100 movies: The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey

100 movies of 2012

[yellow_box]Every year I set myself a target, usually of about 100, of films to watch. These are new films. Not new, new films. But films that are new to me. Any time I’ve seen a new one, I post a bit of a brain dump of my thoughts on the film here. Enjoy![/yellow_box]

The Hobbit: An Unexpected JourneyThe Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey (13/12/12)

A curious Hobbit, Bilbo Baggins, journeys to the Lonely Mountain with a vigorous group of Dwarves to reclaim a treasure stolen from them by the dragon Smaug.

The Hobbit was one of my most anticipated films of the year at the beginning of the year. With a whole year to wait, the anticipation and excitement was only going to rise. And it did. With every production diary video I watched, the more impatient I got. December rolled around and tickets were booked as soon as they were available. Though… in boring old 2D.

While I’m all for pushing the boundaries with technology and all that new stuff, I’m fairly old-fashioned with my cinema viewing. I don’t want to have to wear anything on my face. I don’t want to be told where to look. I just want to enjoy the story and film making.

So this is a non-HFR, non-3D review of The Hobbit.

What of The Hobbit? Well, in a nutshell, I enjoyed it. It was a welcome return to Middle Earth. It felt like going back to an old TV show and already knowing what to expect. But in a good way. That nice familiar feeling watching the camera roll around Hobbiton. It felt like home!

Howard Shore’s score made it all the more familiar with themes from The Fellowship of the Ring creeping in every now and then. I really loved Over the Misty Mountains Cold. Really beautiful bit of music. Solid score. I expected nothing less.

The characters were all brought to life brilliantly. Young Bilbo was a bit more sullen than I expected. Gandalf was as I remembered him. Exactly how I wanted it. Gollum – wow. Sure he was only onscreen for a short amount of time, but he lit up the screen. Loved the riddle scene so very much.

The dwarves were all brilliant, but they came off as more comic relief than anything else. Which was a shame. While watching this troop I couldn’t help but compare to the Fellowship and how they were all such individual characters and, yes at times, comic relief, but they had purpose. The dwarves all blended together a bit for me. Which was a shame.

I’m amazed that from this one film we have only got a portion of The Hobbit. The good sort of amazed. There’s a lot of Middle Earth history, which I appreciate and look forward to seeing more of. I’m not sure how successfully it was intertwined with the story of The Hobbit. I think LOTR did a better job with their pre-title prologues.

The set pieces of the film let me down a little. Not visually. But just that there were quite a few of them. Lots of fighting. Not in the spirit of the book. But guess they have to cater to the mass cinema going audiences.

Overall, I definitely enjoyed The Hobbit. Probably more so because I saw it in 2D. It’s a welcome return to Middle Earth, but it’s not on par with The Lord of the Rings for me. So far. It lacked the heart of Fellowship but hoping that will change with the next two installments.
Rating: 4/5

Read on to see all the films watched this year…

120+ Movies: Lagging behind!

120+ Movies of 2011

I hit a dry-spell. Summer came along. I went on holiday. There is suddenly an epic amount of TV I have to watch on my list. Films just slipped away. Hopefully the next few weeks of film-age should change that.

Transformers: Dark of the MoonTransformers: Dark of the Moon (29/06/11)

The Autobots learn of a Cybertronian spacecraft hidden on the Moon, and race against the Decepticons to reach it and to learn its secrets.

Sometimes I think I’ve given this film a slightly higher rating than it truly deserves. It wasn’t a great film. It bordered on being a good film at the best of times. And yet I’ve given it a 4/5. Why? My childhood bias, I believe.

Dark of the Moon isn’t nearly as strong as the first film, a lot stronger than the second film but with plenty of hiccups. It’s literally a film of two halves. The first half being filled with some of the worst characters I have ever seen in a film. The second half filled with some of the best CG and most awesome robots ever seen.

Question – what on Earth did they do to Sam’s character? He’s gone from being a likeable and very relatable character in the first film to being the most annoying in the third. I just wanted him to stop complaining and whining about his poor pathetic life and just get on with things.

I have to admit – Alan Tudyk’s character, Dutch, did make me laugh. He was funny! Well, he brought some light relief.

What this Transformers film did better was focus on the robots. They’re in the title after all! But still not enough. The battle in Chicago was awesome to see. Grateful that I chose 2D over 3D. My retinas would have been dying after some of the battle sequences. It should all have been about the Transformers and less about Sam’s inability to get on with his life and the weak politics of the great US of A.

Steve Jablonsky has once again produced a very fitting score. While he did produce a theme for this film, I couldn’t help but thinking of the score from The Last Samurai, when I listen to it.

If there’s a plan to do a fourth, there’s still plenty to learn from this third film.
Rating: 4/5

PredatorsPredators (30/07/11)

A group of elite warriors are hunted by members of a merciless alien race known as Predators.

I was expecting something along the lines of the original Arnie Predator when I started watching this film. I was mightily disappointed.

There was just nothing special about the film. Sure we see a slightly more evolved predator and there’s some more story given to those ugly aliens, but everything else was just blah. Nothing unexpected, nothing new. Felt like a very by the numbers film.

