When it comes to the attention of the great wizard Gandalf the Grey (Ian McKellen) that his old dear friend Bilbo Baggins (Ian Holm) is in possession of the One Ring, he determines it must be destroyed in the cauldron whence it was formed before the evil being Sauron can attain it and wreak destruction. Charging Bilbo's nephew Frodo (Elijah Wood) and his loyal friend Sam (Sean Astin) with this task, a fellowship consisting of two men (Viggo Mortensen, Sean Bean), two more hobbits (Dominic Monaghan, Billy Boyd), an elf (Orlando Bloom), and a dwarf (John Rhys-Davies) forms to guard the ring's passage, as the aforementioned embark on a battle to save Middle Earth. I was going to treat these films as three separate entries but i wanted to spare myself the writing (and you the trouble of reading) what is already widely known of what is essentially one, expansive film anyway. Peter Jackson's magnum opus is an overblown adaptation of the beloved J.R.R. Tolkein fantasy trilogy, which was a sequel to his equally successful (and forthcoming as another Jackson adaptation) The Hobbit. These first installments continue to achieve endless amounts of acclaim, but I find them unnecessarily overlong and incredibly corny efforts to please the Tolkien fanboy minority. They are most notable for their spectacular visuals, which by no means deserve to be downplayed considering, in my opinion, that they buoy a nearly ten hour film. Of the three films ("The Fellowship of the Ring", "The Two Towers", "The Return of the King"), none is far superior to any other, although the first installment has the unenviable task of being the set-up film and the last's multiple endings conjured nightmares of my bladder exploding when I first viewed it during the theatrical release. Ian McKellen (you almost need an actor of his breadth to take some of this shit seriously), Viggo Mortensen, and Sean Bean are in fine form although the hobbits (with the exception of Holm) are completely insufferable, especially Astin who is in all out Rudy mode. I thought Andy Serkis' Gollum was phenomenal, and that Jackson and co. are to blame for not clearly explaining the CGI process to Academy voters in efforts to garner him an Oscar nod. Detours also detract from the overall effect (I was bored to tears every time an elf was on screen) and many segments are beyond mawkish to the point of laughability. Still, the virtuoso filmmaking, breathless photography, and seamless CGI make this trek worth enduring.