Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Theater Interruption (The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey / Django Unchained)

Occasionally, my journey through the discs on my shelf will be interrupted by a trip to the theater (to see movies alongside real, live people *ick*) or some work getting done on my Netflix queue. This is the first such interruption.

Director: Peter Jackson
Writers: Fran Walsh (screenplay), Philippa Boyens (screenplay), Peter Jackson (screenplay), Guillermo del Toro (screenplay), and J.R.R. Tolkien (novel "The Hobbit")
Stars: Martin Freeman, Ian McKellen and Richard Armitage

Just from the source material, it was clear that The Hobbit could never match up to the LotR trilogy - however, it has more potential than this film shows. Here we are treated to great performances from the main characters, a fantastic interpretation of "Riddles in the Dark" and New Zealand scenery which is still a gorgeous stand-in for Middle-Earth. However, almost everything else is weak, or at least weaker than what one might have expected: from the average score (outside of the "Misty Mountains" tune, which is admittedly spectacular), to the needlessly CGI'd orcs and goblins, to the crude jokes and Disney-esque (in the worst possible sense) portrayal of Radagast... hopefully this is just a stumble and not a trend. I certainly understand that The Hobbit is a much more lightweight tale than that of LotR, but the cartoonish nonsense (bunny sleigh, messenger goblin, etc.) was just taken too far and is too jarring in a film that tries so hard to remind you that this is the Middle-Earth that you fell in love with in the theater a decade ago.

Score: 5 / 10

Director: Quentin Tarantino
Writer: Quentin Tarantino
Stars: Jamie Foxx, Christoph Waltz and Leonardo DiCaprio

Simultaneously the most hilarious and the most brutal film of 2012. This revenge flick may be nearly three hours long, but it seems to absolutely fly by. Foxx, Waltz, Jackson and DiCaprio are all impressive to watch, particularly in the "dinner scene" (sure to be regarded as a QT classic). Tarantino's dialogue is pitch-perfect (as usual), his directing is stylish and I particularly loved the typical-Tarantino soundtrack - ranging from Morricone material to classical pieces to rap. Honestly, I can't find much to fault in this one. Tarantino has done an amazing job of merging genres - blending scenes that could have been in Blazing Saddles with ridiculously violent grindhouse-style shootouts, all the while paying homage to the classic spaghetti westerns in an almost seamless fashion. Haven't had this much fun in a theater in a long time.

Score: 9 / 10

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