I thought with a name like Robert Rodriguez onboard they’d be something more in the film. Sadly there was not. I’d happily take Predator and Predator 2 over this one.
Rating: 2/5

Captain America: The First AvengerCaptain America: The First Avenger (31/07/11)

After being deemed unfit for military service, Steve Rogers volunteers for a top-secret research project that turns him into Captain America, a superhero dedicated to defending America’s ideals.

The onslaught of summer comic book films continues. I did enjoy watching Captain America, but it just lacked that something extra that made Thor and X-Men: First Class great comic book films.

Chris Evans did a great job as Steve Rogers. He filled out the role I was expecting of Capt. America. Gave the film some heart. Good job! The villain of the piece – Red Skull… he was, well just didn’t convince. Who else does the great Captain America go up against but a Hitler-esque adversary?

Or maybe it was the whole plot of the film. The plot didn’t veer from going from A to B. There weren’t any surprises. A lot of the time I couldn’t help thinking the plot was very similar to that of GI Joe: Rise of Cobra.

I think it’s getting harder and harder for comic book films to really stand out from the crowd. There are just so many of them. Captain America does blend into the background a little bit, but as it’s part of The Avengers franchise, we’ll be seeing more of Cap. And I’m actually happy about that. I see potential, everything’s there. Just a better story.
Rating: 3/5

Read on to see the entire list of movies seen this year so far:

100 movies: What the kids are watching

100 movies of 2010

I may be bingeing on Christmas season TV…

Race to Witch MountainRace to Witch Mountain (15/12/10)
Harmless film, easy enough to watch with a very simple plot. There weren’t much surprises but it was entertaining enough. Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson was a good enough leading man in it. The actors who played the kids – AnnaSophia Robb and Alexander Ludwig weren’t all that amazing, but did an okay enough job I guess. Why did I watch it then? Well it was on TV and I had done packing. That a good enough reason?
Rating: 2/5

ShrekShrek (23/12/10)
How have I gone this long without ever having seen Shrek? I remember vaguely seeing the second one at some point or another but not being all that impressed. The first one was a lot better than I was expecting. Some good jokes, fun music and a nice twist on some fairy tales. Of course the animation quality has aged the film a fair bit. Though you could say the same thing about Toy Story. I’m not as in love with Shrek as some people got, but enjoyed it while I watched.
Rating: 3/5

Shrek the ThirdShrek the Third (25/12/10)
Christmas day is to be spent laying like a lump on the sofa watching whatever turns up on TV. Shrek the Third happened to be one such item. Not nearly as good as the first. The music was still good though. Jokes were a bit weak and not all that great to laugh at. More rolling of my eyes than anything else.
Rating: 2/5

March of the PenguinsMarch of the Penguins (27/12/10)
Beautifully made documentary narrated by one of the best voices to narrate anything like this – Morgan Freeman! It was interesting to watch but you really have to respect the people who were out there to make this documentary. Not only were the penguins out there in -80 degree Celsius weather but so were the film makers! Penguins have it really hard, it’s a wonder that they’re not extinct if you combine what they have to go through in order to have children and humankind’s impact on their environment. I’m perhaps giving this a higher mark than I was initially thinking, only because of how much respect I have for the people who were down there filming all of what I saw.
Rating: 4/5

Happy FeetHappy Feet (27/12/10)
Penguins dancing and singing – more amusing than I initially thought it would be. Drawn in by the cuteness of the animated fuzz balls the songs were fun and the tap dancing was kind of very cute to watch. The obvious message behind the film was the effect of humans on the environment felt a bit forced towards the end. Jammed in there just to make sure the film had a message in it. I don’t personally feel it was needed, but then again, I don’t know where the film would have gone had that not been put in there. Fun, cute and even more cute.
Rating: 3/5

Read on to see the full list of movies seen this year:

100 movies: V for Vendetta

100 movies of 2010

[yellow_box]Updated 30/12/11: Today I rewatched this film. I promised myself I’d do this because after watching this film I did say to myself I was clearly missing something. Now that I have rewatched, I get what I was missing. Feels like my eyes have been opened! I take back my original score and give this what it deserves. A very solid 4/5[/yellow_box]

V for VendettaV for Vendetta (06/11/10)
Clearly I’ve missed something while watching this film. It’s got an average rating of 8.2 on IMDB and I honestly can’t think why! Maybe I wasn’t in the right mood to watch this film, but I just couldn’t connect with it. I think the one set of scenes which really grabbed me and got me to pay attention was when Natalie Portman’s Evey was being held prisoner, going through daily torture and surviving it all. Then to realise what was really going on. Possibly my only liked bit in the film because it felt well thought out and I understood, that for Evey to understand what V went through she had to go through it herself.

Other than that, I was at a loss with the film. It’s very possible I wasn’t in the mood for it as I did keep nodding off. I know it went through development hell, James Purefoy being cast, then dropping out, and a host of other issues. But I just couldn’t get into it! Maybe I’ll give it a try another time. Not any time soon. There’s got to be a reason it was given 8.2! I’m probably giving it a slightly higher score than I should because I thought Natalie Portman was very good.
Rating: 2/5

Read on to see the entire list of the movies I’ve seen this year.