The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey (2012)


Every Good Story Deserves to Be Embellished.

The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey (2012)I had a perplexing amount of trepidation when it came to choosing to see today’s movie.  I don’t really know what it was though.  I had very much enjoyed the other three movies directed by the director of this movie and based on the books by the same author, but seeing that today’s movie was released did nothing to inspire me to see it.  So how did I end up watching it?  Complete dumb coincidence.  I went to the theaters with an intention to make it a double feature and, when I left the first movie and checked the show times for the next movie, it happened to be exactly the time this movie was starting.  That either had to be a sign from the heavens or just some random coincidence.  Well nothing else really struck me as worth waiting around for, so I got my ticket and sat down to watch The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, based on a novel by J. R. R. Tolkien, written for the screen by Fran Walsh, Philippa Boyens, Peter Jackson, and Guillermo del Toro, directed by Peter Jackson, and starring Martin Freeman, Ian McKellen, Richard Armitage, Graham McTavish, Ken Stott, Aiden Turner, Dean O’Gorman, Mark Hadlow, Jed Brophy, Adam Brown, John Callen, Peter Hambleton, William Kircher, James Nesbitt, Stephen Hunter, Cate Blanchett, Hugo Weaving, Christopher Lee, Sylvester McCoy, Andy Serkis,  Ian Holm, Benedict Cumberbatch, and Elijah Wood.

The kingdom of Erebor is overrun by the dragon, Smaug, drawn to their kingdom by the gold they’ve amassed, and destroying the town of Dale on the way.  The king’s grandson, Thorin (Richard Armitage), is one of the survivors of the attack.  Later, the wizard Gandalf the Grey (Ian McKellen) brings a party of 13 Dwarves, including Thorin, to the house of an unsuspecting Hobbit named Bilbo Baggins (Martin Freeman) in hopes of getting Bilbo to join their mission to reclaim Erebor.  He refuses at first, but Gandalf appeals to his adventurous side and the group embark on their quest.  Along the way, they encounter Trolls, Orcs, Elves, and tales of a necromancer (Benedict Cumberbatch) in the fortress Dol Guldur.

This movie made me very angry, but I suppose the bulk of it is my own fault.  I probably should’ve found out something about this movie before going in, but I went into it with no more information than I had before I even knew the movie was a possibility.  I had seen the cartoon a long time ago, and I guess I assumed that Peter Jackson was able to fit the entire story into one three hour movie.  The book was only 310 pages, and I figured one minute per page was not necessarily out of the question.  Peter Jackson, on the other hand, apparently felt that it needed to be made into its own trilogy somehow.  The other thing I knew about the original movie was that a big part of the movie was the dragon, Smaug, so I also figured this dragon would be in this movie at all!  When this long ass trudge of a movie was about 20 minutes away from finishing, I was wondering how they were going to complete the Smaug storyline so quickly, not knowing that it was not their intention to finish that story in this movie, or even to involve that story.  It wouldn’t have felt as bad if I felt they filled their movie appropriately, but a lot of it felt like wasted time.   The numerous side missions that they embarked on as they headed to the mountain made me realize why these Lord of the Rings movies are 12 hours a piece.  Also contributing to that is Jackson’s apparent love for scenes of people walking.  That joke from Clerks 2 now has some more ammunition after this movie.

All that being said, there were a pretty good amount of things that were done right in this movie.  It surprises no one to find that this movie is a visual delight.  We’ve seen that out of Jackson at least three times already.  I would say that it occasionally felt recycled as some of the scenes of the Dwarves running over mountaintops looked exactly like similar scenes of the Fellowship of the Ring running over mountaintops in the first three movies.  It’s generally completely epic in scale, but even the smaller details are impressive.  I thought the pale Orc’s prosthetic arm was too scrawny and not intimidating the first time I saw it, but then I realized that it was kind of badass when I realized that it was actually shoved all the way through the stump of his forearm.  And I liked one of the really epic scenes (that also technically had no real story impact at all) where they were going through the mountains and the mountains kind of got up and started punching each other (not a joke).  I liked this because it kind of felt like I was watching a God of War level.  The action (when it happened) was usually very well done.  I especially liked the Dwarves’ escape from Orc Mountain.  The humor of this movie was mostly lost on me, being mostly slapstick or as simple as, “This one Dwarf is fat!  Isn’t that hilarious?!”  They did have a couple of moments that worked really well, though, such as Gandalf’s story about the creation of golf.  I couldn’t blame them too much because this movie felt like it was almost trying to be a children’s movie, but it also felt like it was a little too slow and dark in parts for the younger audience.

