The Fellowship of the Now Playing

By: Jeff Ford
By: Jeff Ford

Previewing the Good, Bad and Ugly of The Hobbit and Hitchcock

Another week goes by and there is still no sign of Silver Linings Playbook. I guess we will have to settle for a Hobbit and a Man Who Knew Too Much.
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 Good – Peter Jackson returns to the world of J. R. R. Tolkien after his less than stellar try at another novel deemed to be unfilmable, 2009’s The Lovely Bones. The land of Middle Earth has been very kind to Jackson, elevating him from low grade schlock films (minus Heavenly Creatures) to a name that people notice. He has a fantastic eye for visual effects, starting one of the premier effects company in WETA, and he can justly be called a visionary. Even in The Lovely Bones, the afterlife had a fantastic look. It only faltered in the scenes that took place in real life.
Replacing Ian Holm in the role of Bilbo (for the most part, Ian Holm has a cameo as the older Bilbo Baggins) is Martin Freeman. I’ve been a fan of his since he was employed at Wernham Hog Paper Company on the original The Office. He’s been keeping himself busy, portraying Arthur Dent in The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy and as Dr. John Watson in the BBC’s Sherlock. Returning to the respective roles are Ian McKellen as Gandalf the Gray, Christopher Lee as Saruman and Andy Serkis as Gollum. This is a fine cast to lead us on this journey.
The Bad – This is the 1st of three movies based on the children’s novel. In my opinion, there is not enough material to cover two movies, much less three, meaning Jackson had to pillage Tolkien’s other works to pad out the running time.  Even with the simpler framework, it still takes about 45 minutes to an hour before anything of importance happens, the inverse of The Return of the King, which took the same amount of time to end. While I’m still anticipating the movie, the 3 hour run time is asking a bit too much.
The Ugly – From what I’ve heard, avoid the 48 frames per second version that is in certain theaters. It makes the movie look like it was shot on video and destroys the integration of CGI and live action.
The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey is rated PG-13 for extended sequences of intense fantasy violence and frightening images.
A love story between influential filmmaker Alfred Hitchcock and wife Alma Reville during the filming of Psycho in 1959. *
The Good – The back story of Hitchcock’s most popular film is a fascinating tale and serves as the basis for this movie. Psycho shocked the world back in 1960 and has earned legendary status as one of the most terrifying films of all time. Anthony Hopkins steps into the shoes of Alfred Hitchcock and is earning praise for his portrayal. Helen Mirren, Scarlett Johansson and Ralph Macchio all contribute their skills to the production.
The Bad – This movie itself is receiving rather mundane reviews. While it is certified fresh on Rotten Tomatoes, it is only sitting at 66 % out of 122 reviews. The performances are praised but the film itself is tonally all over the place, and lacks real insight into the real life circumstances surrounding the production. Metacritic only has it at a 54 rating from 38 high profile critics. I’m still interested in seeing this but these reviews damper my enthusiasm.
The Ugly – Did you know that Psycho was the first film to ever show a toilet flush? The cinematic world has never been the same since.
Hitchcock is rated PG-13 for some violent images, sexual content and thematic material.
That will do for this week. Tune in next time when Tom Cruise tries to convince the world he is actually 6 foot 5. Until then, remember that we all go a little mad sometimes. Haven’t you?
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