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Tag Archives: 2012 movie

Peter Jackson’s first prequel to his sweeping epic Lord of the Rings film trilogy premiered last week. Thanks to some forethought, my friends and I were able to attend a midnight release here in Colorado.

The Hobbit has been one of my favorite books since before I could read. When I was a child, my father would read the book to my siblings and me, and we would pretend that we too had been swept away into grand adventures in Middle Earth. Naturally, like many other fans, I was curious as to how Jackson would be able to adapt one shorter book into a film trilogy. I was not disappointed. The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey is but the first film that will present the beginning of the story we saw concluded in The Return of the King in 2003.

Now this adaptation covers the first portion of The Hobbit, but it expands upon it, including bits from Tolkien’s extensive body of work. Characters and events from The Silmarillion and the other tales from Middle Earth are brought into play for the film, adding a considerable depth that is expected of Jackson’s adaptations (for example, the love story between Aragorn and Arwen in the LOTR film trilogy is told in an appendix at the end of The Return of the King in the books).

The Hobbit opens with the incredible Sir Ian Holm reprising his role as Bilbo Baggins as he is preparing for his 111th birthday, as shown in The Fellowship of the Ring. He begins to reminisce about how things came to be, and we are soon transported sixty years back in time. Martin Freeman (best known as John Watson from the BBC’s Sherlock) portrays a younger Bilbo, and magnificently captures all of the mannerisms first portrayed by Holm back in 2001. Bilbo is quite content to stay at home until a chance encounter with Gandalf (again played  by Sir Ian McKellen) brings a host of dwarves to his door.

What do you mean we "all look alike"?

What do you mean we “all look alike”?

The dwarves (Fili, Kili, Oin, Gloin, Bifur, Bofur, Bombur, Dori, Nori, Ori, Balin, and Dwalin) promptly and hilariously make themselves at home at Bilbo’s, much to the hobbit’s bewilderment, but answers quickly appear with Gandalf’s return and the arrival of the dwarves’ leader, Thorin Oakenshield. It seems that years ago, Thorin’s ancestors were driven from their home in Erebor, the Lonely Mountain, by the arrival of a terrible dragon known as Smaug. Now they seek to return to Erebor, kill the dragon, and claim his treasure hoard, all with Bilbo’s help (as the scent of hobbit would be unknown to Smaug, unlike the smell of dwarf, elf, or man).

The next morning, Bilbo finds that the dwarves have gone on their way, and he quickly rushes off to join them, realizing that is his chance to experience a true adventure. He is soon swept up in a journey that takes him from the Shire to Rivendell to Goblintown and beyond. Bilbo slowly transforms from quiet homebody to burgeoning adventurer.

As is expected of a Peter Jackson film, the visuals are simply breathtaking. Going back to Middle Earth feels like going home. The score is just as entrancing, aided by lyrics from Tolkien himself. Despite the expansion from the texts, the film never felt too long. The casting was perfect, with the dwarves being highly individual (my initial fear, as there are thirteen of them). The plot is well balanced, establishing moments that we know will be coming, such as the inevitable confrontation with Smaug. The shining moment of the entire film, however, is the riddle contest, in which Bilbo first encounters Gollum and finds the ring which sets so much in motion. Gollum is again played (motion capture and voice) by Andy Serkis, and he’s more real than ever before.

And so, to make a long story short (too late), The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey is a great beginning to another powerhouse trilogy. I can’t wait for The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug in 2013, but until then, I’ll be sure to see part one at least two more times. Don’t just take my word for it. See it for yourself.

The Dark Knight Rises premiered at midnight on Friday, after four years of waiting since the release of it’s predecessor. Batman Begins showed us that Batman films could be done well, and pseudo-realistically. Its sequel, The Dark Knight, was an epic film, clouded by the untimely loss of Heath Ledger, but nevertheless a critical and commercial success. Now we have part three to director Christopher Nolan’s grand work.

The Dark Knight Rises is set eight years after the events of the first film, and Bruce Wayne (Christian Bale) has been living in the shadows, though this time without his cape and cowl. Batman is retired, and has been for most of the eight year timeskip. He’s become a recluse, choosing to hide away as criminals are put into Blackgate Prison by the Gotham City Police Department. The public remains convinced that former Gotham City DA Harvey Dent was killed by Batman during the events of The Dark Knight, and so Dent is a celebrated martyr in the war against organized crime and the truth remains hidden by both Bruce Wayne and his chief ally, Commissioner Jim Gordon (Gary Oldman).

Bruce is under pressure from the Wayne Industry board of directors. A planned clean energy project had been funded and then canceled, costing Wayne nearly half of his fortune and prompting his board to ask for him for his resignation. Luckily for Bruce, new love interest Miranda Tate (Marion Cotillard) arrives to provide financial backing and take over operation of the company. Meanwhile, Batman is forced back into action by the combined efforts of cat burglar Selina Kyle (Anne Hathaway) and genius bruiser Bane (Tom Hardy).

Bane quickly establishes himself as a major threat to Batman, both physically and intellectually, finally being portrayed in accordance with his comic book origin. Tom Hardy is nowhere as difficult to understand as many critics feared, and his mask only serves to enhance to sense of terror and unknown that his victims must feel when he arrives. His face is as inscrutable as his motives, as he appears to be a fierce mercenary with a hidden agenda for Gotham City. As Batman’s most deadly foe to date, Bane will leave you wondering if Batman can ever survive their final confrontation. In Gotham, after all, nothing is what it seems.

Nolan’s final foray into the world of Batman does not disappoint. Everything about this movie felt right, from the phenomenal cast to Hans Zimmer’s elegant score. The plot is complex, but not overly so. The cinematography and effects are everything that we love about Christopher Nolan’s filmmaking techniques. I’ve never seen a conclusion to a trilogy leave me feeling so satisfied and still so hungry for more. Thank you, Christopher Nolan, and all of the cast and crew, for giving us three unbelievable Batman films over the last seven years. I could not ask for more than what you gave us with The Dark Knight Rises.

P.S.

This guy was at my theatre in Colorado Springs. Epic Bane costume. He was generous/friendly enough to let me take a photo of him before the movie started.

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