(In theaters, December 2001) As someone whose opinion of J.R.R. Tolkien’s original novel is closer to “dull, dull, dull” than “masterpiece!”, I didn’t expect much of the film. So it pleases me immensely to see the film improve sharply on the faults of the written work, up to a level where I saw The Lords of the Rings that I really wanted to see, and not the interminable brick I had read. Peter Jackson’s work on the film version is nothing short of remarkable, adeptly condensing hundreds of pages in less than three exciting hours. Unquestionably, the film is still very long, but it’s almost all good. Good acting, fantastic direction and spectacular visuals easily make this one of the best films of the year. It’s amazing (and reassuring) to see how faithful the film is to the novel and yet how much more entertaining it is. After the awful series of cheap fantasy movies of the past decades, it’s heartening to see someone do it right. That such an eagerly-awaited film would end up being equal to the anticipation is simply miraculous.