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Review: The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey (2012)

The Hobbit: An Unexpected JourneyHobbits, wizards, dwarves, New Zealand….we’ve been here before, haven’t we? Peter Jackson decided that 3 Lord of the Rings films wasn’t enough and proceeded to decide that neither one or two movies would be able to adequately cover J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Hobbit. The result is An Unexpected Journey, the first in a trilogy taking place 60 years before the events of the LOTR trilogy. Nothing wrong can happen when doing three prequels to an already adored trilogy, right George Lucas?

The Hobbit is the tale of 12 dwarves, 1 wizard, and 1 hobbit attempting to reclaim the homeland of those dwarves at the Lonely Mountain. The reason this isn’t easily done is due to a dragon named Smaug. A lengthy intro explains all of this, so don’t worry. Of course then we get shot into Fellowship of the Ring territory, with Ian Holm’s Bilbo Baggins and Frodo (Elijah Wood) only to get sent back to the time when Gandalf (Ian McKellen) asks the young Bilbo (Martin Freeman) to join in on an adventure. An hour or so of the movie passes by and we finally get on our way. Of course, the group led by Thorin (Richard Armitage), has plenty of hurdles to overcome, including rock giants, cave trolls, and those pesky Orcs. With the decision to make this a trilogy we only get the beginning of the journey, but there is plenty more to come.

My chief concern going into the theater was that each scene would drag on forever. After all, this was originally going to be one movie. Combine that with the fact that An Unexpected Journey is 170 freaking minutes long, I would say that I was warranted in my concern. For the most part, it wasn’t too much of an issue. Yes, most scenes tend to run a tad too long, but the beautiful imagery is enough to keep you distracted. And what beautiful imagery it is. Rivendale most stood out to me, and we get several camera shots that we haven’t seen before. And Gollum! I could watch that creature forever. It is absolutely stunning how much they have improved him since the original trilogy. Absolutely mind boggling. My finally verdict however eventually comes down to this: haven’t we all seen this already? Yes, the story and most of the characters are new. But it just seems too familiar. Hopefully it can improve along the rest of the way.

My Rating: B+

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Review: Hugo (2011)

Hugo: I went to see it as an afterthought without knowing much besides the trailer and the fact it was nominated for a boat load of Oscars including Best Picture and Best Director for Martin Scorsese. But besides that, I was at the mercy of the marketing team. For all I knew, it like a live action Polar Express of sorts. Well marketing team, you did a horrible job.

Depending on how much of the movie you want spoiled, a description for Hugo can go many ways. For your sake I’ll try best to describe without getting any really big spoilers in there. Hugo Cabret (Asa Butterfield) is an orphan who lives in the clocktower of a train station in Paris in the 1930’s. Hugo’s father (Jude Law) left him a robot like automaton, who, when fully functioning, is able to write and draw. However, although the trailer might lead you to think that Hugo’s big plot point is fixing this shiny metal man, it’s but a minor device used in the movie. The real plot is Hugo and his new friend Isabelle (Chloe Moretz) and her guardians and finding your place in the world. Really finding what you love to do and how that fits in to your purpose in the world. Sound like a broad definition? Well that’s the type of movie Hugo is. But Scorsese works with it, and does so masterfully.

Honestly, I’m pretty sure you would hate this film if you don’t have at least a basic understanding of the history of film. It’s slow moving at times and gets a tad boring at its somewhat long running time. BUT! If you, like me, love the history of movies, especially the early silent’s and the dream-like films of Georges Méliès, you will absolutely adore Hugo, as I did. There is no way you can hate on the acting (even Sacha Baron Cohen plays a character with more than one layer!), and some performances (Chloe Moretz) make you look forward to the future careers of these bright stars. Once again, I find myself wanting to move to Paris with a time machine in hand!

My Rating: A

Review: Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith (2005)

My journey through the Star Wars Prequel trilogy is about done, with only the final chapter left. While the beginning had me very worried I would be wasting a few hours of my life, Episode II redeemed my zest for the franchise and had me pumped for the final entry.

Episode III follows right after the previous film (3 years later), and shows Anakin’s dark side revealed more and more. While he and Obi Wan are out battling General Grevious, Padme’s pregnant, and the Jedi Order and Galactic Senate are at stake. While the plot is much weaker than Attack of the Clones, the payoff is, of course the end. The entire prequel trilogy is capped off by something everyone knew was going to happen: Anakin’s transformation to the dark side and later, Darth Vader.

As an overall film, it doesn’t top Episode II for action or plot, but what Episode III really excels at, is pumping you up for a movie that is a few decades old. I was all prepared to pop in Episode IV right afterwards. The change into Darth Vader, and the future of Luke Skywalker and Leia is so well done, you can’t help but immediately think of the originals. As it’s own movie, Episode III is nothing to write home about, but it does fit into the Star Wars saga quite well.

My Rating: B-

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Review: Star Wars Episode II- Attack of the Clones (2002)

So, Episode I was a big flop in my book, and the loss of Liam Neeson doesn’t help the pre-viewing outlook on Attack of the Clones, but added to the mix are Hayden Christensen, a much more sultry Natalie Portman, and the appearance of a computer generated Yoda.

Episode II takes place around a decade after Episode I, and we see how Anakin’s training under Obi Wan is going, Padme’s reign as Queen has ended and she is now in the Senate, and also the growing sense of fear in Anakin. As a Senator, Padme’s life has been filled with assasination attempts and Obi Wan turns on sleuth mode to find some answers. Meanwhile Padme and Anakin are out frolliking in fields, having a secret romance. Everything leads up to the large scale Clone Wars, later mentioned in Episode IV.

First things first, It was better than Phantom Menace. But quite honestly, watching Princess Diaries would have been more enjoyable than Ep. I again. I actually found this one really entertaining. The downside was again, the acting, this time around focusing on Hayden Christensen and his awkward delivery. But the action was finally somewhere to be found! The Gladiator-esque scene was awesome, and animated Yoda having a light saber battle was easily the most grin worthy moment in the new trilogy. The origin story of Boba Fett, through his father Jengo Fett was also pretty cool. So for all of it’s flaws, Attack of the Clones was still a solid movie; one actually worth the Star Wars name.

My Rating: B

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