By Leah Rozen
December 24, 2001 12:00 PM

Elijah Wood, Ian McKellen, Viggo Mortensen, Sean Bean

One comes to praise The Lord of the Rings: the Fellowship of the Ring, not to bury it. There is so much to admire—the look, the special effects, the expert acting by Englishmen McKellen, Bean and Ian Holm—in director Peter Jackson’s loving, virtuoso transfer to the screen of J.R.R. Tolkien’s fantasy novel. In this epic three-hour installment of a planned trilogy, Frodo (Wood), a hobbit (like a leprechaun but with oversize, hairy tootsies), and eight pals battle an evil wizard and monsters for an enchanted gold ring. The problem? All this plays like a giant game of Myst, with Ring’s mythical characters never making the leap from virtual reality to real. Onscreen it’s still for teenage boys, in age or at heart. (PG-13)

Bottom Line: Fails to enchant