I must admit, I was a bit skeptical about seeing The Lord of the Rings. I had read the book as a small child, carried it with me until the pages were stained with coffee and tears and the spine fell to pieces in my hand.
Its practical, witty advice on how to survive the playground jungle, make friends and avoid bullies, was a frequent lifesaver. After receiving a particularly brutal drubbing, I would retire to a hidden corner of the schoolyard, put Scooby-Doo band-aids on my wounds, and read the book's sage adages, promising to myself that I would do better next time.
Picture my ambivalence, then, when I heard that my childhood treasure was going to be brought to the big screen. Would they stay true to the book's intricacies, its delicate characterizations and subtle tone? My confidence was raised when I heard that the directors were going to be none other than Mary Kate and Ashley Olsen, whose sensitive portrayal of the plight of child miners in turn of the century Pittsburgh won both critical and popular acclaim.
My confidence in the Olsen twins was well founded. From the first scene, drawing you immediately into the urbane and slightly madcap drawing room world of the Lord of the Rings, to the final tragicomic scene in the delivery room, this movie captured the book in a way I had not before believed possible.
I may have a few nits to pick about some casting choices — Robin Williams as Legolas, for example, or Patrick Stewart as Samwise — but I understand the compromises that must be made to bring star power to a big-screen movie.
I shall not endeavor to describe the movie's plot — it has too many twists and turns to do credit to. Suffice it to say that the movie, nearly as effectively as the book, will carry you over a torrent of emotions. You will laugh, you will cry, you will gnaw on your fingers in suspense, you will turn to your movie-going partner and invite them home to go at it with you.
I give this movie a full three thumbs up. Rent it; read the book; buy the commemorative action figures.
Boy Howdy is the last of the Red Hot Boy Scouts. Usually seen tooling around town on his Huffy bicycle and wearing that cute li'l Boy Scout neckerchief, his hobbies include collecting stamps, helping little old ladies cross the street, studying for his hot-wiring badge, and wanking off during study hall.