Many of the reviews of Peter Jackson’s latest Tolkien film, The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey…
…complained about the length of the movie and accused the director of padding the film with unnecessary scenes. Other writers disliked the new 48 frame per second technology that gave the film its hyper-realistic visuals, claiming it made The Hobbit look so real it was distracting and unnatural.
These complaints are basically nitpicking. Each of the Lord Of The Rings films was longer than The Hobbit and just as packed with detail. After the three previous Tolkien films by Jackson, only a person who lived in a cave in the Arctic wouldn’t know what to expect from the director when he brings Tolkien’s world to life on the silver screen.
As for the complaints about the new 48 FPS technology, the film is also available in a standard 24 FPS version, so anyone who finds the new style uncomfortable has an alternative. All in all, The Hobbit is a delightful motion picture and fans of the Lord Of The Rings film trilogy are thrilled with Jackson latest effort.
Although The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey is a major success, grossing over one billion dollars at the box office, there is one area of legitimate complaint about the film, and that is the emotional tone. While Jackson remained true to the level of detail found in all of Tolkien’s writing, he occasionally strayed off the path when he set the mood for his movie. In several areas, he simply lost the “Tolkien feeling” that was ever present in Jackson’s previous Tolkien films.
The film drifts between a primer on the lifestyle of dwarves and hobbits and a war movie. Action scenes dominate The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey and combat is realized in glorious, gory detail. While the Lord Of The Rings was certainly about a war between two opposing civilizations, Tolkien intended The Hobbit to be a journey of personal discovery. The book was originally written to amuse his children and has a definite tone of innocence.
Many of the critics took major offense to the opening party in Bilbo’s hobbit hole.
Bemoaning the amount of time the movie devotes to these scenes. The real issue is the chaos created by packing 15 characters, all of whom are important to the story, into such a tiny space. It is almost impossible to tell one dwarf from the other, and as a result, the story starts to drag.
Even in these early scenes the tone changes from the novel; Tolkien’s dwarves are kinder and more entertaining; Jackson’s dwarves have an air of desperation and they barge into Bilbo’s life like a pack of bandits. The good dwarves of Tolkien become Jackson’s little band of inconsiderate, troublesome louts.
The scenes in Goblin Town are so overdone they turn the encounter into a super duper roller coaster ride through the greatest amusement park in all creation. Bilbo’s scenes with Gollum are brilliant, but his escape from the fiend, so wonderfully detailed in the novel, is diluted into a 30 second dash up a single tunnel. It would have served the director better if he had shortened the scenes in Bilbo’s home and added more time to the encounter between Bilbo and Gollum. After all, the finding of the ring is the crucial moment for all the adventures to come in the Lord Of The Rings.
For anyone who loves Tolkien, the visit to Rivendell is a major highlight of the story. In Jackson’s film, Bilbo’s meeting with his beloved elves is rewritten into a nasty argument between Saruman and Gandalf with Galadriel as the referee. In the original story, Galadriel and Saruman are nowhere to be found, and Thorin’s group is welcomed with open arms by Elrond and his elves.
Instead of a contentious, almost hostile encounter between angry dwarves and suspicious elves found in the film, the proper visit to Rivendell is a celebration of all the good things left in Middle Earth. The elves sing, dance, feast, and share lore with their guests, then fully equip them for the next stage of their journey. Thorin and company leave Rivendell on Mid-Summer morning basking in the sunshine, not by sneaking off like thieves in the night, with Bilbo racing after them. The film clearly misses the boat in this important area and completely changes the emotional tone of the story.
The race between a pack of Wargs, and the wizard Radagast on a sled pulled by giant rabbits, is so ridiculous and out of place that Jackson should hang his head in shame. This is the one truly awful addition to film that is nowhere to be found in anything Tolkien ever wrote. Why Jackson, who is so devoted to Tolkien’s Legendarium, decided to add this nonsense is truly mystifying. The time wasted making a nature loving wizard look like a total idiot could have been better spent expanding the visit to Rivendell or Bilbo’s escape from Gollum.