The cast does a mostly fine job in this movie.  I really like Martin Freeman, and he was able to bring a good deal of comedy with small mannerisms in his performance.  He also got a few moments of true badassdom near the end of the movie, which I didn’t necessarily expect out of Bilbo.  Ian McKellen is Ian McKellen.  No point even bothering to say that dude is awesome.  I did think he was generally used as a sort of deus ex machina during the movie, disappearing for long stretches of time and popping in at the last minute to save the team when Tolkien may have written himself into a corner.  “We’ll just keep amping this scene up more and more until eventually everyone is at the mercy of a group of Trolls and there’s no hope for salvation.”  “Then what?”  “Uh…Gandalf…?”  “…It’ll do…”  I didn’t take issue with Sylvester McCoy’s performance of Radagast the Brown, but I did generally feel as if all of the time I spent with that character was a waste of my time.  If all parts involving him were dropped out of the movie, no one would notice.  And the movie would be about a half hour shorter.  And he did the shittiest job of leading the Orcs away from the Dwarves.  He brought them on nearly intersecting paths with the fleeing Dwarves like 20 times.  How about this?  If you want to lead a group away from another group, go in the opposite direction.  Try that out next time.  I also appreciated that they had reappearances from every character they could logically fit into the movie.  Elijah Wood is in this for a little bit, Hugo Weaving comes back, Cate Blanchett returns as that overly creepy Elf chick, Christopher Lee pops in for a bit, and Gimli is technically in this movie as well, but only because his father Glóin is one of the Dwarves and I assume Gimli was in his balls somewhere.

I found myself a little bit embittered by some of the things in The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, but overall I’d say it was a pretty good movie.  It’s way too long and it felt like they wasted too much time, even though they apparently felt that the story could not be contained to one (or even two) movies, but the epic scale and great action (when it happens) make it passable.  So long as you’re more patient than I am and go in knowing that the stuff you might know about the Hobbit don’t actually happen in this movie, you should be fine seeing it in theaters.  The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey gets “True courage is not about knowing when to take a life … but when to spare one” out of “A dark power has found a way back into the world.”

Let’s get these reviews more attention, people.  Post reviews on your webpages, tell your friends, do some of them crazy Pinterest nonsense.  Whatever you can do to help my reviews get more attention would be greatly appreciated.  You can also add me on FaceBook and Twitter.  Don’t forget to leave me some comments.  Your opinions and constructive criticisms are always appreciated.

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Dark Shadows (2012)


Reveal Yourself, Tiny Songstress!

Today’s movie was requested by my roommate Richurd. When he requested it, I suggested that he may have to wait until November for me to review it since it didn’t really feel like a horror movie. “It has vampires, witches, and werewolves in it!” he exclaimed, and then proceeded to beat me savagely. Once I awoke, I relented and agreed to review the movie as part of the October Horrorthon. The movie itself was one I knew about when it came to theaters, but had exactly zero desire to watch it. I didn’t know the source material and every commercial for the movie I saw fell flat on its face by way of comedy as far as I was concerned. But it’s a request and so I bring to you my review of Dark Shadows, written by Seth Grahame-Smith, directed by Tim Burton, and starring Johnny Depp, Eva Green, Bella Heathcote, Michelle Pfeiffer, Chloë Grace Moretz, Helena Bonham Carter, Jackie Earle Haley, Jonny Lee Miller, Gulliver McGrath, Christopher Lee, and Alice Cooper.

In 1760, the Collins family moves from Liverpool to Maine to set up a fishing industry, naming the town Collinsport. They make lots of money and all is going well … until their son Barnabas (Johnny Depp) seduces the maid Angelique (Eva Green). She confesses that she loves him, but he does not feel the same. Also, she’s a witch. She takes it out on his family, getting them killed by a falling statue. Barnabas eventually falls in love with Josette du Pres (Bella Heathcote), but the jealous Angelique bewitches her and makes her leap from a cliff. Barnabas tries to follow her, but finds that Angelique has turned him into a vampire. She then gets a mob to lock him in a coffin for 212 years. That’s when a group of construction workers inadvertently frees Barnabas, allowing him to return to his family – matriarch Elizabeth (Michelle Pfeiffer), her brother Roger (Jonny Lee Miller), her 15-year-old daughter Carolyn (Chloë Grace Moretz), Roger’s 10-year-old son David (Gulliver McGrath), David’s psychiatrist Dr. Julia Hoffman (Helena Bonham Carter), and the manor’s caretaker Willie Loomis (Jackie Earle Haley) – just in time to greet David’s newly-hired caretaker Victoria Winters (Bella Heathcote), who is Josette’s reincarnation. But Barnabas will soon find that Angelique is still very much alive, and still very much scorned.

The best thing I could say about this movie is that it lived up to my expectations. The worst thing I could do is define those expectations. But I’ll do it anyway. I can’t say that Dark Shadows was a bad movie, but it’s very far from a good one. If its intentions were to be a horror movie, it was too goofy. If it wanted to be an action movie, it was too boring. If it was to be a mystery & suspense movie as Rotten Tomatoes claims it to be, then I probably shouldn’t have been able to go into the movie knowing exactly how it would turn out. Sadly, I think it wanted to be a comedy, but it also wasn’t funny. It tries to go for a lot of wordplay and dry wit that I’m sure made the British version of this stuff popular (assuming that it ever was, which I have not looked into), but the jokes used in this movie were too dry and lacked wit … or were just stupid. A lot of the movie after Barnabas returns to the 70’s just feels like the pitch for the movie was, “What if Austin Powers … wait for it … were a vampire!” Oh look at him as he doesn’t understand things because he’s been away for a long time! He thinks Alice Cooper is a lady! HILARIOUS! And on top of all that, the movie just wasn’t interesting. The family wasn’t likeable until the very end when they finally became more interesting, but I was long lost by then. All that being said, this is a Tim Burton movie, so the look of the movie is generally worth notation. It has a cool, creepy, dark look to the whole movie, but at a certain point I’m going to require more out of Tim than that. Also, I don’t know if it was intentional because they wanted to pay homage to the British version, but Johnny Depp looked goofy the entire movie. I was not buying that look.

