27 July 2015

Movie Review Monday: An Unexpected Journey

I took one for the team this weekend, kind readers. I suffered through a movie that I never thought I would watch again just so I could bring you a new movie review. (Okay, honestly, I only half watched it because I put it on in the background while I was cleaning. Don't judge.) 

I watched The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey for the third (and probably final) time. I realized I hadn't really talked about the new Hobbit movies on here so happy movie review Monday to all! 

When the announcement about the movies came out, I was thrilled. I've lost count of how many times I've seen The Lord of the Rings trilogy and figured if anyone could make The Hobbit great, it would be Peter Jackson. And when those cast announcements kept coming out, it was like Christmas every time: Martin Freeman! Richard Armitage! Lee Pace! Sylvester McCoy! Aidan Turner! Stephen Fry! Benedict Cumberbatch! Of course, it goes without saying that every time they confirmed an established character as coming back to production, you felt a little safer. Things couldn't be too bad if Hugo Weaving, Cate Blanchett, and Ian McKellen were still guarding Middle Earth, right?

I saw all three films in theaters and I remember being excited every time. I tried to hold judgment until the very end, you know, just in case the last movie was so good that it retroactively saved the whole trilogy. But I think I knew that was never going to happen. The moment the White Orc came on screen in the first movie and I could tell he was 100% CGI, it was all over for me. I can hear you say, "Yeah, but Gollum was 100% CGI. What about him? Did that ruin the original trilogy for you?" And the answer quite simply is NO. He was perfect. They worked so hard on him that you forgot he was CGI most of the time. One look at the White Orc and man, you knew. From that moment, it felt like they were phoning it in. 

Don't get me wrong-- the costumes were astounding, like always. The shots through Bag End were perfect. Actually, the time they spent in the Shire is really the only part of the movie I loved. I love how Martin Freeman really captures the spirit of Bilbo, the hobbit who loves home, hearth, food and comfort above all else. This after dinner scene, in particular, gets me smiling every time. 

Singing is such an essential part of the book and I'm glad to have a few of those moments in the film. However, there just aren't enough! I think that was one of my biggest disappointments. Also I love the jolly dwarfs we are treated to in the beginning of the film, but hate that by the end, it's all doom and gloom and no one is happy. In the book, there is always this subtle witty banter in the way the dwarves talk to each other and about Bilbo. Even when they are being chased up the trees by the Wargs, Dori (hilariously) complains about having to carry Bilbo around all the time, "What do you think I am? A porter?"  Maybe that is my twisted sense of humor talking, but I love moments like this! In the movies, they end up creating a character from Lake Town to be comic relief at the end of the trilogy and he fails miserably. 

Was everything terrible? No, not everything. The Riddles in the Dark scene was brilliantly imagined. Even if there were flaws with it, seeing it played out still brings me joy. For all the problems I had with the movie, seeing Bilbo's brass buttons get ripped off his vest as he escapes the goblin's lair was wonderful. It was in those moments when you thought that the writers, directors and production team maybe really did care about the story and getting things right. 

I would be remiss if I didn't mention the late great Christopher Lee in this post. It was difficult to watch his Saruman part this weekend. It was hard to watch when the movies first came out, but in a different way. In The Hobbit, Saruman the White is head of the order and a good leader. You get hints of that that in the way the scenes are written, but with the full knowledge where his characters ends up in The Lord of the Rings, it is hard to fully trust him. I think that could have been written better, but then, so could most of the film. 

Overall, I was pretty disappointed with what Peter "Money-grubbing" Jackson did with The Hobbit story. I wanted to love the movies but just couldn't. 

Did you see any of the installments of The Hobbit? What did you think? Let me know in the comments.

I've been watching House of Cards again this weekend and I have one episode left. I have loved and hated this season, so you know, things are right on target.  I haven't been watching a lot of movies or really paying attention to movies that are coming out right now, so I am up for some recommendations! What should I be watching this weekend? 

(PS: I think this video interview with Smaug and Stephen Colbert was almost better than all three movies combined! Thoughts??)