You Win, Air New Zealand

The airline’s new safety video will make Middle Earth fans proud.

Strange but true: When flying commercial, hobbits are required to wear junior-sized life jackets. You know, because they’re little. That useful Frodo-related in-flight factoid is just one of many reasons to watch Air New Zealand’s latest safety video, which the airline has (somewhat) appropriately dubbed The Most Epic Safety Video Ever Made. There are elves. And orcs. And Radagast the Brown reprimanding someone for smoking.

The slickly produced, instructional-turned-viral video plays heavily on New Zealand’s Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit ties, using the latter’s effects company and appearances from Elijah Wood and Peter Jackson to point out exit rows and explain seat belts with proto-Tolkien flair. And the best part? Sean Astin is nowhere to be found.

Air New Zealand has a pretty solid track record in the quirky-safety-videos realm, with past viral entries usually featuring either an odd celebrity appearance or simply a heavy dose of weirdness, but this one is particularly entertaining. I hesitate calling it epic, as they do, because The Iliad this is not. It’s still a safety video, and not to pick nits, but that wannabe Gandalf can’t carry Sir Ian McKellen’s staff. That said, it’s still absurdly ambitious for a safety video and one of the more creative advertisements I’ve seen recently. At the very least, even the most casual of Tolkien fans should get a kick out of seeing Middle Earth in all (OK, some of) its fantastic glory once again—quirky four-minute safety video or no.

Also in Slate:

Virgin America Made a Bizarre, Boring, Six-Hour-Long Ad About One Horrible Flight

If Your Airplane Safety Video Had Spirit Fingers, Would You Actually Watch It?

Virgin Atlantic Reinvents the Boring In-Flight Safety Video