I’M BACK!

Dear Squids! I know I have been pretty much MIA for two years. My life has been crazy. I just finished my first year of graduate school, and now I am on summer break and have some free time, so I thought it was time to revive my blog.

So, for my first new post, I thought I would go over the movies I saw in theater since my absence, provide a rating, and a breif explanation. So, here we go.

 

Anna Karenina: 2012

Rating: 8

 

I loved this movie. The acting was enthralling. The two main characters (Kiera Knightley and Jude Law) create such tangible, raw emotions more powerful than few other films. What I loved most about this movie was the way director Jon Wright makes it look like a play. The film begins with a curtain going up, and characters have extravagant gestures and motions in a delightful way. Also, the adding of the repetitive sound of the train that will eventually kill Anna Karenina (sorry for the spoiler alert if you have not yet seen the movie or read the book).

That said, This film is not without flaws. It is very long. A very reasonable problem considering this movie was adapted from a Tolstoy novel, but anyway I think the editing could have been just a bit tighter to shave off at least a half an hour.

 

Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunter: 2013

Rating: 2

I don’t remember too much about this movie, except for the amazing face that I was actually able to be dragged to see it. That said, this movie was entertaining, not a bad way to kill an hour and a half. That’s really it. It didn’t stick with me. It was predictable, unchallenging, and a clear formula action movie. All though I will admit the costumes were pretty cool.

 

Iron Man 3: 2013

Rating: 5

I believe the first Iron Man is actually a pretty good movie. I haven’t reviewed it on this blog, but I think I’d give it a rating of 7. I despised Iron Man 2. My favorite thing about Iron Man was the witty banter that Tony Stark (Robert Downy Jr.) has with Pepper Pots (Gwenyth Paltrow). The second movie completely loses it, is not near as innovative, was sloppily put together, and quite frankly, I found it boring. However, while I know a lot of fans hated Iron Man 3, I thought it was much better than Iron Man 2. I was relieved to see the witty repartee restored. I also found myself sitting on the edge of my seat like the first one. However, I still think Iron Man the original is the best of the trilogy. The third one had a few problems. I found the motives of the villain not very clearly established. And Pepper Pot’s moment in danger was very predictable. Still so much better than the second one. Then again, it’s not hard to make something better than complete crap.

 

Ender’s Game: 2013

Rating: 6

I was really looking forward to this movie. I loved the book. In fact, I read it in about two nights. I actually really enjoyed the film. I thought it was a very good book to film adaptation. Of course, some stuff was left out, but that is always the case. I think Gavin Hood kept what was needed to keep the themes of the book alive.

That said, I am not sure I would have enjoyed it as much as I did had I not read the book. I have a feeling without reading the book the film would have been very hard to follow.

 

Hunger Games: Catching Fire: 2013

Rating: 6

I preferred this film to the first one, which really surprised me. I found this movie was better put together, easier to follow, and the action didn’t give you a headache. I also found that this film is much stronger in resonating emotionally. It’s hard for me to explain why I gave it a 6 because it has been a number of months since I saw it, but I am clear I did not think it was a perfect film.

 

The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug: 2013

Rating: 4

So if you have read my review of the first Hobbit, you know I was very disapointed by the movie. I do think this film is better, but only because of one thing: Smaug. Smaug the dragon was amazing. Benedict Cumberbatch was the perfect casting, just as much as Andy Serkis was for Gollum in the Lord of the Rings Trilogy.

That said, I found other aspects of the film bad enough to have made Tolkein turn in his grave. I will only write about one, because it really pissed me off: the romantic relationship between Killi and the female Elf, whatever her name was. I don’t have such a big issue that this story-line was not in the book. I understand that book to film adaptations need to make changes. However, I think it is possible for film makers to make these changes while still keeping the most important themes from the books alive. For example, was Tom Bombadil really necessary in The Fellowship of the Ring? No. So my question is, what the hell is this interspecies relationship attempting to do? It’s admirable if Jackson was trying to give a nod to interracial romance, but it seems so implausible after the LOTR trilogy taught us that elves and dwarves are at each other’s throats. For God sake. It took Legolas and Gimli three films to trust each other ad become friends. A hundred years before, a dwarf is going to fall in love with an Elf and vise versa in all of two minutes? I’m sorry Jackson. Think again.