The cast in this movie was filled with amazing names … who didn’t seem to want to try that hard. This is not a surprising performance for Johnny Depp. It’s a little bit like Captain Jack Sparrow without a drinking problem. Michelle Pfeiffer did not seem altogether invested in the movie. Eva Green was a little over the top, but so was her hotness. Chloë Grace Moretz was never interesting to me until the very end where she turned into something interesting … and then did nothing with it. Jackie Earle Haley came close to being funny a few times. I also didn’t like Gulliver McGrath, but more for the way he was written. How the hell is a kid going to see ghosts for his entire life, but freak out when he finds out the guy that’s been living with his family for a few months while being perfectly nice to him is a vampire?

I kind of feel like I wasted a bit of my time by watching Dark Shadows, but hopefully you don’t feel that you wasted time reading my review. This movie was not funny and not interesting, the actors didn’t seem into it, and I wasn’t either. I had/have no interest in the source material, so I have no idea if it holds up, but I do know that there’s not a lot of reason to watch this movie. It’s not an awful movie, but there are better ways to spend your time. Dark Shadows gets “It is with sincere regret that I must now kill all of you” out of “They tried stoning me, my dear. It did not work.”

Let’s get these reviews more attention, people. Post reviews on your webpages, tell your friends, do some of them crazy Pinterest nonsense. Whatever you can do to help my reviews get more attention would be greatly appreciated. You can also add me on FaceBook and Twitter. Don’t forget to leave me some comments. Your opinions and constructive criticisms are always appreciated.

Sleepy Hollow (1999)


Watch Your Heads

October Horror-thon continues, as does my pleas to get my friend Loni back into my reviews, with the Tim Burton movie Sleepy Hollow. I wasn’t really sure if this movie was actually intended to be a horror movie when I pulled it out of my collection, but I feel like it holds up. Plus, Johnny Depp is in it, so Loni should be in. Sleepy Hollow is directed by Tim Burton, and stars Johnny Depp, Christina Ricci, Christopher Walken, Miranda Richardson, Michael Gambon, Casper Van Dien, Christopher Lee, and Ian McDiarmid, as well as some stunt work by Ray Park, so I get to reuse so many people that have been in my reviews before and will be again when I lay down some Harry Potter goodness.

1799, New York City, constable Ichabod Crane (Johnny Depp) is a strange character and investigator of murders. His superiors do not agree of his scientific autopsy techniques, but they dispatch him to Sleepy Hollow to investigate some recent murders. Those murders involve the decapitation of 5 people, with their heads going missing. He gets there to investigate and is greeted by the cleavage of Katrina Van Tassel (Christina Ricci). At first, his scientific mind leads him to believe that a mortal serial killer is using the towns mythos to hide his crimes, taking this movie dangerously close to the other Johnny Depp joint, From Hell. But Crane soon finds out that the killer is actually the mythological creature called the Headless Horseman (at this point, Ray Park). Crane is told that the Horseman was once a brutal and sadistic Hessian mercenary (Christopher Walken, when his head is on) who was beheaded for his brutality and has come back to life because someone stole his noggin and is using it to control him. Crane then systematically suspects everybody in the town until they come up dead and he starts suspecting the next person he sees.

This movie is pretty thoroughly meh, if I might scare Loni off again. There are lots of things that work and a couple things that don’t. The story itself is pretty solid but I found myself drifting out of it from time to time. Tim Burton, as he seems to like doing, has taken a classic story and made it more dark and twisted. This time, he took an older story from the 1800s or so that was then made into a Disney movie. I pretty much only knew about it from the Disney movie, and I don’t even remember that very well because I didn’t like it that much. But this is a story that works as a darker, gory version. Unfortunately, he also felt the need to add in things about how Crane wanted to use science and autopsies in a time where that was frowned upon and things about conspiracies in the small town. I had always heard the story that the Horseman took heads because he lost his and wanted a new one (and who wouldn’t want Johnny Depp’s head, am I right, Loni?), and that story would work on it’s own. And, according to Wikipedia, the Horseman was more than likely Van Tassel’s other suitor, Brom (Casper Van Dien), who killed Crane to get Christina Ricci (which I would totally do as well). Both of those stories work on their own, we don’t need back story about autopsies and conspiracy and some confusing thing about Ichabod’s mother. That stuff was boring. But the Horseman parts were pretty sweet.

