Friday, March 29
The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey
The Hobbit is Peter Jackson’s long-awaited return to Tolkien’s Middle Earth. He has a solid cast, some returning members, and his reliably beautiful cinematography — but why such a God-awful movie? Of course, the first reason is that it favors technology over narrative. The discussion surrounding the film is never about Bilbo; it’s about the brilliant CGI and 48FPS projection rate. Though I appreciate the goofiness of the opening (so much singing and plate tossing), the injection of comic timing courtesy of Martin Freeman, and the somewhat more prevalent levity, there’s only so many deus ex machina I can take: Gandalf apparently can stomp his staff and cause everyone in the room to fall down. Those endless swirling helicopter shots of people crossing mountains have returned, and it’s impossible for me not to giggle at (subtitled) orcs furious at “elvish filth” and “dwarfish scum.” It’s ultimately patience-testing and not nearly as thrilling as intended. But you can go for the special effects.
Saturday, March 30
The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring
Jackson’s take on the Shire is considerably more happy-go-lucky than Tolkien fans might expect; the fireworks are grand, but life for the Hobbits is strangely akin to an Irish jig. Despite the Shire’s exaggerated sense of joy and normalcy, Jackson has stunningly authenticated Tolkien’s mythic landscape. Blue waters wash against flowery green pastures. There is a sense of belonging here, as if we’ve finally stumbled across that old friend we’ve only seen in dreams and read about in the thumb-worn pages of Tolkien’s novels. At three hours, Fellowship of the Ring soars, its pitfalls miniscule when compared to the jaw-dropping splendor of its remarkable set pieces. The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring stars Elijah Wood, Ian McKellan, and a host of other spectacular supporting players. It is the finest entry into the trilogy and is not to be missed.