Mini-Movie Reviews!

Been awhile since I’ve done some movie reviews! I’ve seen several films recently and here are some of the highlights:

Lawless (DVD):

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I won this from Scribner (along with the book it’s based one) in a Twitter giveaway. Anything with Tom Hardy I will watch which is pretty much all I knew going in. Shia LaBeouf also stars and I’m not a fan, but sometimes you just gotta suck it up. Anyway, great flick. It’s about a moonshining family in Virginia during Prohibition. Lots of action, suspense, and some superb acting. Tom Hardy, Guy Pearce, and Jessica Chastain all shine here and the story is based on a real life family! Definitely recommend.

Jack Reacher (Cinema)

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I’ve never read the books so can’t compare, but the movie was a decent action flick. It does fall victim to some rather contrived dialogue and a definite cheese factor, but I expected that. I also think Tom Cruise is trying just a bit too hard to play Reacher which affected my viewing. On the plus side, there are some hilarious moments where you will laugh out loud and that made me happy. Don’t expect too much and wait for the DVD!

Les Mis (Cinema)

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We went on Christmas Day since Jimmy is an obsessed fanboy. Earlier in 2012 we had seen the stage version (my first time – Jimmy’s third time) and have watched the anniversary show on television (yes, the one with the Jonas Brother). The film holds up well and was emotionally gutting. Even though I knew the story and what would happen, I still cried. Anne Hathaway was just outstanding. Hugh Jackman was a close second. Their performances are worth 3 hours of musical, I promise. Jimmy gave it two thumbs up.

The Hobbit (Cinema)

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I’m a bit torn here. Having just read the book, I obviously had my issues with some of the changes although nothing to really detract my overall enjoyment. I just think things were over-exaggerated to add to both length and drama which were completely unnecessary. Still don’t believe three movies should have been made. The acting was great, the cinematography excellent, and the writing well done – just could have used some extra editing. I feel like the children’s story was lost for the sake of adult entertainment, but that makes more money.

Django Unchained (Cinema)

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We went to see this last Friday night and I loved it. Some parts were hard to watch as the violence hit a little too close to reality, but I appreciated Tarantino sticking to the cold, hard, ugly truth of slavery. The language is also bothersome, but it should be. Django Unchained is not a rose-colored glasses view of slavery and wouldn’t it be far more insulting if it were? The acting was amazing by all involved. Christoph Waltz should be in every movie ever. Really enjoyed the script as well – only one single line of dialogue bothered me at the end, but what can you do? The score was excellent and almost felt like a character itself. Go see this!

The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien

What can I possibly say about The Hobbit that hasn’t already been said a thousand times before?  Literally, nothing except that this little ditty gets my full praise and highest recommendation.  If you’ve been on the fence, hop off onto the side of reading Tolkien’s classic adventure before the movie hits theaters December 14!  Hobbits will be your new best friends.

I’m fairly certain this book needs no synopsis or introduction.  Pretty much a rather ordinary hobbit, Bilbo Baggins, gets sucked into helping some dwarfs steal back their treasure from a dragon named Smaug.  On the way to face the deadly fire breather, many adventures, fantastical creatures, and unexpected heroes are met and made.

Forced to read The Hobbit in high school, I never really fancied re-reading until recently.  While I didn’t hate Bilbo and his hero’s journey, neither was I enamored.  Only recently have I found myself really craving well written high fantasy and The Hobbit began to seem like an obvious choice.  I ordered the Annotated edition which I can’t recommend strongly enough and thoroughly enjoyed learning about Tolkien and his writing process.  Understanding how many literary sources he drew from and where his ideas and inspirations originated was like being at school but way more fun.  I was shocked to learn Tolkien’s first vision of Gandalf came from seeing a postcard depiction of an old man in a red cape.

The Hobbit’s story unfolds at a very naturally swift pace.  You never feel like you can’t keep up or that you might fall asleep – hidden dangers lurk around every tree.  Bilbo can be frustrating at times with his sour attitude and his wishes of being back at home, but wouldn’t we all be a bit reluctant to fight trolls on the first night of a road trip?  Watching his character grow from uncertain follower to unexpected hero is delightful and could be the literary definition of character growth.  You’ll also find yourself absolutely in love with the dwarfs – they kick the Snow White dwarfs’ asses!

Tolkien’s novel is also perfect to share with your children or as a family.  Especially during this holiday season, just cuddle up together around the fireplace and take turns reading aloud.  I know kids can be squirmy, but the trolls, goblins, giant spiders, and elves should have them mesmerized!  Plus, there are pictures.

I’m awaiting the film release with barely bated breath.  Martin Freeman promises to be the best Bilbo and my lovely dwarfs look perfectly cast and costumed.  For further immersion into Middle Earth, I bought the Lord of the Rings films during the Black Friday sales and watched them back-to-back-to-back this weekend.  I’d NEVER seen them before and still haven’t read the books, but wanted to get an idea of Tolkien’s bigger picture before seeing The Hobbit in theaters.  Loved the movies and thought they were properly made epics showcasing so much talent from all the creators involved.

Off to the Shire you go!

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Another book knocked off my Classics Club list!