While we do understand that the director and his screenwriters…
…must occasionally alter or re-arrange important plot points and story details to create a film that flows and makes sense, it does seem that Jackson changed the overall tone of The Hobbit from a wondrous adventure of discovery and danger into a 169 minute running battle, interspersed with interludes of calm that leave the viewer wondering if they are actually watching two movies.
The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey is a good movie, although it is not up to the standard of Jackson’s previous Tolkien films. It is to be hoped that the director will understand the failings of Part One of The Hobbit film trilogy and improve the structure of the next two movies to embrace all the subtlety and wonder that Tolkien instilled in his writing. After all, it took all three films before The Lord Of The Rings was revealed in all its cinematic glory and it is to be hoped this will be the case with Peter Jackson’s Hobbit trilogy.
Everyone enjoys a great action movie.
There is no better way to forget your troubles and enjoy a couple of hours of pulse pounding excitement, and a roller coaster ride of thrills, than to watch action stars like Arnold Schwarzenegger, Sylvester Stallone, Milla Jovovich, Bruce Willis, and Angelina Jolie go through their paces.
These muscular men and athletic women have all starred in some of the most entertaining and spectacular action films of recent years. What they may lack lack in dramatic skills, they make up with bravado and sheer guts, as they careen across the screen in a hail of bullets. Their ability to defy the logic of physics, and survive against all the odds, allows the rest of us mere mortals to safely imagine the life of a secret agent or super soldier without spilling a drop of our precious blood.
It’s time to get ready to enjoy the adventure as we celebrate some of our favorite action movies. Grab an energy drink, put on your favorite camo, and settle back for the fantasy ride of a lifetime.
1. Die Hard:
What better way to vent your aggression and relieve your stress than to cheer along Bruce Willis as he wages war against a skyscraper full of terrorists in the Nakatomi Tower. Watch Bruce get battered, beaten and cut to ribbons as he singlehandely takes on a small army of Eastern European bad guys out to steal millions in bearer bonds. Alan Rickman join the fun as the head terrorist, complete with impeccably tailored suits and a variety of useful accents.
2. Terminator 2:
Arnold Schwarzenegger stars in James Cameron’s ground breaking action thriller. The Austrian Oak is back as the unstoppable killer robot from the future, who destroys his enemies while shouting sarcastic one liners faster than comedian Don Rickles. This time, the terminator has been re-programmed to protect instead of destroy, when he is sent back in time to defend resistance leader John Connor and his slightly paranoid mother against an even more powerful terminator robot, played to perfection by Robert Patrick. Loaded with revolutionary special effects and the most advanced CGI of its time, Terminator 2 is guaranteed to keep you glued to the edge of your seat from start to finish.
3. Resident Evil 1 – 5:
The best zombie movies of the 21st century, these five gems, starring Milla Jovovich as Alice, feature an army of strange and frightening zombies of every imaginable size and shape; all dedicated to the task of killing Alice and feeding on the remains of humanity. Alice is able to bond with the deadly T- Virus that caused the zombie outbreak, which makes her immune to becoming a zombie, and grants her several useful superpowers. Alice battles for survival against endless hordes of zombies, while she tries to save the few remaining human who are still uninfected, and kill Chairman Albert Wesker, the lunatic head of the Umbrella Corporation and the man behind the zombie plague. The Resident Evil movies are the film industry’s most successful series based on a video game, and despite largely negative reviews from the critics, the films have a huge following with the general public.
4. The Expendables:
Written, directed, and starring Sylvester Stallone, this action adventure about a group of well meaning mercenaries who will take on any job, no matter how dangerous, co-stars a virtual who’s who of action heroes, including Jason Statham, Dolph Lundgren, Jet Li, Mickey Rourke, Gary Daniels, Bruce Willis, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Randy Couture, Terry Crews, and Stone Cold Steve Austin. Packed with death defying stunts, bulging muscles, sweat, grime and bloodshed, The Expendables is one of the most epic action movies ever to grace the silver screen.