As with most Tim Burton movies, the look and atmosphere trump all else. Sleepy Hollow and the surrounding area seem to be practically devoid of sunlight and are constantly drenched in fog and spooky looking trees. The coolest things were surrounding the gore. The decapitated heads were very realistic. I know 1999 isn’t THAT old, but I’ve seen big budget movies that have come out recently that have worse looking heads than this one does. All of those gory effects worked very well. And when Depp starts hacking into the tree that sits over the Horseman’s body, and the tree seems to bleed and have flesh underneath it, that was very well done and creepy as well. The costumes were nice looking as well. I especially loved the cleavage. Also, I wanna get one of them jackets like Johnny wears in this. I like those old style jackets and I need to find one that isn’t ridiculously priced.

The performances are mostly bland or hammed up. And this movie (I think) was going for a horror movie vibe, but had no scares. It had gore, so it could be a slasher film, but most of the main actors seemed to go more for an odd quirky comedy performance, and I didn’t think it fit. I didn’t really get the character Johnny Depp was going for. He was a constable, so you’d assume he’s seen death pretty frequently, and he was a big proponent for autopsies, but he gets squeamish looking at gore. Well, sometimes. Other times he dove right in. Christina Ricci made no real impact on me beyond her hotness. I got really sad when I recognized Dead Dumbledore was in this ’cause he dead now, but he did a fine job at his smaller part. But there were a lot of big actors with smaller parts in this movie. Palpatine (Ian McDiarmid) was in this, Rita Skeeter (Miranda Richardson), Vernon Dursley (Richard Griffiths), the dude from Starship Troopers (Casper Van Dien), Spike from Stay Tuned (Jeffrey Jones), Sarumon (Christopher Lee), and Alfred (Michael Gough) were all in this, but all had pretty small parts. Christopher Walken was creepy, but kinda hammed it up as the Horseman. But that explains the greater majority of Christopher Walken performances. Creepy, weird, and a little hammed up.

That’ll do for this review. It’s a decent enough watch with a hit or miss story and matching performances, but you can’t deny the appeal of Tim Burton’s style. I’ll go ahead (get it? a head!) and give this movie “You are bewitched by reason” out of “He was dead to begin with.”

And, as always, please rate, comment, and/or like this post and others. It may help me get better.

The Wicker Man (1974)


Having been pained enough by the Nicholas Cage remake, I felt it was about time I acquaint myself with the original version of the Wicker Man, a movie that has been called the “Citizen Kane of Horror movies”.  This, of course, was not by me as I wouldn’t say this movie is THAT good, especially having not seen Citizen Kane.  But let’s see if I would call this movie “The Tombstone of Horror movies”.  The Wicker Man stars Edward Woodward (who I know from a small part in Hot Fuzz), Britt Ekland (who I don’t know but was apparently in one of the Bond movies), and Christopher Lee (who I DEFINITELY know as Count Dooku in the prequel Star Wars and Saruman in Lord of the Rings).  I’ll again spoil this movie, not because it’s so bad you shouldn’t see it, but because I already spoiled the other Wicker Man and the stories are pretty close.

Sergeant Neil Howie (Edward Woodward) comes to Summerisle, a privately owned island famed for it’s fruit produce and crazy religious folk, to investigate the disappearance of a young lady named Rowan Morrison.  Howie, who loves him some Jesus, is disturbed by the pagan society.  People run around naked, talk about the phallic nature of a tree, and breastfeed in graveyards.  Also, the girl in the room next to him in the inn, Willow (Britt Ekland), gets naked and does a rendition of a Stevie Nicks music video to try to get him to come over and bump uglies, but he’s married to Jesus and won’t give her none.  People on the island give him the run around, acting like Rowan doesn’t exist, then say she “doesn’t exist” because she died and no longer exists as Rowan.  He finds her grave, then goes to meet Lord Summerisle (Christopher Lee) in order to get permission to exhume her grave.  When he does so, he finds a dead hare and no Rowan.  He starts finding out that the island blames her for a poor harvest in the previous season.  He intends to go back to the mainland to get backup, but his plane has been sabotaged and won’t start.  Instead, he knocks out he innkeeper and takes his costume for the May Day celebration.  The costume is of Punch, a principal character in the festival of the fool.  He finds that they are going to sacrifice Rowan, frees her, and they escape through the caves to the shore.  Here, Rowan ditches him and rejoins Lord Summerisle, who explains that he will be sacrificed because Howie came there with the power of a king (as a cop), with the power of God (as a devout Christian), as a virgin (as he has not gotten nookie), and as a fool.  He’s then burned alive in a giant Wicker Man.

Now, I don’t know if I’d go anywhere near so far as to say this is the greatest horror movie ever, or the greatest British movie ever, or anything of the sort.  I have a hard time with older movies as they almost always feel so dated.  This movie suffers from that as well, but it’s still a very interesting and watchable movie.  I would go so far as to say this movie is FAR superior to it’s 2006 remake.  That being said, this movie is pretty damned strange.  The weird examples of their crazy pagan lifestyle are as off putting to me as they seemed to be to Howie.  Of the ones I can remember was the girl crying naked behind a tombstone, the girls jumping naked over a fire pit, and the girl breastfeeding in the graveyard.  Odd that all the ones I remember involve naked girls.  Another weird thing is that there’s a gravestone that says the dude is “protected by the ejaculation of serpents”.  But by far the weirdest thing about this movie is the fact that it’s kind of a musical horror movie.  There are about 4 times in the movie where people break into strange songs for about 5 minutes a piece.  I’m not a fan of musicals, personally, but I especially don’t get the musical horror mash up.  All that being said, this movie does create a creepy atmosphere, it lands the tension it aims at, and it makes a good horror movie that’s just a little bit dated by now.

