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‘The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey’ Film Review

The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey

Director/Directors: Peter Jackson

Cast: Ian McKellen, Martin Freeman, Richard Armitage, et al

Rating: 12 (U.K.)/PG-13 (U.S.A)

Stars: 3 (Average)

Well the time has finally arrived. It’s been months of hype and excitement for the release of the first instalment of The Hobbit, and thankfully it has been directed by Peter Jackson, the same person that directed The Lord of the Rings trilogy. But has he managed to maintain that level of quality that LOTR did, and what’s the big deal about this 48 frames per second?

The plot revolves around Bilbo Baggins (Freeman), who leads a cosy and sheltered life until Gandalf (McKellen) pops round for a visit. Within a matter of days, dwarves, trolls, goblins, and other weird and wonderful creatures become the centre of Bilbo’s life as he travels across Middle-Earth to try and find Smaug, a terrible fire-breathing dragon.

Many people say that The Hobbit is a prequel to The Lord of the Rings, but really it’s the other way around: The Hobbit was published nearly twenty years before LOTR, in 1937. This means that Tolkien did not know much of what was going to happen after this book, if at all, and that’s where Peter Jackson comes in; because the vast majority of people now know the events of The Lord of the Rings, it’s only natural to include in this film scenes with Frodo (Elijah Wood) and a much older Bilbo Baggins, both of which are not in the book. And this isn’t just the once, oh no. Several scenes have been made-up and are not at all a part of the book, although it must be said that they fit in with the plotline very well. It must also be explained that for about an hour-or-so into the film, the script and scenes are quite humourous, a stark contrast to The Lord of the Rings trilogy (yet I must add that The Hobbit book is humourous throughout, as it was effectively meant as a children’s book). But whilst I realise why this is done, it happened a little too suddenly – it should’ve been more gradual a tone change than what it was.

I know, two rings - just pretend they're two of the rings of power! ;)

I know, two rings – just pretend they’re two of the rings of power! 😉

The film is heavy on CGI, but that is no surprise, and you soon get used to seeing it. The acting on the whole is excellent, and of course is very British besides one or two people. I must say that my favourite character was Gollum, still played by Andy Serkis, as he simply was the sweetest creature and also the most horrible one at the exact same time, which is quite a feat to pull off. These actors boost the film’s rating up to 3 stars, but the real reason I gave it this rating is because It felt like it lacked something quite large, something that should’ve been there but wasn’t. The 48fps did not seem as bad as what people were blabbering on about, but it wasn’t that, either. I think it was the lack of seriousness in the film. Sure, The Hobbit book was funny at times, but it was still written in a fairly serious manner; the film felt like a step away from The Lord of the Rings, almost like some TV-movie that tried to create an exact copy of an original idea and failed.

All in all, An Unexpected Journey is all right. The cast is fine, if not great, and the CGI has no fault, especially the scene with Bilbo and Gollum. I wanted to like this film – I really did. But the script was a bit too funny, and that for me pulled me away from the world of Middle-Earth and into some other land where this film is set, and I do not think it is Middle-Earth. So many scenes were muddled and even made-up (like Lord of the Rings, I know, but it still kept the serious tone) that I was just pointing out the differences compared to the book. A shame, perhaps, yet it is clever how Jackson and the rest of the gang have managed to bring Tolkien’s books to the big screen. Here’s to hoping that next year’s instalment will be better.

 

Fun Fact: Try and spot the Wilhelm scream during the movie; I did. Don’t know what a Wilhelm Scream is?

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‘Looper’ Film Review

Looper

Director/Directors: Rian Johnson

Cast: Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Bruce Willis, Emily Blunt, et al

Rating: 15 (U.K.)/ PG-13 (U.S.A.)

Release Date: 2012

Stars: 4 (Very good)

I hope you like time travel and telekinesis, because if you don’t, it’s doubtful you’ll like this movie. The movie’s plot revolves around loopers – trained assassins which kill targets from the future. However, only gangs are able to use time travel in the future, so when they need a body gone, they zap them back to the present day (in this case, 2044), where a certain looper takes them out. Loopers have only one rule: kill the target.

Even if the target is you.

The plot becomes reasonably complicated after this moment, so if you can’t get your head round paradoxes, forget this film. I’m trying to keep writing as few plot points as possible in this review, as I know people hate spoilers, and I loathe them with a vengeance myself. So without further ado – is this movie worth watching, and if so, how badly?

Well the opening scene is great, and if anything, a little shocking. Now ‘shocking’ doesn’t mean scary or “wow I wasn’t expecting that”, but it’s very sudden, and frankly, very well done. Yet whilst I didn’t say that this movie was scary, it is a little grim. One scene in particular, for me (which involved an older version of someone having something nasty done to them), wasn’t extremely pleasant to watch, which brings me to the review’s second point.

