Movie Review: Rise of the Fellowship

Three years after the initial release, I finally sat down to watch “Rise of the Fellowship“, thanks to it’s availability on Netflix streaming. Originally titled “The Fellows Hip: Rise of the Gamers” back before distribution problems delayed widespread release, the film is a buddy comedy that parodies many aspects of the Peter Jackson LOTR trilogy and showcases game footage from the Lord of the Rings Online MMO.

Let’s get this out of the way up-front: this film isn’t a blockbuster, nor is it meant to be. The over-the-top character stereotypes are all there: the annoying skinny friend, the funny chubby kid, the female soon-to-be girlfriend friend, the too-attractive-to-really-be-a-true-outcast-and-looks-more-like-Frodo-then-Elijah-Wood lead, the comic book store owner, the jerk brother, the jerk high school jock, the mother who blames video games for all of her son’s problems. You get the idea. Pretty much every character in this movie is a shallow one-trick pony. The story is also a bit weak, with the main goal feeling more like a reason to move the main characters from one punchline to the next than a central point of focus.

Still, the film surprised me in several ways. If you take for what it’s intended to be (a silly jaunt through adolescent geekdom), there are actually quite a few little gems to uncover. If you are a fan of LOTR or LOTRO, I predict that you will have several chuckles along the way, both from intentional and unintentional comedy.

Just a few things that I enjoyed (quite a bit, in some cases):

  • The One Ring as a gold USB drive
  • English scenes subtitled in elvish
  • The fellowship being pursued by a mysterious black motorcycle rider, complete with nazgul sounds
  • Twinkies as lembas
  • Rivendell/Lothlorien as a high-tech hippie commune
  • Boromir falling to paintball wielding Uruks
  • Shadowfax as a white GMC SUV
  • A slow motion flying Twinkie (I don’t know why I laughed so hard at this part, but it struck me as funny)
  • The final video game battle being fought by Randall (the main character), playing a hunter (my main class) using mele-only skills, a sure way to get killed if you’re a hunter

In all, they did a nice job of weaving bits of the LOTR films into the story they were trying to tell instead of doing a direct parody of the LOTR story. I also like that this is an extremely clean movie, and minus a few references to drugs that were planted in Randall’s school locker, is completely child-friendly depending on the age of the child and your strictness level as a parent. Certainly, kids who have watched the Peter Jackson movies would appreciate the comedy and references sprinkled throughout. I wouldn’t hesitate to sit down and watch it with my whole family.

If you’re going into this movie expecting a theater-quality experience, you may be disappointed. However, if you go in looking for 90 minutes of silliness and some fun LOTR references, those little jewels might just outweigh the cheese factor.

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