No Ordinary Burglar

The Hobbit movie posterAny movie made from a book that means a great deal to a great many people will likely receive both ardent praise (if it has any merit at all) and ardent abuse (no matter what).  The Hobbit holds sentimental value for me since it happens to be the book my father read to my brother and me when I was roughly 7 or 8 years old and consequently, it’s the first book in which I can remember being entirely engrossed.  I knew Peter Jackson planned to make changes.  I’d heard he intended to take from other of Tolkien’s works and, of course, I assumed some details would be changed or omitted or entirely fabricated.  I had come to terms with the very idea of added/omitted or otherwise altered material before I even walked into the theater.

A lot of folks seem to think this first installment of Jackson’s 3 part adaptation ran much too long, was long-winded and unnecessarily drawn out.  Having recently reread the book, I walked into it feeling vaguely skeptical of the film’s length (especially considering it’s a trilogy) but trusting that Peter Jackson wouldn’t ruin it for us.  Two hours and forty-five minutes later I left, trust intact.  I’ll admit that there were a couple of scenes I could have done without, compiling no more than a half-hour or so, but otherwise the film worked and the things that mattered most to me as a longtime fan of the novel on which it’s based, Jackson got perfectly right.

Truth be told, as long as he managed to nail the segment that correlated to the chapter titled “Riddles In The Dark” I knew I’d be all right with Gollumthe rest of it.  (As long as it didn’t totally suck, that is.  Which it didn’t.)  Andy Serkis deserves a new award, something made up entirely for him and his creation of the motion-capture CGI that has brought Gollum to life.  I am enamored.  “Riddles In The Dark” is one of my most favorite and beloved pieces of literature ever written and seeing it acted out onscreen with such detail, with a picture so clear and crisp, made me feel as joyous as a five year-old on Christmas morning.  The cave, the glow of Gollum’s orb-like eyes in the dark, his silent paddling over the black water in search of his prey – it was PERFECT.

Speaking of perfect, Martin Freeman’s embodiment of Bilbo Baggins is a transformation so wholly accurate, I don’t know that there currently lives (or has ever lived) another actor who could play a better Bilbo.  Ian McKellan is every bit as stoic and enchanting as Gandalf this time around as he was ten years ago in LotR.  And the dwarves!  Jackson brought them to life in a way I could never have envisioned.  Fili and Kili, who happen to be my favorites, look perfectly jovial and Bomber, adequately plump.  Naturally, the only ones whose visual translation seemed absolutely critical are Balin and Thorin himself and there isn’t even the slightest discrepancy there.  And for the record, I enjoyed the extra segments dedicated to Thorin’s back story.  I’m not sure why Jackson felt it necessary to include Azog the defiler.  Tolkien did write about Azog in other works, but he never showed up in The Hobbit.  And it isn’t like there weren’t plenty of obstacles along the way without being stalked by the The Pale Orc.

I can’t say I loved Radagast’s appearance, either, but the only addition that truly irked me was the scene in which Gandalf held a brief meeting of the minds with Galadriel and Saruman.  What did this add to the story?  Not a damn thing.  In fact, it accomplished nothing but stalling the narrative for 10 minutes or so.  It may prove itself valuable later in the trilogy but for now, I can’t see its relevance.

the great goblinI saw it not only in 3D but on a screen that supported the high frame rate, as well.  If you plan to see The Hobbit and there is a theater within 30 miles of you that offers both 3D and the hfr, I assure you: it’s worth it.  The picture is so crisp, so clear and vivid, it’s as if you could reach out and tug on Bomber’s beard or touch Bilbo’s hair.  And the scenes in the goblin’s caves are nothing short of stunning.  Some have claimed that the picture is too clear, giving it an unreal, animated appearance.  Or that it’s obvious when the scene is filmed on set rather than on location.  Honestly, there are just a rare couple of moments where these criticisms hold water.  But the multitude of breathtaking shots more than make up for it.

Whatever The Hobbit may mean to you, I recommend it.  It isn’t perfect nor is it the best movie 2012 gave us.  But it is exceptionally good, so entertaining you won’t check the time even once, and more visually stimulating than anything since… well, Lord of the Rings.

~Nikki

Whispers In The Dark

Just finished re-reading The Hobbit – the first chapter book I remember reading as a child.  My dad read it to my brother and me when we were in single digits and even then, I fell in love with Gollum and all the darkness he represented.  Riddles In The Dark is one of the finest pieces of writing ever written and I am tweaking like a meth-head in anticipation of seeing it up on the big screen courtesy of Peter Jackson and Andy Serkis.  As a kid, I was fascinated by Gollum; I wanted to know how he’d come to live in that mountain and why he’d stayed there.  Why did he speak of himself in third person and call himself “precious”?  Why did he ask himself questions as if some other part of him would answer and what was the deal with his sick obsession with that ring?  Much later, in college, I read The Hobbit again and marveled at Tolkien’s skill in creating a creature so wholly vile and repulsive yet worthy of pity.  A creature whose behavior and mannerisms, whose thoughts and physical attributes coincide so perfectly with a being who’s lived in nearly complete isolation and darkness for decades or more.  A cave-dwelling creature whose one friend is this precious ring, which has served him well, allowed him success as a hunter, thereby saving him from starvation or capture (by the goblins) but which has also caused a level of destruction from which there is no return.  Reading The Hobbit as an adult, Gollum reminds me of a heroin addict living in the sewers, thieving and mugging enough to maintain but never getting even half a step ahead because the need and the absolute love of that which is killing him is too strong to fight.

