It is a trilogy so elaborate that it took one out of every 160 New Zealanders to make it. And the first part in the series is coming to Netflix this month.
The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring, the film based on the novel by J. R. R. Tolkien, comes to Netflix Aug. 1 – roughly 17 years after it grossed more than $300 million in the U.S. to become the No. 2 film at the box office for 2001. It was followed by The Two Towers (2002) and The Return of the King (2003), two movies that were even more financially successful.
Netflix hasn’t announced if those other movies are coming to the service in the coming months, although if it follows the pattern of previous film series on Netflix, they just might. For now, The Fellowship of the Ring (PG-13) will have to do.
The film series and novels are popular worldwide among Christians, who point to the battle of good vs. evil and the story’s spiritual undertones, including its teaching on the lure of evil. Additionally, multiple books have been written about the symbolism and worldview within the story. Tolkien himself was Catholic and a good friend of C.S. Lewis, the author of The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe.
The story takes place in Middle Earth and follows a young man named Frodo, who comes into possession of a ring that has the power to enslave the world. Frodo’s mission is to destroy it – which must be done by tossing it in the fire on a mountain — although the evil Lord Sauron is trying to get it first. A band of companions known as the “fellowship” protects Frodo on his quest.
It took filmmakers about eight years to make the three movies across New Zealand. All total – if you include extras and other necessary personnel – about one in 160 New Zealand citizens were involved in the making of them.
The Fellowship of the Ring contains no coarse language or sexuality but is rated PG-13 for “epic battle sequences and some scary images.”
Take the rating seriously if you have young children. The Fellowship of the Ring has more than its share of creepy-looking creatures. My 6-year-olds won’t be watching it. Still, I might check it out with my tween-aged son. Pass the popcorn.
Also streaming this month:
Batman Begins (Aug. 1, PG-13) – This 2005 movie rebooted the Batman films series and tells the story of the origins of the caped crusader. Contains some language (including a GD). Rated PG-13 for intense action violence, disturbing images and some thematic elements.
Secretariat (Aug. 1, PG) – The winner of the 1973 Triple Crown remains the most well-known racing horse of all time. This is the story of Secretariat, its owner, Penny Chenery, and her struggle to spend time with both her family and her horse. Rated PG for brief mild language. (Two instances of “h-ll,” two misuses of “God”).
The Princess Diaries 2: Royal Engagement (Aug. 1, G) – The story of Mia Thermopolis – the quirky girl turned princess – continues in this comical Disney film, which is a favorite among girls. Don’t miss the first film in the series, The Princess Diaries, which released on Netflix in July.
Nut Job (Aug. 13, PG) – A purple squirrel named Surly and his friends must fight to survive after their source of winter food is destroyed. Animated. Rated PG for mild action and rude humor.
Hoosiers (Aug 1, PG) – A small-town Indiana basketball team makes it to the state championship. This classic 1986 film is marred a bit by some language (among it: s—t and misuse of “Jesus”). If this version isn’t for you, then find a cleaner version (using VidAngel or ClearPlay, for example) and show your children. It’s very inspiring. Rated PG.
Spy Kids 2: The Island of Lost Dreams (Aug 1, PG) – Our favorite children espionage agents go on another journey – this time to a mysterious island. Rated PG for action sequences and brief rude humor.
Babe (Aug 1, G). A timid young farm pig tries to find his place in the world. Live-action.
Hoosiers (Aug 1, PG) – See above.
Michael Foust is the father of an amazing wife named Julie and the father of four small children. He has covered the intersection of faith and entertainment for more than a decade.