 

Saving Mr. Banks: 2013

Rating: 10

I loved this movie. It is rarely that a a film makes me cry at the end not because of sadness, but because I am so overcome by the beauty. But I did that at the end of this film. I found no faults. I think the strongest aspect of this film was the cast. Emma Thompson is one of my favorite actresses, and she was amazing. As far as I am concerned, Tom Hanks is now the only man who can play Walt Disney, and Colin Farrell and Paul Giamatti were impeccable as well. However the film was also put together seamlessly as throughout the story are frequent flashbacks. Also, there is a powerful subtlety that really made this film a joy to watch.

 

Monuments Men: 2014

Rating: 4

I really wanted to see this movie because of it’s all-star cast and the historical narrative it is presenting. However, I was disapointed. The film suffered from the common issue of too many characters. It was plot driven, not character driven, so I couldn’t get as emotionally connected. Also, the plot continually going in different directions was incredibly hard to follow.

However, for a WWII movie this film has a good amount of enjoyable, clelver humor.

 

Jack Reacher: 2012

Rating: 2

I’ll be honest. The only reason I saw this film was because one day when I was living in Korea I took my host sisters to Daegu. We went to a theater and I told them we would see any movie they wanted. They picked Jack Reacher. I was disapointed, but I kept my word. I don’t seem to remember finding anything redeemable about this movie. A very typical action movie, down to the seemingly dark and corrupted hero to the villain who persuades his hench men to eat their fingers.

 

Epic: 2013

Rating: 7

I am often wary of going to see children’s movies, simply because a large portion of them are only meant to satisfy an audience of five-year-olds that it lacks any real depth. I still want to get the hour I lost watching G-Force. However, Epic left me presently surprised. While it seemed enjoyable to children, the story was complex enough to keep me enthralled. The creation of a microscopic civilization was detailed to the point that it almost seemed to reach LOTR standards for me. The animation was also very well done. I would say one of the best children’s films I have seen in the last few years.

 

OK, so I am hoping to get some new posts going in the next few days. Unfortunately, being a graduate student, I am quite poor, so I don’t know how much I will be able to review new films. I guess you’ll all have to be complacent with what I can access on Netflix.

 

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The Hobbit: An Unexpected Low

I have been living in Korea for almost six months, and I have only seen two movies in theaters. The first was Step Up Revolution (because my young impressionable host sister wanted to). It took me three months but I finally got that wretched taste out of my mouth by seeing the Hobbit.

After the wild success of the Lord of the Rings Trilogy, the Hobbit has been one of the most awaited films this year. An avid LOTR fan myself, I have been waiting just as eagerly. The Hobbit is based on the book that came before the Lord of the Rings Trilogy, the story of how Bilbo Baggins discovered the Ring.

Having read the Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings, I knew to expect a different flavor. While LOTR was dark and depressing and full of death, the Hobbit was pretty much a children’s story that foreshadows the doom that approaches Middle Earth. These stories are very different, so I’m trying not to compare the two, but that’s kind of impossible. I didn’t exactly hate the Hobbit, but I didn’t enjoy it near as much as I did any of LOTR.

First, the bad. What I loved about LOTR was that when I watched, it never felt like I was watching a fantasy movie. It was so rich in detail and artistry that nothing felt fake. It was more like watching a historical documentary, but much more entertaining. As I was watching the Hobbit, I knew I was watching a fantasy movie.

For more specific complaints, I had a huge problem with a scene in which two giant men made of stone were ripping mountains apart. During this sequence, Bilbo and his party of Dwarves are split up and have to jump across a huge rift. Sound familiar?  Almost the exact thing happened in the Fellowship of the Ring when the Fellowship was in the Mines of Moria, but that was better done. Come on Peter Jackson, get a little more creative.