I feel such gratitude to Peter Jackson and the brilliant Andy Serkis (and anyone else who was involved) for making the CGI version of Gollum in their fantastic adaptation of the LotR trilogy every bit as sad, disgusting, insane and pitiful as Tolkien intended.  I was nervous, scared even, as I walked into the theater back in 2001 to see The Fellowship of the Ring that Gollum would be misrepresented, that they’d have neglected some detail or exaggerated others.  But the Gollum I saw made me fall in love with the character all over again – a perfect visual translation of the creature Tolkien created.

Now, less than two weeks away from the release of The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, I feel no trepidation.  Only eager excitement to see Gollum again and to watch that most beloved sequence of events that compiles Riddles In the Dark, my favorite chapter in the whole tale (from The Hobbit to The Return of the King), unfold onscreen.  I cannot wait.

~Nikki

I Just Can’t Get Enough

I admit there are many movies that I love so much, I’ll watch them over and over and over.  I’ve probably seen Pride & Prejudice more than a hundred times.  Dances With Wolves used to be practically a yearly event in my house.  Every time I happen to see The Shawshank Redemption on TV, I will watch it, even though I own it and have seen it countless times already.  There are some flicks I just can’t get enough of.  Which is why I understand those people out there who will pay theater prices to see a previously released movie again, now re-released in 3D.  Unlike my co-blogger, Titanic isn’t one such film for me, but I thought I’d share with you one film I adore so much, I wouldn’t think twice about paying to see it in the theater again, even without the added 3D visuals.  For me, each of the Lord Of The Rings films was so magical, so awe-inspiring up on the big screen, I’m sure I’d pay $10 to experience each of them all over again.  In particular, The Fellowship of the Ring.  I remember so vividly sitting in the theater, watching the Uruk-hai (those orc/human hybrid things) coming down that leaf-covered hill in the woods and literally sinking in my seat.  They were fearsome, so intimidating, I felt like if I’d have been standing beside Pippin, I would have dug a fucking hole in the earth just to make myself disappear.

And how I all but choked on the emotion following the fall of Gandalf, watching as the hobbits cried atop those mountainous rocks amidst the gorgeous backdrop of lush green forest – Jesus, that was intense.

More than anything, I loved the brief glimpse of Gollum, nothing but his humongous reflective eyes in the shadowy cave.  Gollum may just be my favorite character ever written.  I got chills at that little glimpse and could not wait for The Two Towers to get a good, proper look at him.

I feel that same anticipation now for The Hobbit.  In fact, at the end of the first teaser trailer for The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, when I heard Gollum’s hissy voice, chills ran up my back.  I. LOVE. GOLLUM.  I doubt I’ll ever get to see The Fellowship Of The Ring on the big screen again, but it’s hard to feel too bad about that with Jackson’s upcoming adaption of The Hobbit looming ahead.  Seeing Riddles In The Dark adapted on screen is sure to be one of the greatest moments in cinematic history, especially with Martin Freeman playing Bilbo and Andy Serkis reprising his utterly perfect version of that wicked little creature.

~Nikki

Lill & Jill Response

Lill and Jill tagged us with a vital question (3 questions, technically) and here is our answer(s):

Q. Why should we all live in fear/hate of Angelina Jolie and what is the BEST and WORST film you’ve blogged about?

A. (In 3 parts) 1. She is a baby-making robot who barely moves and has arms as thin and sinewy as my beloved Gollum – though Gollum has good reason to have stick arms: he lives in a cave and survives on raw fish and the occasional overtaken goblin; he isn’t a fucking multi-billionaire with access to personal chef, nutritionist, trainer, pastry chef, organic gardener, etc., etc. – and all of her biological children look like clones of each other.  Cute, pouty-lipped clones, but clones nonetheless.

2. Best film: this one is pretty damn hard to answer.  Personally, I loved several movies that we saw and reviewed last year (Red State, Young Adult, The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo, X-Men: First Class, Jane Eyre, the list goes on…) but the one movie that I’ve re-watched most frequently and enjoyed every single time is Bridesmaids.  So, while I can’t say that there is just one film we’ve reviewed that is the best, I think my favorite has to be Bridesmaids.

3. Worst film: Something Borrowed, by-fucking-far. This response required zero consideration, as Something Borrowed is hands-down the worst film we’ve seen and reviewed. Oh my dear sweet aching baby Jesus, is it terrible. Shitty characters who you wind up hating and rooting against, a pathetic, predictable plot, and overall headache, indigestion, nausea, vomiting, and gas with oily discharge. It’s an unpleasant experience, start to finish, and if you are someone who actually enjoyed this shitshow, please just do us all a favor and quit watching movies – you’re only encouraging them!

Thanks for the shout-out girls!

~Nikki & Annie