Go back to Spy Reports Archives

December 05, 2001 - December 18, 2001


Spy Report From Middle-earth
Xoanon @ 11:48 pm EST
Greetings from Middle Earth,

I have the pleasure of working just off Courtenay Place (where the Embassy, site of the premiere, is). The latest situation is that the Police have closed some of the roads leading into Courtenay Place so that the preparations can get underway.

There are people wandering about with pointed ears. In the last few hours the weather has improved (the rain has stopped & the wind has dropped a little). The weather is at last co-operating. It has been raining since Sunday night. It's supposed to be

This brings me to another issue

I suggest that the reason that the film is being so well received is because of the Power that was used to create it. That power being no less than the power of The One itself!

Consider the evidence:

The One is said in the trailers to have "the power to enslave the world". And what is FOTR doing to those who have seen it?

Ian McKellen, (Gandalf, wielder of one of the Three, Narya?) has long been one of the strongest supporters of the film.

Cate Blanchett, (Galadriel, wielder of another of the Three, Nenya?), has been very supportive too.

Liv Tyler, (Arwen, daughter of Elrond, wiellder of the third of the Three), is also very positive about the movie, maybe she has Vilya now?

From the evidence in the media I speculate that John Rhys-Davies also has been given a ring, one of the Seven.

And as for Harry Knowles of AICN, surely it is obvious that on his visit to NZ he was given a gift, a beautiful ring...

What about TORN's Quickbeam? Did Quickbeam get a Ring?

And of course we know that the other rings are subject to the will of the wielder of the One

The inscription on the Ring itself gives a clue too
"One Ring to bring them all, and in the Darkness (of the cinema) bind them"

The final piece of evidence, the miraculous improvement in the weather just at the premiere in "Middle Earth".

It is obvious who is wielding the One on this project. A hobbit of course, but not Frodo.

A new RingLord has arisen.

All Hail the Lord of the Rings

Peter Jackson.

Rufus Redbeard out


AFI Benefit Screening in LA Today
Xoanon @ 12:33 pm EST
Garfeimao writes:

I was able to pick up my tickets for the AFI benefit premiere of The Fellowship of the Ring today. I scanned in the front and back of both the pass to the screening and the pass to the aftershow party. I've deleted the seating assignments and the location of the party, for security purposes, but other than that, this is what they look like. [Scan1] [Scan1]


Cinefantastique Reviews LOTR:FOTR
Xoanon @ 1:23 pm EST
An insider at Cinefantastique Magazine has sent us the as-yet-unpublished review of LOTR:FOTR, read it here and ONLY here!


Peter Jackson's eagerly awaited THE FELLOWSHIP OF THE RING?the first film in his LORD OF THE RINGS trilogy?is a truly magnificent achievement, possibly the best fantasy film to come along since STAR WARS appeared, nearly 25 years ago. Jackson and his entire crew have done standout work, while carefully managing to avoid the numerous pitfalls that usually befall such massive undertakings. One only has to look at such previous misfires in the genre?WILLOW, LEGEND and the animated LORD OF THE RINGS?to see how easily this movie could have trod down the same path. However, by staying true to his inner vision and having the great good fortune of having New Line Cinema solidly behind him, Jackson has been able to pull off a true feat of cinematic magic. It seems likely that the complete trilogy will make movie history, and in the process, catapult Jackson into the top rank of world film directors.

Starting off with a extended prologue that sets up the mythic background behind the forging of the one true ring (destined to rule all), we see how it first came to be lost in battle by the malificent Sauron, and are immediately drawn into the mythos of this ancient world, via a series of spectacular battle sequences. Narration informs us of how the ring comes into the possession of Gollum, followed in turn by Bilbo Baggins (Ian Holm), who bequeaths it to his nephew, Frodo (Elijah Wood).

The condensing of Tolkien's novel is succinctly done by a trio of scripters, Fran Walsh, Philippa Boyens and Jackson, which seldom hits any false notes. Most importantly, it immediately achieves the right balance of wonder and awe. Disbelieve is suspended with a series of realistic and beautifully crafted settings, which transport one into this enchanted world with nary a thought of the massive trickery needed to accomplish it. And audiences not already familiar with Tolkien's opus will have little to worry about, as the characters are introduced with clarity and economy, aided by a top-notch acting ensemble, all who seem perfectly cast in their respective roles. Quite thankfully, no big star names have been forced on the production in a vain attempt to enhance it's box-office appeal (I'm sure some brilliant producer could easily have seen Tom Cruise as the perfect Frodo?after all, he's short enough).

