“Why is he splitting them up?”
“Why are they so long?”
“Why must he take something we love and ruin it?”
No these are not reviews for The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey. They were the assumed reaction of the tens of people who read Part 1 of my 2012 wrap up; where I dissected the year of Channing Tatum, had two Lincolns square off, and looked at one of the two live action Snow White adaptations. Part 2 will start with…
2 Films, 20 Dwarfs
Snow White and the Huntsman featured Chris Hemsworth as a hunter whose prey is apparently trees since his weapon of choice is an axe, and Kristen Stewart as a Snow White who went to the distinguished school of parted lip acting. There’s a love triangle that nobody cares about – and I’m not talking about director Rupert Sanders, K. Stew, and R. Patt – and Charlize Theron acting with as much subtly as a nuclear explosion. The dwarfs were entertaining but tragically underused.
The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey was what I expected. It’s similar to The Lord of the Rings trilogy in a lot of ways but is not as good as any of them. Where we came to know and love every character in that series we only really get to know Bilbo, Gandalf, and Thorin in this. Meanwhile there are a mess of other dwarfs that are only distinguishable by variations of hair above the neck, and sometimes that doesn’t even do enough to make them stand out. Did it need to be a trilogy? No. Is the book being dragged through the mud? More like dropped in a puddle before quickly being grabbed and dried off quickly. As long as fans of The Lord of the Rings series don’t go into it expecting it to be world shattering they should enjoy themselves. I should mention I didn’t see it in 48fps but I heard mostly negative things about it.
And the Winner Is: The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey - even though Peter Jackson obviously thinks “dues ex machina” is Latin for giant eagles.
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I like Ryan O’Neal. Or, at least I like him in Barry Lyndon, that being my second favorite Kubrick film. I also like Isabelle Adjani, particularly for her wild-eyed performance in Possession. Not only are they both in The Driver, but there is some top-notch car chasing to behold as well. While the plot is your basic tenacious cop vs. cool as ice criminal situation, it’s the no-nonsense action and hard-edged tone that make it worth watching.
This weekend, the first of many upcoming superhero reboots will be released. Leading the pack before the rumored Fantastic Four restart and next summer’s The Amazing Spider-Man is X-Men: First Class, director Matthew Vaughn’s tale of the beginning of Professor Xavier’s School for Gifted Youngsters in the 60s and the friendship between Xavier and Erik Lehnsherr, who will become Magneto. Vaughn has cast this new film in the X-Men franchise with some of the most talented actors of today. So before seeing his newest film, check out some of the under-ranked films from the stars of X-Men: First Class.
This weekend, director Ivan Reitman of such classic comedies as Stripes, Meatballs and Ghostbusters will release his newest film, No Strings Attached. In the film, Natalie Portman and Ashton Kutcher play two friends who decide to go for a friends-with-benefits situation. While it starts off as harmless fun, the duo soon realizes that there may not be such a thing as just harmless sex. While the idea of friends becoming something more may seem somewhat generic, the talented cast suggests something possibly different. So before you check out No Strings Attached this weekend, maybe give some of these under-ranked films from its stars a chance.
Here are this week’s new DVD, Blu-ray, and Netflix Instant Watch titles. Obviously, Thursday’s Avatar release is the highlight of the week but the overall slate of releases is strong as well. Select films will include their Flickchart global statistics (where available), as well as three direct links to rank the title against similar movies (one good, one average and one bad) to help nail down where the movie belongs on your chart.
Avatar – (Thursday, April 22 – Blu-Ray and DVD)
I broke a 32-month theater-free streak to see this one. Yeah, the tickets were free, but the effort of getting off the warm couch on a cold Midwestern Winter morning shows you the influence this one had on casual theater goers (I watch at least 2 movies a day, but usually from the comfort of my house). It’s a decent movie, but it’s going to be interesting to see how it plays on the small screen when you’ll focus more on the story than the visuals. You might want to exercise some caution buying this bare-bones disc, as a four-disc set is coming in November – although apparently there will be special codes in the box that will let you watch all the upcoming special features online over the coming months.