Unlike the remake, the acting in this movie is all good.  But it’s British.  They pretty much invented acting.  Okay that’s probably not true, but they’re still good at it.  Woodward was probably the most standout of the performances in the movie.  You could always tell that he was doing all he could to hold back his distaste for their religion, although he still expressed it often.  The thing I thought was cool was that, unlike the remake where everyone else was an asshole, in this movie Howie was the biggest asshole.  I mean, how you gonna go to someone else’s house and tell them their religion is wrong ’cause they’re not lovin on the Jesus?  Let them do their thing.  If you had loved Jesus a little less (say, the amount I do), you probably wouldn’t have died.  See, I love Jesus, but I will also have sex before marriage.  And, when that Willow girl was offering up the vagina, I’d have taken it, and then I wouldn’t have been a virgin and I wouldn’t have been sacrificed.  There, I said it, premarital sex saves lives.

So, if you’re like my friend Loni and you want to know the story of The Wicker Man without sitting through the 2006 abortion, watch this one instead.  If you don’t care about the story, you can probably do without either.  I’ll give this movie a “Come.  It is time to keep your appointment with the Wicker Man” out of “…weird”.

And, as always, please rate, comment, and/or like this post and others.  It may help me get better.

Star Wars: Episodes I, II, and III (1999, 2002, and 2005)


Twi’leks are hot!

As requested, I will be reviewing the Star Wars films in two reviews, by their trilogies.  First, the prequel trilogy (Episodes I, II, and III) and next the original trilogy (Episodes IV, V, and VI).  Do I need to display their numbers as Roman numerals?  Probably not.  But I’m gonna.  Before I jump in to my first attempt to do multiple movies in one review, I will warn you that I will be spoiling in this review.  But, on the other hand, if you haven’t seen Star Wars by this point in your life, I hate you.

Episode I – The Phantom Menace.  (1999)

A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away there are trade disputes.  The Trade Federation has put a blockade around the planet of Naboo and two Jedi, Qui-Gon Jinn (Liam Neeson) and Obi-Wan Kenobi (Ewan McGregor), are sent in to fix it.  The Viceroy of the Trade Federation gets the order from Darth Sidious to kill the two Jedi.  But the Jedi won’t go down easy.  They fight their way out and stow aboard a ship going to Naboo.  Here they meet the ruination of the Star Wars series, Jar Jar Binks (Ahmed Best).  With him, they go to visit the recently captured Queen of the … Nabooians? … Queen Amidala (Natalie Portman or Keira Knightley, depending on when you see her) and rescue her, taking her to Tatooine.  They meet Anakin Skywalker (Jake Lloyd for the time being), a slave of a flying blue thing named Watto, and make a wager with Watto for Anakin’s freedom and the parts they need to repair their ship.  Commence 15 minutes of pod racing!  They win and leave.  Qui-Gon wants Anakin because, as with most religious type figures, he likes little boys.  No, it’s because he has an unusually high count of midichlorians, little creatures that get you tied in to the Force … and also clean a pool really well.  They head to the capital planet of Coruscant and get Senator Palpatine (Ian McDiarmid) elected Supreme Chancellor of the Senate, a decision that will in no way come back to bite them in the ass.  They go back to Naboo to try to save the planet and the two Jedi get into a fight with Darth Sidious’ apprentice, Darth Maul (Ray Park).  He kills Qui-Gon, Obi-Wan kills him right back.  Then they save Naboo.  Obi-Wan is made a Jedi Knight and takes Anakin on as his apprentice, as per Qui-Gon’s last request.

Episode II – Attack of the Clones.  (2002)

