Saturday, December 15, 2012

The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey: A


Scott, Jay, and I saw The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey today. There's not much to say about this movie. It's as high-quality and well done as any of the prior The Lord of the Rings movie trilogy. In fact, I would say it's even better as the story is far less complicated without the confusing multiple storylines and far less Middle Earth jargon.

That said, my only complaint is the same as the LOTR trilogy: How can a three-hour movie with dozens of characters have only one woman? Well, okay there were some female extras doing domestic chores in the background - 'cuz someone's got to do the laundry. If a similar movie was made with a 99% female cast it would be derided as a chick flick, but I have yet to hear anyone call The Hobbit a guy movie. I know, I know, the filmmakers were probably staying true to J. R. R. Tolkien's chauvinist writings and yet the same filmmakers have taken many other liberties such as stretching a book out to three feature movies...

Anyways, my main motivation for the seeing the movie was to see the nine-minute sneak peek at Star Trek Into Darkness. Wow!

Lincoln: A


Scott and I saw Lincoln a few weekends ago. I looked forward to seeing this movie ever since I heard a movie about about Lincoln was being made. (I have to admit to some embarrassment when I momentarily mistook this summer's Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter for the Steven Spielberg movie.)

Lincoln should be subtitled "Politicking The 13th Amendment" although I understand the studio's reason not marketing the movie's emphasis on the legislative process. I do appreciate that the movie didn't rely on any non-linear or flashback gimmick like so many biopics. Instead, the movie assumed the audience already knew the basics about Lincoln's life and revealed more about the obscure details his life as president.

Before seeing Lincoln, my impression was that he fought for the 13th amendment for more pragmatic reasons rather than being an ardent abolitionist. I was a little concerned that Spielberg was glossing over Lincoln's complicated racial politics in the opening scene. The film opens with two African-American soldiers paying tribute to the president as he sits on an elevated covered platform -- much like people today walk-up the Lincoln Monument today. I did wonder how plausible the scene was that African-Americans would be allowed to address the president; however, it doesn't seem impossible either. I'm not a historian and have to rely upon historians such as Doris Kearns Goodwin whose Lincoln biography the movie was inspired from.

Overall, the movie was great. Well-paced with great performances that made the legislative process seem exciting. My only concern is whether or not the movie whitewashed Lincoln's view on race. My understanding is that Lincoln probably didn't believe in racial equality or civil rights as we understand these values today. However, there's no denying that he made considerable sacrifices to pass the 13th amendment which undermines doubts that Lincoln only opposed slavery to reign-in the South.

Skyfall: B

"Skyfall" Teaser Poster #5>
Scott, ma, and I saw Skyfall several weekends ago. This year is the 50th anniversary of the Bond franchise, so Skyfall was filled with tributes to the first Bond movies which culminated into the final scenes. Daniel Craig's James Bond is so well-established now it's easy to forget that this is only his third Bond movie. Javier Bardem's flirty, campy villain was fun to watch and left me wanting a few more scenes.

Admittedly, the Bond genre has always had a bit of fantasy and, like any movie, audiences are willing to let unbelievable technobabble and coincidences slide for a good story. So, I'm willing to overlook that Bardem's Bond villain can hack into a government spy agency's network and control a building's security system. However, I was a little irked that Bond seemed to act too slow to save innocent bystanders' lives.

Regardless, the movie was great. My only complaint is that in honoring the franchise, the sequel didn't bring much new to the franchise. I appreciate that Daniel Craig did reveal more of Bond's vulnerability (i.e. age) and the story revealed a bit more about Bond's back story.