This film wasn’t at all what I was expecting. If you watched the trailer for Looperand thought, “Cool, that looks like a great action film,” I wouldn’t at all blame you for thinking that. But you’re wrong. Almost hopelessly wrong. This film is more of a slow-burner, and can be quite dramatic and moving at times. But whilst there are only a few action-filled scenes, that definitely does not stop it from being a good film. On the contrary, actually. The acting is superb, and there are three people in particular that stick in my mind: Sara (Emily Blunt), Abe (Jeff Daniels), and last but not least, Cid (Pierce Gagnon). I really want to focus on Gagnon for a minute. The sheer excellence of his acting in this film is extraordinary: he’s funny, charming, and basically, great. And to top it all off, he’s younger than me! I hope this little guy gets more acting roles soon, because he’s one good actor.

Copyright (c) 123RF Stock Photos

Also, kudos to the make-up department in making Bruce Willis and Joseph Gordon-Levitt look so similar. Sometimes it’s quite scary seeing them so much alike (I lied, the film is scary!), but it just adds to the entertainment factor of the film.

But, as always, there are negative points to this film. For one thing, the whole concept of gangs in the future and why only they can use time travel is totally ignored and forgotten about in the film; it was only explained in a sentence, and whilst I understand that it wasn’t an integral part of the film, it would still have been nice to have a bit of clarification. Secondly, there is unnecessary nudity (I mean that. There is absolutely no  point in seeing a woman’s top-half in this film) and swearing. While I understand that my view of swearing in films is highly different to the views of others, there were scenes where I’m sure the writers were adding swear words just to make the film ‘gritty and cool.’

Overall, though, a fantastic attempt at creating a witty yet dramatic film about time travel, unlike other silly attempts which only focus on the time travel aspect. I understand that this review is posted too late for you to see Looper in the cinema, but maybe, just maybe, this review was instead meant to be seen so you can all buy the DVD when it comes out on store-shelves!

‘Ice Age 4’ Film Review

Unless you haven’t guessed already, this post is essentially a review of the film ‘Ice Age 4: Continental Drift’, which I happened to watch last night. Also, another thing which you probably haven’t guessed yet: I’m a film buff. Now, the Web Definition of this is, “I have something to say about this movie!” and I think it’s safe to say that I have something to say about most things, especially films, books, and video games (yes, my boyishness is seeping through again). So here it is – a fairly quick review of Ice Age 4; I hope you enjoy.

Ice Age 4: Continental Drift

Director/Directors: Steve Martino, Mike Thermeier

Starring: Ray Romano, Denis Leary, John Leguizamo, et al.

Rating: U (Forget this bit if you’re not from the UK!)

Genre: Family Comedy

Release Date: 2012

Rating: 3½ stars (Recommended)

Things are about to heat up. This becomes very clear during the first few minutes of Ice Age 4. While the past three films did focus on ice caps melting and dinosaurs interrupting, the fourth one turns it all up a notch, with lands breaking apart to become what we know today as the continents. Manny, Sid, Diego, and an insulting relative known only as ‘Granny’ are thrust apart from their ‘herd’, causing them to go on a wild sea adventure to reach them again before they are seperated forever. Along the way they encounter pirates, ships, and storms; can these four unlikely heroes manage to find their way home?

The premise of this film is a simple one, but also a predictable one. While I understand that this is an adventure comedy for both young and old, it felt far more plodding than the previous three. Since we follow characters on both land and sea, the film’s scenes can become choppy and jarring, sometimes creating an uneven experience. The script was good overall, and the animation fashioned some very amusing scenes, such as Sid’s paralysis. But it was the plot itself that was a let down; while there was comedy interspersed throughout, there was always feeling of dullness that could only come from a clichéd plot.

The voice acting was great, however, and perfectly suited their animated selves. Manny (Ray Romano) in particular has an hilarious personality, especially with his voice mixed in. The film’s background music was basic but effective, and it didn’t feel like it was too loud or forceful during the scenes. Nevertheless there is a pirate shanty that, whilst clever in its wording and structure, is unnecessary and didn’t feel like it was supposed to be in an Ice Age movie.

But it isn’t terrible by any means. While the film could be good as a standalone, it is the characters within it that really make us come back to watch the next installment. Worth watching then, if you enjoy some clever slapstick, good voice actors, and great animation. A recommended watch.

Please comment if you want me to add anything to my next review, and remember to Follow my blog if you want to keep up to date! This review should be going into the review section soon. 🙂