Monday, December 24, 2012

I do believe the worst is behind us.

There have been few better theatrical experiences than the time I saw The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring. I was in Connecticut visiting my grandparents, and on a whim, I decided to catch an early showing at the mall after doing some Christmas shopping. I don't remember having huge expectations going in (I hadn't read the book), and wasn't overly familiar with anyone involved, outside of Peter Jackson and Elijah Wood. But I had time and thought, why not?

Three hours later, everything had changed.

Clearly I was a huge dork that day back in 2001, but I left the theater an even bigger one (if that is at all possible). Peter Jackson had made one of my favorite movies of all time and shown everyone what an epic film truly looked like. I'm actually one of the few that consider Fellowship their favorite of the trilogy. In addition to being an outright great film, what was truly memorable, is that it surprised me. I had never seen anything like that before.

Eleven years later, there were no surprises as I meandered through The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey. And no, it's not because I wised up and actually read the book this time (despite this blog, I swear I'm not illiterate. Promise.), but that we've simply seen all of this before. We've seen a slew of characters embark on an epic journey traversing Middle Earth.  And for my money, we've seen it with more likeable characters on a more interesting journey.

Don't think it's all bad, 'cause obviously, it's not. We still have an incredibly-realized Middle Earth, filled with fascinating creatures and epic battles. We also get to spend more time with some of our previous favorites, including Frodo, Gollum, Galadriel (I looked that up) and Elrond (that one, too). And of course, a slightly more spry (though older looking, hmmm) Gandalf, who conjures up numerous ass kickings this time around. The older, familiar characters are not the problem - it's the new batch. All fourteen of them.

Bilbo is a whiny priss, fussing over doilies and his mother's glory box. The dwarves are too numerous and silly to care about (Santa Dwarf, Bruce Vilanch Dwarf, Nickelback Lead Singer Dwarf, and the one that looks like Freakshow from Harold & Kumar, etc), outside of the always brooding Head Dwarf. The Brown Wizard is a slightly-annoying burnout, prone to riding in nonsensical patterns on the worst rabbit-drawn sled ever put to film (even if they are the Cadillac of magical rabbits). Larry, Moe and Curly show up, though each is in the best Shrek costume Middle Earth's Party City offered. For the most part, I didn't care about any of these guys. Frodo and Sam they ain't.

Speaking of dynamic, infinitely interesting heterosexual life partners, now seems likes the perfect spot to check in with the Yays and Boos. Or as they referred to themselves for most of 2003, Merry and Pippin.

If she read my thoughts, let's just say she might be offended.
  • It was slightly corny, but I liked the party at Bilbo's house. A rollicking, good time.
  • And even though they trashed the place, dwarves can do the f--k out of some dishes.
  • Dwarf hair. It rules.
  • And even though he's being a douche, I enjoyed how Bilbo agreed with all the reasons why he was the wrong guy.
  • The Pale Orc! That guy was fierce. Sorry about your arm, bro.
  • The Troll trio. First, the nose-blowing incident. Second, the initial beating they took from the gang. Third, the way Bilbo confused their green asses.
  • Though it seemed rather unnecessary, I've always enjoyed a giant rock-beast battle. Always.
  • The Orc messaging system is pretty f--king sweet. Like a Middle Earth version of Gmail.
  • And finally, Gollum. Not only is he better looking than ever, he's also singing some sweet songs in his always delirious fashion. Bonus points for an old school RIDDLE FIGHT!!  Is it tasty? Is it scrumptious? Oh, it's both.

