The Lord of the Rings: Fellowship of the Ring

Director:Peter Jackson
Writers:Fran Walsh, Philippa Boyens, Peter Jackson
New Line Cinema; PG-13; 180 minutes
Cast:Ian McKellen, Elijah Wood, Liv Tyler, Cate Blanchett

The Lord of the Rings: Fellowship of the Ring, may be the year's most anticipated film. It is the first installment of a trilogy directed by Peter Jackson and based on J.R.R. Tolkien's superlative fantasy novels. Fellowship of the Ring outmaneuvers the hype (unlike Harry, who needs it to survive) to stand in a class of its own, a modern-day classic that's enchantingly told and visually stunning.

Director Jackson seemed an unlikely choice (his past efforts include the X-rated cartoon Meet the Feebles and the backyard wonderment of Heavenly Creatures). Yet his lightly personal touch brings a magic to the big screen that no recent blockbusters have conjured. Tolkien's dense, creative tale is streamlined into three hours, but the results will please hard-core fans as well as folks who thumb their nose at fantasy.

Ian McKellen inhabits the wizard robes of Gandalf well, and Elijah Wood looks as a good adventuresome hobbit should. Of course, the movie is not about character development. It chronicles a motley group of do-gooders on the move from one perilous encounter to the next as they seek to destroy an evil, seductively powerful ring. Chances are you knew that already—such is the power of myth, which the film carries aloft. Fellowship of the Ring is an inspired work.