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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+

Top Three: 2001

3. The Royal Tenenbaums

There may be plenty of other great films that could have been put third on this list, but I’m going to be selfish. The Royal Tenenbaums is one of my all-time favorite movies, and I will take any excuse to have Wes Anderson mentioned. Gene Hackman and Anjelica Huston are absolutely amazing, Ben Stiller Gives an terrific deadpan role, and has some of the best scenes ever put to music (in my opinion)

2. Lord of the Rings

Peter Jackson was up for a challenge. LOTR is already a big time franchise, with fans all over the globe dying to see if he could live up to the classic J.R.R. Tolkien books. Well, Jackson, along with Elijah Wood, Ian McKellen, Orlando Bloom, Sean Bean, Christopher Lee, and countless others did the impossible, and met the expectations. It’s an epic in every sense of the word and still stands today, over a decade later.

1. Amélie

Oh Amélie, how I love your distinct style, amazing visuals, and tremendous story. Yes, again, I might be taking liberties, but even if you hate it, you can’t deny that Amélie is a great film. It was the movie that made me realize that subtitles aren’t scary, but can actually add to the atmosphere of the movie. Just trust me. Go see it already.

Honorable Mentions:


Ocean’s Eleven

Donnie Darko

Monster’s Inc.


Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone

Spirited Away

Review: King Kong (2005)

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I’ve heard of the 1930’s classic King Kong before. My view of it, however, only included the climatic Empire State building showdown featuring the giant ape and the airplanes. Man, I apparently missed a lot. Peter Jackson’s 2005 remake shows us just how much more there was to the story.

Depression-ridden New York City in the 30’s brings a brilliant writer (Adrien Brody), a cash strapped performer (Naomi Watts), and a director with visions of grandeur (Jack Black) and his assistant (Colin Hanks) together on a boat to film a movie. What they don’t realize is the strange island that they just landed on contains not only the “Eighth Wonder of the World”, but also a slew of other prehistoric beasts never thought to be alive. After losing Watt’s Ann, the crew stops at nothing to return her to the ship and back to NYC. Well, that’s the first half at least.

Adrien Brody, Naomi Watts, and Jack Black might be a bit of a strange combination, but the casting in Kong is no doubt, near perfect. Brody plays the silent genius thing perfect, Watts could be a dead ringer for a 1930’s starlet, and Black very well could be a person in showbiz on the verge of insanity. The thing is, though, acting doesn’t really play all that big of a role in Kong. The amount of action in Kong is right up there with Michael Bay. And as Transformers can tell you, that would normally be the kiss of death in a review. However, there is still plenty of emotion in that big ape’s final scene. Hats off to Peter Jackson, fresh off of Lord of the Rings to bring the action hammer down, but also to bring down a second, more tearful, emotional hammer on the viewers. Truly a spectacular homage to the 1933 classic.

My Rating: A

Trailer + Poster for The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey

The long awaited return of Peter Jackson to Middle Earth is finally almost here. After directing the Lord of the Rings trilogy, Jackson is back for more, beginning the first of a two-part retelling of The Hobbit. The first trailer came out this week, with the poster release not far away.