Opening scenes in the Hobbit Shire introduce us to Bilbo Baggins (Ian Holm) and his beautifully realized Hobbit-sized house, Bag End, set into the side of a grassy hill. The Wizard Gandalf (Ian McKellen) appears and gently urges Bilbo to leave the ring with his nephew Frodo, which Bilbo does with some reluctance, as it has kept him from aging for many years. Gandalf instructs Frodo on the evil nature of the ring, and tells him to take it to a Tavern in Bree, while he reports to the head Wizard of his order in Isengard. There, Gandalf seeks advice on how to destroy the ring from Saruman (Christopher Lee), who shrewdly bids his time, by first drawing Gandalf out, and then slowly tries to sway Gandalf to the dark side. When Gandalf realizes (too late) that Saruman is now under the dominance of Sauron, a titanic battle of Wizards takes place, with Gandalf unable to match the powers of his former master.

These scenes, set in Saruman's throne room, are a real delight, as Ian McKellen and Christopher Lee first calmly discuss the fate of the ring (like the old friends they are), until Lee's evil intentions slowly becoming apparent. The scene culminates in a full-fledged duel, which has the two gifted thesps tossed about the throne room MATRIX-style, until Gandalf is near death. Having succumbed to Saruman's greater powers, Gandalf is imprisoned on top of Saruman's imposing Orthanc Tower.

Frodo, meanwhile journeys towards Bree, and his scheduled rendezvous with Gandalf, along with three Hobbit friends. Arriving at the Prancing Pony Inn, he encounters the mysterious Strider (Viggo Mortensen), who helps Frodo escape from the Ringwraiths, the nine dark horsemen who are intent on obtaining the ring for their dark master. However Strider is able to guide the Hobbits to the safety of the Elve city of Rivendell, where the true journey will commence.

Back at Isengard, Gandalf watches helplessly, as Saruman begins to create an army of fearsome Urak-Hai warriors to help him obtain the ring, and Saruman confronts Gandalf one last time attempting to convert his former pupil to do his bidding. Instead Gandalf makes a spectacular escape on the wings of a giant eagle (which he has transformed from a Butterfly), and flies off to join Frodo in Rivendell. There, the nine members of the Ring Fellowship are chosen, whose appointed task is to dispose of the ring in far off Mordor, by incinerating it in the fires of Mount Doom.

Leading the team is Gandalf, with master swordsman Strider, (now revealed as the royal heir, Aragorn), taking the deputy position. Also joining the team is the Elve archer Legolas (Orlando Bloom), the boisterous Dwarf ax-warrior Gimli (John Rhys-Davies), and the brave but conflicted Boromir (Sean Bean). Actors chosen all fit convincingly into their roles, abetted by impressive costume design and make-up work.

Jackson's assured directorial style, handles the numerous introductions deftly, and turns what could have become a drawn-out period of exposition, into an asset, by following the classic Hitchcock style of suspense, where an innocent bystander is forced into a cross-country chase. Here, the unlikely hero (Frodo) is constantly in peril, but with adequate respites, to allow audiences to catch their breath. Being constantly on the move also allows for the use of a variety of ever-changing scenic backdrops, provided by spectacular locations in New Zealand that all seem fresh, especially since most of America's epic landscapes (like Monument and Death Valley) have become so familiar.

The Fellowship's quest continues, as they attempt to forge a path through the snowy mountain pass of Caradhras, before being forced by an avalanche, to attempt an even more hazardous alternate route, a four day journey through the dark mines of Moria. Here several of the film's astonishing set-pieces occur, as the valiant band of warriors must face all manner of dark foes in a series of labyrinth-like vaulted stone chambers, inspired by Gothic Church's and catacombs. First menace is a horde of marauding Orcs, who attack the Fellowship before retreating at the onset of the massive and demonic Balrog, who forces the fearless group into a precarious retreat on the stairs of Khazad-dum.

Effects and design work for these scenes is particularly noteworthy, with Jackson wisely eschewing straight CGI work, for a combination of large scale miniatures enhanced with CGI. Results are truly impressive, with viewer held in total awe at the incredible realism of seeing a massive stone stairway that appears to tower hundreds of feet across an apparently bottomless chasm.

