Hello Crispyverse! Epic battles. Castles and fortresses. Wise elves, crafty dwarfs, and brave warriors. These are just small bits of J. R. R. Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings trilogy. In Tolkien's Middle Earth, he creates whole cultures, languages, and histories in what is truly the one franchise to rule them all. In celebration of the 4K remaster of Peter Jackson's epic adaptation, this is the first of a 3-part series of Crispy Chicken Wing Review. Warning: Spoilers ahead. Reader discretion is strongly advised.
The film begins as the elven queen, Galadriel, tells the story of the forging of the Great Rings. Distributed amongst elves, men, and dwarves from all across Middle Earth, these rings were imbued with magic, meant to be used as a tool to rule their respective realms. However, unbeknownst to all of them, another ring was made. The Dark Lord Sauron forged a ring in secret in the land of Mordor and used it to wage a war of conquest on the free peoples of Middle Earth. Sauron was narrowly defeated by Isildur, the King of Gondor, but Isildur failed to destroy the Ring when he had the chance.
The One Ring, forged by Sauron in Mordor. Fast forward three thousand years to The Shire, an idyllic countryside community inhabited by hobbits, a race of humanoid creatures devoted to farming and living in peace. Frodo Baggins eagerly awaits the arrival of the wizard Gandalf the Grey, who's arrived just in time for his uncle Bilbo's 111th birthday celebration. Gandalf and Bilbo reunite at the Baggins family home of Bag End, where Bilbo reveals that he's been planning to leave The Shire, leaving everything to Frodo. Bilbo reveals Gandalf that he has a "magic ring", which he later uses to disappear from the birthday party to make his escape unnoticed by Frodo and Galdalf. This same "magic ring" is the One Ring that Sauron had forged 3,000 years earlier. Bilbo had acquired the ring on a previous adventure he'd been on with Gandalf (outlined in The Hobbit, also by J.R.R. Tolkien with a film adaptation by Peter Jackson), and Gandalf senses that the ring is a dangerous magical artifact. He vows to keep the ring a secret at as Bilbo leaves The Shire to explore Middle Earth. Frodo returns to Bag End shortly after the party looking for his uncle, Bilbo. Gandalf informs him that he has now inherited the estate and all of Bilbo's possessions, including the One Ring. Gandalf tells Frodo that the Ring cannot remain in The Shire, as there have been whispers of hooded riders called Ring-wraiths seeking the Ring to return to Sauron, who is slowly returning to power. Frodo agrees, and along with his friends Samwise, Merry, and Pippin, they make way for the human village of Bree, where they will rendezvous with Gandalf after he seeks some answers on the Ring. While the four hobbits travel, Gandalf seeks the council of Saruman the White, an ancient wizard and former mentor. Saruman advises that it would be better for everyone to bow down to Lord Sauron, who is rapidly returning to his former strength. Gandalf refuses, and is held as a prisoner at Saruman's fortress of Isengard, where an army is being prepared. Meanwhile, the village of Bree is accosted by Ring-wraiths, and the four hobbits narrowly escape with the help of a ranger called Aragorn (who is a descendant of Isildur and the heir to the throne of Gondor). They continue their journey whilst constantly being hunted by the Ring-wraiths to Rivendell, the Elven city. Aragorn is reunited with his lover, Arwen, and the hobbits are reunited with Gandalf, who has escaped Isengard. Elrond, Arwen's father and the chieftain of Rivendell, calls a summit to the city of elves, dwarves, and men to discuss what should be done with the Ring. Everyone at the summit agrees that it can't remain in Rivendell and that it must be destroyed, which can only be done by bringing it to Mordor and casting it into the same fires it was forged in. A motley crew is assembled of:
Frodo, Samwise, Merry, and Pippin
Aragorn, heir to the throne of Gondor
Gimli, a dwarf who is an expert with an axe
Legolas, an elf gifted with navigation and archery
Gandalf the Grey
Boromir, a knight of Gondor
The members of The Fellowship of the Ring in Rivendell.
The assembled group of strangers is declared The Fellowship of the Ring, trusted with the quest of destroying the Ring and bringing freedom to Middle Earth once and for all. Through a series of encounters with orcs, goblins, Galadriel, and the elements, the party is eventually separated, forced to go their separate ways as the film ends. As the title implies, the movie is chiefly about the concept of fellowship - coming together for a common cause, even if you don't exactly know each other. While most of us probably won't traverse continents to destroy magical jewelry, I think the idea of fellowship is worth discussing. Over the course of my time with The Crispy Soul Podcast, I've found my own sense of fellowship amongst the creative individuals who make this show a reality. We all come from different backgrounds, but have come together to make the world a more Crispy place. I also think the story has another important message: everyone, no matter how big or small, can make a difference. Whether you're an ancient wizard or a hobbit gardener, anyone can have a huge impact on the world. As Shakespeare once said, "some of us are born great, some of us achieve greatness, and some of us have greatness thrust upon us. " That being said, the third big takeaway from this film is that we truly are the writers of our own stories. Frodo, though a hobbit from an insignificant farming village, he agreed to take the Ring to Mordor. He did this out of his own free will, even though he was under no obligation to do so. Another example that comes to mind is Samwise, Merry, and Pippin. They could have all easily decided to just live their simple lives in The Shire, but made the choice to follow Frodo into the unknown.
The Fellowship of the Ring sails on their journey to Mordor.
Because this summary isn't even close to covering everything that happens in the film, I highly recommend watching it (particularly the Extended Edition, if you can). While I went into this movie not having read the books, I was immediately sucked right in and felt I could understand the world of Middle Earth clearly. The rich lore, epic scenery, and well-developed characters make this series a delight to watch. I give the first installment 5/5 Crispy Chicken Wings.
I leave you with this bit of Crispy wisdom from Galdalf the Grey.
Stay Crispy. - Reba
*Make sure to tune into The Crispy Soul Podcast, where we go more into depth on this topic, available on all major streaming apps.