stuff they are saving for the next movie.

Rated-PG-13 for epic battle scenes (I’ll say, but there’s not lots of blood) and some scary images.