Jackson's fondness for the work of Ray Harryhausen is well known, and with THE FELLOWSHIP OF THE RING, he has given us the ultimate Harryhausen homage, by creating the first film in the grand tradition of JASON AND THE ARGONAUTS, since the stop-motion master retired in 1981. The menagerie of creatures presented here is outstandingly realized (in CGI animation) by Randall William Cook (GHOSTBUSTERS), and includes "The Watcher,'' a many-tentacled. squid-like monster, which attacks the fellowship from a lake outside the gates of Moria. There's also a huge cave Troll (which could almost be a more evil version of Shreik), that nearly kills Frodo in an exciting battle in the Tomb of Balin. Best of all is the towering Balrog, whose immense powers seem unstoppable, until Gandalf manages to dispatch the demon in a highly charged confrontation on the stone steps Khazad-dum, where McKellan intones "you shall not pass" as furiously as if it were King Lear's "Howl" speech from Shakespear!
e. It's an epic confrontation scene, that's like seeing a live-action Chernobog face-off against the Wizard from "The Sorcerer's Apprentice" episode of Disney's FANTASIA.

One clear advantage Jackson has over many past fantasy films, is the tremendous advances in effects work that makes the world of middle-earth so realistic. But he's also working with more fully realized character's than are usual for this type of film. Relationships between Gandalf, Frodo, Aragorn and Boromir are finely delineated and enacted, giving rise to real emotional responses in the viewer. Gandalf's death, for instance, is a truly heart-felt moment, and causes the tears to flow, unlike the phony and manipulated emotional responses so often encountered in Spielberg's movies. And the characters, while brave and heroic, also display touching character flaws, making them seem far more vulnerable, with two fellowship members actually dying during the trek, making the fantasy seem all the more realistic.

Stylistically, Peter Jackson has a very distinctive signature, which combines elements favored by past cinematic masters, like Sergei Eisenstein (the epic battle scenes) and Sergio Leone (huge close-up's of the actor's eyes), although he always retains his own point of view. Jackson is also greatly assisted by the mobile camera work of cinematographer Andrew Lesnie, who manages to create expert lighting over every kind of scene imaginable, as well as perfectly blending miniatures and digital characters into the various shots.

Design work by conceptual artists Alan Lee and John Howe, realized by production designer Grant Major, is nothing short of brilliant, outshining anything to be seen on screen during the past year, and should easily carry home an Academy Award.

Howard Shore's music, while nicely in-tune to the onscreen proceedings, still falls slightly short of the grandiose themes a Bernard Herrmann or Miklos Rozsa could have brought to the proceeding (if only they were still around). Ironically, Pic's score is perhaps the one area where FELLOWSHIP could have borrowed a page from HARRY POTTER's book. A John Williams scored FELLOWSHIP would no doubt have made this awesome achievement, even better.


5 LOTR:FOTR Clips!
Xoanon @ 5:31 pm EST
Fraggle sends us these AMAZING 5 clips from the LOTR special that aired on the Sci-Fi Channel last week.

Elrond & Isildur

Gandalf & Saruman

Gandalf & Elrond

Galadriel & Frodo

Gandalf & Saruman 2


A preview of "FOTR" shown in the UK.
Tehanu @ 5:05 am EST
Starting with the shot we are all familiar with from the first theatrical trailer, Gandalf grabs Frodo's shoulder and spins him round, blurting "Is it secret? Is it safe?!". The looped dialogue was spoken in a slightly different way from how we have heard before, but the footage was identical. We then cut from Gandalf's face to a shot from inside a chest, looking up at Frodo as he rummages inside, searching for The Ring. Meanwhile, Gandalf looks anxiously out the window. Eventually Frodo finds it, sealed inside a small envelope. Before he can say anything, Gandalf snatches it from him and drops it in the fire. "What are you doing?" asks the bemused hobbit, as we cut to a shot of the envelope burning and shrivelling up. Eventually, The Ring is revealed, and Gandalf reaches in with a pair of tongs to retreive it. He then gives it to Frodo, saying "Hold out your hand, Frodo. It's quite cool." Then he asks "What can you see? Can you see anything?", to which the Hobbit replies "Nothing. There's nothing." Gandalf turns away from the fire, with a disappointed look on his face, when Frodo suddenly exclaims "Wait! There's are markings. Some form of Elvish, I can't read it." We see him holding The Ring as the letters begin to glow as shown in the trailers. "There are few who can," says Gandalf, looking grim. He turns back to Frodo, before continuing: "The language is that of Mordor, which I will not utter here." Looking up, with a terrified look on his face, Frodo breathes "Mordor?!". We then cut to a low angle shot of Gandalf, zooming slowly in on his face, as he speaks: "In the common tongue, it says: 'One Ring to rule them all, One ring to find them, One ring to bring them all and in the darkness bind them.'