I hated the Goblins. The monsters in LOTR were awesome. In my head, I knew they had a lot of make up and CG, but they were still scary and real. They were believable.  The goblins were not. The Goblin king was also given a few zinger lines that were supposed to be funny, but they weren’t.

The Hobbit was also filled with too many very cliche moments. I know LOTR had moments with cliche ideas in them, but they were done in a subtle enough way that didn’t make you want to groan. There were too many times in the Hobbit when I was being clobbered over head. Okay, Thorin is going to go battle his arch enemy. I get it. He doesn’t have to run through flames for 15 minutes. Yes, the Hobbit was brave and the Dwarves are surprised. Guess who isn’t?

I also think the beginning of the movie took too long. I know the introduction of The Fellowship took forever, but at least it was entertaining and interesting. In The Hobbit, not so much. I understand why Jackson brought back Elijah Woods and Ian Holmes. That was a great nod to the fans. However, it wasn’t really needed, at least, not as long as it took. A lot of that could be cut and no one would miss it.

Okay, now to the nicer part. Regarding the Dwarves. In LOTR, you only really get to know one Dwarf: Gimli, and he only serves as comic relief. Good comic relief, but I enjoyed how in the Hobbit, you get to see more of Dwarvish culture and get to understand them more.

And somehow, Jackson was able to make Dwarves sexy. I don’t know how he did it, but Legolas who?

The bits of the Dragon that you see were done very well. I am so glad Smog was not revealed completely. Viewers saw just enough to want to come back for more.

By far, however, my favorite part of this movie was the Riddle in the Dark scene, or the scene with Bilbo and Golem. That scene was straight from the book, and it was great seeing such an iconic moment from the book come to life. Golem was one of my favorite parts of LOTR, so seeing him again was great. Andy Serkis made an interesting acting choice here. We saw a different Golem, kind of. His Smegol side and his Golem side were more divided, as if the Ring hadn’t taken complete control over him yet, which added a whole new depth to his character, or characters depending on how you think of it.

As a huge LOTR fan, what I really loved was getting to go back to Middle Earth one more time, and see characters I fell in love with and meet new ones. However, had this movie been made before the Lord of the Rings, I am not sure I would have become such a huge fan. I give The Hobbit a 6. Although I do not regret seeing it.

3 Awesome Movies Being Released Christmas Day

I feel like this Christmas is going to be an incredible one. As far as movies go anyway. Already, three movies that I know of and am very excited about will be released in theaters on Christmas Day. And what better way do we celebrate Christmas than by going to the movies so you don’t have to make awkward conversation with your extended family?

Les Miserables

I just saw the trailer for this movie today, and it looks stunning. It stars the sexy Hugh Jackman, Russell Crow, and Anne Hathaway. It is of course an adaptation of the play which is an adaptation of the book by Victor Hugo. And even if you don’t have a thing for musicals, I think you should still see it because the preview makes it look phenomenal. If all else fails you can always just drool after Hugh Jackman. Didn’t everyone do that to Wolverine anyway to make that God-Awful movie still worth it?

The Great Gatsby

OK, I have watched this trailer maybe ten times already, and I am so excited about this movie. I am a huge fan of the novel, and I love Carey Mulligan and Leonardo DiCaprio. Even Toby MaGuire’s pressence isn’t ruining this film for me, that’s how good it looks.

The Hobbit

But the movie I’m really waiting for is The Hobbit. So once again this is where I show the world just what a big nerd I am. I have watched all three Lord of the Rings Extended Editions back to back consecutively multiple times. That’s over 12 hours of Middle Earth. And I love doing it every time. The thought that I have one more opportunity to go to a movie theater to see another chapter… I just can’t wait. I get to see Gandalf and Galadriel and Gollum again! Legolas I could give or take. He looks way too effeminate. I was always an Aragorn fan myself… but anyway.

So, I recently received a Fulbright grant, and I’m moving to Korea for a year to teach English starting in July. So it will be interesting seeing these movies with Korean subtitles. I wonder if I can get my host family to dress up for The Hobbit with me.