Around sixty years before the events of The Lord of the Rings trilogy a young Hobbit called Bilbo Baggins (Martin Freeman) was whisked off for what became a life changing adventure. An Unexpected Journey is based on the first few chapters of J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Hobbit but contains almost all the highlights of the book I read as a teenager. After a tortured pre production that included a change of writer and director, problems with studio financing, the temporary loss of it’s central actor and location issues, An Unexpected Journey is finally here and even for a year which featured the likes of Prometheus, The Dark Knight Rises and So Undercover, this was the film that I’d been looking forward to the most all year. I saw the film close to a week ago now and am only just writing a review. Generally I’ll put pen to paper or rather finger to keyboard within twenty-four hours of seeing a movie but my experience of An Unexpected Journey made me put off writing in the hope of a second viewing. With Christmas around the corner and a trip back to my hometown looming I probably won’t get to see the film again until 2013 but will probably update my review once I have. The reason for wanting to see it again before writing a review is because the impossible happened; I didn’t like it.
Thursday, 20 December 2012
Tuesday, 4 December 2012
The third and final chapter of Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings trilogy, The Return of the King broke records both financially and critically. It became only the second film to surpass $1 Billion at the box office and received a record equalling eleven Academy Awards having won in every category it was nominated for. It also became only the second sequel to win Best Picture and the first to win when its predecessor hadn’t. Much like The Fellowship of the Ring and The Two Towers, I loved the film upon its initial release and also like the first two; my affinity has waned in the subsequent years. Personally I don’t think it is much better than the other two films and have a feeling that its huge awards haul has more to do with the series as a whole than the individual film.
While Frodo, Sam and Gollum edge ever closer to Mordor, Gondor’s capital Minas Tirith comes under attack from an even larger Orc force than was present at the battle of Helms Deep. Gandalf sends word to Rohan and an old alliance is rekindled as the two nations of men stand side by side one final time. Even with help, Gondor looks set to fall unless Aragorn is able to muster fresh troops and Frodo is able to destroy the Ring.
Monday, 3 December 2012
Following on from 2001’s The Fellowship of the Ring, the second instalment of Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings trilogy finds the Fellowship disbanded. The plot follows what remains of the party in three separate storylines which barely cross paths. Aragorn, Gimli and Legolas set about trying to find Merry and Pippen while killing as many Orcs as they can along the way. The aforementioned Hobbits meanwhile end up in a strange forest full of giant tree herders known as Ents and Frodo and his companion Sam head on towards Mordor, determined to destroy the One Ring. It isn’t long though before they are joined by another companion, Gollum, the former owner of the ring, a creature torn apart by its power and hold over him.
Much like The Fellowship I loved The Two Towers when I first saw it but as my enjoyment of the first has diminished over time, the same can be said for its sequel, only more so. In terms of how much I enjoy the trilogy, this middle part is my least favourite, though not by much. This instalment also has themes which stretch beyond the reach of Middle Earth such as industrialisation and ecology. It also features a battle which lasts close to forty minutes and is considered by many to be one of the greatest ever committed to the big screen.
Monday, 22 October 2012
Christopher Nolan’s The Prestige is a story of obsession and sacrifice and stars Hugh Jackman and Christian Bale as two up and coming magicians whose lives are transformed into an increasingly disastrous struggle of one-upmanship following a tragedy on stage. Each tries to out wit and out trick the other by disrupting each others acts, leading the other down blind alleyways and twisting reality through illusion and showmanship.
Mirroring the rest of Nolan’s filmography, The Prestige is a smart and beautiful film that is full of big ideas, well explored themes and unexpected twists and reveals. Nolan appears to take great delight in playing with his audience and treating them as intelligent equals, almost leading them along with him, through his twisted and mystifying subjects, knowing that by the time they reach the other side they will thank him for it. Nolan’s films are about ideas and he doesn’t shy away from presenting them to the audience without subtlety. Where he is perhaps more subtle is in his delivery which as usual is pitch perfect here.
Thursday, 16 August 2012
Known in the
as The Adventures of Tintin: The Secret
of the Unicorn, this film charts a particular adventure of Hergé’s famous
comic book creation Tintin. Young
Belgian reporter Tintin (Jamie Bell) buys an old model ship at a market.
Straight away he is approached by two men who offer to buy the ship from him
for any price. After he declines Tintin’s ship is stolen and while tracking it
down he uncovers a mystery involving lost treasure. With the help of his
intrepid dog Snowy and a drunken Sea Captain called Haddock (Andy Serkis),
Tintin sets out to find the hidden loot and uncover the secret of the Unicorn.
I used to watch Tintin cartoons when I was very young and though can’t remember much about them now, I do remember enjoying them. I wish I could say the same for this film. I’d read that the film was an adventure in the mould of Indiana Jones but I found the plot incredibly dull and predictable. The film was saved only by some first rate animation and a typically impressive John Williams score.
Wednesday, 8 February 2012
2010’s Brighton Rock is a massive disappointment. Despite nice period detail and a great cast it is unbelievably boring.
Sam Riley plays Pinky, a member of a
Brighton gang who after killing a rival gang member, befriends Angela Riseborough’s Rose in order to keep an eye on her as she has witnessed the gangs behaviour before the murder. She falls head over heels in love with Pinky and the film charts their relationship and Pinky’s subsequent role within the gang.
Brighton looks wonderful here and the clothes, hair and makeup all look genuine. It is a very nice film to look at. Angela Riseborough is the pick of the cast, outshining the likes of Helen Mirren and John Hurt. She is wonderful as a shy and impressionable young waitress who falls for the sociopathic Pinky. Riley’s Pinky is deeply unlikeable and without any redeeming features. He is played well by Riley. Andy Serkis plays rival gang leader Colleoni and is also wonderful. The acting as a whole is marvellous but the film is just so boring. I couldn’t engage with the film and didn’t care what happened to any of the characters.
The transportation of the film to the 1960s to coincide with the Mods and Rockers clashes seemed pointless. There was no reason for it to have been set in that time and would have worked just as well if it had been set in the 1940s like the original. The film didn’t make any use of its time change. Sam Riley is also too old to have played the character in my view. Riseborough looks and acts like a girl in her late teens or early twenties but Riley looks about thirty. He is too old to be an up and coming gangster.