The clip ended here. My impressions: it was very accurate to the book in terms of detail and dialogue. Like many have stated before, Ian McKellen IS Gandalf. Elijah nails the accent and doesn't over-do it...I liked him a lot in this clip, which bodes well for the movie in terms of the audience sympathising with Frodo. The detail in Bag End was incredible, and the proportions between the two actors was spot-on. I'm baffled as to how it was done. The cinematography was beautiful, natural looking, and powerful - especially the close-ups of the ring and Gandalf's face. There were a few quick cuts and camera movements when Gandalf snatched the envelope, but it really did convey the urgency of the situation. I heard all new music also - pretty subtle, but building gradually. It felt like a less bombastic version of the music from that Balin's Tomb sequence shown in the FOX Special. Overall, the whole thing was great.

Thanks to SithLordSi for that.

Film 2001 (UK) Footage Screened!
Xoanon @ 12:07 am EST
From: David

I just got done watching Film 2001 here in the UK since your site mentioned something along the lines of an Exclusive clip to be shown, well there was.

The clip, unknown if it has been shown in the US, starts off with the scene from the trailer of Gandalf reaching out his hand and grabbing Frodo speaking "Is it secret? Is it Safe?!".

It then cuts to Frodo rummaging through a box looking for something while Gandalf standing behind him looks on edge as he keeps turning around expecting someone or something to come storming in until Frodo pulls out a small envelope and hands it to Gandalf who then throws it onto the fireplace and we see the envelope burn and the One Ring exposed.

Using some metal tongs, Gandalf removes the ring from the fire and asks Frodo to hold out his hand while telling him not to worry as the ring will be cool to the touch, Frodo does so and Gandalf turns away asking if there is any markings in which Frodo replies "No" and the look on Gandalf's face is of disapointment almost as if he thinks he has the wrong Ring until Frodo suddenly says there ARE markings that look elvish but he is unable to read them.

Gandalf tells him very few can read the markings and it is the ancient language of Mordor and a language he will not utter in the "in this place", Frodo asks what it says in which Gandalf replies the line "One Ring to rule them all, One Ring to find them, One Ring to bring them all....and in the darkness bind them".


Another New LOTR Ad
Calisuri @ 12:40 am EST
Thanks to many ringer fans, I was able to catch a quick look at the LOTR commercial that ran today with West Wing and other TV shows.

A quick overview:
- Birthday party Smaug Firework
- Nazgul racing towards camera
- Minas Tirith
- Gates of Moria opening
- Standard large army shot
- Gandalf at the council
- The Ring engulfed in fire
- The Fellowship on Anduin
- Orthanc with Gwahir flying away
- A new sweeping shot of orc armies
- Some very 'bright' person on horseback
- Gimli on his knees at Balin's tomb
- Samwise escaping the Cave Troll's attack
- Caradhras
- Saruman on top of Orthanc
- The Watcher in the Water attacks Frodo
- The Cave Troll whipping at Legolas
- A full -sized hand reaching for a hobbit hand
- Aragorn
- Arwen crying
- Balrog foot in Moria
- Frodo on a balcony in Rivendell
- Armies of Elves and Men preparing for battle
- Frodo hugging Bilbo
- AMAZING shot of Nazgul racing away from the Flood. Complete with Horseheads on the waves
- Ringwraiths facing the Hobbits on weathertop
- Aragorn and Arwen kissing
- Gandalf conjures light from his staff
- Sauron reaching to the camera with the Ring
- Frodo reaching for the Ring

Its probably the best commercial so far. I'm sure it will be played for at least the next week! Watch for it during your favorite shows!


LOTR Trailers On Rush Hour 2 DVD
Xoanon @ 10:42 pm EST
From: feebleslover1

I work at Blockbuster and was able to watch Rush Hour 2 on dvd, due out 12/11. To find the trailers, go to the scene selections screen. It is designed as a slot machine with the scenes in the three slot windows. Highlight the yellow left arrow and click, which will display the previous 3 scenes. The left slot window contains a question mark. Click on that window to watch one of the trailers in widescreen, dolby digital 5.1!! For the other, keep clicking the yellow left arrow until you see a red circle with a black (dragon?) in the left slot window. Click on that for the other trailer. They look and sound fantastic. Also, the final trailer is also on the Rush Hour II vhs tape.

Go back to Spy Reports Archives