10 years later, same far, far away galaxy, a Separatist movement has been set up against the Republic behind former Jedi, Count Dooku (Christopher Lee).  Amidala (Now a Senator and occasionally Rose Byrne), returns to Coruscant to vote on some junk and someone tries to kill her, instead killing her stand-in.  Obi-Wan and grown up Anakin (Hayden Christensen) are assigned to protect her.  After another assassination attempt, Obi-Wan is goes to Kamino (or as the Mexicans call it, El Kamino) in search of the assassin.  Anakin goes with Amidala back to Naboo to tell her his dissertation about why he hates sand so much.  Hating sand gets this woman moist and they start getting all romantic like.  On Kamino, Obi-Wan finds out that a now dead Jedi had ordered the production of a clone army, all cloned from Jango Fett (Temuera Morrison).  Eventually they fight, but Jango escapes.  Obi-Wan follows him to Geonosis, a planet where they’re creating a droid army.  Then he gets captured.  Back on Naboo, Anakin is having bad dreams about his momma dying so he and Amidala go back to Tatooine.  There, they find that she was sold to a guy who freed and married her, then she was taken by Tusken Raiders.  Anakin goes and finds her, but she’s been tortured nigh to death and dies in his arm.  So he kills all the men, women, and children in the Tusken camp.  Okay, perhaps he overreacted.  They get a message from Obi-Wan and go to save him, but then get captured themselves.  In classic Bond villain style, they are to be executed in an overly complicated way that always works.  They escape and the rest of the Jedi show up.  Then Mace Windu (Samuel L. Jackson, mother fucker!) cuts off Jango Fett’s head.  This makes Baby Boba (Daniel Logan), his son, sad.  In order to make this move on Geonosis, Jar Jar had to go and fuck up things more by giving emergency powers to Palpatine, who passes the use of clone soldiers.  A big battle engages and Obi-Wan, Anakin, and Amidala chase down Dooku.  Dooku soundly beats them both in a lightsaber duel, cutting off one of Anakin’s arms in the process.  Then Yoda (voiced by Frank Oz) comes in and whoops all up on that ass.  Dooku escapes.  At the end, Anakin (with new robo arm) gets married to Amidala in secret.

Episode III – Revenge of the Sith.  (2005)

Obi-Wan and Anakin infiltrate the flagship of General Grievous (voiced by Matthew Wood), commander of the Separatist droid army, to rescue Supreme Chancellor Palpatine.  They again fight Dooku, who promptly knocks out Obi-Wan.  Anakin, on the other hand, cuts off both Dooku’s arms and then executes him, being egged on by Palpatine.  (Did you get the “on the other hand” pun?  You’re welcome)  Back to Coruscant, Anakin meets up with Amidala again and she reveals she’s been knocked up by his Jedi jizz.  Anakin starts having visions of Amidala dying during childbirth and vows he won’t let it happen.  And he especially won’t be the CAUSE of it happening.  Because of his closeness to Palpatine, the Jedi Council tell him to monitor Palpatine.  Anakin has begun to get all emo on the Council because of Palpatine’s manipulation and their denial of his promotion to Jedi Knight.  I hear you, Ani.  Palpatine also gets Anakin’s attention by telling him he’s heard of a dark side of the Force ability to keep people from dying.  Anakin figures out that Palpatine is Darth Sidious, Lord of the Sith.  Obi-Wan is sent after Grievous and kills him.  Mace Windu goes to make sure Palpatine relinquishes his control of the Senate with the death of Grievous and Anakin tells him that Palpatine is the Sith Lord.  Windu orders Anakin to stay behind as he confronts Palpatine, but Anakin is torn because he believes Palpatine is the only one that can save Amidala.  Mace fights Sidious and wins, until Anakin goes and screws it up.  Sidious starts shooting some lightning at Windu, but it’s deflected back at himself, fucking up his face and starting to kill him.  Anakin rashly cuts Windu’s arm off and Sidious shoots Windu out the window.  Sidious then names Anakin his apprentice in the dark side, changing his name to Darth Vader (probably naming him after those Star Wars movies).  Then Sidious sends Vader out to kill all the children in the Jedi Temple, and then go to Mustafar to kill the Separatist leaders.  Obi-Wan finds out what Anakin has done and informs Amidala, but she won’t tell him where Anakin’s gone.  But he stows away on her ship as she goes to confront him.  Feeling he’s been betrayed by Amidala because she brought Obi-Wan there, he Force chokes her into passing out, then Obi-Wan and Anakin get into one hell of a lightsaber battle.  Yoda tries to stop Palpatine by attacking him directly, but is unable to defeat him and must escape.  Obi-Wan has better luck and cuts off Anakin’s legs as Anakin tries to attack from an inferior position.  Then Obi-Wan collects Amidala and leaves Anakin burning up by a lake of lava.  Amidala does die during childbirth, but the twins (Luke and Leia) live.  Who knows if those kids will ever make something of themselves, coming from a broken home as they do.  Darth Sidious rescues Vader from near death and turns him all robotic, telling him of Amidala’s demise.  He yells “no”.  Leia is given to a Senator from Alderaan to raise, and Luke is taken back to Tatooine to be raised by his step-family, Owen and Beru, under the watchful eye of Obi-Wan.  The rest of the Jedi are spread throughout the galaxy, waiting for their moment to return.

WOW!  That’s a gundamn lot of writing, and I haven’t even started reviewing!  Oh well, here we go.

The Phantom Menace is, almost inarguably, the worst movie of the 6.  It looks pretty as hell, especially when they’re on Naboo, but almost everything else about this movie doesn’t work.  Liam Neeson, Ewan McGregor, and Natalie Portman all perform well.  Jake Lloyd got on my nerves a little, but most of that was probably the dialogue (“Are you an angel?”)  Also, this kid was basically Jedi Jesus, as it’s revealed that he was immaculately conceived.  Of course, everyone knows that Jar Jar Binks was horribly annoying in every way.  Conversely, Ray Park as Darth Maul was a total metal badass.  Too bad he only got to be in one movie.  The basic premise of the movie starts off poorly too because it’s about trade disputes.  How do you make a trade dispute interesting?  Jedi!  And then it’s still not that interesting.  All the little skinny droids, which are the main soldiers in the movie, are completely useless, almost as much so as Storm Troopers.  The pod racing was a horrible position to be in during this movie.  It took 15 minutes and was really boring.  It was like watching intergalactic Nascar.  Hell, even Jabba the Hutt fell asleep during it.  The dialogue was pretty bad in parts of this movie.  Also, it made me think that George Lucas has the sense of humor of a 5 year old.  At one point, Jar Jar steps in poodoo and, at another point, a creature farts.  This is supposed to be humor.  This one was not a horrible movie, but it was a let down for the movie that brings back the Star Wars saga after so many years of waiting.

