Saturday, 26 January 2013

Review - The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey

Prejudices declared – as a young lad I loved The Hobbit; J.R.R. Tolkein's tale of a thirteen dwarves and a hobbit on a quest to purloin a dragon's treasure horde was probably the favourite book of my childhood. Growing older, my favourite book in my teens was probably Lord of the Rings and into young adulthood I absolutely loved Peter Jackson’s rings trilogy. That's my baggage. So in theory I should be on my knees and panting at the thought of a Jackson-directed Hobbit - but the generally lukewarm reception of the film, the decision to stretch it over three installments and the convoluted development history have all dampened my enthusiasm a little.

Friday, 11 January 2013

2012 washup

Events overtook me somewhat in the latter half of 2012, but I didn't entirely stop going to the movies. Here's a wee rundown of those flicks I saw but didn't review in full, as I look forward to a fruitful 2013 of moviegoing:

Skyfall – 8/10

A parable on the decline and fall of empire disguised as a blockbuster. The complex story doesn’t bear a great deal of scrutiny but otherwise this is a hugely entertaining, well-played and smart action movie. Easily one of the best Bond movies, with fine performances from Daniel Craig, Javier Bardem and Judi Dench.

Cosmopolis – 2/10

A practically unwatchable movie that even R-Patz’s proctology cannot save. Then again, I though Don Delillo’s book was shite and much of the (stupid) dialogue is lifted verbatim. Robert Pattinson’s mature, twitchy performance save this limo-crash of a film from being a 1-star.

Prometheus – 3/10

A pretty dreadful movie in many respects (most notably the boring, uneven story and stupid dialogue) that loses more points by fecking over a once-great movie series. Minor plus points come from a great bit of Fassbender, a stirring score and some pretty visuals.

Ted – 7/10

Original, hilarious fun from Seth Macfarlane, though I doubt it has much re-watch potential. Mark Wahlberg again proves that he makes a great straight-man.

Moonrise Kingdom – 8/10

Wes Anderson is one of the most distinctive stylists in cinema, and I can understand how he could irritate. However, in our ongoing post-ironic world it’s great to see a director so unapologetically indulging his visual whims. Moonrise Kingdom is not my favourite of his films, but I enjoyed it hugely nonetheless.

Room 237 – 7/10

A fascinating and occasionally disturbing documentary on out-there fan interpretations of Kubrick’s The Shining. Obviously has limited appeal, but has been put together quite charmingly and should be sought out by cinephiles.

The House at the End of the Street – 3/10

D-grade schlocky horror trading off cheap scares and Jennifer Lawrence’s now-star status. A half-decent ending makes you wonder what was going on for the first hour of the film. D- for Mark Tonderai's sophomore effort.

Killer Joe – 6/10

Freidkin’s notorious, sleazy is neither as good nor as bad as many critics claim. For all of the violence, the film is largely forgettable – with the exception of the now-infamous ‘fried chicken’ denouement. Matthew McCounaghey is appealingly sinister in the title role, but this sort of thing was done much better by Werner Herzog in Bad Lieutenant: Port Of Call New Orleans

The Imposter – 7/10

How could a twenty-something half-Algerian Frenchman with poor English get away with pretending to be a 16-year-old blond-haired, blue-eyed Texan boy? A question posed and (ambiguously) answered in this artfully constructed documentary that, while perhaps overstretching its source material, remains fascinating to the finish.

Sightseers – 8/10

That rarest of cinematic beasts – the British road movie – is played for dark, dark laughs in this unusual serial-killer comedy. While the laughs are range from subtle to broad, director Ben Wheatley manages to capture a certain essence of Englishness that hasn’t been seen since Mike Leigh’s Nuts in May. Quite possibly my favourite film of the year.