Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Day 1125 - The Third Hobbit Movie

I have now seen all three Hobbit movies (albeit not in a row),and I've come away with the realization that the second one is my favorite.  The first one had a great scene between Bilbo and Gollum, the second one had giant spiders, and the third one, well the third one had lots of fighting.  And usually I'm a big fan of epic battle sequences, but in order to care about what's going on, a movie has to show us characters that we're invested in doing battle.  And that's where the third Hobbit fails.  When you have three armies battling, I'm fine with watching bad guys lose and good guys triumph, but not so much when none of the people I've been watching don't even participate.
The character that Peter Jackson created for the film - the elf Tauriel (as played by Evangeline Lily), was something that I had no problem with.  In the second movie she's given a lot to do, has a romance shoehorned in,and generally holds her own.  I enjoyed watching her character, because it was at least something different, and she kicked major butt.  But in the third movie, she's given absolutely nothing to do.  The romance is barely touched on (but it's effective when it is), and she has no major action sequences.  In the second movie, she's saving lives and killing orcs.  In the third movie, she's window dressing.  Where's that warrior we saw in an entire movie?  She really becomes the token female at that point.
It's amazing that I've distilled close to six hours worth of film down into one character, and it's not even the one the series is named after.  But if you're going to add something to an already existing piece of work, then you should at least strive to make sure that it has meaning.  And maybe Tauriel does have meaning - as in "don't do this to your characters."
And what was up with all the screen time for Alfrid?  Wow.  Never has a character so stopped a film dead in its tracks.  He's in the movie the whole time, and every time he shows up you just want to punch him in the face.
So disappointing.

Monday, December 29, 2014

Day 1124 - Wild


Talk about a real mixed bag of a movie.  On the one hand, Reese Witherspoon and Laura Dern are always compelling to watch.  And Cheryl's perseverance in hiking 1,000 miles is pretty uplifting.  However, as a movie, there's not a lot to this.  Sure, it's got a smattering of flashbacks to build up the characters and beef up the story, but when the main thrust of your film is one person walking for a long (long) time, then, in order to not let your mind wander, you really need to make everything work.  I have to really be compelled by the min character, and I really have to be visually stimulated.  Both were serviceable.  And for a movie that seems to be getting such good reviews, I needed great or spectacular.

Storywise, it's simply about a woman who hikes a thousand miles after the death of her mother.  And this woman is a wreck - she uses hardcore drugs and cheats on her husband with just about any man who'll have her.  And I'm never really sure why she thinks she needs to do this hike, and I don't think she knows, either.  But she carries a backpack that other hikers call "monster," meets some nice people and some creepy ones, and trudges along (sorta like this review).

I left the theater thinking that I liked the movie, but didn't really love it.  Now, even a few hours later, I'm finding that it has even less resonance to me.  It's hard for me to think about how therapeutic it would be walk a thousand miles just to get one's head straight.  I'm thinking more of an afternoon hike.

But if I've learned anything from this, it's that if you go on a long hike like that, make sure you're wearing the right shoes.

Sunday, December 28, 2014

Day 1122 - My own personal OCD when it comes to buying stuff

Wow.  It's been nearly a year since I last wrote on here.  Let's not dwell on that.

Let me write about how I choose what to watch and read using some current examples.

What I'm reading right now is "Fangirl" by Rainbow Rowell.  I bought it based strictly off its cover by Noelle Stevenson.  I know of Noelle's work mostly as a writer of a comic book "LumberJanes" (which is a fun comic book).  It's a fairly minimalist cover, but it did its job perfectly on me, because when I first saw the book it made me pick it up, read the first few paragraphs, and recognize it as something that I'd probably enjoy.  I wasn't able to find it at the used bookstore over the last month, so I bought it new last week.  I'm still reading it (and liking it), but for a book that's being marketed as a young adult novel, it's disconcerting reading all the casual profanity.  Yes, yes, I realize I'm being a grumpy old man, but I don't think I'd be nearly as annoyed if I found the book in "literature" section as opposed to the "young adult" one.  But, hey, everyone should be happy, because I bought the book.  And, as always, I almost always judge an unknown book by its cover.

As for two other purchases I made today, here's how they came about.  Firstly, I bought Taking Care of Business on VHS starring Charles Grodin and James Belushi.  There is no doubt that this is a silly (possibly dumb) movie.  I last saw it in college, but for some reason I have been jonesing to watch it over the last two months.  It's entirely possible that it exists on Netflix, but since I don't have that, I'm forced to either see if it's on Hulu or YouTube if I want to see it for free.  It's not.  So I put out feelers with my contacts at The Exchange. They couldn't find a copy.  I could have bought it through Amazon, but that always seems lazy.  Thusly, I decided to see if BuyBacks had it in any format.  And they did.  Why did/do I want to re-watch this movie?  I haven't the foggiest idea.  But this is how I end up with a number of movies in my collection, because I search for things that tickle in my brain.

The other movie I picked up was The Fault in Our Stars, the teen tear-jerker.  I liked this movie, and I'm sure I would have picked it up at some point, but a few weeks ago, at the same BuyBacks, I saw a special edition Blu-Ray that had two versions of the movie on it, the regular one and an extended edition.  I passed on it, because I figured that I'd be able to find it cheaper somewhere while I did my Christmas shopping.  I was wrong.  Nobody had it.  It now became something that I might never see again.  I had to have it (if it was available).  I wasn't confident that it would still be around, but apparently nobody else has the same compulsions that I have, because it was still there.

The book, if all goes well, will probably be finished this week.  Taking Care of Business will probably be watched this week.  And who knows when I'll get around to re-watching The Fault in Our Stars.  But that's fine, because when I get that tickle to watch it, I'll have it.