Attack of the Clones comes next and gives Jar Jar the backseat.  He passes on his crown of “Most annoying thing in Star Wars” to Hayden Christensen.  This kid was trying throughout the entire movie to act his way out of a paper bag, but remained in it until the very end of the next movie.  Ewan McGregor gets better in this movie and also shows the audience that Obi-Wan’s favorite pastime is cutting off people’s hands in bars.  Natalie Portman does the best she can do with the shitty romantic dialogue that Lucas wrote for her, but also makes us think she’s retarded by leaving the STUPIDEST THING SHE KNOWS IN CHARGE OF HER PLANET!  How you gonna make Jar Jar a senator?!  It’s because of him that everything bad in the Star Wars series happens.  On the other hand, we wouldn’t have the original trilogy without his actions.  I also think it’s strange that I can’t get myself a girlfriend but a smokin’ hot biddy like Natalie Portman will get busy with a guy that just indiscriminately killed men, women, and children.  Not a horrible movie again, and it’s on it’s way towards getting better.

Revenge of the Sith elevates the prequel trilogies from the abyss it would have been in if the third had been on par with one of the others.  It seems to have to stuff a lot into the amount of time it has because it has to tie up all the loose ends and get us ready for A New Hope.  In the beginning of this, beloved robot R2D2 reminds us why we all love him so as he takes on a giant robot trooper as he’s surrounded by others.  R2D2’s like a honey badger!  He just don’t give a fuck!  You little badass you.  Anyways, Hayden is back and as bad as ever.  In this movie, credulity is stretched as Anakin starts getting more and more obviously dark side-leaning.  He starts wearing clothes as emo as he’s acting; getting all black and dark and morose.  And, again, why the hell couldn’t Lucas get someone from a famous romance movie or something to come in and write his romantic dialogue for him?  The rest of the dialogue ranges from fine to awesome, but when someone is falling in love, it’s all “You’re beautiful” “That’s because I’m in love” “No, it is because I am the one who is in love … with you!”  As for examples of the other dialogue, the way Palpatine manipulates others (throughout all of the movies, but especially here) is sublime.  I was fixing to join the dark side if he kept going.  The end of the movie is where everything is at it’s best.  Ewan McGregor is awesome as he’s just defeated Anakin and you can watch his heart break as he has to defeat someone he’s so close to for the evil he’s committed.  Hayden is at his best when he shuts the fuck up and kills younglings and Separatists.  And the climax of the movie is everything you hoped it would be.  Big ass battle between Obi-Wan and Anakin in a place that looks like Hell itself.  Yoda and Sidious throwing down in the giant Council chambers.  The birth of Luke and Leia and the birth of Darth Vader as we know him.  Then they kinda screw it up with Vader’s “NOOOOOOOoooooooooo!”  But it’s not that bad, just a little goofy.

So that’s it.  The longest review I’ve done (until possibly tomorrow).  Altogether these movies are of course the weakest of the saga, but it’s so hard to surpass the original trilogy’s glory for me.  The awesome thing about these movies being first in the chronology of the series but last in real-time chronology is that this series gets to steadily increase in awesomeness, unlike most movies that get worse and worse as they go on.  None of us will remember it that way, but when my blu-rays are passed down to my children and their children, they’ll think that’s the order they came out in and all will be right in the world.  The first two could be skipped, but to use them as a build up to the pretty epic conclusion of the third is worth the time.  The Star Wars prequel trilogy gets a “You were supposed to be the Chosen One!” out of “I hate sand”.

And, as always, please rate, comment, and/or like this post and others.  It may help me get better.

Alice in Wonderland (2010)


You’ve lost your muchness.

I had no time to do my review of the 6 Star Wars movies today, so I dipped back into my DVD collection and routed out Alice in Wonderland. Not the animated one, the Tim Burton one. I decided to do this movie in case my friend Loni had lost interest in my reviews. You put Johnny Depp on the end of a hook and Loni will bite every time. So lets get into this here movie. This version of Alice in Wonderland stars Mia Wasikowska, Johnny Depp, Helena Bonham Carter, Anne Hathaway, Crispin Glover, Matt Lucas X 2, as well as the voices of Michael Sheen, Alan Rickman, Barbara Windsor, Christopher Lee, and Stephen Fry.