5. Lara Croft: Tomb Raider
There isn’t a video gamer or teenage boy alive who doesn’t know and love Lara Croft, the buxom heroine of Lara Croft: Tomb Raider. Angelina Jolie stars as Lara, the ultra rich daughter of an eccentric archaeologist and leading member of the Illuminati. Lara is a superb athlete with incredible combat skills, which she puts to good use digging up tombs filled with ancient treasures. After receiving a cryptic message from her long missing father, Lara seeks to resolve his disappearance and recover the two halves of the Triangle of Light, a mysterious device with phenomenal destructive power that grants its user control of time and space. After discovering the first half of the Triangle, Laura is forced into a life or death race to find the second half of the device. Her opponents are powerful members of the Illuminati who want to use the Triangle of Light to control the world. The film takes Lara to a wide variety of exotic locations and we are treated to an amazing array of fantastic stunts and set pieces; all of which show off Ms. Jolie’s ample figure to perfection.
Strange creatures, cattle mutilation, crop circles, men in black, lights in the sky, death rays and screaming crowds of panicked humanity. These are just some of the indicators of a great alien invasion movie. Ever since Kenneth Arnold’s famous Mount Rainier sighting in 1947, flying saucers and alien invasions have been a popular subject for Hollywood.
The 1950′s were a fertile period for space invasion films. Dozens of black and white B movies featuring aging former stars, local beauty queens, and side show freaks were made for less money than a 21st century television commercial. From this treasure trove of mediocrity, one particular film stands out as the all time great B movie classic; Plan Nine From Outer Space.
Directed by Ed Wood, one of Hollywood’s most unusual personalities, and starring Gregory Walcott, Mona McKinnon, Tor Johnson and Maila “Vampira” Nurmi, Plan Nine is an endless feast of insanity and cost cutting techniques. Wood even used left over silent footage of recently deceased horror film legend Bela Lugosi to create 79 minutes of absolute mayhem.
The plot, as thin as it was, involved outer space creatures who were seeking to stop mankind from creating a doomsday weapon that would destroy the universe. The aliens prowl earth’s graveyards, resurrecting the dead, and causing chaos, as part of their plan to frighten humanity into compliance.
Several of the actors stood out for their unusual demeanor and appearance. Swedish professional wrestler Tor Johnson was cast as Police Inspector Dan Clay. After being killed by a horde of zombies, he was reanimated and used as the alien’s muscleman to kidnap beautiful earth women. Film buffs delight over the scenes with Johnson as a bug eyed, shuffling, 300 pound zombie in a business suit, slowly making his way across the screen with a scantily clad female in his arms.
Bela Lugosi needs little introduction to movie lovers. He was an absolute legend as an actor in some the very best horror movies ever made. His unforgettable performance as Dracula in the 1931 film version of Bram Stoker’s novel is one of the iconic performances in motion picture history. Sadly, Lugosi’s career was in serious decline, and he died before the production on Plan Nine began. Wood was forced to scour his archives for usable footage of the late actor and many of Lugosi’s scenes in Plan Nine were actually from an abandoned project tentatively named Tomb of the Vampire.
Finnish Actress Maila Nurmi was well known in the film and television industry as Vampira; a sexy Morticia Adams clone complete with a skintight long black dress, fright night makeup, and a ghoulish demeanor. Nurmi brought Vampira to life in Plan Nine From Outer Space as a female alien bent on humanity’s destruction.
Plan Nine From Outer Space occupies a unique place in film history as both the worst movie ever made and as the best of the best of campy alien invasion movies. Directed by a man with a penchant for wearing woman’s clothing, and starring a collection of misfits and lunatics, Plan Nine will always be a film lovers first choice for a late night thriller or as a perfect way to kill time on a rainy Saturday afternoon.