What's that? We're stretching this to three films?
  • Too much talking. Not enough fighting.
  • The Vienna Sausage fest factor. Outside of a luminous Cate Blanchett, we've got nothing but dudes. Short and hairy ones at that. Not pretty ones like a certain dreamy Elven marksman.
  • Hey look! A rock. Come here, you fools. There's a passage. Oh check it, nine feet the entire elf kingdom, Rivendell. That's convenient.
  • Giant Hawks. As cool as they were, it got kind of ridiculous for a second there. Someone falls? Giant hawk. Someone else falls? Giant hawk. Giant hawk falls? Well, that didn't happen. But if it did? Giant hawk.
  • And speaking of last minute saves, it really pissed me off that (um, spoiler?) no one f--king dies! Dude, I not only shit a brick, but also I wept like a small girl when Gandalf 'died' in Fellowship. By the end of Journey, I was rooting for someone/anyone to go. And obviously, it wasn't going to be Gandalf. Or Bilbo. Or anyone else I actually cared about.
  • And finally, the cash grab factor. Initial reports said this flick would be one epic. Then, word spread that there'd be two. Fine, that's fine. But three? In 3D? Hmm. Seems like somebody over at New Line wanted heated seats in their solid gold actual rabbit sled.
Misguided Analogy Time: This whole thing is like going to the same school where your brilliant older brother went. That guy got straight A's, played quarterback and had a hot girlfriend who after graduation, went all Ivy League. You got a B+ in Spanish, played tennis til you ruptured your achilles, and your girlfriend? Oh, you guys don't know her. She, um, goes to another school.


  1. Good review M. Pretty damn long and definitely not as epic as the Lord of the Rings trilogy, but it's not all that bad. I do look forward to seeing what they can do in the near-future with these stories, even if I do think that three movies is a bit too much.

  2. I'm in for the next two as well, I just don't expect a lot out of them. I'm sure they'll be good, but I doubt they'll be great.

  3. Another gem of the review!

    I was going to see it in the cinema back when it was two films. But now that there are 3 and there is only 15 seconds of Lee Pace (even though he is riding on the elk) in it, I'm gonna check it on the DVD. It's so silly to make one book into 3 3-hour long movies. Also the trailers made it look like a really childish, cutesy movie.

    I'm probably going to see next one on the big screen. Funny thing that the book only has Galadriel so Jackson actually created new female character that will appear in next films. And she will be played by gorgeous Evangeline Lily. That will make up for the lack of girls in this one :P

    1. Lily = so sexy.

      Elk comment = brilliant.

      How can you state you'll see the second one theatrically but not the first. OBJECTION!

    2. The second one will have more Pace :) That is worth my money :D 15 seconds of him, that were already made into gifs and posted on tumblr in super slow-mo...I'm a poor student after all :P

    3. Curse you and your youth! How soon I forget 'poor student's status.

      Too bad all my student loans have relegated me to 'poor adult' status.

      So, you're saying that your boy will actually have a line in the second flick? Interesting ...

    4. He better have lines - they will show his kingdom in next part :D In Jackson's vision it will probably be filled with woodland berries and elks :D

    5. 'Show his kingdom'? Yeesh. Sounds like it's going for that hard R rating.

    6. Oh, if that would actually be THAT in 48 frames per second with 3D I'd give the movie 10/10 and then die :)

    7. I'm glad you'd make it long enough to write your review before you succumbed to the glory.

      I imagine you struggling to type...
      And really, no one needs that in 48 fps. No one.

  4. Replies
    1. I still think this would make an excellent poster for the classroom!

      Merry Christmas, Hannah. And anything else you may be celebrating...

  5. Ah, now I see why you're are teacher and probably a very good one... nice use of mnemonics for the dwarfs... to me they were just as recognizable from each other as Radagast's rabbits were. Now I just have to look out for Nickelback Lead singer Dwarf!

    1. Probably? Oh, that's best case.

      Please, let us never speak of those rabbits again. Ever.

  6. Nice review. I still haven't seen this one yet, but it's my favorite of all the books. I was hoping for better reviews, but I'll have to judge it for myself. Love the reference to Legolas... haha

    1. Definitely go see it for yourself. Being that I had no adoration going in, it was easy for me to be indifferent.

      Yeah, he was pretty dreamy.