I’m not a J.R.R. Tolkien fan, and after the epically too-long nothing-fest that was The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, I wasn’t looking forward to Desolation of Smaug either. In fact, I was all geared up to see Saving Mr. Banks this week until I found out we weren’t going to get it here. So here I am, talking about the second of three movies that should have been one.
A raiding party of dwarves travel to a deserted mountain kingdom to steal a special gem from the dragon who displaced them many years ago.
The most I was really hoping for from Desolation of Smaug was that it be bearable. And it looked like it was going to be – in the beginning it was fun and lively and interesting. But then it went on and on and on and on and on and finally ended with no payoff for any of the plots they were developing, so in the end I wasn’t impressed.
THE HOBBIT: DESOLATION OF SMAUG
To be perfectly honest, after last year’s The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey failed to do more than get the massive, indistinguishable clump of dwarves within binocular viewing distance of their destination, I’m not eager to see this movie. As the middle chapter in a trilogy of movies made from a single not-even-very-long book, it will have more time to waste than the other two, which at least have beginnings and endings to deal with. Fans will no doubt lap up the time wasting and beg for more, but I can’t read more than a few chapters of J.R.R. Tolkien without wondering why I’m torturing myself. Unfortunately, it looks like I’ll have to see this movie. We’re not getting Saving Mr. Banks at my theater.
SAVING MR. BANKS
Now HERE’S a movie that interests me. As a writer who has experienced the attempted hijacking of my work by clueless people, I can understand why P.L. Travers was so reluctant to sell the rights to Mary Poppins despite Walt Disney’s 20 years of asking for them. Though obviously she did eventually and Dick Van Dyke was in it and there were lots of words in it that were made up, so I have to wonder – how’d he get her to change her mind? Plus, Emma Thompson is just great in everything.
TYLER PERRY’S A MADEA CHRISTMAS
Okay, I’m not normally a Tyler Perry fan, but this looks funny in an “I need something upbeat and uncomplicated for my family to watch on Christmas eve” way. I’m ALWAYS looking for more of those movies so I won’t have to watch Love Actually again. Favorite joke:
“Your daughter is grown. Leave her alone!”
“I’ll pay you.”
“When do we leave?”
This week, I didn’t feel like paying money to see Christian Bale as Jennifer Lawrence in Scary Hillbillies Took My Family Part 2. It occurred to me that this feeling of not wanting is similar to the feeling of not wanting that comes over me every time someone suggests we watch It’s a Wonderful Life (I’m looking at you, all the TV stations) or Love Actually (Mom) again around Christmas time. If you are also sick of whatever movies made their way into your tradition, allow me to suggest some alternatives:
Disney has been taking a lot of flak lately for how old fashioned their Princess line is. The princesses are too white. Too pink. Too rich. Too blonde. Too skinny. Too hung up on finding a man, etc. None of it, however, seems to have made a dent in their bottom line, so we can expect them to continue making princess movies (albeit with the odd concession to reality) until the end of time. The latest is Frozen.
A lonely Norse princess teams up with a hermit, a reindeer, and a snowman to talk her superpowered sister into unfreezing their kingdom.
As with the last two princess movies, Brave and The Princess and the Frog, Disney has attempted to be more modern with Frozen, but at the same time they’ve tried to hearken back to the old days by making it a musical. The result is cute and funny, but I just didn’t feel like it worked as a story.
With the exception of a couple of blips, I like the Hunger Games book series. One of the blips was the first person present tense narration, which was carried over into the film adaptation in the form of a lot of unnecessary and annoying close-up shaky-cam work. With director Gary Ross replaced by Francis Lawrence for the sequel, I hoped that Catching Fire might be an improvement over The Hunger Games.
A pair of traumatized teens are forced to compete in a second bout of televised gladiatorial combat after they become symbols of rebellion against the government.
I went into Catching Fire hoping for it to be a little better than The Hunger Games but I was surprised to find that it was a LOT better. They got rid of the confusing direction. They took more time to explore the dystopian aspects of the world. And best of all they didn’t shove the main character’s other (more suitable) love interest aside this time.
THE HUNGER GAMES: CATCHING FIRE
I really like the first two books in this series – especially this one because the character of Gale and his obvious suitability to Katniss isn’t so easily dismissed. But the movie version of the first one was disappointing. Drably colored and jerkily filmed, it took away from the important story and the (mostly) good acting (sorry Josh Hutcherson). There’s a new director this time. Obviously he hasn’t done anything about the grey-on-grey color palate. There’s a chance he didn’t give the camera to a palsy sufferer and tell them to shoot the whole movie 3 inches from Jennifer Lawrence’s face, but I can’t really tell. Trailers are all so frenetically cut anyway. I guess I’ll have to see the whole movie to find out.
I thought this movie looked funny in its original French version. With Vince Vaughn…. slightly less funny. I’m just not a fan of his. And he plays the same character every time – the everyman slacker who’s bitter and sarcastic but somehow ends up with a girlfriend anyway. BUT I will probably see this movie at some point. Why? Because Chris Pratt. I mean, how long did he have to sit there with a straight face and let a little girl slap him to get that scene down? The kids seem okay too, though most of the boys look more like they could be Chris Pratt’s kids than Vince Vaughn’s. Especially the coffee shop kid with the tie.
I think the idea of an old guy walking to Nebraska to claim winnings from a bogus sweepstakes accompanied by his skeptical son is funny. I also think Will Forte can be funny. But, watching the trailer… I worry that the movie will be slow and boring. A lot of talking heads. So I’ll probably pass it by.
DAY OF THE DOCTOR
This will also be on TV if you’ve got BBC, but if you don’t and you’re a big Doctor Who fan, you should know that on Saturday, a lot of theaters will be showing it on the big screen. In 3D. So break out your Tom Baker scarves and your Matt Smith bow ties and nerd it up with fellow fans. I won’t be going, though, as I’m not a fan of the new Doctor Who and the only doctors it really features are Matt Smith (#11), David Tennant (#10), and John Hurt (#8.5 sort of). My favorite is #8: Paul McGann.