I shouldn’t have to tell you too much about this movie. Who doesn’t know the story of Alice in Wonderland? This doesn’t just remake the classic Disney animation with wacky scenery though. It mashes up two of the classic Lewis Carroll novels: Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and it’s sequel Through the Looking-Glass. Now 19-year-old Alice (Mia Wasikowska), is an eccentric girl who has been set up for marriage behind her back. When the proposal comes, she jets. She sees a white rabbit in a waistcoat and follows him into a hole, falling down into Underland. Here she meets Nivens McTwisp the White Rabbit (voiced by Michael Sheen), Mallymkun the Dormouse (voiced by Barbara Windsor), Absolem the Caterpillar (voiced by Alan Rickman), and twins Tweedledee and Tweedledum (both Matt Lucas). They tell her she’s the only one that can slay the Jabberwocky and save Underland. She’s not thrilled. Then, the conversation is interrupted by the Red Queen’s army, including the Bandersnatch and the Knave of Hearts, Ilosovic Stayne (Crispin Glover). Iracebeth of Crims, the Red Queen (Helena Bonham Carter with a giant head), is not happy at the return of Alice because she’s come back to slay her beloved Jabber-baby-wocky and she’s looking to separate some heads from some shoulders. Alice escapes and soon comes to meet the Cheshire Cat (voiced by Stephen Fry). He takes her to meet the March Hare and brings about the moment Loni had been checking her watch and waiting for, the introduction of the Mad Hatter, Tarrant Hightopp (Johnny Depp). Together with the Mad Hatter, Alice makes her way towards the Red Queen to find the Vorpal Sword, then off to meet Mirana of Marmoreal, the White Queen (Anne Hathaway), to try to get her reelected as Queen of Underland. And, yes, I did look up all of their full names because they were wacky and I wanted them written in my review.

So the story doesn’t really require very much commentary. Of course it’s great. It’s Alice in Wonderland. This movie can’t really take much credit for that. I absolutely refuse to read without a weapon of some sort pointed at me, so I have no idea how closely they stuck to the source material. I don’t much care either. The movie was interesting all the way through so, much as the Harry Potter series, I don’t care if it’s nothing like the book at all. I’m not sure if it was a choice by Burton or if it was in the books, but parts of this seemed pretty dark for a movie aimed more towards kids. The Bandersnatch get’s it’s eye ripped out, there’s a bird that get’s stabbed in the eye and then gets it’s head crushed by a rock, and there’s a river full of decapitated heads. Hey kids, you wanna watch Alice in Wonderland? No, the one that will give you nightmares. Well then you probably should’ve eaten all of your vegetables at dinner. Now get in here and watch the movie!

As with most Tim Burton movies – and also Guillermo Del Toro movies – the story takes a major backseat to the visual effects. I’m pretty sure both of those guys are probably insane to be able to come up with some of the visuals they use. And it’s okay that they’re crazy because I can just enjoy the visuals of their movies without having to deal with them personally. The movie was in 3D in theaters, but I’m pretty sure no one made me sit through that gimmicky bullshit, and I certainly didn’t watch it like that at home. The landscapes were all rich with imagination; whether it was the lush, colorful forest area or the ruined town, all of it was a pleasure to look at. Some of the visual effects they went with were interesting but occasionally poorly done. I’m talking mainly about the morphing of the people. Tweedledee and Tweedledum were CG fat boys with Matt Lucas’ face plastered on there. The Red Queen had HBC’s head made gargantuan on a tiny body and Cripin Glover was made slightly more tall and lanky than he really is. These effects usually worked but I felt like, on occasion, it looked weird to the point where I noticed it and that’s not a good thing. But it was few and far between. Alice’s size was in a fairly constant state of flux in the movie because of a potion and a cake. This worked well through the movie, but that must’ve been one flexible dress. Also, the Jabberwocky is freaking metal. I wanna make an album and put that guy on the cover.

The performances in the movie were mostly wacky but all pretty good. Anne Hathaway was the stand out for me. Not just because she’s smokin’ hot and I want to make babies in her, but her portrayal of the White Queen was pretty freaking funny as well. She’s got a darkness to her that she’s always suppressing and compensating by going over the top with the prim and proper. Just the way she walked made me laugh. I don’t really know what to make of Johnny Depp’s Mad Hatter though. It was good and interesting, but totally wacky. There were parts where you could really connect with him on an emotional level over the tragedy that befell his town and drove him to madness, but then he’d break into a Scottish brogue out of nowhere. And that Futterwhacken thing? Yeah, I could’ve done without that. I also could’ve done without the scene where Johnny said it in a way that made me think he was talking about regular whackin’ … of the penis … vigorously … HBC’s Red Queen was pretty funny as well. She was like a child given power and murderous intent. The funniest characters were Matt Lucas’ Tweedle twins. I liked their crazy way of making words.

All in all, this is still a good movie. There were parts that lost me, either in wacky performances or slightly askew VFX, but the rest of the visuals kept me pretty riveted throughout. The biggest thing holding this movie back is that it refused to tell me how a raven is like a writing desk. I NEED TO KNOW, DAMNIT!! …sorry. I give this movie “You’re almost Alice” out of “Um.”

And, as always, please rate, comment, and/or like this post and others. It may help me get better.